A Famous Convert’s Challenge to Non-Catholic Christians

Photo Credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP.
Photo Credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP.

Dr. Peter Kreeft is a philosopher, theologian, and famous Catholic convert from Calvinism. He’s a highly sought-after speaker, a prolific writer (of profound talent), and if you haven’t heard of him before, I’m happy to introduce you.

In the esteemed tradition of Christian giants like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, Kreeft delivers deep theological truths in a snappy and relevant way—something others of us, yours truly included, struggle with daily. Kreeft makes it look easy; his ability to sift complicated truths down to easily accessible ideas is uncanny and one of his more recent works, How to Be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint, easily makes my list of top ten Catholic books of all time.

This year, 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Kreeft, a spirited ecumenist, has just written a book called Catholics and Protestants: What Can Learn from Each Other.

 

In prompting his book, Kreeft made an appearance on Catholic Answers Live and spent some time taking questions from a wide range of listeners—Catholics and Protestants alike. It’s in these contexts, with gentle humour and the right amount of irreverence towards what could be a very sticky subject, that Kreeft really shines.

In responding to a caller who asked about becoming Catholic, with a wife who was on board but not quite ready to take the plunge, Kreeft said, “God put you here to show her the truth Church; God put her here to show you truth faith. Be patient.”

To another caller who asked about charismatic gifts in the Catholic Church Kreeft lauded them and then offered caution saying, “They’re great, they’re biblical, they’re Catholic, but sometimes those people can be a bit flakey.”

And in response to a caller asking what Catholics can do to share the Catholic faith with their non-Catholic Christian friends, Kreeft offered a challenge which was utterly simple but incredibly profound.

See, the Catholic Church holds a different view of Communion from many Protestant denominations. Following a tradition which has existed since the beginning of the Church, Catholics agree that Jesus is miraculously present in the elements of Communion.

In other words, the wafer we eat and the wine we consume is actually Jesus in all but appearance.

It’s a miracle.

While this view of Communion, or the Eucharist, is generally held in other ancient churches, since the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago, most Protestant denominations have developed a different understanding.

Instead of an actual spiritual exchange taking place, these denominations see Communion as merely symbolic.

Kreeft’s challenge, however, puts this to the test.

If the Catholic Church is right, says Kreeft, than Protestants are missing out on the chance to get as close to Jesus as possible while still on earth. I’ve written about this before, too.

So try it out, says Kreeft.

Go into a Catholic Church during Eucharistic Adoration. That’s when a Communion wafer, miraculously changed into the Body of Christ, is exposed at the front of the church, on the altar, for Catholics to worship. It might sound strange to non-Catholic ears, but bear with me…

Kreeft says go, sit in the front row, and pray. Pray that if Christ is really present in that Eucharistic wafer, if what the Catholic Church says is true, that God will draw you in to Catholic fellowship.

That God will make you a Catholic.

Because, says Kreeft, if what the Church says about the Eucharist is true then God will—because He’s been waiting this whole time. And if the Catholic experience of Christianity is the most authentic and closest experience to what God intended, then He will. And if that little weird wafer, and all the weird little Catholic pieties are really the best way to get to know and be in relationship with Christ, then He will surely draw you in.

Try it, says Kreeft, because what do you have to lose?

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