Who is Jesus?

Who Is Jesus?, by Peter Kreeft, explores questions about who Jesus is to Christians and how find out more about Him. The reading demonstrates these questions through a conversation between a Christian believer and an individual who is open to learning more about faith. Whether we are doubters, agnostics, or believers, many people have considered similar questions, so Kreeft offers us thoughtful ways to think about and find answers to these common ideas.

Why does Jesus not help us when we are suffering? During hard times, people often wonder why God doesn’t just fix the problems, which leads to frustration and the possibility of turning away from the Lord. Because God is our father, he shares the same love that parents have for their children, but greater. When a child suffers, the parent does too. They feel the pain; when their child is hurt, they too are hurt. Because Jesus was once a man on earth, and God is Jesus, God has felt physical pain the same way we do. Jesus has fallen, gotten a cut, stubbed his toe, and been sick, giving him experiences of the physically painful situations that we go through. He not only felt his own pain, but all of ours as well. Jesus is the only person who is is perfect. He is the only one who does not deserve to suffer, yet he did more than any of us.

Why are we reluctant to say Jesus is one hundred percent what he says to be? The answer to this is love. Jesus is love and as people, we are often deeply afraid of love. We are afraid to get hurt, which can sometimes stem from the love that we experience on earth. We must remember that God’s love is different. It is eternal, unconditional love; it is caritas. God’s love will never hurt us, but the failure to accept his love may be what causes damage. We are called to love our neighbours, which can be especially difficult when they may not love us back, but if we cannot fully love those who are physically around us, how will we be able to give back to God the complete love that he offers us? God’s answer is always love, so we must get rid of our fear and love both our friends and our enemies in order to understand God’s solution.

When we first meet someone, we must ask questions and spend time talking to them before we really get to know them. The same happens with God. In order to know and understand God, we must ask questions. Wisdom is developed through answers, and without questions, there are no answers. As Catholics, we must be honest seekers. If we ask questions we already have answers to, hoping for a different answer that we would rather hear, we are not honest. Honesty comes from true curiosity and from the desire to find the truth. Whatever questions we have, chances are, someone else does too. If the question is whether God exists or not, we can ask him by saying a simple prayer like this: “God, if you really do exist, it is clear that you must be a good man, a wise man, a great moral teacher. Jesus told us that all who seek find, so here I am seeking. I am open to the truth. I am an honest seeker. I’m searching for a way in, not a way out. I want to know you better, so here I am asking you. God, who are you really?”

To be a Catholic believer, we must understand who God really is. God is Jesus, and Jesus felt physically pain on earth, as well as the pain and suffering of each and every one of us. God is love, so in order to love him, we must love all those around us. We cannot be afraid of love, because that is the Lord’s answer to everything. If we are still searching for answers and don’t quite understand, we must have a conversation with God. Being an honest seeker is what allows us to deepen our faith, and there is nothing wrong with asking sincere questions.

 

The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil, written by Peter Kreeft, discusses many concepts including eternal life, love, sins, and hell. In life, we know we surrounded by evil, but we may not know how to identify it. Kreeft gives us thoughtful ways to recognize evil, helping us avoid it to become closer to God, and ultimately, to avoid hell.

Kreeft gives us four parts to the solution to the problem of evil. First, evil is not a thing, an entity, or a being. All beings are either the Creator or creatures created by the Creator. Under this statement, some may assume that God was the beginning of evil, but evil would actually be the exception to God creating everything. God created us, and we were the beginning of sin. Evil is real but it is not a thing, therefore God did not create it. Second, the origin of evil is not the Creator but the creature’s freely choosing sin and selfishness. Because God gives us free will, we have the choice to sin. We can choose to be selfish and disobedient, but we do not get to choose the consequences. Spiritual evil which is sin, causes physical evil such as suffering and death therefore, we suffer because of the sins we choose. Next, is how to resolve the problem in practice and not just in theory; in life, not just in thought. It is easy to say we’re going to change, to be better, to not repeat sins, but the challenge comes with the actions. Thinking about improving is the first step, but the more important part is actually doing better. In order to do this, we must practice. We cannot expect to change our ways, to quit making sinful mistakes, in just one day. As a start, we should repent, believe, and work with God in fighting evil by the power of love. We must also be able to accept the fact that evil is real and that we all have committed evil, to know that God’s solution to evil is his Son, and to focus more on Jesus, knowing the things He did to solve evil. Just like many things in life, if we do not practice being faithful, no progress will be made. The last part is the philosophical problem. Why does God tolerate so much evil when he could eradicate it? Again, the answer goes back to free will. God offers us love and happiness, but He leaves it up to us to choose what we do with it, giving us the option to sin.

There are three questionable assumptions that Kreeft brings up that make us think deeply, although there may not be a definite answer. The first question is: Who’s to say we are all good people? The truth is, we are not good people because nobody is perfect. The best people are those who are the most reluctant to say they are good, because they know they are not perfect. The idea that sinners think they are saints, but saints know they are sinners can help us understand this. If one looks down on someone for a sin they have done, both people are now sinners. By casting judgements upon others before reflecting on all the ways we could be better, we are just as wrong as the one who did wrong. Instead of asking why bad things happen to good people, we should ask why good things happen to bad people. Because we are all sinners, why should anything good happen to us? These good things come from God showing us His love and continually giving us the chance to better ourselves. The next question is: Who’s to say all suffering is bad? Suffering is obviously not desirable, but we must always look at the bigger picture. All suffering, like everything else, has a cause. When we explore the cause we can realize that there is likely a reason for what is happening, and we can try to learn for the future. Suffering is often necessary in order for us to properly understand consequences, allowing us to learn a lesson. The last question Kreeft gives us is, Who’s to say we have to know all of God’s reasons? We cannot know all of God’s reasons, but we can know why we cannot know. If we knew everything about God, there would no longer be trust involved in our relationship with the Lord. Not knowing all the details, but still being willing to take the chance, is what faith is based around. If we are willing to take a chance without full knowledge and certainty on things such as new medical procedures and the help of a firefighter, why not do the same with God?

Kreeft asks, “Does hell not contradict a loving and omnipotent God?” Although it may seem wrong that God, who constantly loves and wants the best for us, would not save us from the eternal misery of hell, we have to realize that God does not send us there, we do it to ourselves. Hell has a lock on the door, and we have the key. The problem with this is that the key only works once; we unlock the door to enter, then we can never escape. God does not cast anyone into hell instead, we use our free will to choose hell, which is the eternal consequence of the sins we have chose. God offers us eternal happiness through his love which will result in heaven, but if we say no to this love, we are automatically saying yes to the hatred of hell. We can wonder if hell is crowded or empty but we do not know the answer. All we can do is hope that it is empty, that nobody have ever experienced hell, and that we will not have to either. Because evil exists, hell exists. Hell is just eternalized evil which we have the choice to enter, so why would we?

Peter Kreeft gives us an insight on evil, leaving us with many questions and thoughts to further discover on and understand on our own. These include the four parts to the solution to the problem of evil, the three questionable assumptions, and the idea that hell is a choice we make. Nobody wants hell to exist, but for some reason we keep choosing the evil that leads to hell. God gives us free will which allows us to make choices, including the decision of our eternal outcome.

 

The Reasons to Believe

In Peter Kreeft’s writing, The Reasons to Believe, many ideas and points are discussed regarding Christianity and Atheism. Kreeft gives us multiple logical explanations and symbolic examples as to why he believes God exists, but it is up to us if we choose to follow this reasoning or not. So the big question: does God exist? The answer to this exists because the question exists, but to know the answer, we must accept and live the answer.

The Lewis Trilemma, developed be C. S. Lewis, gives three options as to why Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus could have been a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord, or using the same idea, could have been mad, bad, or God. The first idea is that he was a lunatic. Maybe Jesus was truly out of his mind, not understanding what he was saying. Maybe he had psychological damage, or was possessed by a spirit. Maybe he was just crazy, saying and doing what he truly thought was right. The next concept is that Jesus was a liar. Was he making up everything that he said and did, just to receive special attention? Possibly. Maybe he just wanted to feel important so he spread ideas that he knew were not true, but enjoyed the treatment he was getting. Lastly, maybe he really was the Lord. Speaking the truth, spreading love and kindness, and teaching sinners about his father and eternal life. These three ideas from the Lewis Trilemma can all be considered as possibilities, but to me, two of the options seem very unlikely. This pushes me to believe that Jesus was not a lunatic or liar, but truly is the Lord.

The earth and everything on it is one big design and where there’s a design, there must be a designer. This designer is God. It can be argued that the earth had a different way of coming about, that there was no power such as God planning out the existence of the universe. This way of thinking relies on an extreme amount of chance and a multitude of coincidences in order to explain the way the world to fell together the way it did. If there is only one planet, to our knowledge, that can support life, it would be crazy to assume it was not planned. There must be something that came before us, far greater than imaginable, that was able to align everything perfectly in order to create the universe. Nearly everyone believes there is always something greater than themselves, but they might not know what it is. This superior is, always was, and always will be God. What is created is never as smart as what created it, therefore we will never be as smart as God which is why a concept such as creation is so hard to wrap our minds around.

Imperfect love can break your heart. Perfect love cannot. There is no such thing as perfect love, except the love that God offers us. This is referred to as the Latin word caritas, which means love that is perfect, unconditional, and eternal, or simply God. In order to feel love, we must give love. If an individual stated that God did not love them, they may have to ask themselves if they are giving God any love back. God’s love is never absent, but it may not always be felt. In order to feel the presence of this perfect love, we must embrace it, giving love back to the Lord and spreading it to others through our actions. If we refuse to accept the proposal of caritas that we are given, we will find the opposite: despair. Despair occurs when one pushes away all love and hope, becoming as far away from the Lord as possible. It is a dark place surrounded by feelings of hopelessness, and the only way to turn these feelings around is by opening our eyes to discover the Lord’s love all around us. If we ever notice someone is in despair, we must help them out like Jesus would, with the hopes to help show them towards God’s love and light that is offered to each and every person.

Peter Kreeft has many strong points in his writing The Reasons to Believe. Although he did not give us a solid answer on the existence of God, he gave us explanations as to why he believes. Three main proofs that Kreeft discussed are the Lewis Trilemma, the creation of the universe, and caritas verses despair. Nobody will ever give us the answer, but if we take time to think about these concepts brought up by Kreeft we will be able to develop our own answer to the question, “Does God exist.”

 

Figures of Speech: Sunrise on the Veld

Paradox

Remaining vigilant all night and counting the hours as he lay relaxed in sleep is a paradox. While sleeping, our brains are still working but in a different way than during the day. Our bodies and brains go into a different state and are not fully aware of everything that is going on around us. Remaining vigilant while sleeping is not possible because we are not fully alert. Although in the story the boy may have been quite aware compared to the average sleeping state, it was still not as vigilant as he would have been if he was awake.

 

Symbolism

The grass edge is a symbol. Edges often represent the end or beginning of something. A border, obstacle or difference is often related to an edge. When the boy crosses the grass edge it is like he is entering a new self. He changes and and becomes more in touch with the rest of the world, forgetting his life at home. It shows that his adventure is real and that he won’t turn back. He is not simply stepping over a grass edge, but entering a different mindset.

 

Symbolism

When the boy is not wearing shoes it shows that he is strong and can handle pain. The boy takes off his shoes while walking outside not because he has no other choice, but because he chooses to. He does this to become closer to nature and the earth. When there is nothing between his feet and the ground, he can really feel he is one with the earth. He also builds strength and endurance by doing this because he must overcome pain.

 

Paradox

The dogs running free are an example of a paradox. Many years ago, before dogs became common pets, they truly were free. Now, dogs are taught to do what humans say and to follow directions given to them. When referring to the way the dogs run, free is not exactly the truth. The dogs are still controlled by others, therefore they are not completely free.

 

Personification

The sun painting is a personification. The sun cannot paint the way humans do. By giving the sun this human trait we are referring to the way the sun is able to light up the world. The sun’s way of painting is by filling the world with color. The sun sun is not able to literally paint, but this is the way it has been described.

Word Craft: Sunrise on the Veld

Vigilant means keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. In the story, the author mentioned that the boy remained vigilant all night. What she meant by this was that his brain seemed to be keeping track of the hours and staying alert even when his body was asleep.

Triumph is a great victory or achievement. During his adventure, the boy had a violent desire to shout his triumph. This is because he thought he could control and conquer everything. He felt proud of himself and he wanted to share it with the world so everyone thought he was as great as he thought himself to be.

Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty, hesitation, or question. Near the end of the story, the boy no longer felt the same confidence as before. When he saw the suffering animal, he began to feel uncertain of what to do. He wondered if he was doing the right thing, and was very unsure.  

Vaguely refers to a way that is uncertain, indefinite, or unclear. The boy noticed a mass that still looked vaguely like the shape of a small animal. He was not sure quite what it was that he saw, because it was hard to picture what it could of looked like before he discovered it.

Stoicism is the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complain. The boy felt grimly satisfied with his new stoicism. Seeing what he saw was a lot to take. He handled it very well and was able to cope with his feelings without showing much. He felt many emotions but kept them to himself.  

“I Didn’t Go on the Ski Trip” Poem #2

A bottle filled with emotions

Pain and happiness

Hate and love

Fear and bravery




Two similar yet very different things

Strung together

Very abstractly

By relations of a thin line




The thin line 

That holds us together 

May be broken 

And never strung back again




This happens when we keep our feelings in

All to ourselves

Without sharing with others

What is going on in the inside




We must release our emotions

Before we hit the bottom

Feeling hopeless and forgotten

Snapping the line

 

Found Poem (The Terminal)

Gazing out 

At the multicoloured sea of humanity

I wait,

Because America is closed




What is the purpose of your visit?

I go to New York

He is here for a reason

Business or pleasure?




I help people with their immigration problems

Like you,

A crack in the system,

A citizen of nowhere




Catch and release

I am going home

I have waited this long

And now America is open

“I didn’t Go on the Ski Trip” Poem #1

I sit alone feeling empty

Like a ghost

Floating without a sound 

Emotionless




We tend to go through life

The way a boat sails through water 

Oblivious to everything around us 

Until an icebergs appears




We may not see these problems

Until they hit us

And then we begin to sink

Slowly lower and lower




If we open our eyes to our surroundings

And become less absorbed in ourselves

We will work together as a whole

And be able to overcome these obstacles 




Doing this will not fix all issues

For some are unavoidable

But this will prevent us from reaching our lowest point

And we will no longer feel alone and empty

 

First Line Auction Poem

I sit alone at night

And wonder why

Why is the world like this?

Why are people filled with hate?




I wish for a place

Where everyone is forgiving and thankful

Not selfish or hurtful

Where I will never feel alone




Maybe the world will change some day

Forget all the anger and fear

We will all be surrounded by love

And differences will not matter




But for now I can only imagine

This place that I hope for each day

Maybe it will exist in the future

Or maybe it will only be in dreams

Ten-Minute Spill Poem #2

People are not always as they appear

The truth and grace is limited

We are often lied to

And quick to believe what we see




This may cause inquiry 

And we must put to question

That people are not perfect like plastic

Not all exactly the same




Trusting what we see

And judging the outside

Can lead to deception

And feeling misled




People do lie

To do what will benefit

Their own wants and needs

Without wanting the truth