BECAUSE GOD IS REAL:
Sixteen Questions, One Answer
by Peter Kreeft
(Ignatius Press, 2008, 236pp, $29.90. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Peter Kreeft is a US citizen of Dutch background and a convert to Catholicism from the Calvinist Reformed Church (of Holland). Most of his professional life was spent in the Philosophy Department at the Jesuit University, Boston College. Professor Kreeft has written around 50 books during his long career and is now retired.
Many of Kreeft's books, including Because God is Real, are written in the genre of Catholic apologetics, that is, they explain and defend the Catholic faith to a variety of intelligent enquirers. In centuries past, Catholic apologists directed their work to non- believers and other separated Christians.
More recently, orthodox Catholic apologists have found themselves defending Catholicism to a variety of 'census' Catholics, some of whom have a 'pick-and-mix', 'ˆ la carte' approach to Catholic teaching and appear to be permanently in dissent about core doctrines of the Faith.
Other Catholics appear to believe that all the Lord demands of His People is a concern for the poor, as each of us defines them, when we like and to the extent we feel able.
In this book, Kreeft has distilled decades of wisdom about Thomistic theology and Catholic apologetics into a wonderful explanation of the Faith for young readers. He targets students of Confirmation age - from adolescents to young adults - and poses a series of sceptical questions about God, salvation history and Church teaching. He gives thorough, charitable, and orthodox answers. While every chapter is praiseworthy his answers to 'Why is Jesus different?' are exceptional. Here is a sample:
'The centre of Christianity is Jesus because Jesus is not just a great human being; Jesus is God. The centre of Islam is not Muhammad, because Muhammad, like Moses, claimed only to be a prophet, not God. The centre of Buddhism is not Buddha, because Buddha, like the Hindu gurus, claimed only to be an enlightened man, not God. ... But Jesus is the centre of Christianity because Jesus claimed to be God, and Christians believe that claim. ... The divinity of Christ is the distinctive Christian belief: it is the one thing all Christians believe and no one else does. If a Christian ceases to believe this, he ceases to be a Christian. If a non-Christian comes to believe this, he becomes a Christian.'
If any of what is excerpted above appeals to you, this is your book, as it is full of similar aphoristic expressions of Catholicism. The next fifteen chapters attack the most common issues that the typical teenager would have with the Catholic Church, such as 'Why can't I have sex before marriage?' or 'Why doesn't the Catholic Church allow women to become priests?'
This book is written for younger Catholics, but I found it to be helpful for the adult reader as well, especially those who minister to Catholic teens and young adults. Its question/answer format answers the questions that many young adults ask. The answers are written in a clear, concise and understandable way.
Peter Kreeft has an excellent command of the material and delivers it in a vigorous, matter-of-fact style.