Even so, Kreeft obviously thinks Christianity is superior to other religions because it has the "fullness of Truth." And he believes Catholicism is the fullest expression of that truth. But while he is somewhat conservative and orthodox in his beleifs, he blends that belief with the real, honest practicing of love and acceptance of others. This juxtaposition of those two ways of living is exciting to me, and someplace I long to end up! I long to hold my faith in Christ dear to my heart while also loving others who differ, and not feeling threatened by them or self-protective. During a question/answer session, someone asked what Kreeft thought of the rash of books such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris. He just smiled and said he welcomed their hard questions and strong emotions. "They are closer to the faith than those who don't care." This is how I want to feel.
Kreeft gave two more talks during the weekend. One was a whirlwind trip through prevalent worldviews today, and the last was What Christ Calls Us to Be. Both talks were good, but the last one was perhaps the most practical for me. He talked about the five steps we needed to take toward becoming "little Christs."
- Christ calls us to be honest, with ourselves and others.
- Christ wants us to practice justice and moral honesty. We are moral agents and subject to natural law. We need to chose to act accordingly towards others.
- Charity- We rely solely on God's mercy for salvation, and we need to show that kind of love and mercy towards others. There is no room for pride.
- Sanctity- We are called to be saints, on the road to perfection.
- Christ calls us to share the divine nature- theosis. We are to be, as Christ says, "born again," truely transformed day-by-day into Chirst's body. Just as Christ has a dual nature, so do we from the moment of baptism. Although our divine nature is a small drop in an ocean of humanity, it is there, born again by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. (Kreeft refered us to C.S. Lewis' essay The Weight of Glory for a more thorough treatment of this topic.)
Kreeft wasn't the only speaker, but I admit he was the one I came to see. There were other good speakers (Mark Shea and Steve Woods being two) and I enjoyed listening and learning. It was definitely different being a bit on the outside, not being Cahtolic or even officially in the process of becoming one at this point. The conference was aimed at strengthening the Catholic faith and witness within the larger Christian community as well as outside the Christian community. There was a great deal of emphasis on what the Catholic strengths were, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, for example. Since this is one sacrament I can't participate in, I was somehow unaware of how truely central this is to the Catholic experience. I heard some about saints and Mary, and I heard some about the Rite of Reconciliation, and about how important those all were in the Catholic walk. But what I heard most, or felt most, was how the Real Presence set Catholics (and a few Protestant traditions) apart, and gave them added strength and blessing. The emphasis was on Christ physically indwelling His church. And I realized something: I have to understand this or I will never know whether I belong there or not.
So what I came away with that is truely profound for me is that I have to seek an understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in order to ever make that step across the threshold into the Catholic church. This will answer my hesitations, or solidify them. If I come to accept the Real Presence, then no matter what other objections might still linger, I will know where I belong. If I can't accept it then I don't belong there, because this is central and, as far as I can see, all important for being part of the Church.