Questions for the Fiftieth Mere Fidelity Episode!

If you listened through the last Mere Fidelity episode, you will know that we are about to record our FIFTIETH episode. We plan to devote much  of the episode to answering questions asked by our listeners. If you have a burning question that you would like us to answer, please leave it in the comments!

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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15 Responses to Questions for the Fiftieth Mere Fidelity Episode!

  1. ADZ says:

    Would be interesting to hear if you and Andrew have some early thoughts on the new Barclay book “St. Paul & the Gift” and your take on just how much it challenges old and new perspectives and in what way.

  2. Thanks for doing the show! Lots of good stuff.

    I would love to hear Andrew talk about how he’s gone about relating with other Christians, especially pastors of other denoms, who are formally dismissive or even openly scornful of anything related to the charismatic movement. Simply agreeing not to ever bring it up seems to be the only successful strategy I’ve seen or engaged in myself. Maybe that’s what he’s done too, but I’d like hear some specifics if possible. I find myself in the middle with friends on both sides that often circle the wagons on the topic. As the world becomes more charismatic though, this is going to become increasingly relevant if wish to present anything resembling a unified front.

  3. Alex says:

    I would love to hear you interact on the topic of hell. Do the four of you affirm an eternal, conscience torment for those who do not accept Christ?

  4. Primary and secondary issues – clearly there is a need for some kind of delineation, but on what basis? And in what contexts? Would be good to give examples as well. How should we relate to Roman Catholics? Seventh-Day Adventists? Quakers?

    Justin Taylor’s thoughts are worth considering and could be a good launchpad for discussion:

  5. William Fehringer says:

    What do you consider to be Mere Christianity? What must a person affirm to be a mere christian? And what things might a professing christian deny that would or would not make you consider them a false believer? I would love to hear your thought on that as I know many people about whom I am troubled.

  6. Dave K says:

    Some thoughts on what I’d love to hear you address.

    TOPIC 1

    “Oskar Groening spoke at the beginning of his trial for being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews at the concentration camp. He described his role of counting money confiscated from new arrivals and said he witnessed mass killings, but denied any direct role in the genocide. Addressing the judges, Mr Groening also said: “I ask for forgiveness. I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide.”” (BBC News)

    In the recent UK Supreme Court judgement involving Mary Doogan and Connie Wood it was found that the legal right to abstain from abortions did not extend to managing junior staff involved in abortions.

    Both cases raise the question of whether one is morally culpable for involvement in an sinful act if not directly involved in the act itself, but in being part of the larger support structure that makes it happen.

    In a recent episode Matt Anderson stated that Christians should accept that they will probably get “dirty hands” if they are involved in the world. This certainly seems to be true, but as individual Christians how do we make the decision whether we should accept a certain job role, when such a role is involved in facilitating sinful acts, whether that be a divorce lawyer, marriage registrar, or a bus driver taking people to mosque? Is it a question of balancing the good and harm that you do, examining your subjective (?) conscience/feelings shaped by the Bible, or do you use a different criteria?

    TOPIC 2

    Ashley Null comments: “According to Cranmer’s anthropology, what the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants.” According to Null’s Cranmer, we need to change our hearts to change our minds and will.

    A conservative evangelical will often quote Paul, that we should be “transformed by the renewing of our minds”. Our thinking will transform our hearts and will.

    Jamie Smith comments: “Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies.” He may disagree with this characterisation, but as I hear him Smith seems to commend willing to do act (e.g. in attending communion), with the goal that our hearts and minds are changed through what we have willed to do.

    Charismatics may focus on the emotions as the route to Christlikeness, conservative evangelicals (in the UK) on the mind, and more ‘liturgical’ types on our actions. Who is right?

    TOPIC 3 – the two Alastairs’ theses.

  7. quinnjones2 says:

    I’ll re-post here the question I posted on Twitter yesterday:
    How and when did the four of you come up with the great idea of the podcast?

  8. I have a question, but it’s a bit more personal. I’m interested in the reading habits of the hosts of the podcast. I’m often impressed by how wide-ranging each participant’s knowledge is, but sometimes I honestly wonder if folks are punching above their weight. How much time is given to absorbing a particular book? Does one have to skim a good bit and even selectively at that to become conversant in so many different subjects, or are panelists fairly committed to slow and careful reading? What are some of the holes in your reading that your most aware of?

    When I was in seminary, the pressure for academic-track folks to have read everything seemed insane. I think I only had one professor who would regularly admit to not having read things or being unfamiliar with a particular thinker. It was really refreshing. But then maybe he wasn’t humbler than his colleagues, but lazier.

  9. To clarify: my assumption is that people tend to represent themselves as knowing more than they know; these particular questions only became interesting for me as the hosts of the show force me to question that assumption. I might also note that this question probably says more about me.

  10. DieT says:

    Hi there,

    How must I look at the topic election / predestination. Is God from eternity choosing some to be saved without any condition? If so doesnt that mean nit everybody is treated with the same righteousness or love by God?

    How must I look at texts like John 6:44, John 10, ephesians 1, acts 13:48 etc etc. What is that all about?

    Is God responsible for all the evil in the world? I see a few deterministic calvinists heading this way because off over emphasizing Gods sovereignty.

    • Chris W says:

      On (1), I’d come back with a question: is there a single passage of scripture which teaches that God loves everybody the same, or relates to everyone in the same way? As Proverbs 6:16-19 teaches, God hates wicked people. And by default, that’s all of us.

      On (2), traditional Reformed theology has never taught that God is responsible for the evil in the world. The Westminster Confession 3.1 says the following:

      “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

      God ordains all things, but is not responsible for (not the author of) sin. God actively ordains good, but passively ordains (permits) evil.

  11. Not sure if I’m too late …
    But here’s my suggestion.

    Sorry if you have covered this already but I would really like to hear your thoughts on universalism. Just yesterday I had the “I thought God was all loving” comment thrown at me in the context of did I really believe that only those who have accepted Jesus will go to heaven.

    As Alistair knows, my background is science and I am a late-comer to things theological. ..

    I do find it hard to think that most of the people I love here on earth will not be with me in heaven, but I acknowledge that there must be Judgement. If we ALL go to heaven when we die, then why bother with being good now, may as well “just enjoy ourselves” as the atheistics would tell us to do!


  12. ADZ says:

    Definitely interested in you all addressing the “who are the poor” question as posed nicely by Andrew here:

    I’m with him that this is an important, and non-trivial question that we really do need to figure out. There really do seem to be conflicts between focusing on proximity (give to those who live somewhat near you and/or are somehow related / connected to you), vs. focusing on the severity of need (give to someone who really is in grave danger of, e.g., starving, even if half a world away and with no or tenuous connections to you). Perhaps this is obvious, but my sense is that we should see this problem as having more than one axis (greater or lesser proximity, or greater or lesser severity). Rather, both factors ought to be considered in determining to whom we owe an obligation of care. The less the severity, the greater the importance of proximity. The greater the severity, the less important proximity. Again, I don’t know if this is view is commonplace and too obvious to state, but it does often seem like various folks look at this as a single axis problem.

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