cults

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Book Review: “Talking Doctrine: Mormons and Evangelicals in Conversation” edited by Richard Mouw and Robert Millet

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Talking Doctrine: Mormons and Evangelicals in Conversation is a collection of essays from both Mormon and evangelical scholars about the areas of convergence and divergence in their beliefs.

The essays touch on a broad array of topics, though they are organized under two general headings: the nature of the dialogue and specific doctrinal discussions. Each grouping has a diverse set of essays, from a series of reflections on Mormon-evangelical dialogue to the exploration of sacred space under the “nature of the dialogue” to the question of the Trinity and the nature of authority under “specific doctrinal discussions.”

It is quite interesting to see how Mormon and evangelical thought has developed through this dialogue and what areas are left open to explore. Some essays hint at convergence of the belief systems (the nature and efficacy of grace, for example), while others show how wide the divide remains (specifically the discussions on the Trinity and issue of theological anthropology).

I appreciated the calls to honesty in the dialogue on both sides, as well as the tone of each essay which suggested mutual respect even amidst a struggle to understand each other.

One thing that I am really left wondering is how much the Mormon side in this dialogue represents the “Mormon on the street.” That is, would the average Mormon hold to similar beliefs as those writing the essays herein? Often, it seems that the Mormons do not sound all that far from evangelicalism on some issues, but on others the chasm is very wide indeed.

Several of the essays were, frankly, overly optimistic. Sarah Taylor, in “An Evangelical at Brigham Young University,” has a conversation with a Mormon friend in which the Mormon friend affirms the possibility that God the Father sinned, but argues that Christ’s atonement would have canceled out even that sin. Shockingly, Taylor’s conclusion is that the Mormon friend was “the same amount Christian” as she is (emphasis hers) despite the affirmation of God’s sinning. Other head-scratchers like this are found throughout, such as when Brian Birch in “Divine Investiture: Mormonism and the Concept of Trinity” concludes that because Mormonism is similar in some ways to Arianism(though radically dissimilar in others), it can be seen as akin to some form of the Christian tradition (but why should a condemned heresy be concluded to be part of the Christian tradition? how broadly are these scholars painting to be inclusive?).

However, each essay has several intriguing points to take away alongside various insights and challenges. Whether you are an evangelical looking to broaden your understanding of Mormonism or an apologist looking to see some of the most challenging contrasts to evangelicalism found in Mormon thought (or anywhere in between), this is a book that will benefit you.

Talking Doctrine is a fascinating book with many challenging essays and avenues to explore.  Frankly, if one is interested at all in apologetics and Mormonism, one should read this book. Whatever shortcomings it has are outweighed by the amount of information found herein. Just be aware of some of these shortcomings.

The Good

+Interesting set of essays
+Tackles some of the tough questions
+Great concern with accurate representation of “others'” beliefs
+Provides insight into both sides of the dialogue

The Bad

-Very minimal space given to each essay
-Some difficult topics seemed to be skirted around or ignored
-Downplays some rather major areas of disagreement

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not asked to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Source

Talking Doctrine: Mormons and Evangelicals in Conversation edited Mouw and Millet (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Really Recommended Posts 7/4/14- liberal theology, 1 Timothy 2:12, and more!

postAnother go-round the internet has turned up a number of links for you, dear reader, to peruse. Here, we discuss 1 Timothy 2:12-a central verse in the debate over women in the church, liberal theology, Psalms, cults, and “feminization” of the church. Check them out, and let me know what you think in the comments below. Be sure to leave them comments as well, as comments are what make we bloggers keep blogging!

NIV, ESV, and 1 Timothy 2:121 Timothy 2:12 is often seen as the central verse for the complementarian position. After all, it teaches women are not to have authority over men, doesn’t it? Here, Paul Adams shares some insights from Craig Blomberg about some difficulties with translating the verse in a complementarian light, and the way this reflects in different Bible versions.

What is Liberal Theology?– I’d say it’s one of those “scare phrases” intended to throw people away from the teachings of theologians or systems which the one using the phrase wants readers to avoid. Check out this post which analyzes the term via words from Roger Olson.

Kinds of Psalms– Different types of Psalms perhaps suggest reading them differently exegetically and also for different reasons in Christian life and practice. Check out this post which discusses the different types of Psalms.

Sure Signs of a Sinister Sect (COMIC)- Here, No Apologies Allowed shares a cartoon about how to perhaps identify some less-than-sound teaching and the methods of various cultic groups.

The “Feminization” of the Church– Recently, I wrote about how many I have read have complained about this alleged “feminization” of the church. Here, the origins of this belief are assessed alongside various studies and quotes from leading approaches to the issue.

The Book of Mormon: Introduction and Importance

Mormonism is growing with great speed. There are few, however, who understand the limits of Mormonism’s truth claims. Mormon apologists have frequently made assertions which are either false or ungrounded. I have therefore decided to write a series of posts on the Book of Mormon, followed by a critique of Mormonism’s philosophical stances. This post will introduce the book of Mormon.

A man was born on December 23, 1805 in Vermont. He was known for digging for imagined buried treasure with his father and others.[1] He was also known for being a mystic,[2] for his conviction for disorderly conduct in a scam in which he tried to convince locals he had found treasure underground,[3] and for being the translator of golden plates: The Book of Mormon.[4] The man was Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Mormon faith, “The Prophet.”[5] The Book of Mormon, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the official name of the Mormon Church), is “another witness that Jesus Christ… was and is God’s Son… It supports and verifies the Bible.”[6] If this is true, then the Book of Mormon is as much the Word of God as the Bible. However, the Book of Mormon’s validity as the Word of God is strongly undercut by scientific and historical evidence which contradicts its claims.

The Mormon Articles of Faith describe the Book of Mormon as “a volume of sacred scripture which, like the Bible, embodies the word of God.”[7] The Book of Mormon is supposed to record other prophecies about Jesus.[8] Perhaps the most striking enunciation of the contents of the Book of Mormon is found later in the Articles:

The Book of Mormon is a divinely inspired record, made by the prophets of the ancient peoples who inhabited the American continent for centuries before and after the time of Christ, which record has been translated in the present generation through the gift of God and by His special appointment. The authorized and inspired translator of these sacred scriptures… is Joseph Smith.[9]

Furthermore, the arguments for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon often parallel those arguments used to justify the Bible: it is said to be “internally consistent,”[10] prophetically fulfilled,[11] and supported by archaeology.[12] Yet there are also arguments unique to the Book: it was certified as genuine by three men who signed a statement confirming they witnessed the translation of the Book,[13] eight other witnesses claimed to have seen the gold plates from which the Book was purportedly translated,[14] and the ethnic background of Native Americans is said to be Israelite, which would demonstrate the Book’s truth.[15] It is clear that the Book of Mormon is the absolute bedrock of Mormon faith. If the evidences for the Book do not hold the evidential weight required to confirm its truth, then Mormon faith is undone.

The Book of Mormon’s veracity hinges on the claim that the lost tribes of Israel came to America, settled there, and wrote their history on gold plates which Joseph Smith later translated. Such claims at the time of Joseph Smith seemed irrefutable; they simply couldn’t conceive of technology which could test such ideas. Today, however, such technology is available. Unfortunately for Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church, the evidence runs contrary to what the Book of Mormon claims.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll investigate each of these claims in turn, while finding them wanting. The next post will demonstrate that the Book of Mormon cannot be true based upon a genetic analysis of Native Americans. Future posts will argue that the Book of Mormon does not reflect ancient near eastern writing and that the Mormon concept of God is philosophically untenable.

[1] Walter Martin. The Kingdom of the Cults (Bloomington, MN: Bethany, 2003), 197; Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (Salt Lake City, UT: Modern Microfilm Company, 1972), 32.

[2] Martin, Kingdom, 197

[3] Wayne L. Cowdrey, Howard A. Davis, and Arthur Vanick, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon: The Spalding Enigma (St. Louis: Concordia, 2005), 395f.

[4] Martin, Kingdom, 201.

[5] Ibid., 197f.

[6] The Mormon Church, “Frequently Asked Questions,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, http://www.mormon.org/faq/#Book+of+Mormon|question=/faq/what-is-book-of-mormon/ (accessed October 14, 2010).

[7] James Talmage. A Study of the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), 251.

[8] Talmage, Articles of Faith, 252.

[9] Talmage, Articles of Faith, 255.

[10] Ibid, 278-279.

[11] Ibid, 274-275.

[12] Ibid, 283-293.

[13] Ibid, 270.

[14] Ibid, 271.

[15] Ibid, 283.

Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Slc_mormon_tempel.jpg

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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