By Peter Kreeft
Socrates Meets Jesus is a short book with a creative story-line and a miraculous ending. The thesis of this book is that the claims of Christ are not false or absurd. When you pick the book up, you will have trouble putting it down until it is done. While reading the book, you will see how the Bible and the claims of Christ are so robust and true that even history’s greatest questioner, Socrates, would have great reason to reject deism, open theism, and other worldviews through the reading, testing, and examination of the Word of God. This philosophical work is a collection of fictional interactions between Socrates and students at Harvard Divinity School ending with Socrates’ acceptance of the gospel through philosophical and logical reasoning and God’s Word.
Peter Kreeft’s story line is simple, Socrates comes back to life in this age to discover the modern day beliefs of many professing Christians and then evaluate the Scriptures in order to come to a final, rounded understanding of Jesus. Through the book, Socrates seems to realize slowly that the miracle of his return to earth years after his death was an act of a higher being and he even eludes to the fact that this higher being may be more than the god’s that were worshiped in his day, but rather a single God who is Sovereign. Socrates does this using thinking and methodology that Socrates has in Plato’s writing. He comes to this realization through a presentational idea that he has a porpoise in being back on earth, most likely the discovery of a new idea or a more rounded understanding of the “Unknown God”.
Peter Kreeft does an amazing job portraying the historical Socrates living in a modern context in a way that puts his historical method of learning on display and applies it to the claims of Christ as well as The Scriptures. The Socrates displayed in this book used the Socratic method of asking questions in a way that makes this imaginary Socrates come alive in a philosophically accurate portrayal of what would actually happen. It’s hard to open to a page of this book without reading some kind of clever and eye-opening question that displays the effectiveness of the Socratic method in a theological and Christian context. An example of this is when he is talking to Bertha about how love and justice correlate. “Why could God not be both a loving God and a just God?… Does not love make its own judgments? Has love no eyes? And is love not like an earthquake as well as like a still small voice? In fact, is not love the greatest earthquake?” (56).
Socrates Meets Jesus is filled with eye-opening truths and ideas that challenge the liberal perspective of religion. Socrates uses his method of asking questions in order to challenge the liberal idea of miracles (59-76), ethics (91), essence of religion (88-98), and being open minded (79-83). In Kreeft’s section What is the point of being open minded?, Kreeft helps the reader realized how irrational it is to be open minded without a desire and goal of coming to understand a truthful idea or logical, truthful conclusion. Kreeft uses Socrates to help drive the point home that being open minded is similar to the point of opening ones mouth; to bite down on something, in this situation, a dependable truth. The book can also help readers understand the problem with the Open-Theist idea of love. Socrates shows that if the Scriptures are true, the loving thing to do is not shut up and let the ones being lied to parish, but rather speak up about what is true and help others see it. The largest strength of this book is the effect it can have on world view. Everyone has a world view but not everyone has a correct one and Kreeft helps challenge so many ideas and bring false ideas to their logical conclusions by bringing out contradictions that some people overlook.
Socrates uses a presuppositional approach to thinking about the ideas on love, truth, joy, and many other topics. Using this form of logic helps in showing the contradictions that appear all over different worldviews, ending in the acceptance of Jesus and God’s Word in the Bible as the only reasonable explanation of everything. The book did defend it’s thesis, the claims of Christ are not false and absurd but are so robust and true that even history’s greatest questioner, Socrates, would have great reason to reject all other worldviews through the reading, testing, and examination of the trustworthy Word of God.
Socrates Meets Jesus helps readers have a better understanding of the Socratic method and the Christian faith. The book is easy to read yet great at capturing Plato’s writing on Socrates with scholarly precision. The way that almost every page of this book is full of all kinds of clever and eye-opening question that displays the effectiveness of the Socratic method in a theological and Christian context makes the book perfect for anyone who loves philosophy and theology yet does not want a difficult read. Even though the book is fictional, it is quite enlightening and relays the message of the Christian faith with clarity. I would recommend this book to someone who wants an easy and entertaining read that wants to think more deeply about philosophy, logic, and liberal theology.
This book review was written by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren.
You can buy the book here.