I was asked to respond to the questions in this video. I’ve selected what seem to me to be the three most interesting questions and I provide a response to each below. The video itself is only three minutes in case you want to hear the questions in context.
“If there was one religion, completely different to your own that you would choose to be true, which would it be? Why?”
Let me start by identifying the key desiderata as I see it: a benevolent, personal deity; the assurance of justice and mercy being secured for all creation; universal restoration of all creatures to a blessed embodied, material existence.
Why are these the desiderata that I identify? A benevolent personal deity brings peace that we are not alone, that there is purpose and meaning. The assurance of both justice and mercy bring hope that all shall be well and the wrongs of this universe will be made right. And the final stipulation about universal restoration of all to blessed embodied existence manifests the hope that life goes on forever not in some ethereal disembodied state, but rather as the embodied beings that we were intended to be.
What kind of religion meets that description? I am a poor student of the diversity of world religions but to my mind the best immediate candidate is a version of modern benevolent deism.
“What is one thing you wish was not true about your religion?”
I’m not sure how exactly to approach this question. I believe Calvinism is false and I hope it is false. I believe eternal conscious torment is false and I hope it is false.
But I suppose the point is to ask about something I believe is true that I hope is false. Fair enough, I believe annihilationism (the posthumous resurrection to judgment resulting in cessation of existence for the unregenerate) is true but I hope it is false and that Christian universalism is true (i.e. a resurrection to a judgment of the unregenerate that is ultimately restorative).
“What movie best represents your faith?”
In my article “Finding Jesus at the movies, but not in the Jesus movies” I cite the example of Short Term 12 as a profoundly Christian movie in the sense of exploring themes of grace and redemption in a broken world. In terms of a movie that invokes a more explicit Christ-redeemer theme, I would probably point to The Iron Giant with its beautiful depiction of the self-destructive cycles of sin, atonement, and resurrection. And how could I forget Gran Torino, my favorite Clint Eastwood film, which powerfully depicts a Girdardean atonement as Walt gives his life for his neighbors and their community.