Michial Farmer and Nathan Gilmour respond to a range of listener questions and comments. Our subject matter follows this schedule:

[1:56] How can we conceive of the inconceivable if the Creator of the universe is Himself inconceivable? Do mortal minds break at the sight of God?

[8:00] Robin William’s movies

[11:01] Teacher film recommendations

[14:49] Allegory and Dracula

[17:20] Irony and Sincerity in Nostalgia

[21:20] Platonic descent and ascent of the soul

[25:03] Errors in Ancient Aliens on the History Channel

[27:21] What is up with the intro music?

[31:37] Doctrine of Predestination

[36:47] Podcast recommendation: Personal devotions and reflection in the Christian life.

[41:13] Charlie Hebdo: Bravery versus Heroism

4 thoughts on “Christian Humanist Podcast 153.1: Listener Feedback”
  1. For teacher movies, have you guys seen Wonder Boys? It’s a good comedy-drama from 2000. Actually, in some ways it’s almost a parody of a typical teacher movie. Michael Douglas plays an author/English professor who’s written one hit novel and now has writer’s block. The story centers on his efforts to hide his lack of progress from his editor and his attempts to help a couple of his students with their academic and emotional troubles, and he gets into all sorts of bizarre situations in the process. For example, one of his students shoots the chancellor’s dog! (this is very early, not really a spoiler).
    Plus, Bob Dylan wrote a song for it. It might even make a good episode.

  2. Thanks for the explanation about the intro music. The first time I took notice of it was at the beginning of one or your political episodes, and I thought the business about the elephant must be a reference to the GOP.

  3. A few other good teacher movies that avoid the simplistic and triumphalist teacher saves the day narrative : Half Nelson, Detachment, The History Boys, and Monsieur Lazhar. Not a film, but probably the best on screen reflection on teaching is season four of The Wire.

  4. Regarding the request for recommended reading on the doctrine of predestination.  An accessible, entry-level read is “Chosen by God” written by R.C. Sproul.  A more substantial read is “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” by Loraine Boettner.  And there is the historical reflection on predestination expressed in various confessions and creeds.  For example, the Westminster Confession of Faith (with the larger and shorter catechisms), the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Cannons of Dort,  and the Council of Orange.  You can find these for free on the internet.

    Regarding Roger Olson and his various critiques of Reformed theology. I find he is often arguing against straw men and theological caricatures.  The Calvinism that he rails against and finds so offensive is not what I have experienced while being immersed in a conservative, Reformed, and Presbyterian tradition for the past 20 years.  He seems to make no attempt to live with tension or paradox or even some sort of dialectic.  Here’s a quote from Roger Olson regarding predestination from an interview with the magazine, Modern Reformation (Feb. 2007):
    “To us [Arminians], the whole idea that God passes over some people when he could save everyone because salvation is always unconditional, makes God look arbitrary and, perhaps, capricious, and perhaps even that he has an evil side.  So we know that Calvinists don’t say any of that, but our thought is that if we were to become Calvinists, that’s what we’d have to believe, and we can’t believe that.”

    Apparently Olson can only let his mind run on a single track, since there is only one possible conclusion to embracing predestination as articulated in Reformed theology: that God is arbitrary and capricious.  One is not forced to that conclusion, but one can chose that conclusion because the idea offends their sense of reason or morality.  Rather than drawing a hyperbolic conclusion maybe what needs to change is what we are willing to accommodate with respect to God.  As an alternative to an arbitrary and capricious God, we instead embrace the paradox that God is love (1 John 4:8), that God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), and that God hardens hearts and refuses to save (e.g., Romans 9).

    I have spent 19 years as a Roman Catholic, 4 years completely immersed as an Arminian Pentecostal, and the past 20 years as a Presbyterian.  I have recently discovered someone that articulates a view of predestination that I think most closely accounts for what I read of in the scriptures.  That is John Milbank in his interview with Nathan Gilmore on Christian Humanist Profiles.  Listen to the whole thing, but the discussion relating to predestination takes place between 32:00 and 36:00.  God’s causality is on a completely different level that human causality.  Both are true and yet both are not in competition and both are not collaborating.  What a beautiful, wonderful, loving, amazing, glorious, and mysterious God we believe in, love, and serve.  Soli Deo Gloria.

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