Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints

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Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter–day Saints
Author Stephen H. Webb
New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints

Reviewer Mauro Properzi

Debates on Mormonism's status as a Christian religion generally revolve around dogmatic issues—what is, or what should be, Christianity's minimum theological denominator, and does LDS doctrine fit within this particular requirement in order to be classified as Christian? For Stephen Webb, the author of Mormon Christianity and a former professor of philosophy and religion at Wabash College, that debate is settled: not only is Mormonism a legitimate branch of Christianity, but it is also a fountain of wisdom from which other Christians can draw, albeit critically. Indeed, Webb's book is certainly one of the most flattering treatments of the Mormon faith to ever have been written by a scholar who is not a Latter-day Saint. It is also an excellent example of philosophical theology that will likely be appreciated by Mormons and non-Mormons alike for years to come.

Readers who are familiar with the author's previous work in Mormon studies will not be surprised by the focus of this book. Indeed, Mormon Christianity further develops Webb's February 2012 First Things essay "Mormonism Obsessed with Christ" and his 2012 Oxford monograph Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter, particularly its penultimate chapter entitled "Godbodied: The Matter of the Latter-day Saints." The way in which these two publications are brought together and expanded is what gives Mormon Christianity its novelty. Webb takes the original, and perhaps questionable, approach of affirming Mormonism's Christianity by highlighting one of its most distinctive characteristics vis-à-vis the classical theism of historical Christianity, namely the materialism of its metaphysics. This is what the author loves most about Mormonism. In fact, Mormon metaphysics is at the core of Webb's claim that "other Christians can learn from the Latter-day Saints."