Peter John Kreeft
March 16, 1937
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
|Part of a series on|
Peter John Kreeft (//; born March 16, 1937) is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he is the author of over eighty books on Christian philosophy, theology and apologetics. He also formulated, together with Ronald K. Tacelli, Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
Kreeft was born March 16, 1937, in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of John and Lucy Kreeft. He took his AB at Calvin College (1959) and an MA at Fordham University (1961). He completed his doctoral studies in 1965, also at Fordham where he completed a dissertation under the direction of W. Norris Clarke. He subsequently completed his post-graduate studies at Yale University.
Kreeft joined the philosophy faculty of the Department of Philosophy of Boston College in 1965. He has debated several academics in issues related to God's existence. Shortly after he began teaching at Boston College he was challenged to a debate on the existence of God between himself and Paul Breines, an atheist and history professor, which was attended by a majority of undergraduate students. Kreeft later used many of the arguments in this debate to create the Handbook of Christian Apologetics with then undergraduate student Ronald K. Tacelli.
In 1971, Kreeft published an article titled "Zen In Heidegger's 'Gelassenheit'" in the peer-reviewed journal International Philosophical Quarterly, of Fordham University. In 1994, he was an endorser of the document "Evangelicals and Catholics Together". He also formulated, with R. Tacelli, "Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God".
Kreeft converted to Catholicism during his college years. A key turning point came when he was asked by a Calvinist professor to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church that it traced itself to the early Church. He said that, on his own, he "discovered in the early Church such Catholic elements as the centrality of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, prayers to saints, devotion to Mary, an insistence on visible unity, and apostolic succession."
The "central and deciding" factor for his conversion was "the Church's claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christ." He reportedly applied C. S. Lewis's trilemma (either Jesus is Lunatic, Liar, or Lord): "I thought, just as Jesus made a claim about His identity that forces us into one of only two camps ... so the Catholic Church’s claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be."
According to Kreeft's personal account, his conversion to Catholic Christianity was influenced by, among other things, Gothic architecture and Thomistic philosophy, the writings of St. John of the Cross, the logic of asking saints to pray for us, and a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City when he was twelve years old, "feeling like I was in heaven ... and wondering why, if Catholics got everything else wrong, as I had been taught, they got beauty so right..."
Although a Catholic, he places central emphasis on the unity between Catholics and Protestants.