Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies

This volume of academic discussions provides an important new resource to both LDS and non-LDS scholars as well as an educated, nonscholarly audience. It consists of eleven “dialogues,” which include overviews, responses, rejoinders, and replies. Because the various authors share a background in contemporary Christian thought, some of the essays may be initially disorienting for Latter-day Saints without academic theological or philosophical training. On the other hand, Christians and most non-LDS scholars encountering Latter-day Saint belief systems for the first time may also occasionally feel as though they have entered into uncharted territory. This volume is the first to offer navigation of these theological landscapes to all parties. Donald W. Musser begins by giving an excellent overview of twentieth-century Christian thought; his background as professor of religious studies at Stetson University and co-editor of the New and Enlarged Handbook of Christian Theology (Abingdon, 2003) makes him an ideal co-editor with David L. Paulsen, Brigham Young University professor of philosophy.

It is precisely in offering an entry into both worlds where this volume succeeds most admirably. The book cannot, of course, offer a definitive statement of “Mormonism.” The voices of the LDS writers give thoughtful but distinctive engagement with the most important strands of mainline or liberal theology. The volume might better express the diversity of these voices if it were entitled Latter-day Saints in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies. The LDS writers all express their understanding of the fundamental doctrines of the Restoration as well as their personal response to contemporary issues of Christian thought; these responses are, however, clearly individual and, while uniformly faithful, cannot be said to represent “Mormonism” as some kind of static entity. Many other faithful and thoughtful Latter-day Saints will have their own perspective on a number of issues. In fact, the volume does contain multiple perspectives on a given topic, thus offering a depth and richness to the discussion.

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