More Answers to Questions

Since my last post linking to some of them, I have answered hundreds of further questions on my Curious Cat account. Here are some more:


How do you feel about utilizing term “gospel-centered” as an adjective (gospel-centered marriage, life, church, parenting, sex, finances, etc.)? … [Answer]


The term ‘gospel’ seems to be utilized a proxy for individual salvation (perhaps this is another American issue). Can you speak to the relationship between the gospel and personal soteriology? How would you suggest we go about maintaining a robust, comprehensive definition of ‘gospel’? [Answer]


… I was wondering if you would be willing to “fill out” or present a “thicker” Gospel on here, and recommend some good resources (books or articles) that do this as well. Thanks! [Answer]


Is believing in god good? I don’t believe, I wasn’t raised religious, so I don’t know what it feels like to be religious. [Answer]


Which book or resource would you consider to be most closely aligned with your views on soteriology? I would like to learn more about your perspective. [Answer]


Perhaps one of the issues I was questioned most about was my view of election, which is rather different from most Reformed positions:


Romans 9 says God created some to do evil (‘vessels of wrath fitted for destruction’) so they’ll just end up going to hell. This happened to Esau, whom God hated even before he was born. [Answer]


Following your answer regarding Romans 9 – how, then, would you fill out your understanding of how corporate and individual election are taught in the New Testament and the relative emphasis given to each? [Answer]


If Romans 9 is primarily about corporate election, do you think it can still speak to individual election in some sense, seeing that groups are comprised of individuals?
If not, what passages would you turn to for a discussion of God’s election of individuals? [Answer]


(read your views on Election, and Romans 9). When all is said and done (the “objective” reason for Election and all that), how different your answer to “Does God elect some to salvation and not others?” could be from that of a Classical Reformed guy? [Answer] [Follow-up] [And more] [Yet more]


Have you ever interacted with John Piper’s “The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23,” or Tom Schreiner’s exegetical work on Rom 9? … [Answer]


You’ve said a few times in your ongoing posts about Romans 9 that “before the foundation of the world” and “in eternity past” are different things. Could you elaborate/point to some sources? … [Answer]


I am having trouble following your perspective on election. Would you consider yourself a Calvinist? [Answer]


Hi I am doubting if God wants to save me and my brother. Also because of the whole election topic. What to do? [Answer]


What is your opinion on supralapsarian Christology? Have you read van Driel on the subject? Do you think it is too speculative? [Answer]


Verses that point to Jesus Christ as the elect one into whom we are incorporated as God’s elect? Isn’t the direct object of “chose” in Ephesians 1:4, “us,” and then described as “in Him”? So we are elect, in Christ; not that Christ is elect, and then we are put in Him. [Answer]


What do you think has been the fallout from the ESS debate/debacle from last summer? It’s hard to know what kind of consensus has emerged, with both sides claiming points. I’m interested in your take [Answer]


Is it okay to not be very clever? That sounds silly, but I am not very intellectual and I find it really hard to talk about religion and Jesus. Sorry if I’m not explaining myself well. [Answer]


What are your thoughts on Christians using profanity, vulgarity, coarse language, etc. in measured, judicious, or otherwise intentionally thoughtful ways? … [Answer]


Is abstaining from profanity a Christian virtue? [Answer]


Why doesn’t John ever use the word “gospel,” unless you count the one time it’s used idiosyncratically in Revelation? [Answer]


If God knew people were predisposed towards legalism, then why did He give the Jews so many rules? … [Answer]


GK Chesterton said, ““If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments”? But isn’t this quote a little deceptive? For one, the OT had far, far more than 10 commandments. And even today, when you apply the commandments to real life, you end up with so many applications that it is effectively the same thing as having 10,000 commandments. [Answer]


… What resources on the Proverbs would you recommend? … [Answer]


Does Jesus really mean it when he says that rich people should sell everything they own? I mean, reading it it seems pretty clear, but no one ever does it. [Answer]


What if Romans 7 isn’t supposed to describe the life of the believer and all this sin we find ourselves burdened with is strange to Paul’s theology? [Answer]


Can you help me figure out the difference between the believers pre and post Pentecost experience of the spirit? … [Answer]


What are your thoughts on the so-called “Federal Vision” controversy? Do you believe “Federal Vision” adherents stand opposed to historic, reformed faith on various aspects? Should our understanding of Federal Vision influence how, or whether, we read Leithart, Jordan, Lusk, Wilson, and others? [Answer]


R. Scott Clark writes of the federal vision, “The central FV error is really their doctrine of baptismal union with Christ, that every baptized person is, by virtue of their baptism, united head for head to Christ and thereby granted a conditional, temporal election, justification, adoption etc which is retained by grace and cooperation with grace and lost by virtue of ones failure to do ones part (i.e., cooperate with grace).” What do you make of this assessment? [Answer]


You wrote in a recent answer on FV, “The real differences here lie at the deeper level of theological method and the fundamental architectonics of the theological system.” Do you have any recommended readings, either by you or someone else, where these “real differences” are explicated and expounded? [Answer]


Why are Peter Leithart and James Jordan so good at reading the Bible closely? … [Answer]


As a fellow Leithart admirer, do you have any thoughts, or insights, on his most recent work “Delivered from the Elements of the World”? [Answer]


… Do you think that the Calvinist understanding of perseverance creates problems in dealing with people who are in serious sin or who are struggling with their faith? … [Answer]


If Mormonism is so wrong (which I think it is), then why are the lives of Mormons so full of happiness, joy and general stability? I’m a Mormon who is now an agnostic, but I find it hard to believe in Jesus given that people believe in Joseph Smith (making their lives better) despite him being a criminal charlatan [Answer]


Are visions of god real, or just hallucinations? [Answer] [Follow-up]


What is the bottom line age threshold you would accept for an elder? … [Answer]


…how best would you evaluate the merits of ’house church movements’ in the face of the general decline in / disregard of institutional church in the West? [Answer]


What do you think about ecumenism? Does formal / structural unity among churches matter to God? [Answer]


… What do you think of this, in my opinion horrifying, cult of celebrity within the U.S. evangelical church? [Answer]


Is the idolatry metaphor overused in Evangelicalism? … [Answer]


Is the Pope the whore of babylon? [Answer]


… Assuming I have the support of the elders, how would you recommend I should go about changing [a poor form of practicing Communion] to something more biblical? … [Answer]


What do you think about plastic shot glasses for communion? Would you prefer them to intinction? [Answer]


When is someone a theologian? … [Answer]


Have you read the CREC presiding ministers report to Christ Church and Trinity? Do you have thoughts on their social media recommendations? [Answer]


Could you please explain your upcoming book on gender? [Answer]


Do other animals have gender differences or just sex differences? … [Answer]


Would feminists say other animals and plants are literate? For instance, are gender differences in dioecious plants performatively established texts? … [Answer]


In one of your answers you quoted Judith Butler. I wasn’t sure if you were doing so positively. Either way do you think Christians have anything to learn from Her work? I’m asking because I have ‘gender trouble’ on my reading list but so many have poo-pooed it that I wonder if I should bother. [Answer]


I am interested in the best sociological/political argument against same-sex marriage — *not* theological, *not* scriptural. What do ‘ya got for me? [Answer]


So my Mum (not a Christian) points out that my aunties’ same-sex relationship seem to make them so much happier, stronger and fulfilled. What would be your response to this sort of argument? [Answer]


Why are the churches I visit so unmanly? … [Answer]


In an earlier post you noted that the Christian faith has a “natural character.” Can you explain that further? [Answer]


What advice would you give a married man who feels unattracted to his wife and stuck in a lackluster marriage? [Answer]


What are the biblical thresholds for breaking an engagement? Is it comparable with divorce? [Answer]


Why does god make paedophiles? Granted, some of them are horrible people, but why give them the urge in the first place? Seems bizarre. [Answer]


What, if any, are the differences between male and female brains? Many are claiming that we now know there aren’t any, and that the male/female brain idea is nonsense, but there seems to be much evidence to the contrary – that there are real and fundamental neurobiological differences between the sexes. Thoughts? [Answer]


Could you comment on the gift of the the apostle today (Eph 4), particularly how as a complementarian you might see (if any) different gender expressions of this gift. I.e Pentecostals connect oversight of church networks to this gift. Does this not unhelpfully appear to make the gifts gender specific? How is apostolic ‘authority’ defined and expressed and again, does expression differ for genders? [Answer]


Why is it better to be married in your 20’s than later? It seems like most stats suggest marrying later is better. [Answer]


Is porn use grounds for divorce? [Answer]


[Question about the validity of a marriage undertaken to deceive the authorities] [Answer]


Capital punishment? [Answer]


Do races vary in IQ? I am not asking this from a malicious standpoint. I affirm that all humans are equally made in God’s image. [Answer]


What you think of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson in Toronto and his work on the psychology of religious beliefs and meaning in mythology? [Answer]


Do you believe that Europeans will increasa in fecundity? To what extent do you believe the increase in immigration and willingness to accept refugees stems from the need to import young workers to sustain the welfare state? [Answer]


Would you support a single payer health care system? [Answer]


Spiral Dynamics seems to be a hot heuristic tool in certain church circles, especially progressive ones. It seems ripe for creating easy intellectual and moral caste systems into which groups, individuals, and styles of belief can be easily dropped into, and thereby ‘explained’ (or explained away). But what do you make of it? [Answer]


The trend of people getting tattoos and large numbers of them is clearly pernicious, and I wish it would stop but what can one practically do? How can one move a culture on this? What is behind it all or does that even matter for solving it? [Answer]


Can you distinguish among different US dialects? [Answer]


… why is the principle ‘death is better than suffering’ applicable to animals but not humans? [Answer]


You’re in Nazi-occupied territory. No one is allowed to harbor Jews, on pain of execution. You hear a knock on your door, and when you open it, a Jewish family pleads with you. Your house has a cellar that can hold them. You take them in. Later, the Nazis come and ask you where they are. Should you lie? [Answer]


Is baldness really debilitating? [Answer]


How did y’all start Mere Fidelity? [Answer]


What are the three happiest days of your life? [Answer]


Feel free to ask any questions of your own!!

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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One Response to More Answers to Questions

  1. quinnjones2 says:

    Hi Alastair,
    I have really enjoyed reading all these Q’s and A’s.
    A little disclaimer first- this is not a question, but a response, and it’s not a response to the links on this page, but a response to a Q&A you just tweeted on the subject of natural law.
    I love this: ‘YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS ALREADY!!’
    There certainly are things we should know already, but there are times when we just don’t know them (or maybe it would more to the point to say that there have been some things I should have known already, but didn’t!)
    For instance, I have just been chuckling to myself about a time when I was aged 22 and expecting our first child. As I wanted to be a perfect mother (!), I bought loads of books on child care and child development, and in one book I read that babies start putting their toes in their mouths at the age of about six months. My first thought was, ‘How am I going to teach the baby to do that? I can’t even do it myself.’ Needless to say, members of my family soon put me right on that one (‘You don’t have to teach them – they just do it themselves!’) I didn’t think I’d ever live it down 🙂
    So it’s true – some things just *are*, some things just *happen* – and we should know this already.
    Christine

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