Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-Day Saints

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In Mormon Christianity Stephen H. Webb becomes the first respected non-Mormon theologian to explore in depth what traditional Christians can learn from the Latter-Day Saints. Richard Mouw's recent work, Talking with Mormons, focuses on making the case that Mormons are not a cult and that Christians should tolerate them. But even Mouw, sympathetic as he is, follows all other non-Mormon theologians in declining to accept Mormons as members of the Christian family. They are not a cult, Mouw writes, but rather a religion related to be set apart from traditional Christianity. Mormons themselves 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. Webb writes neither as a critic nor a defender of Mormonism but as a sympathetic observer who is deeply committed to engaging with Mormon ideas. His book is unique in taking Mormon theology seriously and providing plausible and in some instances even persuasive alternatives to many traditional Christian doctrines. It can serve as an introduction to Mormonism, but it goes far beyond that. Webb shows that Mormons are indeed part of the Christian family tree, but that they are a branch that extends well beyond what most Christians have ever imagined. Rather than accusing Mormons of heresy, Webb shows how they are innovative. 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. At the same time, he also holds up a friendly mirror to Mormons themselves as they become more public and prominent in American religious debates. Yet Webb's book 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.