Review Number One -- By: J. I. Packer
RAR 6:2 (Spring 1997) p. 181
Review Number One
This review comes from the doghouse. The back jacket of Ecumenical Jihad carries a commendation from me to the effect that “Peter Kreeft’s vision of things” should be pondered and discussed, because his theme is far-reaching and a great deal hangs on whether what he says is right. I have been publicly rubbished for this, as if recommending a book for discussion implies agreement with all it affirms. But not so. Kreeft is a Roman Catholic convert (he tells his
RAR 6:2 (Spring 1997) p. 182
story in chapter 8), and his enthusiastic projection of Rome as home, and of final salvation for honest non-Christian religionists according to C. S. Lewis and Vatican II, leaves me cold. Yet he is a top-class philosopher of the Thomist type, and a top-class writer with a whimsical imagination and a charmingly chummy style, and he digs you in the mental ribs in a most thought-provoking way. I commend his book because facing up to his energetic rib-digging seems to me a healthful discipline for all Christian minds.
He unfolds his theme as follows. First, he focuses on North America’s culture wars, and pleads for the “co-belligerence” (Schaeffer’s word, meaning cooperation in battle) of all who, for whatever reason, uphold the familial, communal, and educational values of historic Christendom in face of attacks from post- and anti-Christian opinion-and policy-makers (media, press, public school and university teachers, organs of government, etc.) His vision here is of Christians of all stripes, plus Jews, immigrant Muslims, and fellow-traveling agnostics and atheists, massing together for cultural counter attack (the jihad of his title), and he rubs the reader’s nose in the question, when the foundations are being destroyed, what should those who think of themselves as on God’s side do? Then he dreams up conversations with Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad and Moses, and a trialogue between C. S. Lewis, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther, to dramatize concretely the idea that all religious roads, faithfully followed, lead savingly to God in Jesus Christ, if not here, then hereafter. Framed by Mary and the Mass, Kreeft’s Christ is the Christ of Vatican II and the new Catholic Catechism; one may ask whether at these points he is the Christ of the Scriptures. But be that as it may, Kreeft’s hope clearly is that joining in the jihad will lead Protestants and other prodigals to Roman-type faith in Jesus, as well as helping Mary (yes, that is what he says) to win the war. Thus he put it, as would sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
RAR 6:2 (Spring 1997) p. 183
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