Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Mormonizing of America (Part II)

Mike Huckabee at the Republican National Convention last night said, "I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country." This may be just pragmatic as Romney is the Republican nominee for President, or it may signal of a larger shift within the Republican base of accepting Romney's Mormon faith.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come a long way. Stephen Mansfield in his book "The Mormonizing of America" does a masterful job of showing us how this American religion has come from its birth in New York State through times of persecution to today where it is just a normal part of everyday America.

I appreciate Mansfield's teasing out how American this religion really is and how through "the ability to draw practical inspiration from the LDS journey, the earthly affect of Mormon spirituality, the power of celebrity and the valuing of hardship" (p. 222) the Mormon faith has come to prominence at this moment.

I don't personally take offense at statements within the LDS faith that calls it the only true church. There is within the Roman Catholic Church the understanding that it is the only true church that the rest of us are deficient in some way. In Evangelicalism, there is a lot of talk about who the "true believers" are, who have accepted Christ. So the LDS is no different in that aspect.

I can see the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of the family tree that is Christianity but their main beliefs as illustrated on pages 157-161 and in Appendix A of the book, clearly show that it is its own branch even as it shies away from any systematic theology of its faith. (Even as Joseph Smith believed he was bringing back primitive (authentic) Christianity.) I don't see it as a 4th Abrahamic Faith alongside Judaism, Christianity and Islam as Mansfield talks about on page 238.

As I said in part one of my review, I wholeheartedly recommend Mansfield's book. Since then I have come to look at a Christian Century magazine that examines the LDS faith and its scripture. It says many of the same things that Mansfield does. I have also begun following @askmormongirl to see how a Mormon is viewing the state of things. I credit Stephen Mansfield for helping guide my curiosity and making me look further at the Mormon faith. Bravo!

Now I think I will download and read his book on "The Search for God and Guinness" and break open a Black Lager I have in the fridge...

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