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How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation Paperback – April 20, 1997
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About the Author
Craig L. Blomberg (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. His books include Interpreting the Parables, Neither Poverty nor Riches, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, commentaries on Matthew and 1 Corinthians, Making Sense of the New Testament: 3 Crucial Questions and Preaching the Parables.
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It's clear to see that both Blomberg and Robison have a high regard for each other and for what each other knows. And while punches aren't pulled - their challenges are direct and their stances unnuanced - this also isn't a contest of wills, or a challenge about who knows the scriptures more. Both have an equally firm hold on the subject matter (and most important) the conversation does not devolve into a shouting match.
It's also clear that the "divide" is more about each other's approach to the scriptures, the language we use, and about our different interpretations of scripture than its is about actual doctrine. Evangelicals and Mormons both believe the scriptures equally, but have a completely different way of understanding what they say. Therefore, the conversation here provides the missing pieces for either side to start being honest with the other - and hopefully find some way bridging our differences in a way that brings us together instead of tearing us apart.
This book lays the foundation for such tolerance. Evangelicals and Saints will never agree on everything. Nor should we. What we can do is recognize that the external threat is greater than any theological differences we may have. If we don't stand together, we will surely hang separately.
First, although Dr. Robinson seems to be a fine LDS man, he does not possess ultimate authority when it comes to the Mormon religion (despite his holding the LDS priesthood). Whatever he says is merely his opinion until it is compared to the teachings of his church's leaders, both past and present. Since Dr. Robinson has some very interesting ideas--some of which he acknowledges in the book, such as his idea of what it means to "obey the whole law"--I doubt the church hierarchy in Salt Lake City would be able to give its full stamp of approval on this book and say Dr. Robinson is fully in line with LDS teaching.
Second, while Dr. Blomberg is a biblical scholar (and I believe he has written some very scholarly material), he seems to have accepted at face value too many of Dr. Robinson's beliefs as being bonafide Mormonism. Also, the definitions of some of the terms became muddled in several parts, and so I was left wondering if the two men understood the differences in meaning despite the use of identical terminology (i.e. the definition of "God" or "salvation" can mean different things to one person who is assuming the other person is thinking like he does).
Because of this, Dr. Blomberg appears to believe that the differences between Mormonism and Christianity are few. I would have liked a more critical evaluation of Dr. Robinson's beliefs to determine whether or not they were in line with offical LDS teaching. I believe that what Dr. Robinson espouses is not bonafide Mormonism as so taught by the church leaders, from Joseph Smith all the way to the current president, Gordon Hinckley. Unfortunately, Dr. Robinson was never called on the carpet to display his cards, so the bluff appears to have worked.
If anyone ought to present the Mormon side, why shouldn't it be Gordon Hinckley, the LDS "prophet, seer, and revelator"? Although President Hinckley has sometimes publicly evaded specifics when it comes to doctrine, including interviews with the secular media, I think he would be a much more reliable witness when it comes to what is true LDS doctrine. Finally, it should be pointed out that Robinson is a polemicist who cannot be trusted. Consider the book by D. Michael Quinn, a former Mormon professor at BYU who was excommunicated because of his honesty in research. More than once in his "Mormonism and the Magic World View" Quinn shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Robinson was deceptive in other works by not delivering the whole truth to his readers. So why should we trust him now?