On January 13, 2005, Believing Minds, a radio journal exploring the academic disciplines in pursuit of informed discipleship, interviewed Clark H. Pinnock, Professor of Christian Interpretation at McMaster Divinity College in Ontario, Canada, about Openness Theology. Dr. Pinnock was interviewed by John S. Tanner, professor of English and Academic Vice President at Brigham Young University and host of Believing Minds. Professor Tanner specializes in the work of John Milton and is the author of “Anxiety in Eden: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Paradise Lost” published by Oxford University Press (1992). As a result, Professor Tanner is well suited to discussing the intersection between religion and literature. Read more…
The idea that human beings have free will plays a critical role in Latter-day Saint thought. The importance of free will pervades the Grand Council narrative and Latter-day Saint beliefs concerning grace and salvation. Free will, or Agency, typically informs LDS philosopher’s views on God’s omniscience and foreknowledge. In my experience, the counter-cult movement tends to be heavily populated with Calvinists, and one puzzling irony is that Calvinists who interact with Mormons on a regular basis hold a radically different understanding of human free will.
While some Latter-day Saints reject such a notion on moral grounds, I’ve been frustrated with the notion because I’ve experienced it as a barrier to interreligious dialogue. I address this issue in What is Bad Apologetics?, an actual exchange rendered into a Socratic dialogue. In this dialogue, the Socratic inquiry into the nature of apologetics is terminated because the interlocutor holds the view that whether a person employs “good” apologetics or “bad” apologetics is ultimately determined by divine fiat and therefore an apologist is not responsible for his or her actions.
Seeing as how one’s view of human free will greatly influences the calibration of one’s theology, I believe it is important for Evangelicals to attempt to discuss this view with Mormons. I’ve passionately advocated such a position in the past, but I suspect it has had little effect.
It is with this background that I’ve eagerly followed the recent exchange between Geoff Johnston and Aaron Shafovaloff. This is not the first time Geoff and Aaron have explored the topic of free will. On July 18, 2007, Geoff authored “The advantages of bad theology” and discussion between Geoff and Aaron culminated in an three part podcast (audio) (July 20, 2007, running time 2.5 hours). This discussion covered a larger range of topics other than Calvinism. (Personally, I found the 2007 podcast a better exchange and recommend this one as having more explanatory value). Read more…
Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and King’s College, presented “Christianity in the Lord of the Rings: Apologetics in Tolkien’s Classic” at the 2004 National Conference on Apologetics held November 3, 2004. Listen to the mp3 here (total run time 1:04:11). Dr. Kreeft has published several books including “The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings,” “Summa of the Summa” and “Socrates Meets Jesus.”
Using Tokein’s personal writings and correspondance with readers, Dr. Kreeft provides great illumination and insight into Tokien’s Middle Earth. For more audio lectures see Dr. Kreeft’s website.
One of the most important topics in religious conversations is the nature of human freedom. On July 26, 2008 , Justin Brierley of Premier Christian Radio interviewed Alvin Plantinga, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame as part the American Masters of Christian Thinking series. Listen to the interview at the Unbelievable website (mp3 here). The interview begins at audio marker 16:20.
If you’ve never read Alvin Plantinga, or are less familiar with the problem of evil and notions of free will, I highly recommend listening to this interview. In fact, because Plantinga focuses heavily on the concept of free will, I believe Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints would find the interview particularly relevant since this topic tends to linger in the background of many discussions between Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints.
Each week Christian Premier Radio in London broadcasts Unbelievable with Justin Brierley. Unbelievable brings together people from different belief systems, typically a Christian participant and a non-Christian participant, to discuss matters relevant to the Christian faith.
On February 28, 2009, Unbelievable made available on their online archives a show they did in 2006 with Baptist Pastor Greg Johnson of Standing Together and Dr. Robert Millet of Brigham Young University.
Listen online begins at audio marker 17:20-1:20:33.
Audio file aficionados will be pleased to hear Dr. Craig Blomberg explain in his own words what has happened since publishing “How Wide the Divide: A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation” in 1997.
Feb 27, 2008, Dr. Blomberg gave a presentation as part of Denver Seminary’s Women’s Forum entitled “How Wide the Divide? Eleven Years Later, Mormons and Evangelicals in Conversation.” (Listen Here)
In this presentation, Dr. Blomberg provides an amazing look from the inside of the events before and after the publication of How Wide the Divide. Dr. Blomberg recounts the history of how he came to enter into communication with Stephen E. Robinson, author of “Are Mormons Christian?,” the various criticism and praise which followed HWD, the events leading up to the 2004 event at the Mormon Tabernacle with Ravi Zacharius, Greg Johnson and Robert Millet’s public dialogues, the publication “The New Mormon Challenge,” and various academic dialogues with religious studies students including the National Student Dialogue Conference. Dr. Blomberg concludes his talk with summaries of lessons he has learned from this experience. A question and answer session concludes.
I personally enjoyed Dr. Blomberg’s talk and found myself nodding amen to essentially everything he had to say.
This post is a joy to write. Not only am I able to present an audio interview of Bruce D. Porter, but one conducted by a Roman Catholic interviewer. Here, we have a Roman Catholic interviewing a Latter-day Saint partly in regards to an essay written by an Evangelical. Listen to the audio here.
Russell R. Reno, is an associate professor in the Department of Theology at Creighton University. Creighton is a Jesuit university and Reno is Catholic. I was extremely impressed with his demeanor as well as his questions in sincerely trying to understand Mormonism. In addition to his interview with Bruce D. Porter, Reno also interviews Gerald McDermott in regards to his First Things Article. I intend to comment on that interview later, however, I want to focus on Reno and Porter in this post. In particular I want to emphasize Reno’s questions.
Reno: In terms of the sense in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate beings, I mean, in no sense, do I, in my acquaintance with Mormons, do I have any sense they are polytheistic in any sense. So the question I have is, if you think about this, what do you think protects the piety from fragmenting? (11:00-11:27)
This is an excellent question. Reno knows from things he has read that Latter-day Saints believe the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three beings. His question suggests the possibility that, this doctrine could lead to people choosing to worship one being to the exclusion of the other, or as he says it “fragmenting the piety”. However, and most importantly, he reflects on his own experience with Mormons and from an empirical standpoint knows that he doesn’t see Latter-day Saint factions where some choose to be faithful only to one member of the Godhead. Read more…
I’m always on the look out for excellent audio lectures and interviews and I’d like to share one I’ve recently come across. Dr. Maxie B. Burch, Associate Pastor for Faith Development at North Phoenix Baptist Church is presenting several lecture series on the History of Christianity. “What is Christian Theology” (total time 1:48:27, listen or download mp3), given January 22, 2008 is the first lecture in his course “Introduction to Historical Theology.”
Dr. Burch has a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Baylor University. As a historian of Christian theology, he has taught courses at Grand Canyon University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Arizona State University. In this introductory lecture, Dr. Burch gives a fresh and balanced introduction to the fundamental principles in Christian theology and I believe Evangelicals, Catholics and Latter-day Saints will find much in his lecture which would challenge them as well as affirm their faith.
If you’ve never been exposed to the study of Christian Theology I highly recommend this lecture. If you have studied Christian theology, you will appreciate Dr. Burch’s balanced and open approach to the subject.
Enjoy the full series “History of Christianity” available via iTunes.
Dr. Burch takes the approach that “Theology is taught by God, teaches of God, and leads to God.”
(Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit – St. Thomas Aquinas).