Monday, April 25, 2011

Apologist Interview: Peter Kreeft

Today's interview is with Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King's College, in New York City. He talks about his background and influences, his view of philosophy and theology, why we should learn logic (and his logic textbook), etiquette in evaluating arguments, Socratic method & dialogue, caring for the soul, dealing with difficult and loaded questions, preparation for apologetics dialogue (it's not just study), cultivating integrity and character, advice for being a life-long learner, and using literature in apologetics.

Full Interview MP3 Audio here (33 min)

Among Kreeft's over 60 books are these recommended titles:
Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Socratic Logic
A Refutation of Moral Relativism
• Heaven, the Heart's Deepest Longing
Jesus Shock


Note: This interview does not endorse a Roman Catholic position.


Russell said...

Can't wait! I seldom hear anything from Kreeft that I don't love!

Ex N1hilo said...

If Christianity were a man, "Mere Christianity" would be a mannequin. It looks kind of like a man, but it has no life in it. Penetrate its chest and you will find it to be hollow. No heart.

The beating heart of Christianity is the imputation of our sins to Jesus Christ on the cross and the imputation of His righteousness to those who believe on Him.

Jeremiah A V Dumai said...

Peter Kreeft makes complex things easy!

Brian said...

What was C.S. Lewis's definition of "Mere Christianity"?

Ex N1hilo said...


A quick visit to Google reveals the following from the preface of the book "Mere Christianity":

Ever since I became a Christian, I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbors was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.

Now, later in the book, Lewis explicitly excludes penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) from what he means by Mere Christianity. In other words PSA is not essential to Christianity. A Christian may embrace or reject or take no definite position on PSA.

This is equivalent (in my view) to saying that one may reject the gospel and yet one can still be a Christian as long as he accepts the doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ.

The Scriptures teach explicitly that Christ endured the wrath of God in the place of sinners, bearing their sins. The clarity with which this is presented is at least as great as for the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

Yet, those who denigrate penal substitution as "Divine Child Abuse" can join hands with those who are trusting in the merits of their own works to mix with the merits of the Saints and with the sacrifice of Christ for their justification, and also with those who believe the real Gospel of the Bible--all together in the big tent of Mere Christianity.

MC makes the gospel an optional element, when it ought to be front and center.

I honestly believe that Lewis has some very good, important, and useful things to say. Yet, on this point, his theology is confused and sub-biblical. And in my view, it sinks the Project of Mere Christianity.


Joe said...

In the history of Christianity one must say that there has been various ways to articulate Christian soteriology. Penal substitution is a theory created by Anselm. Have you ever read St. Athanasius work "On the Incarnation"? Athanasius' view of salvation was not penal substitution and Athanasius was a prayerful scholar of Holy Writ. I believe one has to have penal substitution as their working presupposition to read it into Holy Scripture. The earliest students of Holy Scripture never saw it.

Joseph Patterson

Brian said...

But Lewis is not putting forward "mere Christianity" as an ending point - but a starting point.

“I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions—as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else,”

It has always seemed to me that Lewis's whole point is that if he is going to argue that Christianity is true, he is going to argue for the truth of Jesus Christ the Bible, and then allow the person to explore the theological "rooms" for themselves -- as he referred to mere Christianity as a sort of "hall":

"It is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in."

So I think it's not accurate to say that Lewis is promoting a certain "form" of Christianity. He's not trying to win people to a denomination or theological system - but to Christ. It's precisely because of theological disagreements that he's not intending to argue people into any one of many theological positions. Those, it seems, are simply secondary to the primary issue of the person of Jesus Christ and truth of the Bible.

Ex N1hilo said...

Joe and Brian,

Thank you for responding to my post. I had intended to write a lengthy replay, but I have been very busy and this is probably not the best place to conduct such a discussion at length.

I would simply say in response to Joe, that any valid theory of the atonement must and will do justice to passages such as Isaiah 53:10-12, Hebrews 9:28, and 1 Peter 2:4, among others, which teach penal substitution via imputation of sin. This is stated as clearly as the bible states any doctrine.

And in response to Brian: While I do not deny that there is much profit to be had from aspects of Lewis' apologetic, it omits the central thing. If we win people with a Gospel-less proclamation, we win them to a Gospel-less Near Christianity.

Sure, we can call folks to a gather in the corridor just outside of the New Jerusalem. But the feast is inside its gates. We need to be clear exactly where the feast is. It's with the lamb that was slaughtered, bearing the sins of fallen men. There's only one door that leads to the marriage supper. All the other doors lead to dead ends.

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Unknown said...

I've enjoyed reading some of Peter's books over the years and looked forward to hearing this interview. Thanks for doing it.

I latched on to a phrase the Peter Kreeft used in this interview. He referred to "standing in the light" as we interact with non-believers. In thinking about this, I came up with four observations based on this phrase and list them in a blog post at

Greg Aitchison said...

Peter Kreeft is the best orthodox Christian apologist I have ever heard/read. Don't wait another second, go to his website and click on the audio link. Start with "How to Win the Culture War" and then work your way through them. They are absolutely brilliant!


Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment. By posting your comment you are agreeing to the comment policy.

Blog Archive