4 Stars Out Of 5
Before you shut the door in their faces...
May 31, 2014
Richard Mouw, the President of Fuller Seminary, has been maligned in a number of evangelical circles for "being too soft" in his dialogue with Mormons. Neither this small book nor my review will likely persuade his critics otherwise. Mouw obviously has a deep burden for those who have aligned themselves with the Latter Day Saints. He is to be commended for his eagerness in debating them in a kindly manner. Too kindly, some might say. Although he is strongly Calvinist in his theology, he raises significant issues with regard to Mormon doctrine that provide seed for his critics to accuse him of trying too hard to find common ground. I, too, found myself being initially uncomfortable with some of his statements, which is why the reader must stay with his argument to the end of the book. Having read it from cover-to-cover in a little more than two hours, I walked away with the conviction that my anemic witness to Mormons has been largely based upon presuppositions and erroneous assumptions which Mouw urges us to set aside in favor of listening better and being more objective. The author denounces foundational Mormon doctrine (but perhaps not strongly enough), while at the same time noting something of a contemporary shift in the thought of the LDS church and its scholars...a move he sees as positive and hopeful for creating a climate of discussion. Even though I do not entirely share Mouw's optimism, I was challenged to be more compassionate and respectful toward those who are certainly more intentional in promoting their brand of evangelism than I am in mine. Mouw's writing style is clear and convincing, and the reader needs to add his own level of discernment to the thesis he puts forth. The main lesson that I personally took from the book is that in any witnessing context, I need to be willing to assume the role of courteous listener and seek to understand before being understood.