Monday, October 13, 2008

Peter Kreeft’s Influence on my Life and Thinking

I am enjoying GS 101, because I enjoy analyzing ideas and arguments. If I can point to one event in my life where my passion for critical thinking and philosophy began, it would probably be when my father handed me a book by Peter Kreeft. Kreeft is a Christian apologist, professor of philosophy, and has been heralded as the intellectual heir to C.S. Lewis. The first book by Kreeft I read was Between Heaven and Hell, in which Clive Staples himself appears as a character. Lewis meets John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley in purgatory and the three dialogue about the differences in their beliefs. Another favorite hero of Kreeft’s is Socrates. I’ve read his introduction to Socratic philosophy, as well as three of the books in his series of books in which Socrates returns to life in modern times and other points in history and reacts to the current society. The Unaborted Socrates is the most important book I’ve ever read on abortion, because in it, Socrates examines the logic behind three pro-choice men’s world-views, and using simple, inescapable logic, refutes their flawed arguments. In Socrates Meets Jesus, the philosopher returns to life in the liberal “Have It” Divinity School (a play on Harvard), examines the claims of Christ, and eventually becomes born-again! Since reading these books, I’ve been more able to recognize logical fallacies and poor examples of critical thinking.

Of course, I also learned to think critically about my hero Kreeft’s ideas. Kreeft is a good Catholic, who believes in Christ’s divinity, his necessary death for sins, and resurrection. In his book, Ecumenical Jihad, he wrote about what unifies and what divides each religion and worldview. I like what he wrote about how, though we shouldn’t forget about the important doctrinal differences that divides good Catholics and good Protestants, we should remember that what unites us is far greater: Christ. Still, I took his chapter defending his belief in the eucharist and the papacy with a grain of salt. No one can be right about every doctrinal issue, but Peter Kreeft is definitely an author I would recommend to anyone, Catholic, Lutheran, or otherwise.

(More of my thoughts on Peter Kreeft at Bob 'n Joe.)

1 comment:

Andrew Porter said...

You are "spot-on" in your analysis of Kreeft. I have taught Logic from "Socratic Logic" for 4 years now, and plan to keep on using his material in any way I can. My only complaint is that St. Augustine Press has not indexed "Socratic Logic." This makes finding specific things to quote or formats to follow much harder. I refer to him quite often as I am doing any writing.