Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley

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On November 22, 1963, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. All three believed, in different ways, that death is not the end of human life. Suppose they were right, and suppose they met after death. How might the conversation go? Peter Kreeft imagines their discourse as a modern Socratic dialog–a part of The Great Conversation that has been going on for centuries. Does human life have meaning? Is it possible to know about life after death? What if one could prove that Jesus was God? Combining logical argument and literary imagination, Kreeft portrays Lewis as a Christian theist, Kennedy as a modern humanist and Huxley as an Eastern pantheist. Their interaction involves not only good thinking but good drama.

Between Heaven & Hell has a subtitle which reads, “A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley”. Yes, this is a fictional trialog in “limbo” of the most important question in human history – Who is Jesus Christ? Many people are unaware that JFK, Lewis and Huxley all died within hours of each other on November 22, 1963. It seems the assassination of President Kennedy from either the grassy knoll or from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository somehow managed to overshadow the deaths of the other two men. Go figure!

Much of the fictional discussion between these three characters revolves around their own writings although Kreeft employs a bit of literary license for the sake of argument. The fact that Kreeft is a Catholic doesn’t affect the content of this book since the argument is essentially Lewis’ straight, or “mere” Christianity. The position of JFK is that of a humanistic Christian in the sense of emphasizing “horizontal” social activity rather than “vertical” religious experience…religion without revelation. Kennedy portrays his view of Christ as that of a man become god. Huxley doesn’t get the air time that Lewis and JFK get, but his contribution is significant. He represents the eastern pantheist position and reinterprets Christianity as a form of the universal philosophy of pantheism. In this view, Jesus was one of the great sages of history along with Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Mohammed and the rest. Employing the Socratic method of question and answer, Kreeft slowly but surely uses Lewis’ arguments to refute the views of Jesus being a lunatic, liar or just a great moral teacher. Once this is done, He argues that Jesus was God in the flesh, just as He claimed to be. Approximately the last third of the book focuses on the reliability of the gospel accounts which record the claims of Christ.

I found this book to be a very enjoyable read, especially the Socratic method that Kreeft employs. Although I don’t criticize Kreeft for making the most out of the historical situation, I’ll just say that the only theological disagreement I had with this book was the immediate destiny of the three men being “limbo” which I’m sure is only used by Kreeft as a setting for the discussion. The argument from Lewis was very thought-provoking and required honesty with the end result being much clearer thinking concerning the person of Christ, not to mention his inescapable conclusions which were drawn. I found it very interesting how he would ask of the opposition very pointed, yet fair questions. I was glad to find that the rabbit trails were quickly discounted so the reader can follow the arguments more easily. Throughout the discussion, Kreeft continually reminds the reader that as Christians, we don’t try to win arguments for ourselves (I use “argument” in the technical sense of presenting evidence in favor of one’s position). It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. Truth is what we all must submit to, not someone’s ability to debate.We present evidence in favor of the truth and truth must win the battle.

To Learn More Visit this Blog from The Gospel Coalition:

Click Here ==> The Day C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley Died 

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