"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is Peter Kreeft a Catholic heretic?

An interesting passage from "The God Who Loves You" by Peter Kreeft.

[From the Chapter: The Twelve Most Profound Ideas I Have Ever Had]:

"7. The gift of God's love is ours for the taking.

I am a Roman Catholic. But the most liberating idea I have ever heard I first learned from Martin Luther. Pope John Paul II told the German Lutheran bishops that Luther was profoundly right about this idea. He said that Catholic teaching affirms it just as strongly and that there was no contradiction between Protestant and Catholic theology on this terribly important point, which was the central issue of the Protestant Reformation. I speak, of course, about "justification by faith" and its consequence, which Luther called "Christian Liberty" or "the liberty of a Christian" in his little gem of an essay by that name...

The point is amazingly simple, which is why so many of us just don't get it. Heaven is free because love is free. It is ours for the taking. The taking is faith. "If you believe, you will be saved." It is really that simple. If I offer you a gift, you have it if and only if you have faith to take it.

The primacy of faith does not discount or denigrate works but liberates them. Our good works can bow also be free - free from the worry and slavery and performance anxiety of having to buy Heaven with them. Our good works can now flow from genuine love of neighbor, not fear of Hell. nobody wants to be loved merely as a mean to build up the lover's merit pile. That attempt is ridiculous logically as well as psychologically. How much does Heaven cost? A thousand good works? Would 999 no do then? The very question shows its own absurdity. That absurdity comes from forgetting that God is love."

-Peter Kreeft. The God Who Loves You. pg 23-24.

Thoughts? I think he is wrong about the Protestant and Catholic agreement (or else someone owes Ridley, Latimer, De Bres, Cranmer, etc. a big apology for that whole burning at the stake thing). But if he really believes it, that prompts 3 possibilities: 1) Kreeft was being clever and vague - not use of "alone," even though he cites Luther. 2) Kreeft didn't understand what he was saying and has moved past it (thus his popularity among Catholics today) 3) Kreeft is an uncalled out heretic (Romanly speaking):


Andrew said...

That book by Peter Kreeft is heretical, thus probably why it's one of his less popular among Catholics.

As well Kreeft promotes the Penal Substitution Atonement model in his Apologetics handbook. This possibly places him in a heretical or at least heterodox position. Whilst Penal Substitution has not been officially condemned, every major Catholic theologian I've ever heard of has stated that this model leads to Protestant theology which is incompatible with the Catholic faith.

So either option 2 or 3.

I'm hoping he has moved on from these views (he repudiates sola fide in his recent "Catholic Christianity"). But there are some very well known Catholics with views condemned by or at least frowned upon by the Church. (St. Robert Bellarmine on the Vulgate, Henri de Lubac on Grace & Nature, Hans Urs Von Balthasar on Christ's descent into Hell, Tielhard de Chardin on the Fall of Man, etc.)

JM said...

Which makes the last two popes heretics as well then, since they say exactly the same thing. And we will not even touch on Paul VI.

Anonymous said...

"I may have utter faith, so that I can move mountains; yet if I lack charity I count for nothing" I Corinthians 13:2

He claims John Paul II agrees with him. I'd be very surprised if this was the case and conveniently he doesn't provide quotations.

Tim said...

I think it is clear enough that Peter Kreeft is endorsing the doctrine of initial faith, which is free and cannot be worked for. Faith is a gift. However, in order to nourish our faith, we must excercise it daily with good works. Kreeft is only agreeging with the first half of Luther's theology (initial faith is a free gift and cannot be worked for) but he most certainly disagrees with Luther in as much as he holds to the doctrine that one's faith is dead and worthless unless it is nourished by good works.