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 #39: I am a Catholic because I value reason
Kreeft begins this chapter with the following, “I mean two things by (the statement, “I value reason”). One is that my reason impels me to be a Catholic; that Catholic apologetics ‘works.’ The other, deeper, and more important thing is that Catholicism broadens my reason. For the object of modern reason is not being, not reality, but Cartesian “clear and distinct ideas” and arguments. And among the arguments, the objects of modern reason are arguments whose validity can be determined by a computer, using mathematical logic, while the object of reason in the older, Catholic sense is wisdom, intelligence, intellectual intuition, insight, or understanding, whose natural object is great ontological mysteries. The Church shows us what reason really means at its highest. It is ancient, it is big, it is metaphysical, not mathematical. It is at home in the most mysterious things of all – which are the great mysteries of life – whereas modern reason is at home in the least mysterious things of all, which are numbers” (p. 127). Kreeft goes on to express condescending sympathy for “modern atheists and agnostics who perceive that Catholicism is full of astonishing and barely believable mysteries” (p. 128).
It’s quite revealing that in this chapter devoted to reason, Kreeft abstains from mentioning God’s Word, the Bible. Of course, he’s barely referred to the Bible throughout this entire book. So we read from Kreeft that he is attracted to Roman Catholicism because it appeals to his human reasoning. The pomp, ceremony, rituals, and grandiosity of the RCC is certainly enticing to the natural man (Kreeft initially became enamoured with RC-ism when he visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City as a twelve-year-old boy). Rome’s scholasticism and philosophical wranglings seduce the intellectually vain. Most significantly, the RCC’s works-righteousness gospel of Cain “makes sense” to the reasoning of the religious lost. The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is not reasonable to the natural man. It is impossible for him to understand on his own. It is the Holy Spirit Who removes the spiritual blindness of the lost and elucidates God’s Word and the Gospel. The natural man craves to merit his own salvation and rejects as repugnant the doctrine that he is a depraved sinner and unable to obey his way into Heaven.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:5
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” – Colossians 2:8
“The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” – Jeremiah 8:9
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.””- 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” – Proverbs 14:12
“This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” – James 3:15
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18-21
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” – 1 Corinthians 2:11-13
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2
“That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:5
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21-24
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” – Isaiah 55:8-9
For 100 Bible verses on God’s wisdom versus human wisdom, see here.
Next week: Claim #40: I am a Catholic, in the last analysis, because Jesus is there, in the church, in his body