Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #1

Today, we begin our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me and I hope to see you every Friday for the next thirty-nine weeks.

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Claim #1: I Am A Catholic Because I Believe Catholicism Is True

Kreeft opens the first chapter with a very basic declaration, stating he is Catholic because he believes Catholicism is true. He then asks readers to imagine themselves as God at the Last Judgement with two people standing before them. One is a “dishonest,” name-only Catholic and the other is an “honest” atheist. The nominal Catholic believed in few or none of the church tenets, but continued to identify as a Catholic because it made him feel happy, or moral, or both. Kreeft posits that God would tell the nominal Catholic that “happiness without truth is not true happiness and therefore is not true happiness at all; and that morality without truth is not true morality and therefore is not true morality at all” (p.6). Kreeft concludes that God would judge the dishonest Catholic in purgatory or Hell more harshly than the honest atheist.

Response:

I can see from this initial chapter that Kreeft’s arguments in this book are going to be based much more on his philosophical views than on Scripture. There are no references to Scripture in this first chapter. Kreeft appears to be appealing to those readers with little or no Bible knowledge and hoping he is able to convince them via his philosophical reasoning. There’s a danger to that as Bible believers know. I skimmed through the chapters ahead and there are a few Bible references, but Scripture is definitely not a hallmark.

It’s interesting that Kreeft begins this book by delegitimizing the hundreds of millions of nominal Roman Catholics. Catholic sources reveal that only a minority of RCC members actually follow minimum mandatory requirements and believe basic Catholic doctrines such as transubstantiation. I’ve seen Kreeft’s frustration with the vast number of nominal Catholics previously (see here)

At the outset of this series we’re already seeing some serious differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. We see in Kreeft’s Last Judgement illustration the Catholic position that all will be judged according to their level of morality. Kreeft judges between the dishonest nominal Catholic and the allegedly honest atheist, but none are truly honest or moral according to God’s standard of moral perfection. God’s Word declares none are moral or righteous:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” – Romans 3:10-12

Both the hypothetical nominal Catholic and “honest” atheist would have died in their sins and spent eternity in Hell because they did not repent and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior by faith alone. Kreeft obviously views himself as an honest and moral Catholic in contrast to his nominal Catholic example, but since Jesus Christ was the only perfectly honest human being to ever walk the planet, how honest does a Catholic have to be to merit salvation? That is the conundrum of Catholicism.

Since Kreeft believes Catholicism is true, we must ask what is his standard? Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists also believe their respective religions are true. Kreeft doesn’t reference the Bible, God’s Word, in this opening chapter, however, the Bible attests to its own authenticity as the source of spiritual truth.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I foresee in the weeks ahead that we will mainly be comparing Kreeft’s philosophical appeals to Catholicism’s alleged truths with the Scriptural truths presented in the Bible.

“For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” – 1 Corinthians 3:19

Kreeft refers to “true happiness” in this chapter, but this ex-Catholic can testify that no Catholic can ever be truly joyful because the Catholic salvation system of sacramental grace and merit provides no lasting joy or peace.

In contrast to Peter Kreeft, I am no longer a Catholic because I know Catholicism is NOT true according to God’s Word.

Next week: Claim #2: “I am a Catholic because it’s the best of five choices”

35 thoughts on “Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #1

  1. I did a little look-see at Peter Kreeft. Having converted from Protestant church, he is hailed as a hero of Catholicism.
    I think his ‘last judgment’ scenario here reveals his true faith – intellectual human reasoning. That pride must blind him to even the most basic command, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…”
    Intellectualism is such a snare to faith, perhaps its why beloved Paul counted his rich religious background all “dung” “compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ”.
    Thank you Tom for stirring our thinking this morning, let’s see what reason #2 claims!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa Beth! Yes, in this book Kreeft largely appeals to his philosophical reasoning rather than to Scripture, a very poor basis for an apologetics book. I began drafting my response to his second chapter and he’s likewise “shooting from the hip” without any Scripture references.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m looking forward to this critical response to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” Tom. Not only for the refresher it will expose me to, but also because of the manner is which you continually and correctly tie in the only standard that really counts, God’s Holy Word. This is a most commendable task and sorely needed. Thank you. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce, I appreciate the support and encouragement! These apologetics posts and series are difficult as you know. I’ve begun drafting my response to Kreeft’s second “reason” and his reliance on his own reasoning rather than references to Scripture is quite surprising. Thanks, brother, and blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Honest Atheists? LOL. Well Florence disagrees with Kreeft

    The Council of Florence (1441) Bull Cantata Domino: It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church. Henry Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Deferrari, Thirtieth Ed. (Powers Lake: Marian House, published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg), #714, p. 230.

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    1. Excellent, SB. Thanks. The RCC claims it has never changed its major doctrines, but this idea that those outside the RCC can also merit their salvation is a relatively novel idea.

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    2. Of course they’ve changed. Otherwise why would Newman need to come with the doctrine of development? Even then, Vatican 2 would have shocked Newman. 🙂

      Here’s more that disagrees with Kreeft:

      The Council of Basel, SESSION 19 7 September 1434, [On the agreement between the council and the Greeks about union]: Moreover, we trust that with God’s help another benefit will accrue to the Christian commonwealth; because from this union, once it is established, there is hope that very many from the abominable sect of Mahomet will be converted to the catholic faith. What, then, should not be attempted and done by Christ’s faithful for so holy and salutary an objective? What Catholic is not in duty bound to risk not only the passing substance of this world but even his body and soul for such an advance of the Christian name and the orthodox faith? Wherefore, we venerable cardinals of the holy Roman church, presidents of the apostolic see, casting all our thought on God, who alone does great wonders, deputed the patriarch of Antioch and a suitable number of archbishops, bishops, abbots, masters and doctors to treat of this question with the ambassadors of the Greeks and to look for a way to reach a solution.

      Pope Calixtus III (1378-1458): I, Pope Calixtus III, promise and vow to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the heavenly host, that I will do everything in my power, even, if need be, with the sacrifice of my life, aided by the counsel of my worthy brethren, to reconquer Constantinople, which in punishment for the sin of man has been taken and ruined by Mahomet II, the son of the devil and the enemy of our Crucified Redeemer. Further, I vow to deliver the Christians languishing in slavery, to exalt the true Faith and to extirpate the diabolical sect of the reprobate and faithless Mahomet in the East . For there the light of Faith is almost completely extinguished. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember thee. If I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy, God and His holy Gospel help me. Amen. Ludwig Pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, Volume II (1891), p. 346

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Re: Allah is the God of the Bible.

        Can’t wait for that. We can see what the Bible says about God and the Quran/Hadiths say about “Allah”. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow will read this later! Answering your blog comment on my blog: Wow crazy that you have to work like crazy! I am tired, been a crazy week, spend time with my sisters family again this time with taking the kids to eat Ice Cream then we had hotdogs at the park. Just got back; exhausted with this heat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you’re able to spend time with family. The heat and drought in the West has been big headlines all summer. It’s been a relatively cool summer here, haven’t used the AC much, like September. Rainy too. Have a good prep day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine that very long bouts of high heat would be draining. If this keeps up they’re going to have to talk about building water pipelines from Cali, Arizona, and Nevada to the Great Lakes.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow just from your discussion in this first reason, I can imagine its going to be man-centered philosophy of man in his approach…SMH. THe presuppostionalist in me and the BIblical Christian in me isn’t a fan of Kreeft already!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I skimmed through the book quickly and Scripture passages are at a minimum. A very unusual approach for an apologetics book. I’ve already written half of the response to chapter 2 in which he states that Allah is one and the same as the God of the Bible. Oy vey.

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      1. Kreeft has written one hundred books propagating Roman Catholicism and disparaging evangelicalism, yet evangelical pastors can’t get enough of him, like my former SBC pastor. Insane. There’s definitely an intellectual snobbery factor involved as we’ve discussed.

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      2. I’ll give both you and Jim a preview of why Kreeft’s arguments are totally bankrupt. When Muslims pray, they face the direction of the black stone (Kaaba) in Mecca. This entity “Allah” claimed that the black stone was built by Abraham and Ishmael, calls it his house, and commands Muslims to bow down to it.

        Quran 2:125 And [mention] when We made the House [i.e., the Kaʿbah] a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform ṭawāf1 and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].”

        Does Yahweh of the Bible say that a black stone in Mecca is his house? LOLOLOL

        The bottomline is Kreeft says Yahweh = Allah because the Roman magisterium says so. It’s really a case of the blind leading the blind and both falling into a pit. (Matt 15:14)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for the Quran passage and the excellent argument. Anyone who claims Allah is the God of the Bible is not a Christian, and that includes Kreeft and the entire RCC hierarchy.

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  6. The arrogance and bs of this man is going to get old real quick! Sorry I am behind. I didn’t take this book with me to FL and I am seriously glad I didn’t! I haven’t read your thoughts yet, I am just spouting off mine. So here’s my thoughts: From reading this chapter, if I were an atheist, agnostic or someone who was considering leaving sound doctrine for the RCC I would have no idea what it means that “Catholicism is true.” His questions about being God on the last day were hilariously bad. The Pope is the ultimate Santa Claus giving his adherents what it is they think they want. Sad that someday they will find out that their unbelief rendered them on a “naughty list” where they will burning coal from a Just and Avenging God.

    “It’s interesting that Kreeft begins this book by delegitimizing the hundreds of millions of nominal Roman Catholics.” That is a very good point! I agree that it is a conundrum as to how honest a Catholic would have to be to merit salvation. I am unfamiliar with Kreeft’s philosophy, but so far I am seriously unimpressed. I agree with you that he could have used some Scripture verses. Even if his target audience is Biblical illiterate, he could at least be “honest” enough to give people a reference for his claim.

    “Kreeft refers to “true happiness” in this chapter, but this ex-Catholic can testify that no Catholic can ever be truly joyful because the Catholic salvation system of sacramental grace and merit provides no lasting joy or peace. In contrast to Peter Kreeft, I am no longer a Catholic because I know Catholicism is NOT true according to God’s Word.” Praise God for saving you and Corinne from this wicked, merit based system. Praise God for people like you who are able to help people like myself understand the difference between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Rome.

    Hope you can get some rest today!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good points and encouragement, Mandy! I am so grateful to God for leading us out of that pseudo-Christian system. Kreeft definitely did not give me much to work with in that opening chapter. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), he gave me MUCH MORE to work with in chapter two. I finished drafting my rebuttal this morning.

      RE: Rest

      Thanks! Monday is always “cut the lawn day,” but that’s still a nice break from the factory grind. Being outside in sunshine, 75F, breathing fresh air, and finishing up with an iced tea on the patio is a pretty good Monday gig. Hope you’re having a great day, also!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s beautiful here, almost fallish today. As I was walking PQ I thought, “I hope Papa Tom will have help with his leaf campaign this year!” Glad you’re able to enjoy being outside after mowing, that’s fantastic!!! Look forward to reading your next rebuttal!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks! Yup, I’m already thinking about the leaf campaign. Only twelve weeks away! I’m still very grateful for my gas-powered leaf blower that I bought five years ago. I don’t know how (or why) I managed without it for twelve autumns.

        Thanks for the support on the 40 Reasons series!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yess catholic Church is more judge in purgatory example in 1 timothy 5:8 If you maketh evil you believe hell and purgatory you more worsed than Unbelievs

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