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4.8 out of 5 stars
Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion
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85 of 85 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Peter Kreeft's new book, Back to Virtue, is the best introduction to the topic that I have ever read. Kreeft makes the subject matter appealing, accessible, and understandable.
In the book, Kreeft explains how our civilization has rejected the idea of virtue and why we desparately need to recover this moral vision in order to know true blessedness inwardly and good relationships outwardly. As Thomas Merton wrote, "We are not peace with others because we are not peace with ourselves, and we are not peace with ourselves because we are not peace with God."
Kreeft argues that we need a clear roadmap concerning right and wrong--and that roadmap is clearly discovered in God's Word. "The most striking feature of God's roadmap is the stark fact of the Two Roads. There is the road that leads to Life, and there is the road that leads to Death. There is Good, and there is Evil. There is Right and there is Wrong" (11). We must regain the wisdom of those who have gone before us in order to meet the challenges of the present and the future. C. S. Lewis concisely presents the modern problem: "For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique." Kreeft argues that we must return to a historic understanding of virtue and vice in order to confront the moral turmoil that surrounds us. "In an age of relativism, orthodoxy is the only possible rebellion left" (189).
With this historical backdrop in place, Kreeft introduces his readers to the four cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation. "Cardinal" comes from the Latin word for "hinge". All other virtues "hinge" on these four. He then considers the three theological virtues--faith, hope, and love. Finally, he considers the seven deadly sins and contrasts them with the Beautitudes.
In short, this book is well worth its weight in gold. It is a fine introduction to a subject that needs to be recovered in our society and--even more importantly--in our churches. We are to make every effort to add virtue to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). This book will go a long way in helping us do this.
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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a freshman seminar at college, and I absolutely devoured it. Kreeft is very much a traditionalist - he uses sources ranging from the early Church Fathers to modern philosphers, yet all of them fit together seamlessly to make the point he wants you to get. I have re-read this book several times, and each time I find more helpful information on how to live the type of life Christ calls for. Whether for personal devotion or a study of Christian morality, I would highly recommend this book.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Philosopher and Cultural Critic Peter Kreeft has written an outstanding book discussing virture in Western Culture. He opens the book by asking "Is Virtue Out of Date?". This sets the tone as he spends the next couple of chapters on how Western Culture got to the point in the lack of virtue we now see before us.
The middle of his book discusses the "Cardinal Virtues" and "Theological Virtues" and their importance. He then does a comparison and contrast between the "Beatitudes" and the "Seven Deadley Sins." His conculsion is a little too short for such a profound work, yet rating this important book four stars would not do it justice. Four and a half would be more appropiate, so I'm rounding it off at five stars.
A Must read for all Christians in Western Culture, and others who are concern about the decline of virtue in our culture.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 4, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Do you believe that life today is so confusing? And do you believe that the modern world is morally confused? If you do, you will find Peter Kreeft's "Back to Virtue" stimulating and enlightening. Kreeft examines modern civilization and why it is at risk. He poses the question, "What ever became of virtue?" and proceeds to examine the absence of virtue in today's world and why it's absence has led to moral confusion.

"Back to Virtue" begins with review of spiritual history and how we got to this state of confusion. In modern life, life flows from the modern world view that there is no God; therefore we play God to the world. As a result, we do not have any shared principles (virtues) as each person can decide what is virtuous and what is not. There is no notion of any universal and objective morality, no meeting place.

The rest of Kreeft's work (most of the book) examines the key to eliminating confusion, personal virtue. He goes into great detail examining each - the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues - and the role each plays in an ordered world. He ends with a beautiful discussion of the Beatitudes and their role in confronting the seven deadly sins. You will be stimulated, enlightened, and motivated by each of these discussions.

"The patient, Western civilization, may indeed die soon and will certainly die some day, for everything human is mortal. But it need not die now. Though we are sliding towards the abyss...we can (still) turn back the clock which keeps false time." All we need to do is grab onto the footholds presented in this book - the cardinal virtues, the theological virutes, and the Beatitudes. "We are the slaves of time and the masters of morality rather than vice versa. We can return."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book sat on our bookshelf for several years before I picked it up one day out of boredom. What a wonderful suprise to discover Peter Kreeft. This book gave me pause to step back from our modern world in which anything goes to see that we do live in a world of good and evil--sin and virtue. These distinctions are not to be ignored, because, as he writes, they are of "life and death" proportions.

Peter Kreeft is the modern day G.K. Chesterton. Don't miss him.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2009
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
While I'm glad I read Prof. Kreeft's "Back to Virtue," I had a tough time getting through it. At one point, I set it aside and was almost certain I wouldn't return to it. But I ultimately did return to it, and I think it's done me good.

Prof. Kreeft here provides numerous pieces of excellent advice and memorable insights. The problem, for me at least, was that his authorial voice is quite cold. I didn't get the feeling that he sympathizes with the reader's struggles to stay on the straight and narrow path. His presentation is more along the lines of "this is what you have to do; if you can't hack it, then so much the worse for you."

Another problem for me was one that seems to crop up in many discussions of ethics: Once the author has established the governing principles, he writes as if the application of those principles to specific ethical questions is a cut-and-dried matter that requires no real analysis. However, the most troubling ethical questions are rarely that simple. Agreeing on first principles is only half -- or maybe three quarters -- of the battle. We still need to reason from the general principles to what should be done in the specific situation.

For example, Prof. Kreeft says, in his chapter on avarice, that the profit motive is bad, and that nothing good can come from something bad. But he doesn't justify this point with any reasoning or explore its implications. One wonders, for instance, how Prof. Kreeft would reconcile that assertion with the Church's investing surplus funds in order to achieve a healthy return, as opposed to, say, making interest-free loans to the faithful or the needy. I'm sure Prof. Kreeft *can* reconcile those points, but he doesn't do so in "Back to Virtue."

Finally, regarding the Kindle edition specifically, it is very well done, with few typos, good formatting, a linked table of contents, and linked footnotes. One excellent feature that I haven't seen elsewhere was a "back to text" link at the end of every footnote. This is great because it enables you to skim the footnotes and go directly from a given note that might interest you to the relevant text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I thought I knew what virtue was. I did not. I had it confused with morality. Although closely related, virtue is not the same thing as morality. This book opened my eyes to a world of sanctity that had been just beyond my reach. It placed my spirituality in sharper focus; it made me think about the "why" of being good.
I have recommended this to every thinking person I know. Unfortunately, I get a lot of blank stares. I understand. Had I not stumbled on to it through my own misconception, I probably would have passed it up as well. But by the grace of God, I did not pass it up. I hope you don't either.
It is not a book to blast through in one sitting; it is a book that needs to be poured over, mulled, walked away from for a while, snatched up in a moment of clarity, beckoned by as it stares at you from the shelf reminding you that you have more to learn in this world than the thinly-veiled evil that is shoved in your face every day.
Kreeft's writing is deep but not hard to read. He does not use mysterious verbiage; he uses every day words. But the concepts are meaty and thought-provoking. But do not be afraid. You can read this AND you can understand. If I can, you can. This book will enrich your life.
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on March 3, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Without being condescending this book is easy to read, readily accessible to the ordinary (not philosophy professor type) reader, and very sound. it provided an excellent basis for a very lively and challenging discussion in our book group. My only complaint is about the few toss-off comments condemning capitalism rather out of hand. Capitalism is not perfect ~ but it certainly deserves a respectful discussion of its merits and flaws. However, these comments were not germane to the principal points Kreeft makes. His discussions of the vices opposing the development of the virtues was insightful and very helpful, and the emphasis on the responsibility of the individual person for his own virtue bears much reflection.
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on February 10, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a book for someone who knows that to make a better world it takes rolling up the sleeves and cleaning up our act. Peter Kreeft worked hard to write this book. It is apparent he has studied extensively but it is also apparent he has engaged with people and with our society. It is good to read a book that is authored by someone I can count on as a friend, a collaborator. And this is the case with this book. It speaks to my intelligence but also my integrity and my heart. We need more leaders like Peter!
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on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
I found this book at the library on a recent retreat, and it was by Divine Design that I did find it! I read it in 2 days. It is, like I said, "excellent." And Dr. Kreeft makes it clear, crystal clear, that "nice" is NOT a virtue. Tolerance (of evil) is not either. I can only say in closing, AMEN!
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