Q & A

From an interview with Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College:

Many B.C. students consider themselves to be Catholics, but state that they have trouble reconciling the Church’s teachings with their own “personal beliefs.” What would you say to such a student?

Many of the Church’s teachings don’t require faith, only reason and honesty. For instance, the value of reason and honesty itself. I’d start by appealing to that. Use your reason. Think. And be fanatically honest with yourself. Don’t play games with yourself. Lying to others is bad enough, but lying to yourself is like putting out your own eyes. So if your “personal beliefs” are just your feelings, ask yourself why Hitler wasn’t as good as you are, because he lived according to his “personal beliefs” and feelings too. If, on the other hand, your “personal beliefs” are the result of your honest and rational search for truth, and you honestly believe you have good objective reasons for disbelieving some of the essential teachings of the Church, then you must follow your conscience and become a Protestant or a Muslim or a Buddhist or an agnostic or something else. If your personal beliefs contradict the Church’s definition of the Catholic faith, then you are not a Catholic, any more than I am a Buddhist if I believe in egotism and war, or a Marxist if I believe in the stock market. That’s not a personal insult, just a rational label. Honesty demands “truth in labeling.”

The whole interview, by the way, is worth a read.


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