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Interview with Dr. Peter Kreeft, Part 1

Verbum interviewed Dr. Peter Kreeft, Catholic convert, author, professor, and apologist. We are pleased to offer 27 volumes of Kreeft’s work,  the Peter Kreeft Bundle, including 3 separate collections, featured on Verbum’s Monthly Sale through the end of September.

Q. What role do you see philosophy playing in the work of the New Evangelization?

A. The role of professional philosophy has steadily decreased in Western culture for the last half a century at least. I think philosophy will have little or no role to play in “the New Evangelization” because professional philosophy has become a victim of its own technological sophistication and it has abandoned even the attempt to communicate to ordinary people as distinct from scholars. What we could call amateur philosophy, however, will have a crucial role, because it is universal and necessary and distinctively human. “Amateur” literally means “lover.” Real philosophy, then, is an “amateur” affair because that is what philosophy is and means, according to its inventors: “the love of wisdom”; not the cultivation of cleverness.

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Philosophy asks fundamental questions like “Why?” and “What?” If we do not ask why we are doing evangelization, and why it must be new, and what the New Evangelization essentially is, we will be muddle-headed in our actions as well as our thought.

Q.  You have written extensively on the philosophy and theology of St Thomas Aquinas in A Shorter Summa and A Summa of the Summa. In your experience as a teacher, how would you suggest getting young people excited about the Angelic Doctor?

A. Getting anyone excited about Aquinas is mainly a matter of exposure. His clarity and commonsense and intelligence all sell themselves and don’t need salesmen. There is no need to package him for youth, or for moderns, or for any other subclass of human beings. You don’t even need to translate him into modern language. Once you understand the meanings of a few basic technical philosophical terms like “form” and “matter” and “efficient cause” and “final cause,” you see that Aquinas is very simple and clear.

Q. Among the works which are part of this Verbum collection, are there one or two that you really enjoyed writing? Was there one which was particularly difficult to write?

A. I enjoyed writing all my books; none were just duties. But I especially enjoy writing dialogues. An article in Aquinas’ Summa is really a dialogue, though in condensed form, a dramatic conflict between two ideas, Yes or No, with one winning and refuting the other. Of all the dialogues I’ve written, I suppose A Refutation of Moral Relativism is the most important culturally now and for the New Evangelization. As recent popes have told us, Western culture is dying because of this cancer (moral relativism) above all others. That’s the abstract and general way of putting it; the more concrete and personal way of putting the same point is Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s point in his great 1978 Harvard commencement address, “We have forgotten God.”

Cyril of Alexandria—Saint & Scrapper

Today’s guest post is by Robert Klesko, Verbum’s Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me – Psalm 69:9

The above quote from the Psalmist seems especially appropriate to the life and ministry of St. Cyril, Pope of Alexandria (c. 376-444). He was zealous. Zealous for the authentic Christian faith. But zeal without a bridle can lead to failures. Cyril certainly made mistakes in regard to his dealings with the city’s Jewish population and Orestes, the Roman Governor in Alexandria. He was prone to be hotheaded and unflinching in what he viewed to be unjust persecution against his flock from rival religious and political authority. However, Cyril is not honored as a saint and doctor of the Church for his political savvy. In fact, I believe it was precisely these early failures which caused him to refocus his ministry on the Christological questions of his time.

Cyril of course is known for his dispute with Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. This dispute produced some of the most prodigious theology of the Patristic Age. His theology is available from Verbum as part of our special monthly sale. Our six-volume set of the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria will introduce you to the zealous champion of the orthodox faith. Included in this collection are the Five Tomes against Nestorius, which set the groundwork for the Council of Ephesus (431AD) and Chalcedon (451AD). In Tome II, Cyril makes the following affirmation of the dual nature of the human and divine in Jesus:

Yet how is it not obvious to all that the Only-Begotten being God by Nature has been made man, not by connection simply […] considered as external or accidental, but by true union, ineffable and passing understanding. And thus He is conceived of as One and Only, and everything said befits Him and all will be said of One Person.

This statement, and others like it, heavily influenced the Church’s doctrine of hypostasis, the understanding that Christ is one person with two natures, human and divine. The “hypostatic union” articulated by St. Cyril would become one of the key doctrines of Christological and Trinitarian theology.

Beyond his Christological writings, this six-volume set will introduce you to St. Cyril as a Biblical scholar. Included are his two-volume commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke and the companion two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John. Composed of sermons delivered by St. Cyril on themes in the Gospels, these commentaries offer a rich exposition of the Alexandrian school of theology. Anyone interested in Patristics or Biblical theology would benefit greatly by making these resources part of their Verbum library.

Verbum’s sale on the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria is for a limited time, so don’t let this opportunity pass by. Studying Cyril’s theology will give you a clear understanding of the development of the Church’s doctrine on the divinity and humanity of Christ. What a great opportunity to look at Christ through the eyes of one who was among the first to grapple with the classic theological question, “What do you think of the Christ?” (Mt. 22:42). Let the study of St. Cyril’s work ignite the zeal for Christ in your own life. Order today and take advantage of the savings!

Take 26% off Verbum’s 13‑volume Homilies Bundle

Verbum’s power extends beyond pure Bible study: some of its most useful features have to do with researching and preparing homilies. And, with features like the Catholic Topical Index, homily prep has never been easier.

Verbum’s new Homilies Bundle gives you insight from some of today’s leading homiletics experts. You can browse hundreds of homilies on a variety of liturgical events, from Sunday and daily Masses to feast days, weddings, and more.

Of course, all these homilies are linked and fully searchable, so you can study your homily side by side with relevant Bible verses, Catechism references, and Church documents.

Plus, with Verbum’s lectionary layout, you can open up a homily right next to the Lectionary, Roman Missal, and Bible for extra inspiration.

Homily preparation can be time-consuming. Verbum speeds it up—as you study, you’ll find references to works you may not have even considered looking up, all thanks to the way that Verbum organizes your library and links it together.

Want to learn more about Verbum and homiletics? See how Verbum can help you by watching this quick video.

Take 26% off the Homilies Bundle today!

Take 24% off the CUA Studies in Early Christianity!

For just a little while, you can pre-order the Catholic University of America Studies in Early Christianity collection for 24% off!

The collection delves into the history of language, literature, social context, and patristic thought to bring you a rich overview of the ancient Church and its development over time.

These seven volumes give you brilliant original translations of key ancient texts, as well as dozens of critical essays on important historical documents like the Book of Steps, Liber Graduum,and more.

Discover the context and influence of Syriac texts in Christian thought. Examine how Christianity was spread by writers, readers, and translators in the second through seventh centuries. Analyze how the early Church Fathers dealt with ethical dilemmas, and apply their methods to twenty-first-century problems.

What makes this collection special is its brilliant historical scholarship. If you’re serious about exploring Church history, this collection is one you won’t want to pass up.

Deepen your understanding of history, language, patristics, and more. Pre-order the Catholic University of America Studies in Early Christianity collection for 24% off!

Peter Kreeft Collections Now In Verbum!

More of Peter Kreeft’s work is finally available in Verbum, and now on Pre-Pub we have three fantastic collections and a bundle that includes 27 volumes of his work.

Now you can get:

all for over 20% off today.

Or—save an extra $45 and get all of these works in the Peter Kreeft Bundle (27 volumes).

Peter Kreeft, the world-renowned Catholic apologist and convert from Protestantism, is widely known as the “C.S. Lewis of Catholicism,” in large part due to his extremely intelligent and approachable apologetic style.

These volumes bring Kreeft’s years of research, debate, and counseling experience to bear on tough concepts, with a consistently clear and concise voice that is very much his own.

Now you can get 27 volumes of some of his post popular work, including his “Socrates Meets” series where Kreeft puts modern philosophers and their ideas to the test using the Socratic method.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to post a short excerpt from his book Catholic Christianity, giving you a sneak peek at the text.

Kreeft’s work is rich in citations of the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church; in Verbum, this collection comes to life as all these citations link to their sources.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction of Catholic Christianity:

Most converts from Protestantism say they have only added to, not subtracted from, their Protestant faith in becoming Catholics. A Catholic Christian is a “full gospel” Christian, a full or universal Christian (“Catholic” means universal). As Lewis pointed out in the preface to Mere Christianity, “mere” Christianity is not some abstract lowest common denominator arrived at by stripping away the differences between Protestant and Catholic or between one kind of Protestant and another. It is a real and concrete thing; and Catholicism is that thing to the fullest, not that plus something else.

Far from alienating Catholics from Protestants, this unifies them at the center. The part of the old Baltimore Catechism that a Protestant would affirm the most emphatically is its heart and essence, which comes right at the beginning: “Why did God make you? God made me to know him, love him, and serve him in this world and to enjoy him forever in the next.” And the part of the Protestant Heidelberg Catechism that a Catholic would affirm the most emphatically is its heart, which also comes right at the beginning: “What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I belong body and soul, in life and in death-not to myself but to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and . . . makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

I also thought of calling the book What Is a Catholic? The emphasis should be on the word “is.” But it seldom is. When I ask my students what a Catholic is, they tell me what a Catholic believes or (more rarely) how a Catholic behaves or (occasionally) how a Catholic worships. These are the three parts of this book, but the root of all three, and the unifying principle of all three, is the new being, the supernatural life, the “sanctifying grace”, that is the very presence of God in us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church never loses sight of this essence and, therefore, of this same unity among its four parts. It is the very same thing, the same reality, that (I) the Creed defines, (2) the Commandments command, and (3) the sacraments communicate. Therefore, at the beginning of its section on morality, the Catechism connects these three and says: “What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become ‘children of God’ [Jn 1:12; I Jn 3:1], ‘partakers of the divine nature’ [2 Pet 1:4]. Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life ‘worthy of the gospel of Christ’ [Phil 1:27]. They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [hereafter CCC 1692). Every part of this organic body that is the Catholic faith is connected through its heart, which is Christ himself, “this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). That is how St. Paul summarized the central mystery of the faith, and therefore that is how the Church has always taught it, and therefore that is how the Catechism teaches it, and therefore that is how this book teaches it. Its peculiar specialty is not to specialize; its peculiar angle is to have no angle but to stand up right at the center.

Half a century ago such a book would have been superfluous, for Catholics knew then twenty times more than they know now about everything in their faith: its essence, its theology, its morality, its liturgy, and its prayer; and there were twenty times more books like this one being written. The need was less, and the supply was more. Today the need is much more, and the supply is much less. Since “nature abhors a vacuum”, spiritually as well as physically, I offer this unoriginal “basic data” book to those Catholics who have been robbed of the basic data of their heritage.

For the first time since the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, the Church has authorized an official universal catechism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because the current crisis is the greatest since the Reformation. All Catholics now have a simple, clear, one-volume reference work to answer all basic questions about what the Church officially teaches. There is no longer any excuse for the ignorance, ambiguity, or fashionable ideological slanting (at any angle) that has been common for over a generation. No one can be an educated Catholic today without having a copy of this Catechism and constantly referring to it. Let no one read this book instead of that one.

The expressed aim of the Catechism was defined as follows: “This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium” [living teaching authority]. “It is intended to serve ‘as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries’” (CCC II).

This book is an attempt to be no more and no less than an extension of that.

As you can see, Kreeft has already referenced the Catechism and numerous Church documents multiple times. In Verbum these references are all active, letting you jump from Kreeft’s text straight to the Catechism.

With more than 5800 pages in 27 volumes, this bundle is one you won’t want to miss. Get the whole bundle today for 21% off!

Have a favorite Peter Kreeft talk or book that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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