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.
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.
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”