Some of the reviews above are but a few examples of how our own biases and history influence judgment. It is a stated fact that there ARE differences between Evangelical Christianity and Mormon theology. The book explores, in stead, where the two overlap and/or points of communality rather than dwell on the irreconcilable differences. It also addresses a number of issues and positions in both traditions. It is not intended to be THE compendium in Mormon criticism and Evangelical doctrine. To the extent possible, "How wide... does a very good job to dispel some of the myths and folklore that exist about Mormon theology. It is a very well articulated expose about basic beliefs from both ends. It is a very civil exchange and whoever is interested in more details can go find them. It is a good first step and I hope it will not be the last in exploring these issues.
How modern Christianity defines the nature of God is the heart of the debate. Mormons do not believe the definition arrived at in 325 AD is justifiable. Most non LDS scholars agree that this definition was influenced by Greek philosophy in the early second century. This influence was allowed in order to win support and establish the church on a sure foundation. The language and ideas in the creed in comparison to Greek philosophic ideas about God are strikingly similar. <br /><br />Most if not all Christians believe the bible is a compilation of revelations given to man by prophets or apostles. The problem LDS have with the 325 AD council is that revelation played no role in the formulation of the Nicene definition. Surely Christians would agree that something as important as knowing and worshiping the true God would need to come by revelation and not by years of contending and debating. This issue is key since man can only be saved by knowing and worshiping the true God. The idea that teaching for doctrine the opinion and ideas of man as long as Christ is mentioned is evidence of worshiping false deities. The various lucrative protestant religions in existence are a consequence. Also the radical liberal movement that Christians despise finds its roots in the anything goes Christian ideology.
I actually liked this book. From the onset the goal of the book is stated to NOT be any attempt to convert anyone to/from one side or the other. It is simply a review and comparison of certain topics as believed and followed by each side. It is trying to show similarities and contrasts between both views of Christianity. It doesnt go into every theological subject or difference between the two, but it does present and review some of the major more miss-understood ones. It gives a basic understanding of each sides view of doctrine and scripture. There isnt too much of the, Hes wrong and Im write, because, but there is a minor amount. This is actually a good thing. There are hundreds of other books written using this approach. This book simply tries to examine where some of these topics sync together and differ. It is left to the reader to accept one view or another. The main goal of this book is to help both Evangelicals and the LDS to use common terms in the same manner when talking to each other. In common discussion, both sides may often use a same term, but often with different interpretations and meanings. If this book does nothing else than help each of us to learn the others terminology for future discussions, then this book succeeds in its goal. Its not perfect at this attempt, but does go a long way to meeting this goal. While reading this book, I was personally surprised by how differently each side used very common terms and words. It helped me to understand where and how so much confusion occurs regularly by each side. If everyone realized such differences existed, I believe that better theological discussions would take place. This book definitely helps one to understand that these miss-understandings go on and on.
This book will never be accused of ending the debate between Mormons and Evangelicals. As a previous review stated, both Blomberg and Robinson take a middle ground approach. As an Evangelical, I would guess that Blomberg's stance is probably more mainstream for an Evangelical than Robinson's stance is for a Mormon. In other words, Robinson's middle ground may represent a small minority viewpoint (but hopefully a growing one) within Mormonism.This book definitely avoids certain topics that would probably be very prominent in any conversation between a Mormon and Evangelical. For instance, issues of Scriptual validity and Biblical canon get an entire chapter. However, the issue of whether Joseph Smith, the author (or translator) of most Mormon extra-Biblical scripture, is a credible prophet is totally ignored in my opinion. Consequently, Blomberg (the Evangelical scholar) gives Robinson a "free pass" so to speak. It seems like one should not ignore the nature of Joseph Smith's life and education simply because the scripture he produced happens to meet the Mormon church's criteria for canonized scripture.Also, the book completely ignores the structure and nature of the modern Mormon church. That topic was probably beyond the scope of this book, but it would probably illuminate significantly more of the differences between Mormons and Evangelicals than this book did with its strictly Scripture-God-Christ-Salvation doctrinal approach. I have heard the book "Mormon America: The Power and the Promise" published by HarperSanFrancisco and written by Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling (both Protestants) does an excellent job with the whole picture of Mormonism.Having said all of that, "How Wide the Divide" does a respectable job at covering the similarities and differences between Mormons and Evangelicals within the limited scope it set out to do. I would recommend it, but I would emphasize it is not a complete answer to the question the title asks.
This book marks a pivotal and welcome shift in evangelical examinations of Mormonism (a precursor to the more recent "The New Mormon Challenge"), because it breaks from the usual Martin/Ankerberg/Hunt attack approach that permeates nearly every other Mormon-related book sold by CBD. I disagree with the harsh review by Roy from Georgia (though his "keep off" warning to un-"grounded" readers may have merit, as it would for any book discussing the nature of the Trinity, the challenges of "openness" theology, or other, similarly difficult issues). Instead, "Divide" offers a very useful, meaningful and frank, yet digestible and gracious give-and-take between gifted thinkers on some (though admittedly not all) of the critical differences between consensus evangelical views and those of at least some Mormons. Georgia Roy is correct in calling Robinson "skilled" in using evangelical terminology, but I suspect that this facial compliment is actually an accusation that Robinson is lying about what Mormons believe -- which Robinson repeatedly and emphatically denies and Blomberg rejects, but that readers from the Martin/Ankerberg/Hunt school may feel constrained to presume for any Mormon who states his case in writing. In fact, Robinson provides a more-than-capable counterpart to Blomberg, and (in my humble opinion as a Bible-believing lawyer) actually gets the better of him on some points --which demonstrates (only) that we evangelicals must do better with our apologetic as we (I hope) continue down this new, non-polemical path. A final thought: if our view of the gospel is true, will it not withstand ANY attack or examination -- even (or particularly) when launched by persons we perceive to be tricksters and deceivers? The answer should be plain.