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The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-growing Movement Paperback – 1 Mar 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (1 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310231949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310231943
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,841,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

Current facts about Mormonism
* Over 11 million members.
* Over 60,000 full-time missionaries—more than any other single missionary-sending organization in the world.
* More than 310,000 converts annually.
* As many as eighty percent of converts come from Protestant backgrounds. (In Mormon circles, the saying is, "We baptize a Baptist church every week.")
* Within fifteen years, the numbers of missionaries and converts will roughly double.
* Within eighty years, with adherents exceeding 265 million, Mormonism could become the first world-religion to arise since Islam.

You may know the statistics. What you probably don’t know are the advances the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is making in apologetics and academic respectability.

With superb training, Mormon scholars outclass many of their opponents. Arguments against Mormon claims are increasingly refuted as outdated, misinformed, or poorly argued.

The New Mormon Challenge is a response to the burgeoning challenge of scholarly Mormon apologetics. Written by a team of respected Christian scholars, it is free of caricature, sensationalism, and diatribe. The respectful tone and responsible, rigorous, yet readable scholarship set this book in a class of its own.

The New Mormon Challenge recycles no previous material and duplicates no one’s efforts. Instead, responding to the best LDS scholarship, it offers freshly researched and well-documented rebuttals of Mormon truth claims. Most of the chapter topics have never been addressed, and the criticisms and arguments are almost entirely new. But The New Mormon Challenge does not merely challenge Mormon beliefs; it offers the LDS Church and her members ways to move forward.

The New Mormon Challenge will help you understand the intellectual appeal of Mormonism, and it will reveal many of the fundamental weaknesses of the Mormon worldview. Whether you are sharing the gospel with Mormons or are investigating Mormonism for yourself, this book will help you accurately understand Mormonism and see the superiority of the historic Christian faith. Outstanding scholarship and sound methodology make this an ideal textbook. The biblical, historical, scientific, philosophical, and theological discussions are fascinating and will appeal to Christians and Mormons alike. Exemplifying Christian scholarship at its best, The New Mormon Challenge pioneers a new genre of literature on Mormonism.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

THE APOLOGETIC IMPULSE IN EARLY MORMONISM
The Historical Roots of the New Mormon Challenge
CRAIG J. HAZEN
Craig J. Hazen is Associate Professor of Comparative Religion and Christian Apologetics at Biola University and Director of the Graduate Program in Christian Apologetics. He earned a B.A. from California State University, Fullerton; studied law and theology at the International Institute for Law and Theology in Strasbourg, France; and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Dr. Hazen is the author of The Village Enlightenment in America: Popular Religion and Science in the Nineteenth Century (University of Illinois Press) and editor of the philosophy journal Philosophia Christi. His academic work has received multiple awards for excellence from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Religion. His articles have appeared in Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Journal of Christian Apologetics, and the Proceedings of the International Congress of the History of Science, among others.
The flamboyant governor of Minnesota, former theatrical wrestler and Navy SEAL Jesse "the body" Ventura said in a highly publicized and provocative interview that he considered religious people to be inherently "weak-minded" folk. By doing so he was parroting a popular notion of arm-chair agnostics that people who embrace religion are gullible and needy; they are people willing to give up all or a certain amount of rationality in order to have their emotional needs met by some type of spirituality or superstition.
A furor ensued in his state, and his popularity rating plunged, but to some extent the governor’s remark had some basis in reality. Many get the same impression very quickly by talking to the rank-and-file devotees in most religious movements. The average believer generally does not have the training or the interest in articulating or defending a coherent, systematic worldview that captures and makes sense of his or her faith. This is certainly true with regard to the movements that are addressed in this essay, evangelical Christianity and Mormonism. Both movements have been characterized as anti-intellectual, and detractors have not been slow with insults to both groups along those lines. What both Christians and Mormons in North America know, though, is that those who characterize and insult the groups in this way are themselves not particularly well informed. In both modern American evangelicalism and Mormonism there are significant pockets of believers who are scholars and thinkers, people who are committed to making a vigorous defense of their respective faiths based on reason and on the very best evidence. Whether the case these thinking believers make is sound and persuasive is another question, but the fact that there are LDS and evangelical Christian scholars who would very much like to show that their belief systems are eminently reasonable is not up for dispute.
The accusation of anti-intellectualism and gullibility on the part of believers was especially rife in the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As religious historian Jan Shipps put it, outsiders saw Mormonism pandering "to the superstitious, the gullible, and the fearful." They would accuse "Mormonism of ‘blinding’ its adherents so effectively that when they heard Smith’s report of his visions and his explanation of the origins of the Book of Mormon, they could not distinguish truth from falsehood." Just a month after the publication of the Book of Mormon, newspaper editors like Abner Cole of the Palmyra, New York, Reflector began the lampooning and discrediting of the new "Gold Bible," Joseph Smith (1805– 44), and his followers. Mormon historian Richard L. Bushman correctly noted that early on there was simply an assumption that "they had to be dull because it was axiomatic that superstition flourished in ignorance." That there were undiscerning converts to Joseph Smith’s new religion in the nineteenth century is a given. That they were all, or even mostly such, is a myth. Clearly, there was an advantage to early opponents of the Mormon movement’s slapping a pejorative label on those who chose to join. It made the overall task of response and refutation much easier and perhaps more effective. Some adversaries at the time went so far as to claim that Joseph Smith was adept at the power of "animal magnetism" or "fascination" and hence could wield undue influence over the minds of potential converts. These kinds of characterizations held on for years. Esteemed Mormon historian Leonard J. Arrington tried to gauge popular views of the movement in the nineteenth century by examining fiction that involved the Latter-day Saints in the plot line. He discovered that almost every one of the fifty novels that described Mormon life saw the people as incurably ignorant if not also lecherous and depraved.
One can not make full sense of the initial rise of Mormonism without recognizing that there were strong elements in it that resonated with thoughtful people on the frontier. I do not mean by this that the "rational" element was the only factor, perhaps it was not even the primary or secondary factor to which one can attribute the success of the early LDS movement. But for many at the time there was undoubtedly a logic to it and certainly enough cultural resonance of a rational sort in the message of the Mormon "restoration" of Christianity to attract intelligent, reflective people. Of course, I am not talking here about professors, academics, or trained scholars—there were none in the early LDS Church. But here I would make the same point that social anthropologist Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah and historian of Mormonism D. Michael Quinn both make: that we should be sure to carve out a "distinction between the academic and the folk, not between intelligent and unintelligent." We are discussing here very bright but not highly educated people on the frontier who were unwilling to join a religious movement without what they thought were good reasons.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
All too often Christians have tended to view Latter-day Saints as belong to one of only three possible categories: those who are sincere but unintelligent; those who may be sincere and intelligent but simply are unin about the facts of the Bible, Christian history, and Mormonism; and those who are intelligent and informed but are dishonest and insincere. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Hardcover
"The New Mormon Challenge" is, in my own experience of reading extensively on the subject, the most challenging book about L.D.S. Mormonism with which to cope in reading from cover-to-cover. Poring through it studiously was exhausting; sometimes I had to put it down for awhile before picking it up again because the level of discourse is so densely scholarly, philosophically and theologically, that coping with it could become fatiguing at times. However, it most assuredly is worth the effort! I have subscribed for many years to the most important of the learned periodicals that L.D.S. Mormons publish with the content of which these collaborating authors are intimately familiar and with which they deal. Anyone who has read these academinc L.D.S. periodicals regularly will realise the stature to which L.D.S. Mormon reasoning and writing have attained, with great sophiscation, in recent decades. (Not that Mormons lacked significant thinkers from earlier times, e.g. Brigham H. Roberts, to whose thought the authors frequently refer, James E. Talmage, and others.) It is not at all so simple to refute Mormon claims as most Protestants or neo-Evangelical or Fundamentalist sectaries assume, nor is their Christian literature from the past really sufficient to deal with the claims of Mormonism as the new L.D.S. intellectuals present and defend them. On the part of Mormons and believing Christians alike it is crucial to rely on sound arguments; coming up with facile explanations for their respective stands is not enough; arguments must be able to stand up fully to scrutiny, even if this means tossing out "pet" explanations or points of attack or defense that seemed useful in the past. Also important is to deal with what today`s L.D.S.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
"The New Mormon Challenge" is, in my own experience of reading extensively on the subject, the most challenging book about L.D.S. Mormonism with which to cope in reading from cover-to-cover. Poring through it studiously was exhausting; sometimes I had to put it down for awhile before picking it up again because the level of discourse is so densely scholarly, philosophically and theologically, that coping with it could become fatiguing at times. However, it most assuredly is worth the effort! I have subscribed for many years to the most important of the learned periodicals that L.D.S. Mormons publish with the content of which these collaborating authors are intimately familiar and with which they deal. Anyone who has read these academinc L.D.S. periodicals regularly will realise the stature to which L.D.S. Mormon reasoning and writing have attained, with great sophiscation, in recent decades. (Not that Mormons lacked significant thinkers from earlier times, e.g. Brigham H. Roberts, to whose thought the authors frequently refer, James E. Talmage, and others.) It is not at all so simple to refute Mormon claims as most Protestants or neo-Evangelical or Fundamentalist sectaries assume, nor is their Christian literature from the past really sufficient to deal with the claims of Mormonism as the new L.D.S. intellectuals present and defend them. On the part of Mormons and believing Christians alike it is crucial to rely on sound arguments; coming up with facile explanations for their respective stands is not enough; arguments must be able to stand up fully to scrutiny, even if this means tossing out "pet" explanations or points of attack or defense that seemed useful in the past. Also important is to deal with what today`s L.D.S.Read more ›
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Initially, I was slightly put-off by the introduction, which repeatedly made some quite ambitious claims for the book, which is a compilation of papers by highly reputable scholars.

However, upon completing my reading of the book, I have concluded that those claims were entirely justified. The contributing writers present a series of papers tackling various aspects of Mormon belief, and the grounds for those beliefs - and they do so thoughtfully, respectfully and, for the most part, effectively.

Whilst it is clear that Mormonism is an entirely synthetic faith, it is helpful to understand its background and the context for Joseph Smith's 're-envisaging' of what he would have wanted Christianity to look like, had he been the author of it. Far from Mormonism being the 'restoration' of a kind of primitive NT version of the faith, it swiftly transpires that it owes rather more to Hellenistic philosophy than it does to the Old and New Testaments.

What did become apparent from the book was the way in which LDS apologists have upped their game in terms of the academic standards which they apply to justifying the basis for their faith. It is not that they have unearthed any really substantive evidences to support the claims made in the Book of Mormon, but rather they have made the basis for external critique somewhat more demanding than it used to be. It was also helpful to see a little of the state of flux that currently applies to Mormon beliefs, with a refocusing on their foundational documents, which contain fewer of the more eccentric doctrinal outcomes that Joseph Smith and his colleagues came up with later on.

This is a rigorous engagement with the intellectual framework of LDS beliefs, not least their doctrine of God - and I would say, for the most part, it is entirely persuasive. And it also sets the bar higher for future academic engagement.
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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Improvement in Evangelical Depiction of LDS Belief 12 Jun. 2002
By Kevin K. Winters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I will start by stating that I am LDS, a student at BYU (Philosophy under-grad) and have been active in Apologetics for nearly four years now. I was privileged to be in the audience in Salt Lake City when, earlier this year, five of the contributors (including the 3 editors) spoke on this book, their contributions/papers and their hopes for it. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in these presentations and the tone with which the presenters approached their topics. I say "pleasantly surprised" because I was not necessarily expecting the high degree of civility and integrity with which these presenters approached Mormonism (I was hoping for it but was not fully expecting it; I was, in all honesty, expecting the worst and was relieved to find it different than I had previously conceived). I was particularly impressed with Francis Beckwith and was delighted with the chance to meet him (I was reading through his and Stephen Parrish's _The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis_ at the time and was, and currently am, preparing a critique of that said work).
This book stands as a vast improvement of LDS-critical literature and, overall, I would be hard pressed to place it in the category of "anti-Mormon" due to its general tone and approach. The term "anti," in LDS Apologetics, quite often holds a negative connotation, not inherent in the words general meaning, including, among other things, uninformed, illogical, poor scholarship, overly-antagonistic, incredibly biased, etc., none of which I can fully attribute to this work. Its academic tone is refreshing and its allowances for further dialogue on the issues (rather than dogmatic pronouncements of the complete error of our ways and the desolate nature of our attempts to answer their critiques) is encouraging. The writers speak their minds in a respectful manner and by-and-large are open for further dialogue, something often lacking in much LDS-critical literature.
With that said, this work is not perfect. Despite the author's best intentions, there are occasional misrepresentations of LDS beliefs, utilization of weak arguments that most LDS philosophers/scholars would not hold, etc. This is to be expected, though, as the dialogue between LDS scholars and Evangelical scholars is still in its infancy. This is being remedied as the Society of Biblical Literature will now set apart a special section within their annual meetings for Evangelical-LDS discussion on various topics. Likewise, the increase of conferences in relation to things-LDS (such as Yale's upcoming conference on LDS Philosophy in 2003) will only help further dialogue and increase understanding between the two groups (something that is still sorely needed). Further, this work, and the responses currently being made towards it, should stand as a good impetus for further dialogue.
I am thankful for the three editors (Beckwith, Owen and Mosser) for their desire to create such a work to bring genuine, and heart-felt, scholarship to the fore in Evangelical-LDS discussion. I am also thankful for the contributors, for the time and energy that they put into their individual chapters. I just hope that LDS responses will be given in the same charitable spirit as this book is given and that dialogue will continue to increase in quantity and quality.
53 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Academic essays which take Mormonism seriously! 17 Feb. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to intellectual Christians and Mormons, whether involved professionally and/or personally with their faiths. No longer can Christian academia be accused of publicly ignoring Mormon apologetic efforts. This book offers a serious, massively end-noted response by impeccable Christian scholars to important issues raised by the Latter-day Saints' academic community. Several indices and a glossary of terms are included for referencing. What follows is a brief summary of the book's topics:
Paul Copan and William Craig relay a brilliant defense of Christianity's view of God's creation ex nihilo in contrast to the Mormon belief of the world's organization from eternally existing matter.
Jim Adams examines the evidence for Mormon belief in pre-existence and eternality of human souls, and of the gods in general, in light of the teachings of the Old Testament.
Stephan Parrish and Francis Beckwith deal with moral law, the human/divine freedom of choice, and how they relate to the Mormon and Christian concepts of God.
J.P. Moreland dissects Orson Pratt's view of humanity and its dependence on material existence.
Paul Owens looks at monotheism from the perspective of the New Testament and how it contradicts the published views of several prominent Mormon scholars.
Craig Blomberg takes up the question of whether or not Mormonism is Christian.
The final section of the book focuses on the Book of Mormon, evalutating it on the basis of linguistics in the ancient Near East (Thomas Finley) and by contrasting principles of translation with possibilities of pseudotranslation (David Shepherd).
For those who crave detailed and cogent arguments, intellectual stimulation, and thoughtful interaction in Christian and Mormon apologetics, look no further than this book and ENJOY!
94 of 113 people found the following review helpful
Has its good parts but is philosophically deep 21 Oct. 2002
By E. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If anything can be said about The New Mormon Challenge (henceforth TNMC), it has to be that it is sure to create controversy. After all, never before have so many different Christian scholars attempted to respond-in one volume, even-to Brigham Young University professors as well as LDS apologists.
The position taken by the editors assumes that the words of LDS scholars or even the personal beliefs of the laity may supercede that of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. For the average Mormon, truth is contained in the four standard works and the current words of the leaders. When one of the editors, Carl Mosser, says that "evangelical apologists" are "jealously" guarding a type of Mormonism that is not believed by Mormons, I ask if Mosser believes the majority of Mormons would hold to the following beliefs: 1) The idea that "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become; 2) The idea that temple work is essential to reaching the highest level of the celestial kingdom; 3) The idea that ultimate truth is to be found in the Standard Works as well as the LDS prophet and apostles; 4) The idea that a person must be baptized in the Mormon Church to have an authentic baptismal experience; 5) The idea that Joseph Smith and succeeding church leaders were given complete authority on earth; 6) The idea that the Mormon Church is the most trustworthy church in the world.
The list could go on. The point is that I have no doubt that no less than 80 percent of all Latter-day Saints would immediately agree with me that the above six points as fully being Mormon doctrine. I am not sure why Mosser makes a blanket statement to make it appear that Christians involved with LDS outreaches are making up their own brand of Mormonism-a straw man, so to speak-so they can more easily tear the religion down. This, I believe, is just not accurate.
While the editors would like the Christian community to direct more effort to respond to the scholarly LDS community while paying less attention to the teachings of LDS leaders, they forget one very important point. That is, the Mormon Church is considered to be a restoration of the Christianity that is said to have died soon after the time of the apostles. When Joseph Smith was supposedly given the keys of this authority by Peter, James, John, and even by God the Father and Jesus, it is believed by most Mormons that he was personally given the authority the church lost more than a millennium ago.
Indeed, Smith's own history records that the Christian churches "were all wrong" (Joseph Smith-History 1:19). Succeeding leaders have made it a point to declare that there is no true church on the face of the earth except for the Mormon Church itself. Currently Mormons hold that all authority rests with current LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, his First Presidency, and the apostles. For a vast majority of Latter-day Saints, what a certain BYU professor or FARMS scholar says does not mean half as much as what President Hinckley says, especially at the general conference.
So my question is why focus on the scholars when most LDS members direct their attention of the Standard Works and LDS leadership? (Strange, but I wonder why the Mormon high school seminary students merely study the Bible, D&C, and Book of Mormon during their four years of study. I don't see them studying "Church Scholars.")
Who is this book intended to reach? Perhaps it was meant as a discussion for the scholars. No doubt it will be a great resource for seminary professors and some pastors. It will probably also be a great asset to Christian apologists.
Yet I just don't see how TNMC-though attracting LDS intellectuals to the table of discussion-will have a wide impact on the general LDS community. I doubt most Mormons will ever even hear of this book, let alone pick it up in their lifetime. It can be safely said that the majority of Mormons are too busy with families, church-related activities, donating their time in church ministry, etc. to even care what the scholars, either Mormon or Christian, declare is truth. The Mormon has a burning in his bosom, and no scholar could ever alter this "fact" regardless of the available evidence.
Its depth will probably confuse many readers who do not have a considerable grasp of the book's technical language related to philosophy, logic, and science. Those Christians who buy TNMC thinking it is a witnessing-tip manual will be sorely disappointed as the arguments will be unintelligible to the average Mormon.
With this being said, I need to temper my criticism by saying there are many important arguments raised in TNMC that will be beneficial for many Christians. The best chapters were 3 (Kalam Argument), 8 (Monotheism and the New Testament), and 10 (Book of Mormon and Ancient Near Eastern Background). As far as recommending this book, I would certainly do so for those who are more learned in the fields of philosophy, theology, and the background of the Mormon Church. However, this is not meant to be a popular book or one that can be easily digested by the majority of Christian and Mormon laity. Thus, for such people, I would think that TNMC will have very little impact since much of the material will sail over their heads. Based on this, each reader needs to make a personal choice...
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The Christian response to new Mormon scholarship 9 Aug. 2006
By Jesse Rouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was very impressed by this book. It contains chapters by many major Christian scholars in areas of their specialization, providing excellent insights into and arguments against LDS beliefs.

The authors of this book do not argue against traditional Mormon sources of authority, as they have been largely abandoned by contemporary Mormons. The authors assume that the only accepted sources of God's revelation accepted by modern Mormons are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and the current president of the organization. Traditionally (and I believe, officially) all of the past presidents have been included as accepted sources of God's revealed word, but many of today's Mormons are shying away from accepting that, as it leads to innumerable problems, as their previous leaders have said many rather unfortunate things which have long been used to refute Mormonism.

However, I think that the authors should have raised an objection to the new Mormon acceptance of only the current president's words as inspired. If only the current president's words are inspired, then when there is a new president, are the past president's words no longer considered inspired? If so, then God's truth is changing and Mormonism has collapsed into relativism. If not, then the same should apply to all of the past presidents, thus putting them right back where they started with all the problems that position brings with it. In either case, it should have been pointed out that this is a rediculous position to be taken.

I personally enjoyed William Lane Craig's chapter on creation ex nihilo the most. Craig presents a rather strong case that the Mormon's doctrine of the pre-existing matter fails to line up with the Bible, philosophical reasoning, and scientific evidence. I look forward to reading any responses that Mormon scholars make to the arguments presented against them in this book.

This is definitely a unique book. While other Christian books written about Mormonism tend to simply point out that Mormonism is in conflict with the Bible, or they focus on errors in the Book of Mormon, etc, this book takes a rather different approach and looks mainly at the philosophical and historical implications and claims of Mormonism, and why these positions are not viable. I imagine it will be an elightening book whether you agree with their conclusions or not.

Overall grade: A+
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A New Honesty and Reorientation of Approach Is Essential in Confronting L.D.S. Mormonism`s Increasingly Greater Sophistication 25 Feb. 2012
By Celil Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The New Mormon Challenge" is, in my own experience of reading extensively on the subject, the most challenging book about L.D.S. Mormonism with which to cope in reading from cover-to-cover. Poring through it studiously was exhausting; sometimes I had to put it down for awhile before picking it up again because the level of discourse is so densely scholarly, philosophically and theologically, that coping with it could become fatiguing at times. However, it most assuredly is worth the effort! I have subscribed for many years to the most important of the learned periodicals that L.D.S. Mormons publish with the content of which these collaborating authors are intimately familiar and with which they deal. Anyone who has read these academinc L.D.S. periodicals regularly will realise the stature to which L.D.S. Mormon reasoning and writing have attained, with great sophiscation, in recent decades. (Not that Mormons lacked significant thinkers from earlier times, e.g. Brigham H. Roberts, to whose thought the authors frequently refer, James E. Talmage, and others.) It is not at all so simple to refute Mormon claims as most Protestants or neo-Evangelical or Fundamentalist sectaries assume, nor is their Christian literature from the past really sufficient to deal with the claims of Mormonism as the new L.D.S. intellectuals present and defend them. On the part of Mormons and believing Christians alike it is crucial to rely on sound arguments; coming up with facile explanations for their respective stands is not enough; arguments must be able to stand up fully to scrutiny, even if this means tossing out "pet" explanations or points of attack or defense that seemed useful in the past. Also important is to deal with what today`s L.D.S. Mormons themselves believe, relegating to the margin such matters of past Mormon teachings which most Mormons today either do not accept (or even know about) or which seem irrelevant now to them.

This book makes no attempt to deal with all of the teachings of Mormonism, but rather with those which are most critical. (One is referring to the doctrine of the L.D.S. Mormon group, not also to the R.L.D.S. Community of Christ, which is another religious group based on the ministry, teachings, and writings of founder Joseph Smith Junior, that, at least in the past, has been much more in accordance with historic Christianity.) These matters concern, doctrinally, Mormon theism (i.e. polytheism, henotheism, whatever one chooses to call it), especially the Unity of God, true Christology, and the importance of Christianity`s teaching about the Holy Trinity vs. Mormonism`s denial thereof, as well as the nature of physical reality and God`s Creation, and also concern, documentarily, an examination of the shaky claims of the "Standard Works" of L.D.S. Mormonism (especially the dubious historicity of the "Book of Mormon", but the claims of the others, as well) and of the "Inspired Version" Bible (a.k.a. the Joseph Smith Translation) to have any real claims to authority and credibility. Matters of less importance (from baptism for the dead to "holy underwear" and the like) are pushed aside to strike at the very root of L.D.S. Mormonism`s gravest and most fundamentally significant errors and truly to come to grips with the sophistication with which the new Mormon intellectuals propound and defend such teachings. Thus, the book is not complete in itself; the Christian apologist needs to read other, more comprehensive books about these and other Mormon topics, by L.D.S. authors and Christian apologists alike. However, this really is the cornerstone of the issues that divide L.D.S. Mormonism from credal and biblical Christianity (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, or sectarian). A new honesty is required; "baiting and switching", haranguing, proof-texting, and so forth no longer are acceptable as what is adequate in the face of the new Mormon challenge!

The book`s massive number of references are essential to read. It is unfortunate that they are "end-references", rather than footnotes, since this requires constant flipping from text to the notes section which can become tiresome, nonetheless is essential if one is to profit from this book to the maximum. The notes cite a marvellous harvest of relevant literature; thus, in the absence of a separate bibliography, it is important to keep abreast of this literature through the notes, rather than to skip them in order to consult a bibliography (lacking) afterwards. There are many "substantive" notes among the bibliographical ones; often there is very important information embedded in such notes that the serious reader cannot afford to pass over unread. The index to passages from Christian (Bible, deutero-canon, and Pseudepigrapha) and L.D.S. Mormon scripture (what the Mormons refer to as "the Standard Works"), as well as other ancient writings is very helpful, as is the general index.

If the reader is serious about witnessing to L.D.S. Mormons the fulness of Christian truth vs. the uttermost extent of Mormon theology and speculation, he needs this book, among whatever others he consults. Mormons themselves will find the book a challenging and enriching read, too. The authors deal respectfully, without rancour, with Mormon teaching, and L.D.S. Mormons themselves as well as Christians equally can read and use this book profitably.
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