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Mormonism Explained: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice Paperback – April 30, 2008
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"Mormonism Explained lays out clearly what Mormons believe. Chapters on Mormon history are especially enlightening. Jackson shows how Mormonism diverges from orthodox Christianity in key matters of theology, but his tone is that of a careful teacher who seeks to explain rather than merely to debunk."
—Mark D. Roberts, Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence, Laity Lodge; Author of Can We Trust the Gospels?
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a rapidly growing, international religious movement whose leadership allows for more diversity of thought than many outsiders realize. Jackson is aware of these obstacles, has worked hard to overcome them, and has succeeded admirably."
—Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
"With Mormonism ever more in the mainstream and with much confusion as to what it really teaches, this is a valuable, accessible, and timely contribution."
—Tim Challies, Christian Blogger Challies.com; Editor, Discerning Reader; Author The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
About the Author
ANDREW JACKSON (MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a seminary professor and a senior associate pastor of discipleship and leadership development at a large non-denominational church in Mesa, Arizona. He has traveled to the original homelands of all the primary religions of the world, taught world religions on the college level, and is a frequent blogger and author.
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The Christians in the USA use to understand this group was a cult, and certainly were not Christians. That is no longer the case, and many consider them to be a mainstream Christian denomination. Mitt Romney only added to this acceptance.
This book can educate people on the beliefs. Christians should know and understand that they believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers, that the Father God was a human before he became God, and the top Mormons (and only the top) can attain godhood where they are given many wives (and a planet) to produce spirit children for this earth. Also, explains the emphasis they put on baptism.
It is clear and concise. Easy to read. You will not need another book to understand this religion…unless you desire to go deeper; this book will give you the basics.
book that has been past to friends who desired further understanding of the subject, and each gave a like opinion.
In general, the book met my expectations. Dr Jackson in most cases does a very good job of explaining Mormon history and doctrine. He tended to use LDS sources and mostly reputable non-LDS sources. There was one major source that he used that I consider unreliable, which was Ostlings's Mormon America: The Power and the Promise. Almost every time I read something that I thought was misleading or distorted he referred to this book. Most of those distortions have been addressed by Mormon scholars, which I felt the need to correct with my study group. Another problem I had as a Mormon was his use of demeaning terms to describe some of our history or doctrines.
In the history section there were instances where he brought up controversial or partial facts without bringing out the Mormon response. One key example is where he mentioned the fact that some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon left the church, but failed to mention that none of them ever denied their testimony and several of them eventually returned to the church. In other areas that are controversial, but true; Jackson was very fair in his presentation. Examples include his discussions on polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
In the doctrinal sections, Jackson explains things rather clearly, but sometimes tries to make the Mormon position sound more extreme than it is. An example of this would be how he tries to show that Mormons think other Christians are fools for only believing in the Bible, and implies that for other differences. Mormon's are taught to love and respect people from all religions. Another example is that he makes it sound as though the Mormons have no respect for the Bible. Mormons have a deep love for the Bible and feel that they take it more literally than many other Christian religions. In most cases though, he does explain the doctrines adequately.
Jackson also does some apologetic work explaining why he feels some of the Mormon doctrines are wrong, but mostly uses blanket statements stating that the Bible or early Christians don't agree and moving on. An example is where he absolutely states that no early Christians ever believed in the concept of a pre-existence or another example where he states that early Christians never believed in the Mormon concept of the Godhood. By reading the works of the apostolic fathers, one can see that there were a very wide range of beliefs, including some that are close to what Mormons believe. The whole reason for the great councils of the 4th century was to try to eliminate some of these beliefs. Chapter 9 on the Mormon requirements for salvation is where he does the most apologetic work and does not do a fair job of stating the Biblical arguments that the Mormons have. This is obviously a controversial chapter for Protestants on the subjects of baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, authority, and faith vs. works. Most of these arguments have been going on between Catholics and Protestants for years. From an apologetics point of view this book is geared toward Protestants, and not Catholics or Orthodox.
Obviously I have mixed feelings on this book. For a book by a non-Mormon explaining Mormon beliefs it does a very good job with the few exceptions I've noted, plus a few others. His research was very impressive, and the way he explained things was very clear. I believe that most Mormons would not like this book due to its tone, but would probably agree that he is mostly accurate. There are enough exceptions that I had to explain to my study group, that I can't wholeheartedly recommend this book. I do believe it would take only a few changes in future editions to make it more acceptable to myself and other Mormons.
Anyway, I do find it somewhat fascinating that a Christian Rev. named Andrew Jackson would be interested in picking apart an opposing religion rather than focus on his own religion and write about that. I find it very interesting that his eyes miss very little when regarding the LDS but now if the author could just use those same eyes and turn them on his own religion he may indeed see that many of the claims or belief systems of his own religion are just as flawed and just as baseless as those pointed out in the book on Mormon. Not that it matters to me one way or the other but honestly Rev. Use those same eyes to pick your own religion apart and then maybe you'll get somewhere. Trust me it's full of flaws and your bias prevents you from seeing it.
There are answers here about what Mormon is and how it came to be. A good portion of it is direct quotes from LDS prophets past to present. It is worth the read and it is a thin book easily read rather quickly. The author does write well and is easy to follow. Its written with a slight bias mostly but stronger at other spots for his own religious views which is to be expected I guess and you can see that come out now and then with some additional comments noted to push the 'nonsense' of Mormon teaching home for you so you can see that the author's own religion using the bible as it's base is much more legit. At least that was my impression reading parts of the book. I find it odd, even amusing that a, re-written, mistranslated, misinterpreted, multi-edition bible that is just as baseless for many of the claims and stories it contains with no historical cross reference or other verification at all is used as solid proof to counter another baseless fanstasy story book on Mormon but that is another story!
If you are interested in short but sweet coverage of the basic tennants of Mormon this book will help you. I found it worth the price once you can smile at the little comments noted by the author in places. It may also help you to see your own religion a little differently because I feel that once you start picking apart an opposing religion you cannot help but find all the faults in your own if you are truly objective and remain unbiased following the facts where they lead you instead of twisting them to fit into your approved of view of the world and how it works. Overall the Rev gets a B+ for effort but his bias is apparent so take what you read here with a grain of salt. Its not like he went into this with no motive I mean come on. I think in the end the book is basically done to discredit the Mormon religion making it look weak if not look like a criminal cult following in places. Not that this is a bad thing but one cannot help but see the irony that someone from the Christian side of things which is about as corrupt and organization as they come, can expect to come in and shoot down Mormon using his own religion as more credible for source material and philosophy! Gotta say wow with that one sorry! Hilarious how easy generations forget the atrocities of the Catholic church, monks, zealots of other faiths be they Christian or other and in just a few short years. Here we have one religion famous for baptizing Indians only to immediately take their heads so they die and go straight to heaven afterwards without a chance to sin again that is going to critic another religion who's leader was murdered in a jail cell for the BS corruption based behavior they maintained in their own history. How ironic is that? What is that saying? The pot calling the kettle black!? Anyway, its short, it has facts mixed with a few snide slipped in comments hoping to sway your viewpoint back toward bible vs Mormon books but done in a nicely veiled attempt. You will know more about the LDS once you get through it though so if that is what you wanted well, this book will suffice.