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Book Challenge Update: 1 Down, 23 to Go

Be sure to check out the first post in this series, TwLFL: Book Challenge 24 in 20-10.

16 days in and done with the first one–that’s not a bad pace to be at so far. And man! it feels good to check one off the list. <— One of the reasons I like lists. :)

Sarah and I planned to meet at Sequiota Park to run this morning and I was ready a few minutes early, so I read. She had some car trouble, which gave me just enough time to finish Is the Mormon My Brother? before we set out on a 5 miler. Here’s a brief review of the book, plus a little glance ahead at what is next on my Book Challenge List.

Is the Mormon My Brother?

Written by James R. White, missionary to Mormons and director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, among other things, this book focuses on clarifying the main doctrinal difference, plus a few related issues, between Mormonism and Christianity. White begins by outlining which Mormon sources should be relied upon in order to correctly understand what Mormon doctrine is on the issue of who God is. He sets up a hierarchy of sources from the Mormon Standard Works (the KJV Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) to some of Joseph Smith’s writings/sermons, to lessons/written works from Mormon presidents (who the Mormons believe are prophets of God), to official LDS publications. In my opinion, he gives the LDS belief a fair showing (although I should read more to be better able to evaluate that), and then uses Biblical evidence to show the great divide.

Some of the tangential theological issues he covers are how eternal progression or exaltation (the Mormon belief that “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become,” that man progresses to godhood) means that God was once a man, while Christians believe–and the Bible testifies–that the God I worship always was and always will be God. White covers the Mormon belief that God the Father literally begat Jesus the son, and also discusses the LDS belief that God the Father, Elohim, and Jesus the Son, Yahweh, both had (have?) physical bodies, thus discussing the monotheistic belief of Christianity, and what he deems as the polytheistic belief of the Mormon church. In an appendix, he addresses a counterargument from Mormons that several founding fathers of Christianity also expressed theosic ideas (that is, that man becomes god). Here he stresses the difference between the Christian uncreated God and the Mormon created God who was once a man.

This question presented by this book, is the Mormon my brother?, is one that is near to my heart, for I have some very dear friends who are members of the LDS church. I greatly value mutual respect, and I believe that that is one reason I have been able to develop such strong and important relationships with these friends. I know that they will probably read this post, and I hope that they will forgive me if I have misrepresented Mormon doctrine. I have tried to be faithful to what was presented in the book and my understanding of it, and such misinterpretation means no disrespect.

Another reason I enjoyed reading Is the Mormon My Brother? is that it helped me think about what I believe and what I base those beliefs on. I don’t have any other inter-denominational books on my Book Challenge List this year, but I liked reading the comparisons more than I thought I would.

What’s Next?

The next book on my list is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I read the prologue today, and I already identify with Murakami: “Perhpas I’m just too painstaking a type of person, but I can’t grasp much of anything without putting down my thoughts in writing” (vi). I am the same way, thus, this blog and the many journals/lists I keep. And also, a much more practical thought: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. […] This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running” (vii). Yep, that’s right, and I’d argue it applies to every level of running, because the 5 miler Sarah and I ran this morning hurt, but we ran through it and didn’t allow the suffering to get the better of us (Way to go, Sarah!). I can already tell that this book will indulge two of my passions, running and writing. Plus, I like that it’s short. I need to make some room for the longer books on my list!

Want to hear more about What I Talk About When I Talk About Running? Head over to A Fool of Myself  and watch Sarah’s video book review on it.

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