Deeper Waters Podcast 6/20/2020

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mormonism is a strange religious movement. While there are noted differences between it and Christianity, even those of us who know it is not Christian have some difficulties from it. Namely, there are many skeptics who like to point out supposed parallels between Christianity and Mormonism. Why is it you believe the former and not the latter? Isn’t that special pleading?

We wouldn’t want to be doing that would we? Paul claims to see Jesus appear on the Damascus Road. Joseph Smith claims to see the Father and the Son in a heavenly vision. 500 people are said to have seen the risen Jesus at one time. Several people also saw the golden plates of Joseph Smith didn’t they? Shouldn’t we be consistent? Shouldn’t we either accept both or reject both?

It’s really sad that this is a neglected area of apologetics. We have two accounts of claims of seeing something and both of them are foundational to the religion. No one has really done an in-depth look at both of these accounts as far as I know.

Until now.

Thankfully, someone stepped up to the plate and wrote an excellent book on the topic. I’ll be discussing with him this Saturday about it. I sometimes think of him as one of the best apologists you’ve never heard of. Some of you have, of course, but to many people, he’s not as well-known which is a shame. I find all of his material to be excellent. His name is Rob Bowman and he’ll be joining me Saturday.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the president of Faith Thinkers, a Christian apologetics ministry (www.FaithThinkers.org/). He holds MA and PhD degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary. Rob has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Biola University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Evangelical Seminary, and elsewhere. He is the author of some 60 periodical articles and the author or co-author of 15 books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (with J. Ed Komoszewski), Faith Thinkers: 30 Christian Apologists You Should Know, and Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism.

I hope you’ll be joining us this Saturday. We are again working on getting the shows done and uploaded. There has been a lot going on and I personally apologize for that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rough Stone Rolling

What do I think of Richard Lyman Bushman’s book published by Knopf? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mormonism is certainly a fascinating movement to look at. It’s got a founder who had a reputation even in his time of being a con-man and grew up to knowingly have multiple wives and yet establish what is seen as a branch of Christianity if not a restoration of the ancient faith by millions of people. Today, the Mormon Church has at least 15,000,000 members.

It all started with Joseph Smith. This account of Joseph Smith is written by a Mormon. Still, I went through it thinking that this is important information that I wish more Mormons would read. Some of the problems that many missionaries try to deny are there stated. Joseph had multiple wives. He really did hold to divine exaltation. He was involved with the Masons. He did have an army of sorts called the Danites.

The story begins not with Smith but with his family. Bushman looks at who Smith’s parents were and how they got where they were. The story seems to start off slow as it seems to take awhile to get to the story of the plates and their translation. I do note that there isn’t much interaction with the problem of the date of the first vision in comparison to the revival in the area.

From here on there is a thoroughly detailed look at the life of this man. At some times, I could actually have sympathy for Joseph. Particularly at the start when I read about a leg injury he had as a boy.

A benefit though for this one is that though Bushman is, as I said, a Mormon, this book is not glowing with praise of Smith. There is some of that there, but it does not stand out. Bushman is trying to be as impartial as he can be.

Those who are not familiar with the history of Mormonism will see a lot more of how it was interacting with the culture of the time. These interactions were not just religious ones, but they were also political in nature. While our country may uphold separation of church and state, and properly understood I support that, there is a sense in which it is also unavoidable. There will always be interaction between the church and the state.

If anyone is left being someone I have great sympathy for in this book, it’s Joseph’s wife Emma. For some strange reason, she was never really happy with plural marriage. There are times of great anger and when she told her kids later about her husband after Joseph died, she tried to avoid anything about plural marriage.

Mormons need to read a book like this so they can get an account of Joseph Smith from a Mormon source. There can be no claims of anti-Mormon bias. They can read all about the Danites and about polygamy.

Christians need to read this to get a better understanding of Mormons they want to evangelize to. They can understand the history of Mormonism and also contrast it to the history of Christianity. When I have been told that the faiths were similar in their founding, it’s pretty clear that they were not.

I am thankful Bushman wrote this account. It is a long one, but it is a readable one. The only big hurdle for most readers will be the length, but it is worthwhile if you get through it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus’s Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions

What do I think of Rob Bowman’s book published by Deward Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s any area in the study of the resurrection we needed a great source on, it was comparing the resurrection to the visions of Joseph Smith. After all, aren’t what happened to Paul and Joseph comparable? Aren’t the witnesses to the golden plates and the witnesses to the resurrection comparable? If we accept one, are we not obligated to accept the other?

Thankfully, that niche has been filled. Rob Bowman has written an excellent book looking at the visions of Joseph Smith and comparing them to the resurrection. The bulk of the book is dedicated to Smith which isn’t a surprise since most Christians are familiar with the resurrection who read these kinds of books. Also, Smith came from a much more literary time so there are more writings to go through around his time.

However, even if you have read material defending the resurrection of Jesus, and I hope you have, you still need to go through what Bowman says about it. It’s really an excellent defense of the doctrine and very easy to understand. If you want a short defense of the resurrection of Jesus, this is an excellent one to go through.

When we get to Smith, Bowman truly shows his mastery of the information. There is hardly a stone left unturned here and Bowman interacts with the very best of Mormon apologetics. His familiarity with the material is simply astounding.

As he goes through Smith’s visions, he goes through piece by piece and points out in detail that could be painstaking if it wasn’t such an enjoyable read all that is questionable and why, always making sure to say it’s not because it’s miraculous. It gets down to the real historical claims such as when was the revival that Joseph Smith talked about and was he truly persecuted for claims of a vision.

He’ll also ask about the appearance of Moroni because even if you grant miraculous events and angelic encounters, there are reasons in the account itself to really question that the event happened. This is not the usual approach of using DNA testing or lacking archaeological evidence to go after Mormonism. This is striking at the heart. After all, Mormonism often is said to stand or fall on the first vision of Joseph Smith.

If you are someone who wants to interact with Mormons, you owe it to yourself to read this book. If you don’t interact with them, but you debate the resurrection of Jesus with skeptics, you need to read this book. This is a thorough and excellent reply to one common objection.

If I could recommend one book on dealing with Mormonism now, it would be this one. This is really one that any Mormon who is wanting to stay a strong Mormon needs to interact with. It will be a great reference for counter-cult apologetics for many years to come.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/11/2020

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One man lived around 2,000 years ago and claimed to be the Son of God and Messiah who rose from the dead. His followers were absolutely convinced of that. He established His church and it exists all over the world today. This man is normally seen as the most important figure in history. I, of course, refer to Jesus Christ.

Another man came about 1,800 years later. He claimed that Jesus did do that, but that the church got lost. Dangerous teachings came up in the church that undermined its teaching and Christ’s church had ceased to exist. This man claimed to restore the church and gave it new Scriptures that were supposed to be from God as well. His church is also around today. This man is Joseph Smith.

What can we know about them historically? If we don’t start off with the assumption that their Scriptures are inerrant and just use pure historical methodology, including what is in the texts that they gave us, what can be known about them? What would happen if we compared the two to one another?

My guest decided to do that. He wrote a book called The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith. Both of these men made remarkable claims. Both of these men claimed their message was true. Both of them have churches today. Are they both right? Are they both wrong? Is one of them right?

My guest has been working for several years in the Utah area and has a great interest in reaching Mormons. His book is fair and treats both figures seriously and respectfully. His name is Tom Hobson.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Tom Hobson holds a degree in social work from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Biblical exegesis from Concordia Seminary St. Louis.  His dissertation was on the Mosaic law penalty “cut off from his people.”  He has written What’s on God’s Sin List for Today? (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith (Elm Hill, 2019).  He has also written journal articles including “Aselgeia in Mark 7:22,” which argues that Jesus did name homosexual behavior as a sin.  All of his academic work can be found on his website www.biblicalethic.org.    He was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in 1983, has served churches in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, and taught as chair of Biblical studies and languages at Morthland College (2012-2016).  He is currently retired and lives in Belleville, Illinois.

Also, his book can be found at this site.

We did try some with livestreaming Saturday and it seemed to work well. We could try that again as well. I hope it does work, but we’re trying things now. Keep in mind we have a separate YouTube channel now. Please be watching for this episode.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Almost A Mormon

What do I think of Adam Dommeyer’s book published by Westbow Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Adam Dommeyer for getting in touch with me about his book. I also want to thank Lynn Wilder for the recommendation. I was happy to read Adam’s book as I have had a history with Mormons as well. When I lived with a roommate in Charlotte while studying at Seminary, we had Mormons come over regularly. Generally, we would stop at Little Caesar’s and get some pizza for us to split and get some gatorades for everyone to drink.

Adam’s story is a fascinating one about how he went on a family road trip once out to the West and one of the places they went through was Utah. He notes that the Mormons there at the temple used one of the greatest evangelism techniques out there; pretty girls. I don’t know how many stories I heard in Bible College when we had to talk about how we came to Christ that began with a guy saying something like “Well, there was this cute blond girl and….”

Yet Adam is not that shallow. His family was going through turmoil that eventually led to a divorce, and the Mormons had something else going for them. They had an emphasis on family. Let’s be honest fellow Christians. We do need more of this today. I know the divorce rate among Christians is not as high as is often thought, but it is still high. I have no doubts that a religion that was emphasizing family to a boy whose family was in chaos was extremely appealing.

Adam talks about how the Book of Mormon was at the start a sort of forbidden fruit, which really made it all the more appealing. While other teenage boys might be hiding under their covers with a flashlight looking at porn magazines, Adam was reading the Book of Mormon. He was thinking more and more idealistically about Joseph Smith. Joseph was becoming his best friend.

This was also because of a Mormon girl he met at school. Once again, girls are very persuasive. Eventually, his family found out, and they weren’t happy. They had tried to send him anti-Mormonism literature, but it wasn’t having much effect. Deep down, he considered himself a Mormon and had dreams about Mormonism and everything else. He just wanted to be baptized and then tell everyone about the gospel that had been restored by Joseph Smith.

Yet eventually, he found problems with the Book of Mormon. Namely, it was plagiarism of the Bible that got to him. For Adam, this was devastating and he found himself in a pit of despair for awhile. Fortunately, he did find the real Jesus through this. All of this has led him to have great empathy for Mormons.

All of this makes up about the first half of the book. Much of it reads like a stream of consciousness reading where he describes his thoughts and feelings at various times in his journey. The same goes on some after that part, but there’s a lot more that goes into detail about various problems in Mormonism and the story does have many more gaps as the first half covers a period of around a year and the second covers all the rest.

So positives about the book? The book is an excellent and eye-opening experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at times if Adam looks back on his life as that teenager considering Mormonism seriously and asks “What on Earth was I thinking?”

Second, the book does have much information that is excellent on exposing the problems with Mormonism. Much of it is not new, but that’s okay. The format is what’s different. This one has the information as well as a sort of approach much like Greg Koukl’s Tactics. It’s not just about the information but how to reach them.

Third, Adam does show the importance of talking with Mormons and stressing that they hold on to Jesus no matter what. Many Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses for that matter, can leave the group and leave Christianity altogether convinced that all theism is a bunch of nonsense. This is Adam taking preventative measures beforehand.

There are negatives, but many of these are small. As an orthodox Preterist, I don’t agree with Adam’s approach to prophecy. Fortunately for me, this did not pop up often. The overwhelming majority of arguments against Mormonism if not all do not depend on this prophetic viewpoint.

Second, I understand Adam is an individual who does have dreams that seem to come true, but I always get a concern that many other Christians will start thinking that this is what is supposed to be normative. I have a concern for that. My wife and I used to watch a lady who made videos about prophecy and every single dream she had she recorded and treated as a divine revelation that she tried to interpret with Scripture. Would that Christians spent as much time trying to understand Scripture which we know came from God as they do their dreams which could come from too much pizza the night before.

Third is a stylistic one. Sometimes Adam would begin talking about a dialogue with some Mormons he would have. Then there would be a long section about a problem with Mormonism. I didn’t know if this is something that was pointed to in the discussion or if Adam gave a briefer word and here is giving a more in-depth explanation. I would hope future editions would clarify this.

Finally, there is also some concern with a mention of the New Apostolic Reformation. I understand Adam is Pentecostal from the book, but I think all good Pentecostals should avoid this movement to no end. I recommend the work of Holly Pivec in this area.

Yet overall, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Adam’s book is an enjoyable and powerful read. I hope it shows so many people the problems of Mormonism and gets many Mormons away from the Jesus of Joseph Smith to the Jesus of God the Father.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Sharing The Good News With Mormons

What do I think of Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many books about Mormonism that explain the problems with the historicity and the theology. There are not many books that explain something simple. How to share the information that you do have. What is the right approach? Do you have Mormons in and beat them down with facts about the Book of Mormon? Do you just sit around and lead a good life and hope that the Mormon will ask you the questions? Both of these approaches have problems. The first can create atheists and agnostics more often. The second puts you in a position of hoping the Mormons will see you as different and then hoping they’ll ask and then hoping they’ll listen.

Johnson and McDowell want to give other approaches. They have a large number of them and these aren’t even all the approaches that they are. This is just meant to be a good start in helping you find innovative ways of communicating the good news of Jesus with Mormons.

The book also starts with sections on the existence of God and Biblical reliability. Why have that in a book about Mormons? Don’t they agree to both of those? Many would, but many are using arguments from the new atheists and many Mormons have been told that if the church is not true, then nothing is, and they leave Mormonism and go to atheism or agnosticism. This gives them a fallback position.

From there, we look at a number of ways of communicating. Some will work for you. Some won’t. You could start a chapter and say, “This isn’t for me.” That’s okay. Just go to the next one and see if you think you could do that. For example, open-air evangelism is one technique. This is essentially street preaching done right. This would not work for me because I am terrible at initiating conversations like that and there aren’t enough Mormons in my area to find a place to do this. If you are an outgoing person who lives in an area like Nauvoo or Salt Lake City, you could be in a different situation. However, I am skilled at internet evangelism and I can totally do that route.

There are also other interesting ways to approach Mormons. One suggestion is to print out something like a brochure or newspaper and hand them out for free. These can be kept at someone’s home and they can investigate claims on their own then. Amusingly, when this was done outside of a temple, temple authorities would try to seize the papers which made people only want them more. That practice didn’t last long.

Johnson contributes to a chapter where he hands out free copies of The Miracle of Forgiveness to Mormons in Utah. This is a book by later president of the Mormon Church Spencer Kimball. The message of the book really could be that if it is true, it would be a miracle if anyone was ever forgiven. It helps illustrate the impossible gospel of Mormonism.

Another technique involves holding up a sign with a website on it for Mormons. Note that if you do this, make sure you have such a website and that it has content to it that is helpful. One example of such a website was called Josephlied.com. This has a provocative name also that will stick in someone’s mind.

In my interview with Johnson, he talked also about other techniques that didn’t make it but were effective for such people, such as a guy who set up a ping-pong table and talked to Mormons who came by to play during the game. Another involved someone who drew pictures of the temple and used those to communicate. The main message is do what you are good at and what can spread the gospel without being immoral.

This is a great book to have for conversations with Mormons. We could go with a Greg Koukl reference and call it Tactics for Reaching Mormons. If you have the knowledge, you have one piece of the puzzle. Now you can get the delivery system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/7/2018: Eric Johnson

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You and your spouse are sitting at home on a Saturday morning. It’s a time to relax so you sit on the couch together, turn on some Netflix, and start watching a movie. In the middle of your show, the doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone. You look through the peephole of your door to see who it is and see two men dressed very nicely and wearing name tags with the title “Elder” on them.

You know these guys. They’re Mormons. They have an extensive campaign to spread the good news of Mormonism to people all over the world and now they’ve come to your place.

But do you really know about them? Who are the Mormons? What do they believe? There are many people in the church today who look at them as just another denomination. You have Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. You have Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists. You also have Mormons. They really aren’t that different, are they?

Some people don’t think so. Among them are Sean McDowell and Eric Johnson. They have edited a book together on how to share the good news with Mormons. It has a number of approaches from a number of different apologists to use to reach your Mormon friends. Eric Johnson will be my guest on this Saturday’s show to talk about it.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Eric Johnson has been a student of Mormonism since 1987 when he served with Youth with a Mission at a summer Utah outreach. Eric graduated from San Diego State University (1985, BA in Journalism) as well as at Bethel Seminary San Diego (1991, Master’s of Divinity). Eric cohosts the daily radio program Viewpoint on Mormonism  and writes for MRM’s Mormonism Researched newsletter. He is the co-author of Answering Mormons’ Questions: Ready Responses for Inquiring Latter-day Saints (Kregel, 2013), Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Baker Book, 2015), Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016) as well as serving as a co-editor of Sharing the Good News with Mormons(Harvest House, 2017). Eric served as an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H, 2010) and is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal. Eric taught high school Bible classes for 17 years (1993-2010) at Christian High School (El Cajon, CA) and 8 years as an adjunct English professor at Grossmont College (El Cajon,CA); in addition, he instructed classes at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Eric is married to Terri; together they have three daughters: Carissa, Janelle, and Hannah and live in the Salt Lake City area.

We’ll be talking about the Mormons and how you can better reach them. We will discuss a plethora of techniques as well as what Mormons believe and who they are. Are they really Christians like us and is this just Christians going after another Christian group?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please be watching your feed for this one to show up. If you haven’t done so yet, please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/10/2018: Corey Miller

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine driving around your town checking out area churches one day. You go through and you see all kinds. There’s Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Messianic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Nazarene, etc. You go through your town noticing all these many churches.

You also notice another church. It refers to itself as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is the Mormon church. Well that’s just another denomination isn’t it? Right? It’s just like all the others. It’s still a church and the differences between it and the other churches would be minor. Right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

On my next episode, I am going to be discussing Mormonism and doing so covering a book that talks about why four different people who are now scholars left Mormonism. Was it just changing denominations? Is it anything like a Methodist becoming a Baptist or a Protestant becoming a Catholic? Could it actually be something more?

One of the main editors of this book will be joining me. It is possible his co-editor Lynn Wilder, who has been on before, could be joining us as well. My guest is one who left Mormonism and went on to study Christianity seriously. He studied it so seriously he is now president and CEO of a Christian apologetics organization. That organization is Ratio Christi which many of you who do college work know about and that person is Corey Miller and the book is Leaving Mormonism.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Corey Miller, PhD, is president and CEO of Ratio Christi: Campus Apologetics Alliance (www.ratiochristi.org). He currently teaches philosophy and comparative religions at Indiana University-Kokomo, and has taught at Purdue U, Multnomah University, and Ecola Bible College. He possesses graduate degrees in biblical studies (Multnomah Biblical Seminary), philosophy of religion and ethics (Biola/Talbot School of Theology), and philosophy (Purdue U), as well as a doctorate in philosophical theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is co-editor of Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates in Philosophy, Science, and Rhetoric (Routledge, 2014) and co-author of Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds (Ratio Christi/Kregel, 2017)

So why would Corey and other scholars leave Mormonism? What’s wrong with it? Would it be seen as the same as leaving another denomination? What do Mormons really believe and should a Christian be concerned about going to a Mormon church? What is it that a Christian should say when they encounter someone who is a Mormon or has them come and knock on their door?

Also, on another note, I want you all to know that we have been praying for help with the sound. My former sound guy did a great job, but he had to move on. It is not a problem of bad blood between us. We are still friends and he was very generous to us. Fortunately, I had someone message me out of the blue yesterday volunteering if I ever needed audio help so that position has been filled. Of course, I still encourage you to be listening and please leave a positive review on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Leaving Mormonism

What do I think of Corey Miller and Lynn Wilder’s book published by Kregel publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Leaving Mormonism is a unique work in that four now scholars take a look at Mormonism and why they not only left it, but they came to Christianity. Not all of these people were scholars in the field when they left Mormonism, but they all had a part in it and have now become the scholars. Each one has a chapter about their story and then there is a bonus chapter by Miller and Wilder on why someone should be a Christian theist since many people who abandon Mormonism can abandon theism altogether.

Corey Miller starts out first. His chapter is indeed very philosophical and relies on a lot of the approach one can see from William Lane Craig. There’s a lot of good material in there on the problems also on relying on the inner witness that Mormons speak about. On the other hand, if you’re much more into the Thomist approach and not into the approach from Craig, the other side is good, but not nearly as convincing to you as it could be.

Latayne Scott had the next chapter and this was a fascinating story about being convinced of Mormonism as a child by the missionaries and taking it very seriously. She was a passionate Mormon and then she started dating some guy who wasn’t a Mormon but a Christian and not only that, had read the Book of Mormon before. (Which if you want to evangelize to someone in another religious system, it’s always good to read their holy book.) Normally, I wouldn’t encourage missionary dating, but this time it did work out. Eventually, Scott started seeing problems with Mormonism and those beyond the counter-Mormonism books.

Scott’s story is good and helpful, but after it she goes off into what is a long talk that I really found myself wondering where she was going. There were times also she spoke of a triadic system of reality to show the Trinity, which I did not really get into that part as much. I prefer to always speak of a Trinitarian display instead of a triadic as a triadic system could be polytheistic.

Lynn Wilder had my favorite chapter in the book next, but that could be because of a bias on my part. I’ve known Wilder since her book Unveiling Grace and I got to interview her on my podcast. Wilder’s story in this chapter is a highly abbreviated account of that book and goes into several of the problems in the system of Mormonism and how she has been used to help others get out of Mormonism.

Vince Eccles has the final story. His was different in that he grew up in Mormonism, but a love of science caused him to never really think it was the true path and was a skeptic until becoming a Christian. While some aspects of his chapter are interesting, it doesn’t seem to have as much to do with Mormonism and many times he comes across as if he’s iffy in some ways on major doctrines like the Trinity. I would actually have no problem with anything scientific said in the chapter and there are some good theological insights in it, but I was wondering why much of the material was even there.

Finally, Miller and Wilder come together at the end to give an apologetic for Christian theism. This is an interesting chapter, but if you have read a lot of apologetics material, you won’t find anything new. The chapter is meant to give a basic introduction to the idea. I would have liked to have seen a few more theistic arguments, especially the Thomistic ones, but it was a good one.

I also think I should point out that one problem is every now and then, you would find some typos and grammatical problems in the book. These I think could have been edited out easily. Still, there is a lot of good material and really helps the reader to understand Mormonism and that this isn’t just another form of Christianity.

I would have liked to have seen more on the problems of Mormonism beyond moral ones, such as problems with the Book of Mormon. These show up from time to time, but there is not much investment put to them. It is also pointed out in the book that the internet is causing many to leave Mormonism, but I would have liked to have seen an apologetic for Christianity along those lines since many could say the same about Christianity and as well an idea of what this could mean for the future of the Mormon church.

This is still a very good book and it can be a very gripping one. Chances are you won’t like all the chapters equally, but one account will surely stand out to you. If you want to understand Mormonism and how to reach Mormons, this is a book to get.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Talking Doctrine

What do I think of this book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Talking Doctrine is a book about Mormons and evangelicals in conversation. On the face of it, I have no problem with that. In fact, I think it’s a wonderful idea and it would be fascinating to extend it to other groups if they were willing. Still, as I kept going through this book, I found it in many ways quite disturbing. I am not opposed to friendship with people who are Mormons. Not for a moment. I am not opposed to dialogue with them. We should have that. I am not opposed to having conversations where we can each understand the position of the other all the more. What I am concerned about is that it looked like too often both sides were wanting to say “We’re really not as different as we thought”, but it’s more the evangelicals that are bending instead of the Mormons.

Many important issues are talked about, like the doctrine of divine exaltation, but many are not talked about. Polygamy is talked about some, but there is little discussion of what it means that Joseph Smith had multiple wives. Nothing is really said about Joseph Smith’s reputation and use of a seer stone. Nothing is said about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I understand wanting to avoid polemics, but sometimes those who are polemical could actually be right about something. One concerning chapter is Sarah Taylor’s about being an evangelical at BYU and talking to her friend Billy about if God could have sinned. One can easily imagine what the early church would have said about that and how hard they would have fought for it. Billy instead says the atonement would cover that which Taylor took to mean he was taking the atonement more seriously. She then writes:

All at once, it hit me that Billy—Mormon, God-may-have-sinned Billy—was a Christian. Whenever he talked about Jesus, he talked like a man in love, and that was just it for me.

So here apparently is the criteria for telling if someone is a Christian. It is not if they call Jesus Lord and savior and believe in his resurrection (Although to be fair, Mormons all claim that). It is to look and see if they talk like they love Jesus. We can be sure that the early Gnostics could have talked the exact same way showing a great love for Jesus, but the early church would not have budged an inch. The Jesus was different and indeed, the Jesus of Mormonism is different from the Jesus of Christianity.

While I would hope to have more dialogue, at the same time, it looks like many hard issues are being brushed away. Mormons set out at the beginning saying all the other churches were an abomination and now they’re wanting to be included in the fold and say they’re one of us. Color me suspicious of all of this. I can say that Mormons tend to be some of the nicest people you meet, which should put Christians to shame. I can say that they share the same values many of us who are Christians share and were quite helpful with Prop 8 in California. I can say that I would not mind having Mormon friends. I cannot say that we worship the same God and many times that it looked like evangelicals and Mormons were worshiping together in the book I found quite concerning.

I am for dialogue, but I am not for conceding truth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters