It’s like Romney meets Huckabee (without the negative ads)

Got a book in the mail yesterday called “Bridging the Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical.”

The conversation is between Robert Millet, a Mormon and former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University, and the Rev. Gregory Johnson, a former Mormon who is now a Baptist minister.

I’ve only skimmed the book, but it looks really good. One thing I usually like about such “conversation” books, dialogues between two people, is that they get right to the points at hand.

Here’s one Q&A that shows what I mean:

Greg: Okay. Bob, I know it’s painful for your folks to hear us say that you are not Christians, that you do not fit within the historical framework of Christian churches. Isn’t it true, however, that Latter-day Saints are basically saying the same thing about Evangelicals, and all other Christian churches for that matter, when you speak of yourselves as the “only true church” or when Jesus is supposed to have said to Joseph Smith that “all their creeds are an abomination in my sights?”

Bob: Well, I’m glad we started things off with an easy one! In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation given to Joseph Smith in November 1831, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in fact referred to as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30). Admittedly, this is strong language; it is hard doctrine, words that are offensive to persons of other faiths. Let me deal first with what I think the phrase does not mean. It does not mean that men and women of other Christian faiths are not sincere believers in truth and genuine followers of the Christ. Latter-day Saints have no difficulty whatsoever accepting one’s personal affirmation that they are Christian, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God, their Savior, the Lord and Master of their life. Nor are Latter-day Saints the only ones entitled to personal illumination and divine guidance for their lives. It does not mean we believe that most of the doctrines in Catholic or Protestant Christianity are false or that the leaders of the various branches of Christianity have improper motives.

Skipping ahead…

Well then, what does “only true church” mean? More than anything else, it means that divine institutional authority (that we call priesthood) has been restored through Joseph Smith and that such power rests with the leadership of our Church. It means that doctrinal finality rests with apostles and prophets, not theologians and scholars.

The book is published by “Monkfish”: Book Publishing Co. in the Mormon and evangelical stronghold of Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.