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Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism Paperback – August 1, 2004
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...combines careful research with journalistic skill... -- H. Wayne House, Distinguished Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Faith Seminary
...insightful, helpful, and tactful presentation of Mormonism. It reflects extensive research, indepth analysis, and valuable evaluation. -- Dr. Norm Geisler, President (Southern Evangelical Seminary)
...no one, including believers in Mormonism, will question the charitable spirit in which he offers his case. -- Frank Beckwith, general editor of The New Mormon Challenge
...takes evangelicals and Mormons into the next generation of amicable confrontation... Full of fresh insight and captivating erudition, -- Shandon L. Guthrie, adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
From the Publisher
Did you know that Mormons hope to eventually become Gods? This and other Latter-day Saint doctrines can lead to misunderstandings and conflict when you interact with Mormon friends, neighbors, and coworkers. If you find yourself confused by their religion--a religion that has increasingly come to resemble mainstream Christianity--you're not alone.
Richard Abanes' thorough yet accessible approach helps you understand not only what today's Mormons believe, but also how they think about and defend their faith. The award-winning journalist offers the results of his research into many key teachings and beliefs
- who God is, who Jesus is, and what it means to participate in their divine nature;
- why Joseph Smith and his visions have such a central place in the hearts of Mormons;
- what role the Book of Mormon and other authoritative LDS beliefs play in LDS beliefs;
- how Momrons are now dealing wih evangelical criticisms of their faith; and
- how you can effectively talk to 21st century Mormons about their faith
"Becoming Gods' shows you how to weigh Mormonism's ever-changing claims, as well as how you can graciously live out God's love in your interaction with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Albanes is the author of the better known One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church - a "negative" history of the Mormon church. While obviously antagonistic toward the Mormon church, it at least followed a historical timeline and reveals a history not so well known to most people. I actually learnt a few things from reading this other work.
However, my decision to purchase "Becoming Gods" was based on its more favourable reviews than the ones found on the "One Nation Under Gods" page. I was soon to discover, that this book was more biased and polemical than the previous work, and not the better of the two at all. The notes on the back cover alone convey the author's driven motive to impose his own "anti-mormon" beliefs on the reader right from the get-go.
This book appears to be a result of the author's post-"One Nation Under Gods" experience. He states he has spent a lot of time online in chat groups arguing Mormonisn vs Evangelism. This book is no doubt the result of those many online debates. Each chapter focuses on one subject and relates in no way to previous chapters. The chapters subject is presented as a generic "here are the facts", followed by the Mormon response, the Evangelist response and a conclusion. The result is a lot of evangelical preaching.
While some of the points are extremely valid, this is not the book I was hoping for. Think of "One Nation Under Gods" as a historical discussion, and this book as a doctrinal debate. If you wish to know what Mormons believe, there are much better books out there. If you wish to compare the beliefs of two completely different "Christian" religions, then this book might have some appeal to you. For me, it was a waste of my time and money.
I would say that if you are trying to determine whether the Mormon faith is true, read the Book of Mormon, and read Becoming Gods, not necessarily in that order, in order to provide the balance needed to make a fair-minded and truly informed decision.
Although Mormons may not like Abanes' analysis, there is no arguing with his facts. I think he did a very thorough job reporting the differences, making it very clear what Mormonism teaches and showing "Evangelical Thoughts" (in subtitles) to counter the doctrine(s). My only complaint with the book is that the endnotes are copious--in fact, maybe too copious, taking up a full quarter of the entire book (125+ pages!). Some of the material, I felt, would have been better placed in the regular text. I also wish publishers would get over their apparent fear of scaring readers by feeling they have to use endnotes rather than footnotes. I like to see the information readily at hand, but having them in the back requires a lot of work. Every paragraph seems to have an endnote, and I too often would lose my place, either with the regular text or the endnotes. I just wish it could be placed at the bottom of each page, allowing a reader to either skip them or, if they wanted, look at it and see what else is available. Abanes gets information from a wide variety of sources, and I think these nuggets should not be hidden.
Overall, I recommend Becoming Gods for both the layperson and scholar.