In Back to Virtue, Peter Kreeft takes you into the classroom of moral theology, where you will learn why we need virtue to preserve human existence. For starters, Kreeft clearly defines the differentiation between virtue and vice. He discusses the cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, as well as the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Then, using the Beatitudes, he teaches us about each virtue that counters each of the seven deadly sins of anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and the root of all evil, pride.
His words of wisdom percolate throughout this book. Here’s just one example:
If we can conquer everything except ourselves, the result is that we do not hold the power. 1
Once we learn that God is in control, and that He holds the power, then we begin to learn that it is through God’s grace that we can overcome vice and become virtuous. Here’s another quote from the book, that seals the deal for why we should embrace virtue, and rid our lives of vice:
The way to virtue is knowledge of the Good. If we knew without a doubt that virtue was always for our good, that ‘justice is always more profitable than injustice’ (the central teaching of The Republic), then we would have no motive for preferring vice. 2
God is the Supreme Good. Knowledge of God is key to overcoming vice and embracing virtue. Why be virtuous if there is no other end than death without eternal life? God, as the Supreme Good, is the key here in understanding our own need for happiness. Kreeft helps us to understand that it is through the embrace of virtue that we grow closer to God, the source of all happiness.
Peter Kreeft considers the practice of virtue to be a matter of life and death, for three reasons. He believes that we need to:
- Please God, out of love for God, who is Love.
- Be human, to have a healthy human soul.
- Survive…without virtue we will not survive. 3
Is Back to Virtue a Book for You?
Back to Virtue, for me, speaks to my heart. It echoes my mantra of embracing virtue to grow closer to God. This book affirms for me, that my blogging about the virtues is necessary and worthwhile. Therefore, I highly recommend reading this book. I hope that you find Peter Kreeft’s words as worthwhile as I did. If you would like to get your own copy, click here.
- Kreeft, Peter. Back to Virtue, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print. p. 23
- Ibid, p. 39
- Ibid, p. 192