Friday, August 29, 2008

What's Wrong With Mormons? Nothing. Nothing At All.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you've ever listened to a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints describe his/her religion, you've probably asked yourself the question, "What's wrong with Mormons?" I mean, do they seriously believe God showed himself to an ignorant farm boy from New York? Do they honestly think Joseph Smith was a prophet? How can they possibly believe they have the only true Gospel on the face of the Earth? What's wrong with these people? C'mon, you know these questions have coursed through your mind before.

In his new book, B. Jay Gladwell asks the very question you did: What's Wrong With Mormons? He goes on to describe his conversion to the Church. Despite his mother's strong dislike for the religion, Gladwell found it intriguing enough to meet repeatedly with the missionaries. Those discussions led to his baptism in 1975 - since then, he has been an active member of the LDS Church. He acknowledges that Mormons have some beliefs that others find odd, if not downright offensive. In order to "set the record straight and ... apply some 'strong reasons,' using the Scriptures, in an attempt to explain why Mormons believe the way they do" (iv), Gladwell outlines several of these controversial doctrines, including:

- The Great Apostasy wiped Christ's true Gospel from the Earth. (Chapter 1)

- The Godhead consists of 3 separate beings, united in purpose. (Chapter 4)

- The Gospel has been restored. (Chapter 5)

- We lived with God before we choose to come to Earth. (Chapter 7)

- "Three degrees of glory" exist in Heaven, where we will return after we die. (Chapter 9)

For each doctrine, Gladwell uses Biblical passages, history, quotes from noted theologians and logic to support the belief. His "evidence," especially in the beginning chapters, is rock solid. After reading his discussion of the Godhead, for instance, you will see very clearly why Mormons believe that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are individual beings. If a close reading of Matthew 3: 16-17 doesn't grab your attention, try John 17 verse 1 or 3 or 4. I'm telling you, Gladwell's scriptural base and hard logic are irrefutable. Members of the Church will have heard most of the "proof" before, but it still makes for absorbing (and convincing) reading.

I have to admit that the latter chapters may not be as convincing to those who are not members of the LDS Church. Those sections deal with concepts that are uniquely Mormon - marriage which lasts for both time and eternity; families being sealed together; baptism for the dead; etc. Although Gladwell still gleans much of his "proof" from the Bible, he also uses the "Mormon scriptures" (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price) more heavily than in previous chapters. Still, he provides such a logical explanation of these practices, that one cannot help but say, "Hmmm ... that does make a lot of sense." Interestingly, I think the concepts above are ones that non-LDS folks actually find least offensive. Maybe not, though, since my feisty grandmother liked to declare that no one was going to baptize her after she died!

My only disappointment with this book lies in the editing. Typos, discordant sentencing, and clumsy wording definitely detract from content. Still, I think readers will respond to Gladwell's material as well as his earnestness for his subject. Will LDS churches be bursting at the seams on Sunday thanks to his book? Probably not, but that's not the author's purpose anyway. He states very clearly that "this is not an attempt to convert; only the Holy Spirit can do that" (iv). Still, I think a thoughtful reading of Gladwell's book just might have you saying, "What's wrong with Mormons? Maybe nothing, nothing at all."


Grade: B+




4 comments:

  1. Excellent review. :) Thank you for hosting Jay on his virtual tour.

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  2. This author is smart to pick up on the fact that for some strange reason, some people "fear" Mormons. I dated one as a teenager and my family was hesitant about me getting involved in even non-religious, social activities with the church. If we all took the time to just explore other religions I think we'd see we can all learn a little something from each other.

    kristen at www.thefamilythatreadstogether.blogspot.com

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  3. JM - No problem. I enjoyed reading the book.

    Kristen - I totally agree. We have so much to learn from each other, if we could just get past all of our prejudices and misconceptions.

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  4. Thanks for this review. Through my work, my daughters friends who aren't LDS, and new people in our community, I find myself answering many questions about our faith. I will check out this book to see if it can help!

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