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Yes or No?: Straight Answers to Tough Questions About Christianity Paperback – March 1, 1991
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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About the Author
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is one of the most widely read Christian authors of our time. His many bestselling books cover a vast array of topics in spirituality, theology, and philosophy. They include Practical Theology, Back to Virtue, Because God Is Real, You Can Understand the Bible, Angels and Demons, Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, and A Summa of the Summa.
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I have given away several copies of "Yes or No" to people curious about Christianity, and to some who are fallen away or inactive Christians. If their minds are even a little open, this are very grateful for the gift.
If all evaluations were based on the quality of the arguments, and not the resulting lifestyle impositions (ultimately imposed by the conclusions), then most all would have provided 5 stars. You have to be intellectually honest to appreciate this book.
Some readers may find this book difficult, challenging, or possibly condescending. I think that may be because we are largely unused to open, honest dialogue, being more familiar with both invective and polite skirting of issues than open talk. Chris can seem a bit snottish when read some ways, but perhaps that is just because it is difficult to know tone of voice from a text. I imagine Chris being enthusiastic, not snotty, and I think Sal's responses reflect that-- after all, who wouldn't lose it with someone if he thought he was constantly being patronised.
This book is challenging on a spiritual level, both to Christians and non-Christians. It is easy for those of us who are Christians to think we have the only truth, or that questioning God is somehow unfaithful. Kreeft aptly demonstrates that true faith always questions, that unquestioning faith is often very immature faith. We live in a complex world and we face complex problems, and experience tough times that would lead anyone to ask the big questions- why do bad things happen? how can we be certain of God's existence? etc. These challenge us, and can lead us to lose faith or to go deeper, but almost as bad as losing faith is not growing in it. Kreeft points out that faith isn't stagnant.
This is also a challenge to non-Christians, to be open to the answers to the tough questions that they ask, even if the answers are frightening. Christianity is often a scary thing, not because it's bad, but because true Christianity is life-changing, as Kreeft demonstrates. This is a good lesson for everyone, non-Christians and Christians, that inviting God into our lives and to work in us will mean a total reorientation of our lives-- away from ourselves. It is difficult to be out of the driver seat, or to live in a way that isn't seeking what's benefits us most but what is right and good and loving. This is, again, a challenge to everyone, but to the honest non-Christian seeker it may be especially intimidating.
We are, all of us, called to be seekers. Kreeft eloquently explains this in his introduction. He also recognises the dangers of poor Christianity to deepening faith and to attracting new seekers. As Christians, we believe that truth may be found in many places, but that when one seeks it actively and honestly, it all leads to one place: Jesus. This is perhaps the best reminder to Christians, that our faith is not about a church, or about lighting candles or saying words-- but that all those things, and we, are centered on God. We are church to be about Jesus, not Christian to be about church-- and Kreeft is great on this point. All our traditions and belief are to point to God, not to ourselves.
Another point that Kreeft makes well, and that is uncomfortable to many, is that relativism is empty. There is, in fact, truth, and it goes beyond whatever happens to float one's boat. We shy away from this in our culture, and the result is that, because we refuse to recognise any kind of overarching morality, we find ourselves witness to evils more terrible than should even be uttered, and only this jars us from our relativistic stupor. Kreeft says, yes, it is a leap of faith to be this certain, but faith is about surety-- not without questions, not without struggles, but never without hope and the promise of salvation.
Kreeft also does not fall into the trap of suggesting that reason has no role in faith. According to Kreeft, reason is the path to faith. It does not replace faith, as faith is a choice, not an equation by which you unequivocally prove the right answer-- people have argued about lesser truths for centuries. Rather, reason leads you to the point of choice to believe or not, and that reason, which is a gift from God, can never be in contrast to truth or faith, which are also of God. Even some Christians forget that reason is not checked at the door of the church, or, in more extreme cases, at the baptismal font. Kreeft eloquently makes a case for rationality in faith that will challenge both those who see it as a hindrance to faith and those who think that only the mindless can be Christian.
I think this is a great read, and anyone who is open-minded about faith should read it-- and anyone who isn't but wants to be should as well. Let it speak to you. Four stars because it's not perfect, but it's pretty frigging good. There are a lot of people making the case against God; any fair-minded individual owes it to themselves to read an intelligent yet accessible case for him.
Peter Kreeft writes in the service of others, and is able to set aside vanity to communicate important truth. I value him very very highly!