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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Problems With Theism And the Love of God (vol. 2) Hardcover – March, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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"[This] volume is a deep, sometimes murky, but always provocative look at some very important questions in Christian theology." -- AML Review of Books, Jeff Needle
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 503 pages
  • Publisher: Greg Kofford Books Inc; 1 edition (March 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589580958
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589580954
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,383,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Exploring Mormon Thought: The Problems Of Theism And The Love Of God by Blake T. Ostler is an informative detailing of the philosophical interpretation of Mormonism and the understanding that in a relationship with God, if God loves us and respects our dignity as individuals, God must then leave us freedom to choose to have a saving relationship with the deity. Introducing readers to a concise presented conceptual interpretation of grace and the traditional views encountered in the strictly structured premises of the Mormon religion, Exploring Mormon Thought offers an intellectually engaging and theologically progressive construct for debates, discussion groups study the theology of the Mormon religion. Exploring Mormon Thought is very strongly recommended reading for students of the Mormon faith, scriptures, and theology.
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Format: Hardcover
This book shows possibilities in Mormon doctrine that are not found (or at least articulated so well)anywhere else. Most Mormons may not realize or appreciate the fact that there are two views about God's omniscience within Mormonism. The compatibalist view, which is by far the most common, says God knows everything absolutly. The second possible view says that although God knows all possibilities and probabilities, it's logically impossible to know(absolutely)a free act the same way it is logically impossible to make 1+1=5.

If an act is known in absolutely, and there is nothing that can change the act, we therefore we cannot call it a free act; this is simply an illusion that we are free and what we are calling freedom isn't much more than our ignorance of the way we are acting out a pre-scripted play that God has already written. In other words, there is no substantial difference between predestination and absolute foreknowledge(just different words that describe the same thing).Ostler shows how the second view can deepen our relationship with God because our prayers actually matter; they influence God, whereas the compatibalist view says that we can't influence a course that is known absolutely.

There are other reasons to read the book that I will leave up to the reader to find, but whether or not you are convinced by Ostler's arguments, you have to agree that it's one of the best books dealing with Mormonism ever written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the second volume of Ostler's series "Exploring Mormon Thought". The first volume discussed the attributes of God and did a very thorough job of reviewing not only the Mormon view of God, but also the view of the major Christian theologians.

This volume moves into the relationship of God with man and presents many of the classical problems discussed over the years about this relationship. One example of what he discusses is the problem of prayer; why is it necessary to ask God for what he already knows is best for us? Another example is that he talks about the implausibility of Original Sin. Ostler also relates the various theories of the Atonement. He also tackles the subject of justification by faith and discusses grace and free will.

Most of the differences in Mormon though are related to the LDS belief in the eternity of spirits (pre-existence) and the related non-belief in creation ex-nihilo. This causes a paradigm shift in how one views his or her relationship with God. Ostler's book does an excellent job exploring these differences.

As an LDS person who had not thought much about these questions in the past, this book has been very intellectually stimulating. I can now see what the great theologians of the past have been struggling with and I can now almost carry on a decent discussion on these points with others. It was also interesting to me that many Mormons do not have crystallized views on these subjects, and Ostler did a good job discussing the different LDS perspectives.

I highly recommend this book and series to anyone interested in LDS theology, both LDS and non-LDS should benefit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Blake Ostler, in his Exploring Mormon Thought series, has shown both the sound biblical and philosophical footing LDS theology has. In this volume, "The Problems of Theism and the Love of God," Blake shows the problems of more "traditional" views on soteriology (the theology of salvation), such as the Arminian view, the Reformed/Calvinist view, and the Catholic view on predestination, the nature of atonement, human anthropology, and the love of God. Furthermore, he shows, in a scholarly manner, how LDS soteriology, far from being the unbiblical theology many critics claim it to be (e.g., they falsely claim Mormon theology is Pelagian/Legalistic), Blake shows that the LDS view (akin to the idea of "Covenantal Nomism" a la the New Perspective on Paul), is soundly rooted in "biblical Christianity" (to use a popular term employed by anti-Mormons).

The final chapter, "God the Eternal Father" is rather controversial, with Blake departing from the more "traditional" interpretations of both the King Follet Discourse and the Sermon in the Grove (AKA Discourse on the Pluarlity of the Gods). Notwithstanding this, I have to agree with Blake on this, and highly recommend all LDS to read even just this chapter in the book. While you may disagree, it will make you think about what the meaning of these sermons really are, as opposed to reading into the more "traditional" understanding of them.

This, and the other volumes in the series, are must-reads for those who have a serious interest in LDS theology.

Robert Boylan
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