Friday, September 19, 2008

Explaining What Mormons Believe

Excellent post up at Summa Theologica--Explaining What Mormons Believe--reviewing an article in FIRST THINGS: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life entitled "Is Mormonism Christian?". The article includes a section written by Bruce D. Porter, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Gerald R. McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College. This same McDermott wrote a book with Robert Millet (BYU) but seems to exclude some important Mormon interpretations both in his book as well as in the article. Aquinas, from Summa Theologica hits the nail on the head in so many places with two excellent reviews. The reviews are eloquent, thorough, and a very important read for Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints alike.


Kelly Tillotson said...

You have a really nice blog! I wonder if you know my family that is out in the San Antonio area...The Silva's? I know SA is huge, but hey, its a small world sometimes. Thanks for such an insightful blog!

Clean Cut said...

I appreciate the compliment Kelly. I don't think I happen to know your family, but thanks for stopping by anyway! You're very kind.

Clean Cut said...

One comment I'd like to add about the "First Things" article "Is Mormonism Christian?" is that Elder Bruce Porter does an absolutely phenomenal job (in my opinion) of explaining what Mormons believe. I felt he not only did a fantastic job of addressing the most relevant and important points of our faith, but in terms that would be understandable to those not of our faith. He is obviously aware of the general critiques of our faith, and very ably handles some of those key differences. Granted, I’m not an expert on how others not of our faith interpret things, but all my experience tells me he succeeded in a marvelous way. I highly recommend to anyone who has not done so to click on the above link to the article and read it for yourself.

Clean Cut said...

I wish I could say that McDermott succeeds in a marvelous way as well, but alas, I cannot. He started off with such promise and potential, and with understanding seldom found among Evangelicals. But then he shifted gears and got onto very shaky ground with his interpretation of how we, according to him, "limit" Jesus or "limit" God.

In the end he mixes in some things that I do believe along with many things that I don't believe and wrapped them up into a package of "What Mormons Believe". Did he allow any Mormons to proof-read it before he published it? Or did he not care about their input? I would certainly want to ask a member of that church if I was correct in my assessment of their beliefs before publishing things about that church. He got close, but he didn't quite get to home base.

I think his weakest point is his assumption that Joseph Smith's views about the Trinity evolved or changed. He seems to have not even read Elder Porter's piece/explanation about how Mormons can interpret Book of Mormon passages which speak of "one God". So, overall, McDermott's piece was encouraging and disappointing at the same time.