The Devil plans to win the culture war by making Catholics phoneys – Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft’s recent lecture ‘How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Culture in Crisis’ outlines his thoughts on how the Devil plans to win the culture war by making Catholics, particularly bishops and theologians, phoneys.

Peter Kreeft uses the seven-letter acronym, PHONEYS, to highlight the greatest threats to Catholics – Politicization, Happy talk, Organizationalism, Neoworship, Egalitarianism, Yuppiedom, and Spirituality.

Kreeft delivered his talk in the person of Screwtape, C.S. Lewis’ advisorial senior demon, who instructs Wormwood on how they (i.e., the powers of hell) can win the culture war through particular and deadly temptations:

  • Politicization – the tendency Americans have to confuse politics for religion. He drew awareness to the trend of defining oneself by politics instead of religion, saying, ‘We have persuaded many of them to judge their faith by the standard of ‘political correctness’ rather than vice versa.’
  • Happy Talk – the principle of happy talk raised the ante on the average ignorance-is-bliss mentality. He pointed out that Catholics must first return to being Catholic, and correct their own practices before projecting to non-Catholics. “Catholics abort, contracept, sodomize, fornicate, divorce, and sexually abuse,” he said, “at almost exactly the same rate as non-Catholics. Amid this devastation, keep them happy talking. Keep them saying ‘Peace, Peace,’ when there is no peace.” He wants Catholics to take responsibility for their behavior, make a conscious effort to change it, and to acknowledge that blame can’t be placed entirely on the secular world.
  • Organizationalism - Catholics suffer from organizationalism, causing them to regard everything—including the Church—as business ventures. This is especially bad, he noted, because people have lost sight of the role of the Church, and instead focused on the goals of business. “They must worship success, not sanctity,” he said, “and fear failure, not sin.”
  • Neo-worship - or worship of things new at the expense of the old, in particular the rejection of things “pre-Vatican II”.
  • Egalitarianism – Describing society’s misguided translation of egalitarianism, Kreeft pointed out that “sexism” has persuaded men and women to perceive each other as equal, when they should instead be considered beautifully inferior to each other. He believes in the importance of regarding men and women as separate and unequal, and in acknowledging the positive impact of the differences that define each. According to Kreeft, society’s deterioration of egalitarianism fosters “the difference between the beauty of black and the beauty of white reduced to a boring grey.”
  • Yuppydom - which is essentially selling out to the fads of the times rather than holding God as God. Yuppydom is  a generation that prides itself on not being prideful, saying, “Let them feel superior about not feeling superior, judgmental about not being judgmental.”
  • Spirituality -  in which Christians seek salvation, or at least affirmation, while recoiling at the thought of suffering—they want Christ without the cross.

Ending his lecture with a short phrase that holds the potential to defeat the culture war, Kreeft said, “Simply put, be real. Don’t be a PHONEY. Be a saint.”

To see and hear Peter Kreeft’s marvelous lecture go to:

Protect the Pope comment: A phoney Catholic is another way of saying a liberal Catholic. The archetypal phoney Catholic is Fr Hans Kung, who recently admitted that he has been seeking since the Second Vatican Council to turn the Catholic Church protestant. This is the game plan of all liberal Catholics to abandon the apostolic tradition of the Church by replacing it with their own will to power.

Having said this, the temptation to be PHONEY threatens us all because we are embedded in this phoney culture which is battering us down 24/7.

5 comments to The Devil plans to win the culture war by making Catholics phoneys – Peter Kreeft

  • Karla

    Peter Kreeft also said recently that pro abortion Catholics have done more damage to the Church than the sex abuse scandal:

  • We’ve always been allergic to the bovine scatology in my family. We have always believed, as the late great Frank J. Sheed said, that theology is sanity. The saints are saints because they were sane. They accepted the truth about themselves. They didn’t lie. Not even to themselves.

    Sanctity is connected with sanity. Which is why our sin-sick society, so allergic to the truth, is not sane.

  • Lisa

    I must say this is a very interesting article and I agree with it 100%. As our very wise Pope said very recently, talk is cheap, we need to actively help other people to bring the gospel to them. God bless Pope Benedict, if only all bishops and lay catholics were like him, the Church would be a much better place. May God bless us all this Christmas!

  • Stephen


    Pro-abortion Catholics are more detrimental to the church than the sex-abuse scandal. Not because being a pro-abortion Catholic is worse that raping someone, which I think is what you’re trying to conflate as the issue when you lay down the sex-abuse scandal as some kind of argument-ending trump card. But that’s not the issue. It’s worse for the church because pro-abortion Catholics straight-facedly believe that they can support abortion, even publicly, and still be good Catholics, in line with the church and in communion with Rome. Something I couldn’t believe any of the accused child molesters ever believed about what they were doing.

    The sex-abuse scandal was a catastrophe, a terrible thing, and a major stumbling block, don’t get me wrong — but it was a scandal precisely because it was a secret crime brought to light. But publicly pro-choice Catholics are prevalent within congregations all over the place, and they don’t think there’s anything incongruous between their beliefs; and that is certainly worse for Catholicism, inasmuch as it shifts against the beliefs of the church proper (see Catechism around, and this is from memory so bear with me, 2418ish). And that, I think, is what Peter Kreeft is saying in his points on “politicization” and “yuppiedom.”

    I hope that response wasn’t too vitriolic, Karla, I only mean to correct you where I think you misunderstand his point. God bless & keep the faith,


    • Teresa

      I agree, but I don’t think Karla meant it the way you took it. It is highly unlikely anyone would be influenced by an offender to commit sex abuse but there is huge likelihood of pro-choicers influencing others.

      Many pro-choicers blatantly dissent from Church teaching and believe the Church should revise its position and they promote this view. Many probably don’t understand why their viewpoint is wrong. It is easy for the uninformed-in-faith to be convinced that this viewpoint is right especially when the media holds them up as examples …easy to think that this is acceptable when even some of our priests and bishops do not fully assent to Church teaching. The secular world is pretty good at convincing us that we are being cruel or prejudice by adhering to Church teaching (eg. abortion in difficult cases/homosexual adoption) and therefore there must be something wrong with our Christian beliefs. A big contributing factor is obedience, the idea of which is very unfashionable in our ‘anything goes’ society.

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