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The Christ Who Heals: How God Restored the Truth that Saves Us Hardcover – October 30, 2017
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About the Author
Terryl L. Givens holds the James A. Bostwick chair of English and is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond and the author of several books. His writing includes When Souls Had Wings<\i>, the biography (with Matthew Grove) Parley Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism<\i>; and Wresting the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought<\i>.
Fiona Givens is a retired modern language teacher with undergraduate degrees in French and German and a graduate degree in European history. She is now an independent scholar who has published in several journals and reviews in Mormon studies. Along with Terryl, she is the author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life<\i> and The Crucible of Doubt<\i>.
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The Givens make the case, with thorough documentation, that the Western Church went sadly far astray from the New Testament gospel as established by Christ and initially proclaimed by the apostles. Eastern Christianity remained in some important respects closer to the original gospel, but has still lost many precious truths since the first century. The Givens accomplish this without polemics or criticism; no one should be offended by their treatment of the changes in Christian thought from the New Testament and earliest Church Fathers, through the fourth century Councils, Augustine, and beyond. All their citations are footnoted and documented and historically uncontroversial.
Most important, however, is their review of the several vital attributes and roles of Jesus Christ. In order they review the nature and characteristics of Christ as Selfless, Adoptive, Atoning, Healing, Collaborating, Judging, and Saving.
The longest, and central, chapter is "The Collaborative Christ." In this chapter they show that part of the way Christ saves and adopts is by recruiting us to collaborate in the effort of saving and healing ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all documented that Jesus asks his followers to take up their crosses and follow him. The Givens teach that this means "Within our mortal limits, we are asked to imitate his acts of infinite empathy. If we deprive ourselves of sharing the crosses of our fellow pilgrims, we have impeded the only principles by which heavenly society is created." (p. 77)
The orthodox views of God as a stern commandment-giver ready to smite the disobedient, with only a sacrificial Christ between us and the punishments we deserve due to Adam's fall, and the views espoused by Calvin and Luther and their philosophical descendants of a depraved mankind, most of whom are destined to roast forever, are shown to be late, and lamentable, innovation, and not in accordance with the earliest Christian teachings.
The earliest Christians understood, and informed latter-day members of Christ's restored gospel understand, that God is a literal loving parent who wants to be with us, and provided this mortal life as part of a program for our progression until we are ready to join "an eternal sociality of celestial beings" (p. 74) The Atonement is much more about healing all the wounds we sustain during this mortal schooling, self-inflicted or otherwise, than about rescue of a few fortunate predestined souls.
This book can give hope to the despairing and comfort to the lonely. Understanding our true relationship to God gives peace and confidence beyond any available in the world. This book provides a hopeful and freeing world-view paradigm from the often depressing and discouraging post-Augustine views of the nature of man and our relationship to God.
Highly recommended for Mormons who often persist in the reductionist world-views of their Protestant heritage.
Also highly recommended for non-Mormon Christians with open minds who want to understand the real differences in Mormon's and orthodox Christian's views of Christ, and why those differences exist.
I'm a big fan of the Givens. I listened to a couple lengthy interviews with them about this book when it was released. I'm anticipating finishing the book soon.
It seems the Givens are really onto something - that the God we inherited from the Protestants is not at all the God we believe in, if we actually understood our religion better. God is not angry at us nor see us as depraved sinners - no, he loves us as his children and very much wants to heal us and help us grow to become better, if we will only let him.