Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints

Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints

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by Stephen H. Webb
     
 

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Mormons are adamant that they are Christian, and eloquent writers within their own faith have tried to make this case, but no theologian outside the LDS church has ever tried to demonstrate just how Christian they are. Stephen H. Webb's Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints fills this void, as the author writes neither

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Overview

Mormons are adamant that they are Christian, and eloquent writers within their own faith have tried to make this case, but no theologian outside the LDS church has ever tried to demonstrate just how Christian they are. Stephen H. Webb's Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints fills this void, as the author writes neither as a critic nor a defender of Mormonism but as a sympathetic observer who is deeply committed to engaging with Mormon ideas.

Webb is unique in taking Mormon theology seriously by showing how it provides plausible and in some instances even persuasive alternatives to many traditional Christian doctrines. His book can serve as an introduction to Mormonism, but it goes far beyond that: Webb explains how Mormonism is a branch of the Christian family tree that extends well beyond what most Christians have ever imagined. His account of their creative appropriation of the Christian tradition is meant to inspire more traditional Christians to reconsider the shape of many basic Christian beliefs.

Mormon Christianity is not all affirming and celebratory. It ends with a call to Mormons to be more focused on Christian essentials and an invitation to other Christians to be more imaginative in considering Mormon alternatives to traditional doctrines.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/23/2013
With the end of the Romney presidential run, the cultural "Mormon Moment" appears to be over. But the author of this groundbreaking work insists that Mormonism and its unique metaphysics occupy a special place in American religious thought. Webb is a retired professor of theology and philosophy who brings to his subject a passion for understanding Mormonism's view of God as a corporeal being, one who shares the universe with his creation and, contrary to mainstream Christian thought, possesses body, parts, and passions. The author then presents Mormonism's teachings as extensions of this viewpoint, breathing new life into the church's doctrinal foundation. Polygamy, temples, and the whole range of LDS thought, are imbued with fresh meaning. Matter and spirit are no longer strangers, as Deity assumes human shape. Webb views "the single most significant cultural revolution in the history of the world" as "the severing of the supernatural from the natural." If this is true, then Mormonism's theology of an immanent, like-us God is an answer to this dilemma. Highly recommended essential reading. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Much of this book reads like an extended love letter, not one from the lover to his beloved, but from the lover to his family explaining what he loves about her and responding to the family s objections...[Webb] is a readable writer, quite capable of explaining technical philosophical ideas in nonphilosophical terms...I strongly recommend Webb's book, not just to the non-Mormons at whom it is aimed but also to Mormons. Latter-day Saints will learn a great deal about Catholicism by reading it...Webb's book offers non-Mormons a love letter explaining why he loves Mormons and giving them reasons why they might also."—Mormon Studies Review

"Webb addresses readers unfamiliar with Mormonism as a fellow Christian, rather than in a more traditional, academic non-partisan tone that might be expected from a book bearing a university press's imprint... Webb's generous tone and easy to understand rhetoric ensure that Mormon Christianity will be accessible to both Mormons and Christians — he represents some of the very best of the Robert Millett/Richard Mouw type of Mormon/Christian dialogue in printed word... All in all, Mormon Christianity is an excellent introduction to Mormon theology, and will be useful to teach undergraduates as well as lay Christians (and Mormons) about Mormon beliefs." —The Juvenile Instructor

"Whether or not one agrees with Mormonism's teachings and theology, those interested in learning its nuances and relationship to the larger Christian community likely will profit from Mr. Webb's work. It's a fascinating subject, and one Mr. Webb covers with a penetrating, thought-provoking approach." —Washington Times

"An excellent example of philosophical theology that will likely be appreciated by Mormons and non-Mormons alike for years to come."—BYU Studies Quarterly

"Ever since the Mormon Tabernacle Choir won the silver medal in the 1893 World's Fair, Mormons have been more renowned for their cultural than their theological contributions. In this intelligent, articulate, and highly readable volume, Stephen Webb begins to address that imbalance, bringing Mormonism into conversation with the wider Christian tradition in fresh and sometimes startling ways." - Terryl L. Givens, Co-author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life

"Mormon Christianity is truly a ground-breaking work. It's winsome, intelligent, and generous account of the Latter-day Saints and their faith sets a new standard in interreligious dialogue. Although one may find oneself on occasion disagreeing with the author-as I do on a few points-I cannot think of a more careful presentation of the LDS worldview and the sorts of challenges and promises it brings to both Mormons and Traditional Christians alike." - Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, and Resident Scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University

"At once domestic and exotic, Mormon thought does not nest easily into any of the usual categories with which scholars describe Western metaphysics. This has attracted the intrepid and wide-ranging gaze of Stephen Webb, an evangelical convert to Roman Catholicism. Probing beneath crude superficialities, his analysis will provoke debate. Webb argues with imaginative brilliance that Mormonism's 'big ideas' recover, challenge, and expand-rather than exceed-the bounds of Christian orientations to reality. The Mormon metaphysic thus demands a rethinking of many aspects of Christian history and tradition." - Philip Barlow, Leonard J. Arrington Professor of Mormon History & Culture, Utah State University

"This is a sophisticated step in what can be a long-term conversation." —Library Journal

"Groundbreaking work...highly recommended essential reading." —Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
At first glance, the subtitle of this book may suggest that it's about how, in a practical sense, Mormons can teach others to be better Christians. However, the book is actually about the theological contributions that Mormonism can make to an ongoing understanding of Christianity. Webb (religion & philosophy, Wabash Coll.) does not debate whether Mormonism is Christian; he takes its Christianity as a given. Most non-Mormons who have engaged with Mormon theology have come from the stance of evangelicalism. Webb is a Roman Catholic convert, so he brings a different perspective to the table. His book is appealing for its conversational style; it isn't necessary to be a professional theologian to appreciate his arguments. Among the issues he confronts are Mormon perspectives on materiality, the preexistent nature of Jesus, and the nature of the Trinity. VERDICT This is a sophisticated step in what can be a long-term conversation. The so-called "Mormon moment" may not be the arrival of Mormons on the national political scene but, instead, their theology being taken fully seriously by outsiders. Recommended for readers of contemporary theology.—David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199316816
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
721,559
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.90(d)

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