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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Problems With Theism And the Love of God (vol. 2) Hardcover – March, 2006
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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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No thinker on the verge of leaving or joining the Mormon church should do so without giving Ostler a serious consideration. Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by Tanner the Seeker
There is not a better theologian among Latter-day Saints than Blake Ostler. His theory of atonement deserves consideration by every thinking Christian.Published on October 5, 2013 by Utopia