Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).
Claim #38: I am a Catholic because the Church defends all of God’s creations as well as the Creator
Kreeft opens this chapter, by stating, “The Church defends nature as well as grace, because she believes grace perfects and redeems and loves and validates nature instead of dispensing with it, minimizing it, by passing it, or rejecting it” (p. 123). Kreeft then presents eight examples of the RCC’s alleged defense of nature:
- The Church defends man as well as God.
- The Church defends reason as well as faith.
- The Church defends the body as well as the soul.
- The Church defends the notion of itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ.
- The Church defends matter as well as spirit.
- The Church defends the state as well as the Church.
- The Church defends natural love as well as supernatural love.
- The Church defends secular literature as well as the Bible.
In his closing statements, Kreeft posits that Protestantism generally takes a negative, either-or approach to the relationship between grace and nature, while Catholicism takes a both-and approach, which even “magnanimously” accommodates Protestant unaccommodation.
Kreefts acknowledgement of RC-ism’s exaltation of nature is revealing and points to the basic difference between Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. As I’ve mentioned previously in this series, evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, summarizes the two basic constructs of Roman Catholic theology as 1) the Nature-Grace Interdependence, which claims the concrete conference of divine grace through nature, e.g., priests, water (baptism), oil (confirmation, last rites), laying of hands (ordination), bread (Jesus wafer), pilgrimage sites (healing), etc., and 2) the Christ-Church Interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ. Kreeft appeals to both constructs in this apologia.
Let’s ditch the theological jargon and put it in simpler terms. The RCC views man as basically good, but spiritually wounded. The RCC provides sacraments, which allegedly help individuals to make it to the finish line of salvation. It exalts nature (priests, sacraments, baptismal water, Jesus wafers, etc.) as the means by which God provides salvation. Gospel Christians take the Biblical view that nature is fallen and man is depraved and that salvation is only by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. These two views are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable.
Kreeft reveals much by acknowledging and even boasting of Roman Catholicism’s syncretic reliance on nature (the material and physical) in its salvation theology. While Kreeft claims the RCC defends nature (“defends man as well as God”), we observe that the long history of the Roman Catholic church contradicts that claim. The RCC mandated forced baptisms, systematic anti-Semitism, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the violent persecution of Protestants. The RCC didn’t just “defend the state,” it manipulated the state in its quest for wealth, power, and control. The RC-ism is a worldy, works-righteousness religion, and as Kreeft readily admits, is deeply integrated in worldly attitudes and philosophies. Gospel Christianity, with its Biblical message that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to salvation, cannot accommodate any false religion, including Roman Catholicism.
Next week: Claim #39: I am a Catholic because I value reason