More than 500 aspiring philosophers braved winter conditions Jan. 28 and packed the gym at Westminster Abbey in Mission to hear Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft.
The attention of the people was held by his insightful and profoundly moving logic. It wasn't all serious though; there were many hilarious moments, such as when Kreeft reminded everyone that through the Bible God is trying to reveal only two things: one: "I'm God," and two: "You're not," and that most people, including himself, forget about number two.
Philosophy is love of wisdom, and is not dangerous to faith, Kreeft explained. "Philosophy is the handmaid to theology," he noted. He has made a career out of bringing that notion of philosophy to everyday Christians, helping many to have a deeper understanding of God.
Kreeft said we need to apply the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity, to our everyday lives. First, we have to believe in God through faith or by using our reason. Second, we must hope to seek out a relationship with God. Third, we must love God and act in a way that moves us closer to Him. We must always remember it is not knowledge that gets us into heaven but love.
Kreeft gave two lectures at the Abbey.
In the first one, called "Jesus's Philosophy of Happiness," he reiterated that happiness is not found in the most recent technological advancements such as smart phones.
Jesus, like the Church, is countercultural, and Kreeft demonstrated this using the Beatitudes. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us where true happiness lies.
Kreeft argued that Jesus's paradoxical teaching should not be difficult. In fact, the beatitudes are not as difficult to accept as the life of Jesus, Who already existed as God the Son before His Incarnation as a helpless baby Who needed His mother's care for survival, Who then grew up and was executed by crucifixion as a common criminal.
If we believe that this person is the creator of the universe, then we should have no problem adhering to Jesus's instructions about how one finds happiness. "Jesus was able to turn death into life's most powerful instrument," Kreeft said.
He noted that God stretched out His arms to us and offered to teach us to do His will. "The problem is, we almost always choose our own will rather than God's." He added that if we only believe that we believe in Jesus, then "we only have faith in faith rather than having faith in Him."
In the second session Kreeft gave a medical diagnosis of Western civilization.
"The prognosis is not good. Christians are confused when they ask themselves what is the meaning of life." Turning the phrase, Kreeft noted the Creator of Life is asking us, "What is your meaning?"
Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at King's College in New York City. He's written more than 70 books. A full list of his audio and writing is available at www.peterkreeft.com.