Monday, August 11, 2008

New Resource Addresses LDS Concerns Over Personal Deity

In my previous post I mentioned an interesting exchange at the Sunstone Symposium as Latter-day Saints reacted to a paper on narrative and interpersonal considerations related to traditional Christian conceptions of God. Latter-day Saints feel that the transcendent and immaterial understanding of God in traditional Christian theism represents a remote God who is wholly other, a far cry from the personal and embodied God of Mormonism. From the LDS perspective, as John Bracht noted in a recent exchange with me on this topic, God's love in traditional theism seems deficient, and our conception of God "connects with humans at no meaningful point."

Some time ago I interviewed Bracht on his very helpful M.A. thsis that touches on these issues. We discussed this in a two-part series with the first part found here, and part two here. And in a recent development, Bracht has agreed to allow the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies to offer his thesis as a resource for purchase through The manuscript, titled Man of Holiness: Mormon Claims for a Personal God, can be previewed and ordered at our online store at this link.

Bracht's manuscript comes with the following recommendations from both sides of the divide:

“I know of no treatment of this topic anywhere in the literature that is as systematic and well-informed. It is much more complete and comprehensive than anything I have read or could even imagine reading. There is no question in my mind as to its originality, synthetic achievement and overall accuracy.”

Mark P. Leone
Chair, Department of Anthropology
University of Maryland

"In this monograph, John Bracht has set forth a compelling answer to a question people often ask about the Latter-day Saint view of God: How can anyone believe that? Well, there are millions who have embraced the Mormon view of God and it is about time that some of us on the outside of the movement try to understand the "why" question of Mormon views. John Bracht's work is perhaps the best I've read yet in terms of empathetically wrestling with the key distinctions between the LDS and the traditional Christian view of God. Essential reading for those who want to learn how to engage adherents to new religious movements in an effective, thoughtful manner."

Craig J. Hazen, Ph.D.
Professor of Comparative Religions and Apologetics
Director, MA Program in Christian Apologetics
Editor of the Journal, Philosophia Christi
Biola University
La Mirada, California

“John Bracht’s thesis is a fundamental text on the Mormon doctrine of God. It presents a systematic, comprehensive and original approach to the subject, refreshing in its insights, and in sharp contrast to American evangelical polemical treatments. It would be ideal for it to be widely circulated, and so I have no hesitation in recommending it to a wider readership.”

Professor Garry Trompf
Studies in Religion, University of Sydney

“Serious efforts to understand Mormonism in a non-confrontational, non-polemical way are few and far between. In this book the author, John Bracht, has drawn together a multitude of LDS sources in order to demonstrate differences between Mormonism and ‘traditional’ Christian views on the nature of God and the Godhead. While most LDS readers would no doubt disagree with some of Bracht’s conclusions, they would at least have to admit that he has paid a price to grapple solidly with the available evidence and has done so in an irenic and dignified manner. This is a work worth engaging.”

Robert L. Millet
Professor of Religion, Brigham Young University

On another publishing note, those interested in reading my thesis on Burning Man Festival, the alternative cultural event held annual in connection with the Labor Day weekend in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, can preview and ordered by following this link.

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