Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft

Peter John Kreeft (1938/1939) is a Catholic apologist, professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College, and author of over 45 books including "Fundamentals of the Faith", "Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven", and "Back to Virtue". Some consider him the best Catholic philosopher currently residing in the United States. His ideas draw heavily from religious and philosophical tradition, especially Thomas Aquinas, Socrates, G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis. Kreeft has writings on Socratic logic, the sea, Jesus Christ, the "Summa Theologiae", angels, Blaise Pascal, and Heaven, as well as his work on the problem of evil, for which he was interviewed by Lee Strobel in his bestseller, "The Case for Faith". []

Academic career

Kreeft took his A.B. at Calvin College (1959), and an M.A. at Fordham University (1961). In the same university he completed his doctoral studies 1965. He briefly did post graduate studies at Yale University.

Dr. Kreeft has received several honors for achievements in philosophical reasoning. They include the following: Woodrow Wilson, Yale-Sterling Fellowship, Newman Alumni Scholarship, Danforth Asian Religions Fellowship, Weathersfield Homeland Foundation Fellowship

He joined the Philosophy faculty of the Department of Philosophy of Boston College in 1965. His intellectual reputation stems from his strengths in debating and summarizing the philosophical arguments of the major Western philosophers. He has debated several academics in issues related to God's existence.

Kreeft has also taught many topics related to philosophy. The courses he has taught include Logic, Epistemology, Cosmology, Metaphysics, Ethics, Nursing Ethics, Philosophy of the Person, Philosophy in Literature, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Human Sexuality, The Future of Man, The Creative Person, Death and Dying, Life After Death, Science Fiction, Philosophy of Love, Oriental Philosophy, Now and Zen, Greek Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Contemporary Philosophy, Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Marcel, Teilhard de Chardin, Two Existentialisms, C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Augustine’s Confessions , Aquinas’ Summa , Plato’s Republic , Lost in the Cosmos, Christian Existentialism, Thinking About Religion, The Meaning of Life, Philosophy of Happiness, Philosophy of Love, Peacemaking, Abortion as a Philosophical Problem, Philosophy in Fantasy, Socrates and Jesus, The Three Greatest Men in the World, World Religions, Catholicism: A Philosophical Inquiry; Angels, Devils, Ghosts and Miracles; Three Philosophies of Life; Philosophy in the Bible; Philosophy of Education, Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy in Cinema, Perspectives in Western Culture []

Conversion story

A Calvinist, Kreeft regarded the Catholic Church "with the utmost suspicion." A key turning point was when he was asked by a Calvinist professor to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church that it traced itself to the early Church. He said that on his own, he "discovered in the early Church such Catholic elements as the centrality of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, prayers to saints, devotion to Mary, an insistence on visible unity, and apostolic succession." The Church fathers such as Augustine and Jerome were clearly Catholic and not Protestant, he stated.

The "central and deciding" factor for his conversion was "the Church's claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christ." For he applies C. S. Lewis's trilemma -- either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord -- to the Church: "either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that He is just what He claims to be."

On the Bible issue, he referred to the church preaching that forms the basis for writing the Bible and the approval needed from the church to ascertain the contents of the Bible. To this he applied the axiom: "a cause can never be less than its effect. You can't give what you don't have. If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament." []

His conversion took place as he asked God for help, praying that "God would decide for me, for I am good at thinking but bad at acting, like Hamlet." It was then that he says he "seemed to sense" the call of saints and his favorite heroes, to which he assented.

According to Kreeft's personal account, his conversion to Catholicism was influenced by things such as:
*the thought of the relatively small number of Calvinists vis-a-vis God's willingness to save many
*a simple way of understanding God's demands in terms of asking God what he wants us to do, and then doing it
*the logic of asking saints to pray for us as we ask friends to pray for us
*medieval art and philosophy (Gothic architecture, Thomistic philosophy)
*reading St. John of the Cross whose writings he viewed as really "something as massive and positive as a mountain range"
*a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York when he was twelve years old, "feeling like I was in heaven... and wondering why, if Catholics got everything else wrong, as I had been taught, they got beauty so right. How could falsehood and evil be so beautiful?" []


*"Summa of the Summa" — The essential philosophical passages of St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica edited and explained for beginners
*"Shorter Summa" — Shorter version of Kreeft's "Summa of the Summa"
*"Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensees" — Explicates Pascal's surprisingly modern insights on contemporary life and powerful arguments for Christianity
*"Philosophy 101 by Socrates" — An introduction to philosophy via Plato's Apology
*"Refutation of Moral Relativism" — Intelligent, engaging dialogues between a relativist and absolutist
*"Making Sense Out of Suffering" — On the meaning of suffering
*"Socratic Logic" – A superb textbook on classical logic.
*"Three Philosophies of Life" (1989)
*"Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Heaven... But Never Dreamed of Asking" (1990)
*"Handbook of Christian Apologetics" (with Ronald K. Tacelli) (1994)
*"How to Win the Culture War" (2002)
*"The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind "The Lord of the Rings" (2005)
*"The Philosophy of Jesus" — On the wisdom of Jesus
*"Between Heaven and Hell": A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley (1982)
*"Socrates Meets Jesus" — Socratic dialogue between Socrates and Jesus
*"Socrates Meets Machiavelli" — Socratic dialogue between Socrates and Machiavelli
*"Socrates Meets Marx" — Socratic dialogue between Socrates and Karl Marx
*"Socrates Meets Sartre" — Socratic dialogue between Socrates and Jean Paul Sartre
*"Back to Virtue" — Traditional moral wisdom for modern moral confusion
*"The Unaborted Socrates" — Socratic dialogue on abortion
*"Three Approaches to Abortion" — On abortion
*"The Sea Within"
*"C. S. Lewis for the Third Millennium" — Six essays on Lewis' "Abolition of Man"
*"Love Is Stronger Than Death" — On the meaning of death and life
*"What Would Socrates Do?: The History of Moral Thought and Ethics" — University-level course in a Barnes & Noble Audio Book

He also formulated together with R. Tacelli, SJ, [ Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God] , what he calls a "cumulative case", and thus "all twenty taken together, like twined rope, make a very strong case," he states. In 1971 Kreeft published an article entitled "Zen In Heidegger's 'Gelassenheit'" in the peer-reviewed journal "International Philosophical Quarterly", the philosophy journal published by Kreeft's alma mater, Fordham University.

ome excerpts from his writings

*Let's get very, very basic and very, very practical about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest: "Just do it!" The major obstacle in most of our lives to just saying yes to prayer, the most popular and powerful excuse we give for not praying, or not praying more, or not praying regularly, is that we have no time. The only effective answer to that excuse, I find, is a kind of murder. You have to kill something, you have to say no to something else, in order to make time to pray. []
*Without qualification, without ifs, ands, or buts, God's word tells us, straight as a left jab, that love is the greatest thing there is (1 Cor 13: 13). Scripture never says God is justice or beauty or righteousness, though he is just and beautiful and righteous. But "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). Love is God's essence, his whole being. Everything in him is love. Even his justice is love. Paul identifies "the justice of God" in Romans 1:17 with the most unjust event in all history, deicide, the crucifixion, for that was God's great act of love. []
*Ideas are more precious than diamonds. The three most precious ideas I have ever discovered all concern the love of God. []
*What is God's Answer to Human Suffering? The answer must be someone, not just something. For the problem (suffering) is about someone (God—why does he... why doesn't he ...?) rather than just something. To question God's goodness is not just an intellectual experiment. It is rebellion or tears. It is a little child with tears in its eyes looking up at Daddy and weeping, "Why?" The hurt child needs not so much explanations as reassurances. And that is what we get: the reassurance of the Father in the person of Jesus, "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9). []
*Saints are not freaks or exceptions, they are the standard operating model for human beings. Because, as Charles Peguy put it, “life holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have been a saint.” Saints are not freaks or exceptions. They are the standard operating model for human beings. In fact, in the biblical sense of the word, all believers are saints. Saints are not the opposite of sinners. There are no opposites of sinners in this world. There are only saved sinners and unsaved sinners. Thus holy does not mean “sinless” but “set-apart:” called out of the world to the destiny of eternal ecstasy with God.


Peter Kreeft is an avid baseball fan, and his favorite team is the Boston Red Sox.

One of his favorite books is J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". He often compares Fenway Park to Lothlórien, the heaven-like forest from this novel.

Peter Kreeft is also a fan of Star Trek, especially the original series which debuted from 1966-1969.

External links

* [ Peter Kreeft]
* [;submit.x=0;submit.y=0;query=peter%20kreeft&nh=1 Writings of Peter Kreeft at Catholic Educator's Resource]

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