The popular Catholic apologist has written a new book, 'Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic.'
G.K. Chesterton wrote that the Catholic Church is like a “house with a hundred gates” and that no two people enter the same way. It is also true that many of us take many paths into the Church. Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft gives us 40 of them in his new book, Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic.
Many of the reasons Kreeft provides—each constitutes its own sort of mini-chapter—are probably shared by many of his fellow Catholics. But others may come as a surprise. Here are 10 of them.
1. Because of what the Church doesn’t teach. Of course, Kreeft is attracted by the teachings of the Church. But what the Church has not defined dogmatically is significant too. Those two things are “which political system is best” and “how divine grace and human free will work together.” On the latter, the Church follows in the steps of great saints like St. Catherine of Siena in prostrating itself before this mystery in humility and placing its trust in God. “The more I’ve thought about these two issues, the more I’ve admired the Catholic wisdom both for what it does claim to know and for what it doesn’t,” Kreeft concludes.
2. Its infallibility reflects our humility. Some Protestants view the Catholic claim to be able to teach on faith and morals without error as arrogant. Far from it, Kreeft says: “[T]he reason we need an infallible Church to interpret the Bible, is not Catholic arrogance but Catholic humility. We have dogma because God gave it to us, and God gave it to us because we need it, and we need it because we are not wise enough without it.”
3. Protestants “need the Church” too. Otherwise, what would they be “protesting?” “If they answer that their identity is not essentially negative and protesting, but positive, the reply is that Catholics already believe all the same things Protestants believe, and more. All the differences are differences between what we believe and what they don’t.”
4. The craziness of the saints. Yes, the saints could be a little crazy, but how exactly does this draw us to the faith? Kreeft draws an analogy with the opposite of saints: the most evil persons known to history. One reason they scare is so much is not so much their evil alone but our shared humanity—it makes us wonder what we’re capable of. The saints do the opposite: their radical goodness not only leaves us in awe but inspires us to consider what spiritual greatness we might also be called to given that have the same nature.
5. The wildness of the saints reflects the wonder of God. The saints aren’t crazy in the same way as that old neighborhood cat lady. There is a dangerous wildness to them. “When God answered Job’s complaint about the disorder and darkness in his life, God did not tone down or apologize for His wildness but pointed to it: Behemoth and Leviathan are not pets; they are monsters. But they are His monsters. I think He was thinking of St. Francis of Assisi.”
6. Hollywood. No, Kreeft is not talking about the moral depravity of Hollywood, which might send people running into the Church. Rather, he is talking about how movie directors also seem to pick the Catholic Church as the de facto setting for whenever they need to show a character in a religious setting. Even Hollywood recognizes there is something authentically true about the Church. (The same, by the way, could be said for television shows.)
7. Because of the Sexual Revolution—the second one, that is. While the culture at large has been on a Pill-fueled death spiral of despair and disorder since the 1960s, there has been a Catholic counter-revolution in the form of the Theology of the Body developed by Pope St. John Paul II. Kreeft writes, “I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church has the full, definitive, big-picture answer to the most destructive revolution of all time, the one we are living through today, the first sexual revolution.”
8. Looking forward to purgatory. Purgatory is commonly thought of as a place of pain and suffering, a sort of hell-lite for Christians. But Kreeft is hoping he ends up there. Following the lead of St. Catherine of Genoa, who recast purgatory in a much more positive light, Kreeft is looking forward to the extreme spiritual cleansing he will receive in purgatory before he encounters the full presence of God in heaven.
9. Because he wants to be “more Protestant.” Not in the sense of not being Catholic, of course. He means it in the sense of getting “more” of what he treasured as a Protestant. “I used to be Protestant. I still believe, love, and enjoy everything I believed as a Protestant and more. In fact, I am more Protestant—more evangelical, more charismatic, more biblical, and more Christocentric—as a Catholic than I ever was as a Protestant.”
10. He wants to be “possessed.” By the Holy Spirit, that is. Kreeft explains: “We need to be ‘possessed’ by the Holy Spirit. It is the exact opposite of being possessed by an evil spirit: It makes us free and clean and full of joy.”