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Reading Joseph Smith’s Book

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I just finished reading Ross Anderson’s little book Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Quick Christian Guide to the  Mormon Holy Book, just published by Zondervan, and find it both helpful and fascinating.

The book is short, 116 very small pages, and is written in a conversational style. Anderson, an evangelical pastor in Utah, lays out the contents of the Book of Mormon, compares the doctrinal content with that in other Mormon holy books, and suggests ways for Christians to dialogue with Mormons.

The most effective part of this book is its fair, honest look at the Book of Mormon, and its loving, respectful tone toward Mormons. I would word things a bit stronger than the author does in a few places, but his overall tone is a needed balance to some of our bombast when it comes to speaking Christ to our neighbors.

Anderson is an ex-Mormon, but he’s an ex-Mormon who loves Christ not an ex-Mormon who is rebelling against his family. It is obvious in the pages of this little book that Anderson loves his Mormon family members and wants other Christians to learn how to speak to folks like them, with grace and truth.

Anderson advises his fellow Christians on what Mormons hear when we say certain things to them. He tells us why, for instance, bringing up Joseph Smith’s polygamy isn’t the best way to get the gospel to Latter-day Saints.

This book isn’t a comprehensive comparison between Christianity and Mormonism. It’s not necessarilly the book to give to someone weighing becoming a Mormon, or to a Mormon contemplating Christ. But it’s an excellent resource to give to a church member who is in an ongoing conversation with a Latter-day Saint friend or neighbor.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.

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About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.

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