Understanding the Often Quoted Peter Kreeft

by Understand the Times with Roger Oakland 

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Boston College and a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences and is the author of over forty books dealing with spirituality, apologetics and philosophy.1 Kreeft, once a Dutch Reformed Protestant, converted to Catholicism and is considered by many to be a leader in the area of Christian apologetics, even by Protestants.

One of Kreeft’s books is Ecumenical Jihad. The back cover of this book lists a number of endorsements by well-known evangelical leaders. For example:

Peter Kreeft is one of the premier apologists in America today, witty, incisive and powerful. On the front lines in today’s culture war, Kreeft is one of our most valiant intellectual warriors.2–Chuck Colson

This racy little book opens up a far-reaching theme. With entertaining insight Kreeft looks into the attitudes, alliances and strategies that today’s state of affairs requires of believers. Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike need to ponder Peter Kreeft’s vision of things–preferably in discussion together. What if he is right?3–J. I. Packer

To understand Kreeft’s spiritual journey, it is helpful to examine a number of testimonial statements he made in Ecumenical Jihad. Regarding the role that the Eucharist played in his conversion to Catholicism, he writes:

In my pilgrimage from Dutch Reformed Calvinism to Roman Catholicism, the one Catholic dogma that most drew me in was the Eucharist.4

Now, as a strong promoter of the Catholic Church, Kreeft believes the teaching of transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has potential for winning other Protestants back to the Mother of All Churches. Although he recognizes the Catholic Church’s view on the Sacrament of the Eucharist was instrumental in bringing about division between Protestants and Catholics in the past, he believes the Eucharist has the potential to now be an evangelistic tool in bringing back the separated brethren to Catholicism. As he states in his book:

No Catholic dogma is so distinctive and so apparently anti-ecumenical as the dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Yet this dogma may be the greatest cause of ecumenism and eventual reunion.5

Predicting that future ecumenism will be fostered by the very factors that once brought about division, Kreeft continues:

I found that this doctrine, which seemed to repel and divide, at the same time attracted and united. The same with Mary: she–who is a point of division between Catholics and Protestants–she may bring the churches together again and heal the tears in her Son’s visible body on earth, she, the very one who seems to divide Catholics from Protestants. The most distinctive Catholic doctrines, especially those concerning the Eucharist and Mary, may prove to be the most unifying and attracting ones.6

Finally, Kreeft expresses his heartfelt concern for those Protestants who still refuse to accept the Catholic teaching of the Real Presence of Christ in a wafer. He writes:

When I think how much my Protestant brothers and sisters are missing in not having Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist; when I kneel before the Eucharist and realize I am as truly in Christ’s presence as the apostles were but that my Protestant brothers and sisters don’t know that, don’t believe that–I at first feel a terrible gap between myself and them. What a tremendous thing they are missing!7

As there is even now a move by many Protestant/evangelicals toward Catholicism and the Eucharistic adoration, Kreeft’s longing to see them enter in may be fulfilled. (from chapter 9, Another Jesus)

Notes:
1. See http://www.peterkreeft.com/about.htm.
2. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996), back cover, endorsement by Chuck Colson.
3. Ibid., endorsement by J. I. Packer.
4. Ibid., p. 145.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid., p. 158.
7. Ibid., p. 159.

Definition:
Transubstantiation: “The word officially approved by the Council of Trent to express the changing of the entire substance of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. After the Consecration only the appearances, or “accidents” (color, taste, smell, quantity, etc.) of bread and wine remain.” from Catholic author Joan Carroll Cruz (taken from Another Jesus, chapter 3)

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