The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement [NOOK Book]


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 267 million, Mormonism could ...
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The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement

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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 267 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 Arguments against Mormon claims are increasingly refuted as outdated, misinformed, or poorly argued.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. The Editors Francis J. Beckwith (Ph.D., Fordham University), Carl Mosser (Ph.D. candidate, University of St. Andrews), and Paul Owen (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) are respected authorities on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the authors of various books and significant articles on Mormonism. Their individual biographies as well as information on the book’s contributors appear inside. With contributors including such respected scholars as Craig L. Blomberg, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, and others, The New Mormon Challenge is, as Richard Mouw states in his foreword, “an important event for both Protestant evangelicals and Mormons” that models “to the evangelical community what it is like to engage in respectful and meaningful exploration of a viewpoint with which we disagree on key points.” “In recent years, Mormon scholars have produced a body of literature that has been largely ignored by evangelicals. This current volume takes a giant step forward in correcting this oversight in a way that is both intellectually vigorous, yet respectful.” —Ken Mulholland, President, Salt Lake Theological Seminary “Intellectually serious evangelical responses to the faith of the Latter-day Saints have been depressingly rare. This book represents a significant contribution to a conversation that, really, has just begun.” —Daniel Peterson, Brigham Young University; Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) “Finally we have a book from evangelicals in which the authors have made
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310873419
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 12/21/2010
  • Sold by: Zondervan Publishing
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 536
  • Sales rank: 1,349,507
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, and Resident Scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion, at Baylor University. He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, resigning his post in May 2007 a week after returning to the Catholic Church of his youth. He has published in the areas of political philosophy, jurisprudence, applied ethics, philosophy of religion, and Christian apologetics.
Carl Mosser (PhD candidate, University of St. Andrews) has published significant articles on Mormonism in both evangelical and Mormon journals.
Paul Owen (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is assistant professor of Bible and religion at Montreat College. He has published significant articles on Mormonism in both evangelical and Mormon journals. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Table of Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . .. . 11 Richard J. Mouw General Editors . . . .. . . . 14 Contributors . . . .. . . . 15 Abbreviations . . .. . . . . 16 Introduction: A Much-needed and Challenging Book . . . . . 19 Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen Part I: Mormonism’s Appeal, Growth, and Challenges Introductory Essay . . . . .. . . 28 1. The Apologetic Impulse in Early Mormonism: The Historical Roots of the New Mormon Challenge . . . 31 Craig J. Hazen 2. And the Saints Go Marching On: The New Mormon Challenge for World Missions, Apologetics, and Theology . . .. . 59 Carl Mosser Part II: The Mormon Worldview Introductory Essay . . . .. . . . . . . 90 3. Craftsman or Creator? An Examination of the Mormon Doctrine of Creation and a Defense of Creatio ex nihilo. . . . . . . . . . . 95 Paul Copan and William Lane Craig 4. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph Smith? God, Creation, and Humanity in the Old Testament and Mormonism. . .. . . . 153 Jim W. Adams 5. A Tale of Two Theisms: The Philosophical Usefulness of the Classical Christian and Mormon Concepts of God . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Stephen E. Parrish (with Carl Mosser) 6. Moral Law, the Mormon Universe, and the Nature of the Right We Ought to Choose. . . . . . . . . . . 219 Francis J. Beckwith 7. The Absurdities of Mormon Materialism: A Reply to the Neglected Orson Pratt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243 J. P. Moreland Part III: Mormonism and Christianity Introductory Essay . . .. . . . . 268 8. Monotheism, Mormonism, and the New Testament Witness. . . .. . . 271 Paul Owen 9. Is Mormonism Christian? . . . . . . . . 315 Craig L. Blomberg Part IV: The Book of Mormon Introductory Essay . . . .. . . 334 10. Does the Book of Mormon Reflect an Ancient Near Eastern Background? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337 Thomas J. Finley 11. Rendering Fiction: Translation, Pseudotranslation, and the Book of Mormon . . . . . . 367 David J. Shepherd Final Conclusions. . .. . . . 397 Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen Notes . . . . . . . . 401 Glossary . .. . . . . 507 Subject Index . . .. . . . 511 Index of Authors. . .. . 519 Index of Biblical and Ancient Literature . . . . . . . . . 523 Index of LDS Standard Works .. . . . . 533
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First Chapter

The Historical Roots of the New Mormon Challenge
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.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2003

    A fair look at Mormonism from the outside

    This book was a good read. The authors attempted to portray our positions accurately, although their emphases were a bit misguided. For example, B.H. Roberts and Stephen E. Robinson kept on surfacing as though they were official spokesmen for the Church, and more than one author seemed to have the impression that we like the King Follett Discourse more than the Book of Mormon (as an aside, all anti-Mormons should learn that attacking the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith's understanding of the Bible will never get them anywhere). The authors did a good job of showing that the Classical Christian concept of God is more philosohpically sound than the Mormon concept of God. Of course, after the 'Mormon' God appeared to Joseph, I doubt that he went home and checked his philosophy text book to make sure that it all checked out OK. In short, it was fun to see what the Evangelicals are saying about us, but the book was of limited practicality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    Not your ordinary anti-Mormon book. Really!

    I've finished the chapters "Mormonism, Monotheism," "And the saints go marching on," "Moral obligation and the nature of the right we ought to choose," and "Is mormonism Christian?" For an anti-Mormon book, it's not bad. They're nice. And it's nothing to be scared of either: they're not that persuasive. Owen tries to show that the "council of Gods" in the OT is really a "council of angels." Mosser describes the church's growth and academic prowess. Beckwith attempts to demonstrate that the classical God can ground morality when the LDS God can't. (Blake Ostler picks him apart handily in FAIR). Craig Blomberg argues we're not Christians (notice his little boo-boo when he quotes the dictionary ["most"]). When you read you'll be surprised how much of the theological community agrees with some of our positions. This book is selling well at the BYU bookstore, if you're interested in FARMS, buy it!

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