Peter Kreeft, “Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley”

I read about this book in a number of different places, but in particular I had saved this description (128, footnote omitted) of it from George M. Marsden’s Mere Christianity:  A Biography (discussed here on this blogsite):

One commentator refers to [Kreeft] as “perhaps the most lucid and prolific Catholic apologist in the English-speaking world.”  Kreeft’s efforts to emulate [C.S.] Lewis are evident in many of his works.  … And memorably, in Between Heaven & Hell Kreeft creates a dialogue among John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, who are imagined to be waiting together in some sort of limbo just after each had died on November 22, 1963.  The centerpiece of the discussion is Lewis’s successful defense of his “trilemma,” often popularly represented as the proposition that Jesus was either Lord, lunatic, or liar, from Mere Christianity.

And that’s a fair summary of the book; I recommend it.  I’ll add only that Kennedy is given the role of secular humanist and Huxley advocates for Eastern pantheism.  By the way, and coincidentally, I happened to read the book this year over a few days that included November 22.


I liked the point the Kreeft has Lewis make (18) that a good teacher does not deliberately use poetic language when he knows his audience will misinterpret it and take it literally  — and, thus, Jesus meant to be taken literally when he talked about the existence of Heaven and Hell.  Along the same lines, I liked this paragraph later on (99):

There is one book in the New Testament written in mythic, symbolic form:  the book of Revelation.  And you can see the difference between gospel history and myth by comparing the Gospels with Revelation.  The Gospels are sober eyewitness accounts of present events on earth; Revelation is poetic symbolism, dream imagery, things nobody sees in the outside world.

On page 121, Kreeft refers to Lewis as “my favorite author of the last 733 years” (that is, since Thomas Aquinas died).  Incidentally, on the same page, Kreeft also says that Heaven:  The Heart’s Deepest Longing is his favorite of the books he has written (the book is discussed here on this blogsite).


If you read this book, you might as well select the “expanded edition,” which was published by InterVarsity Press in 2008 (the book was originally. published in 1982) and includes a postscript written by the author as well as two appendices:  an imaginary dialogue between a rabbi and a Christian in a world in which Jesus had not risen from the dead, and fairly detailed four-page outline of the book.  You can read that outline here, by the way.  Note that even the expanded edition is only 144 pages long, appendices and index included.

Concluding note:  One answer to the trilemma argument might be that Jesus saw himself (not Himself) as a more diluted deity of some sort, but the problem with this is that for a first-century Jew that’s still/also blasphemy.