A review of Peter Kreeft’s Jesus-Shock
Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College who has written, at last count, 80 books. But don’t let that scare you. Dr. Kreeft’s books are all readable, entertaining, and life-changing. I’ve been reading his work since I was a young college student, and he helped me learn the basics of the Catholic Faith, how to explain the faith to others, and how to live a moral life. His books are refreshing and imaginative: one of them, Socrates Meets Jesus, was written as a dialogue between a bunch of Harvard philosophers and the ancient Greek philosopher come-back-to-life, and was recently adapted into a stage play. You just never know what Professor Kreeft is going to come up with next.
One of his best books is Jesus-Shock, published in 2008.
He starts with this provocative question:
“Why is Jesus the most controversial and the most embarrassing name in the world? No one is embarrassed if you talk about Buddha, or Muhammad, or Moses…[but] why are almost all educated, non-fundamentalist Christians embarrassed to talk about Jesus to non-Christians, and why are almost all non-Christians embarrassed to hear such talk? If you’re not sure my assumption is true, test it, in any secular company or mixed company, especially educated company. The name will fall with a thud, and produce sudden silence and embarrassment. You not only hear the embarrassment, you can feel it. The temperature drops. Or rises. It never stays the same.”
Professor Kreeft then provides a series of illuminating self-tests (I was shocked to discover how worldly I really am…), identifies the two biggest problems in the world today (they both begin with the letter “B”), and leads a fascinating walk through the New Testament to demonstrate that Jesus has been causing shock, indignation and embarrassment since 30 A.D.
In the fourth part of the book, Kreeft answers his first provocative question: why Jesus embarrasses people. (Hint: The answer to that question is in the tabernacle or adoration chapel of any Catholic Church.) Finally, he offers practical advice in a section titled “What Do We Do Now?”
This book changed my interior life. I thought I was a prayerful person who loved God and who knew the Catholic faith pretty well, but after only a few pages I realized I had become complacent, comfortable, and bored. With Professor Kreeft, there’s definitely truth in advertising: the first real shock of my life was when I had a powerful encounter with Jesus at the age of seventeen. Jesus-Shock gave me the second one: a fresh encounter with Our Lord and who He really is. The book is available for FREE at www.DynamicCatholic.com (You pay a few dollars for shipping.)
Professor Kreeft has an excellent website (www.peterkreeft.com), where you can read excerpts from his writings and listen to audio of his talks, and order his books.