Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Peter Kreeft on Islam: WTF?

Kreeft's lastest book...

"Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims is devoted to the proposition that the things that we (Muslims and Christians) have in common are more important than the things that separate us. In fact, writes Kreeft in his Introduction, we have a lot to learn from Islam: “…I also say that Islam has great and deep resources of morality and sanctity that should inspire us and shame us and prod us to admiration and imitation.” Instead of fearing Islam, Kreeft says that Christians should join together with Muslims in an “ecumenical jihad” against our common enemies, sin and secularism." - Source
Evidently we Christians misunderstand Islam...
The Islamic State of Iraq, which has already claimed responsibility for Sunday's assault on a Catholic church Mass in downtown Baghdad, said its deadline for Egypt's Copts to release the women had expired and its fighters would attack Christians wherever they can be reached.  "We will open upon them (Christians) the doors of destruction and rivers of blood," the insurgent group said in a statement posted late Tuesday on militant websites. - Source
The Christian community in Pakistan is shocked at increasing violence and abuse targeted at young Christian girls.  Two Christian girls were abducted, raped and murdered by a group of Muslims. A 13 year old became pregnant after being raped by a young Muslim. - Source
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – “The ultimatum made two days ago to the church of Egypt for the release of two Muslim women held prisoner, has expired. We have had no response and now you are all involved in the war on Islam , so be careful of the souls of your followers. " The so-called 'War Department' of the 'Islamic State of Iraq' (ISI) al-Qaeda in Iraq issued a statement on the Web to announce that the passing of the deadline of its "ultimatum" to the Egyptian Coptic Church to release two Egyptian women, Camilia Cheh and Wafa Constantine, wives of Coptic priests, whom according to the terrorists are detained against their will in a convent after converting to Islam.

Their conversion has been denied by all the Islamic religious authorities in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood have harshly attacked the authors of the massacre in Baghdad. Al-Qaeda, however, confirms that all Christians and their churches have become "legitimate targets" of the terrorist group and are therefore are in danger. The message issued today by the Iraqi cell of al-Qaeda also makes explicit reference to the Vatican. - Source
Photo: Peter Kreeft, philosophy professor, Boston College, a highly respected voice in orthodox Catholic circles for his many books of Christian apologetics.
H/T PewsittersNews


  1. I really like Peter Kreeft, but I always felt him to be naive on the subject of Islam. Yes, Christians living in the West could learn how to treat sexual morality seriously, how to take prayer seriously, etc. Yes, Muslims praying 5 times a day can put many of us to shame - I know it makes me feel lacking.

    But it's not the same - and Islamic piety is motivated by different notions than Christian ones. Sexual morality, for example, is based on Divine Will and not Divine Nature, which is a distinction with a difference (this is why jihadists are supposed to fornicate and inebriate their way through the afterlife).

    There are several things secularists and Christians have in common - not outright killing sinners is one of them.

    But both heresies are just as dangerous, in my opinion at least - and both attack Christ (yeah, yeah He's a prophet in Islam and all that, but that *is* an attack on WHO he really is). So why would someone as smart as Kreeft be so blind as to think we could join with one dangerous heresy to combat another dangerous heresy?

    Does he not see that it's the left-secularists and the Islamists who have been forming coalitions since modern secularism has existed?

  2. Kreeft: “…I also say that Islam has great and deep resources of morality and sanctity that should inspire us and shame us and prod us to admiration and imitation.”

    1. The punishment for theft is amputation of the right hand, the hand one uses to eat with at communal meals;[the left hand is used for cleaning oneself].

    2. The penalty for apostasy, abandoning the Islamic faith, is simple: death.

    3. For a woman to appear in public without a veil or burkah, is stoning.

    4. A husband may divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" four times.

    5. The only commandments are praying five times a day [always the same prayer; no "missal" needed], fasting during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan and making a pilgrimage to Mecca once in your lifetime. Everything else is OK.

    You want more?

  3. This really distresses me. Kreeft could visit Europe, especially England, where secularists and Muslims join hand in hand in suppressing traditional Christians, Catholics and Protestants. Or, like you mentioned, he could see how good Christians have it in the Islamic world. At least we can worship freely and build churches (for now) in the secular West.

    The Muslims know they can always kill the secularists when its all over (it worked in Iran), and their goal is to eradicate all other religions - by divine mandate. If the secular useful idiots will help them get the Christians out of the way, they will use that to their advantage. They are not interested in working with Christians on anything - they have no common goals with us.

    And the nice Muslims who sincerely deny all this - I've met some lovely wonderful Muslims, but as far as I can tell, they are heretics by the standards of their own religion, akin to Catholics who deny central Church doctrines and then say they have a "Catholic" position.

  4. Anonymous7:18 PM

    WTF, indeed. He is causing tremendous scandal with this nonsense and must be stopped. Happily, he might be. Tomorrow! The brilliant Robert Spencer is debating him at Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire tomorrow night - and it's being taped. It will be aired on Jihad Watch the next day. Let's pray that Spencer thoroughly trounces him in order to silence this bat crap craziness.
    Thanks for posting this, btw.

  5. Ray, to be fair, I don't think #3 has any basis in Islamic scripture of Hadith. I'd be surprised to see if that's really what any of the major schools of jurisprudence teach. They probably just beat her half dead. I'm not denying the practice, but it may be one of those things, like honor killing and female genital mutilation, which is not specifically prescribed by Shari'a but which Islamic culture nevertheless helps to facilitate.

    As far as #5 goes, they have SEVERAL commandments, down to how they are supposed to hold their privates when going to the bathroom. Like Hasidic Jews, orthodox Muslims have a rule for every tiny thing in life, and the study of Shari'a is a lifetime affair. But that's it - it's a hodge-podge of rules with no central meaning. E.g., Fornication is a sin, but raping infidel women isn't.

    Now, ANY commandment can be waived if want they are doing will advance the cause of Islam. So feel free to lie, cheat, and steal if it wins more booty/territory/influence for the 'Umma

  6. Honestly - it's cr*p like this that really, really upsets me...

  7. Peter is really solid and I'm disappointed to read this tripe.

    I will remember him in my prayers. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. Thanks for the clarification, Mercury. It's been some time since I have read much on Islamic practices.

  9. Check out Robert Spencer. His website is He's written lots of books that some may label polemic, but I find them to be very well-researched, fair, and accurate.

    His website also has commentary along with the text of the entire Qur'an. I believe Spencer is a Catholic deacon, and his writing often takes into account the fundamental differences between the religions.

    I used to be one of those "Well, *Islam* itself isn't problematic", but his books were the tip pf the iceberg for me in understanding the issue from a non-PC perspective.

  10. Wow! That is one of the most impressive resume's that I have ever seen. Thanks, Mercury.

    I studied Farsi in the Army (but I never got to use it and this was before the Shah was overthrown).

    Az shomaa, mamnoon hastam.

  11. I studied Arabic in college and for the DoD for a while, but I really didn't want to spend life listening to a bunch of recorded Arab voices in a never-ending conflict 'cause we won't name the real enemy (it really is an ugly spoken language, but looks pretty on paper), so I moved back home and started teaching.

    bism il-aabi wal-ibni war-ruuH il-qadiis. aamiin.

  12. "pretty on paper"

    But almost impossible to read handwritten items because to Persians and Arabs, penmanship is calligraphy that provides a substitute for art that bans the human image (except for some reason unknown to me, Persian miniatures).

    Not to mention a half dozen or more unwritten vowels.

  13. Unwritten vowels are not a problem with Arabic, it being a Semitic language - it's hard to explain, but there's a logic to it, just like in Hebrew.

    It makes NO sense in Persian or Turkish, which are languages not built on a Semitic root system, so the missing vowels can be very problematic.

  14. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Robert Spencer is a former student of Peter Kreeft.


  15. They both have entries in John Zmirak's "Disorientation" guide for college students facing ideologies that challenge their Faith (along with Fr. Z, Fr. Longnecker, The Anchoress, Mark Shea, Jimmy Akin, and others).

    Spencer takes apart Multiculturalism, Kreeft Progressivism (Fr. Z got Modernism, of course).

    I like both men, but I hope Spencer gives him a resounding defeat in that debate.

  16. Anonymous6:40 AM

    Ohhh, I love John Zmirak! He's my favorite writer. He is actually moderating this debate - it's taking place at the college where he is writer-in-residence.

    Terry, have you ever read his "Bad Catholics" books? - he has a third one coming out this month. The humor reminds me of you ;)

    I just discovered your blog and have spent hours reading your archives the past few days. I lit a candle for you in St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter yesterday!


  17. Mathilde - are you also from New Orleans? I live on the Northshore down here, but I grew up in St. Bernard Parish. To the rest of you, that's a "county", not a church parish.

    Whea y'at?

  18. In the Internet Age, there's no excuse to be an Islam ignoramus when you can take the Historyscoper's free online Islam history course anytime at your own pace and master all the key facts including terminology and ideology. To get started click

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  19. Peter Kreeft is either an innocent abroad or he's taking the "they're gonna win so I might as well suck up now" approach.

  20. I don't get it.

  21. Mathilde, Thank you very much - I appreciate the prayers.

  22. Dymphna ... I think he's naive, and probably believes Muslims he met and / or read, who may well be good people, at their word.

    Some conservative Christians fall into the trap of thinking "oh well, at least they're believers who may be able to ally with us against godless secularism". Kreeft is not the only one, and he IS quite critical of Islamic theology in his books, to be fair.

    Problem is, both ideologies tend to suppress and oppress Christianity. But Islam is a zero-sum game - neither Christians or secularists have any "right" to not be ruled by Muslims. Secularists are usually self-centered at least and don't necessarily have an overarching ideology - many don't know hat the hell they want.

    Islam has a holy book which says they MUST dominate Christians and make them feel subjugated. Secularism has radical variants certainly, but not *necessarily*.

  23. Anonymous11:30 AM

    The fact is, of course, that in the past, the Church, in the form of the Vatican, has found frequent common cause with Islam in international bodies. It is only because of the support of Islamic countries that the UN/International organization juggernaut has not gone futher on enshrining abortion than it has. At every point, it's Islam that has joined forces with the Vatican, trying to put on the brakes.

    Many Catholics still see that. Unfortunately, they have not caught up to even more recent strains of Islamic development.

    But that's some deep background.

    Honestly, I don't see what B16 says about Islam to be that different from what Kreeft says here.


  24. Anonymous11:55 AM

    I read the book. It seemed to me the point Kreeft most wanted to stress was not acceptance of Islam's tenets, but how seriously some Muslims take them--of course, he is not specifically condoning the obvious moral evils done in the name of Allah--but rather the zeal, I suppose, with which some Muslims live out their faith. Though they are wrong, they are remarkable witnesses who put the lukewarm to shame. One translation of the word "Islam" is "submission"; Kreeft is impressed with their adherence to what they believe to be God's will.

  25. Patrick Dunn - that makes sense. I would doubt that Kreeft plays light of their theological errors. I don't disagree that we could learn from their zeal. However, I also don't see why zealousness is in itself good (communists and Nazis can also be zealous). Maybe we should just learn from the Saints?

    And "submission" is not *a* translation of "islaam" (from "aslama" to submit oneself), but the ONLY translation. And it's not the same as Christian submission to the will of God, because in Islam, God IS will, and He can will things contrary to His nature because He has no constant nature.

  26. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Example #45870 to just stick with reading the Saints, instead of 'popular' modern authors?

  27. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Mercy - I think zeal is morally neutral. Kreeft, I believe, would say the same; by praising the zeal of Muslims and offering it to Christians as an example, he's presupposing that the zeal is directed towards a proper end, such as love for Christ and His Church.

    I grant your distinction about submission, though we submit to a God who is loving, who has promised fidelity to us and protection over His Church always, who seeks our salvation, etc. The one thing that pleases our God, actually, is faith, which I think is a kind of submission. The bottom line for Kreeft, I believe, is that we should imitate Islam-like submission to our God: that is the way of Christ - "thy will be done", of His mother - "be this done unto me according to your will" - and the way of the saints, as you suggest.

  28. Hmmmm.

    Interesting. How come so many "diacritical marks" when I see beautifully calligraphed Arabic script.

    I used to work for a printing company years ago and we had an account with an ad agency who had Control Data the old giant computer firm, Control Data, as an account.

    They had the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an account.

    When CD would make a proposal to the the Saudis, it was always in Arabic and on the heavy "felty", green paper they wanted for the cover (the "Islamic" color) we foil stamped in gold, I was told "The Kingdom of Saudia Arabia", and it took up two thirds of the 8.5 by 11 page, what with all the flourishes and diacritical marks.

  29. Calligraphic Arabic is beautiful. Some of the marks belong to the letters themselves, which will show up in any script, even the newspaper. The really script where there's marking all over the place are the ones which include the vowels and other phonetic and grammatical markers, and some of them are simply nonsense marks thrown in there just to have more flourishes and stuff.

    I think the coolest part are the ligatures, the combined forms that one can see when some letters are next to one another.

    Patrick - what you're saying sounds like Kreeft to me. I seriously doubt he's as naive as this sounds.

    Veneremurcernui - why throw modern writers under the bus? Didn't the saints also write in the context of their times? Would you recommend Catholics read St. Jerome on marriage or Pope John Paul II? Should we ignore Dietrich von Hildebrand or Fr. John Hardon? How many people came to know Christ through the ministry of Archbishop Sheen? Of course we should stick with the saints - but there is nothing wrong with good, orthodox, modern writers - including Benedict XVI.

  30. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Hi Mercury, I'm home visiting - my parents live in the Garden District, so I just hop on the trolley to get to church! I'm happiest when I'm here.

    I hear the debate went well - full of Christian charity and good will. As expected, Spencer dismantled most of Kreeft's points, but in a spirit of friendship and respect for his former teacher. It's my understanding that the video footage will be edited over the weekend & posted on and Thomas More College ( on Monday & that Zmirak is going to write a column about it for InsideCatholic next week.
    God Bless,

  31. Thanks, Mathilde. Have fun down here while you can, then, and make sure to eat well before you back somewhere where the food's not as good ... which s everywhere.

    And before anyone objects: c'mon and let us have just that - it's the only thing we do well besides political corruption (oh yeah that was New Orleans that just sent a man convicted of perjury to Congress!)

  32. veneremurcernui

    Well, you do know, some of the saints learned much from Muslims? A modern example is Blessed Charles de Foucald.

  33. Anonymous7:18 AM

    I can't undertand what all the fuss is about here? Peter Kreeft is great, and he has been sayin the same thing for years! His book Ecumenical Jihad was published since 1996 -- I suggest you all read it to fully understand his logic and his points before going ballistic with so many of your, quite frankly, half-ignorant and prejudiced views. People are just waking up to Islam these last 9 years, but I have been battling both Islam and the prejudices against it, for 23 years. I found Peter Kreeft to be among the only sound, truly Christlike voices in this vast wilderness.

  34. I agree with Veneremurcernui. Be very careful with modern writers.

  35. So we shouldn't read writers born in the last century now? Those raging innovating liberals like Peter Kreeft, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Fr. John Hardon, Cardinal Dulles, Scott Hahn, Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand - not worth reading.

    The ironic thing is that these people are for the most part not innovative at all themselves - but several saints were. The writings of several saints also contain (unintentional errors): a famous example is Aquinas denying the Immaculate Conception. There are some parts of Liguori's moral theology that do not jive with magisterial teaching, influenced as they are by his youthful rigorism (that's from the 1913 Catholic encyclopedia), and any Catholic who takes the views of St. Jerome or St. Bridget of Sweden on marriage and the "use of marriage" would be entirely out of line with the mind of the Church.

    What's the point of treating a man like Peter Kreeft as if he is Charles Curran or Hans Küng?

  36. And most Catholics are not yet at the level where they can dive headlong into reading St. John of the Cross or Augustine - for some it may always be intellectually and spiritually waaay above their heads. For some it may even be spiritually harmful, as midgets in faith may latch onto the wrong things.

  37. Kreeft is a good guy of course, and his views do indeed correspond to Benedict XVI views. Charles de Foucauld as well. The message is ill timed of course, in view of the extremists throughout the world who seek to make the world Islamic.

    The Trappist martyrs of Atlas are another group who would most likely agree with Kreeft.

  38. I guess I get what he is trying to say - but you're right, Terry - the timing is off, waay off.

    Great point about the Trappists martyrs - people, both of the saintly and secular types, have always admired certain aspects of Islam. Like any of the great heresies, it must have much truth in it. What truth is there is good, but it makes it very easy then to fall for the untruths.

  39. Georgette, I appreciate your thoughts from the perspective of your having rubbed elbows with Muslims. I have no doubts that Islam as a belief system is problematic. However I can't see that demonizing them is productive. As Christians we are called to evangelization. I've no idea how we are supposed to witness Christ to them. But I would like to see more discussion of that.
    I also like Peter Kreeft. Off topic, I especially liked "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven".

  40. This may be way-off...but I'm gonna lob this bomb anyway.
    Islam is at its very center antithetical to Christianity; period.
    How that is demonstrated, from one extreme to another, is not the point.
    Islam, not the adherents per se, wants to "purify" and destroy everything that is antithetical to its main point: the worship of "Allah"...
    whether you want to admit it or not,
    we're in BIG effin' trouble if Islam makes big inroads into the Western society...forget about the "common ground" of morality...they want to, at heart, destroy and conquer anyone who is at odds with the pure, unmitigated devotion to "Allah"...
    and this god ain't the God of Abraham, Moses or Jesus;
    just sayin'...let's be very careful about who we align ourselves to here;
    Christians of all sorts are "dead meat" if Islam becomes a major force.
    They will kill and persecute us.
    I'm not kidding.
    It sounds awfully horrid and racist...but this is the fact and the reality.
    Just be careful who we align ourselves with.
    It could mean all kinds of everything.

  41. Why does one get called a racist when criticizing Islam? I mean, people of every single race on earth adhere to it, like Christianity. And there are millions of Arab Christians, Coptic Christians, Persian Christians, etc. that belong to the same "race" as most Muslims (whatever the heck a race is supposed to be anyway).

    I think it's just cause once the R word is flung, people tend to shut up.

  42. I just finished the book. It's actually quite brilliant. You all may want to pick it up and have a read before further condemning Kreeft for writing what is actually a very insightful read, and with the battle against relativism waging on, it's a very timely book--one everyone should rise above the headlines and seriously consider.


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