Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us: Rowe's I Love Mormons and LDS Blog Comments

The faculty and staff of Salt Lake Theological Seminary represent some of the institution's greatest assets. I have been privileged to develop a friendship with one of the professors, Dr. David Rowe. David has a new book that was published by Baker Books called I Love Mormons. At the conclusion of a dinner meeting last night Dave mentioned that he has been following comments on his book on a LDS Blog called Times and Seasons. Evangelicals will find the book review and comments on the site instructive, not only for their response to David's book, but also in learning to appreciate how the LDS see evangelicals, particularly in their evangelistic attempts. The book review may be found here:


Jeff Downs said...

I read the book. There are some good points, there are other points I thought were out in left field (don't have the book in front of me to give specifics).

Julie stated David Rowe seems to genuinely love the Saints; he’s the first mission-minded Evangelical I’ve encountered who didn’t snarl.

I wonder who she's encountered.

The comments section are certainly interesting.

Jeff Downs said...

Here is a thoughtful comment by the author herself:

To all who have questioned my calling Rowe a wolf: What would you call someone who writes a book for the explicit purpose of teaching others a method for getting the Saints to leave the Church? The fact that he goes about it in a nice way doesn’t make him nice; it makes him dangerous.

Comment by Julie in Austin — 9/3/2005 : 8:57 pm (#27)

Keith Walker said...

Hmm... So if I do it the wrong way I am an "Anti-Mormon" and if I do it the right way, I am a "wolf." Some choice. I think I'll just be obedient and do it the way I believe God leads me to.

John W. Morehead said...

Glad you stopped back by, Keith. I know you are reacting to the LDS review of Dave Rowe's book at the Times and Seasons Blog, but I really encourage a more thoughtful approach and response.

My primary reason for posting on this topic was for evangelicals to "hear" from LDS as to how we are perceived when we engage in countercult kinds of ways. You can see that it is not well received, and usually results in defensiveness with no real hearing going on. Granted, the reviewer still finds Rowe dangerous as his goal is to help LDS understand Jesus within a biblical framework and to facilitate movement to a traditional Christian community, but this kind of defensive reaction is understandable, don't you think? The reviewer did acknowledge that Rowe "gets it" and is a truly loving and missional evangelical. This is hard to reconcile with the later statement about a "wolf in sheep's clothing," but the earlier description of Rowe and his approach is significant for evangelicals, if we have ears to hear.

I'm all for obedience to God in doing it the way He wants us to do it, and that's part of what the missiological approach is all about. We have been doing it the apologetic and confrontational way and assumed that that is biblical and what God wants. If we compare this with the biblical examples of the missio Dei, the history of Christian missions, and the insights of cross-cultural missiology, I think we can seriously question whether the traditional countercult way is appropriate, and whether this is the path God would have us continue to tread with the new religions. Can we not reflect and listen through a reassessment of our methods in light of the elements listed above to see if God may be speaking in fresh ways?