Once again, a book in seven takes. 🙂 (This will probably become a habit, though there are worse habits to have, don’t you agree?) Jen has the full collection of Quick Takes over at her place, so be sure to check it out.
“Christ’s outstretched arms on the Cross are God’s answer to our childlike question: ‘How much do you love me?’ ‘This much!’ How big is that stretch? It’s the distance between Heaven and earth that was bridged by the Incarnation, and it was the distance between Heaven and Hell that was bridged by our salvation.”
I’ve heard good things about Peter Kreeft, and he’s been on my “authors to read” list for quite some time. What inspired me to actually find a book of his was more than just the rave reviews and insightful excerpts I’d seen around. It was because I listened to him (courtesy of the free audio (at his website or through iTunes) which I found out about because Rebecca Teti posted a link as part of a thought-provoking reflection some time back).
“God is not our Answer Man, our servant, the means to our end. To think that is pagan anthropomorphism. No, God is the End. He is the Absolute; He is not relative to us, but we to Him. He is the First, the Creator, the Initiator. He is the Wooer, and we the wooed; He is the Impregnator, and we are the impregnated; He is the Bridegroom; we are the bride.”
Maybe you think The Philosophy of Jesus sounds heavy-duty and perhaps even narcoleptic. Think again! It’s less than 150 pages and is written in a style that felt conversational. Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to quite a few of Kreeft’s lectures, and I could actually hear his voice in my head. The Philosophy of Jesus reads more like a discussion, like a friendly over-dinner talk, than like a treatise on what Jesus believed and taught, and, really, that’s what it is.
“But like Nicodemus, many of us still just don’t get it. We miss the very center and essence of this whole religion business. We think it’s about thinking differently, believing differently, evaluating differently, acting differently, and forget that the root of all of these things is being differently. Christ came to give us not just new thoughts and values but new being.”
This is one of the best books on theology and philosophy I’ve read, in part because its writing is so approachable. Never once did I feel that Kreeft had dumbed things down for me, and yet I also felt (perhaps mistakenly) that I understood. What I so enjoy about Kreeft (and I’m no expert on him, mind you) is how he makes philosophy something that’s applicable to everyday life in terms that we all use. He takes images from the muddle of my life and he uses them to illustrate a point that would have otherwise sailed over my head.
“That’s the best thing we can do: look at Jesus. That’s what Mary did and Martha didn’t. And when we look to Him for help because we have real or apparent needs, whether big or little, whether falling World Trade Centers or falling ice cream cones, the best thing He can tell us is what He told Job: ‘Just trust Me, child. Know yourself and know Me. I am the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), and you are only a child who cannot understand My designs. Your wisdom is trust, my wisdom is providence. For you are only you, and I am I. I am not man and you are not God. Why is it so hard for you to remember that elementary fact? Let me help you remember: tell me, “where were you when I designed your world?”’(Job 38:4)”