In recent weeks, a Florida megachurch in the south had Glenn Beck come speak. As the pastor introduced Beck with a few minutes of explanation and caveats, he said something amazing: Beck worships the same Father and the same Jesus that this church worships as God.
In that moment, the pastor revealed a stunning misunderstanding or willful ignorance of what Mormonism teaches. When Beck started speaking, he insisted (as he does every time a Christian church dares to give him the pulpit) that he is a Christian, just like they are.
Is this true? Is Mormonism another denomination of orthodox Christianity? The answer, based on the truth of Scripture, is a clear and emphatic “NO.” In fact, Mormonism preaches a different gospel, and the Apostle Paul stated in no uncertain terms how we should view those who teach a different Gospel than the one handed down from the apostles.
If you have doubts about this, or you need help explaining this to others, I urge you to pick up a copy of Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s Mormonism 101. This book gives you the information you need to recognize the fatal errors of Mormon theology and understand once and for all that Mormonism is not a Christian off-shoot or sect, but is in fact a cult that has co-opted the language of Christianity and completely changed its message.
Mormonism 101 is exactly as it sounds: a primer and introduction to the writings and theology of Mormonism. McKeever and Johnson, presented clearly and systematically. The authors rely on primary texts and quotes from Mormon leaders and experts to explain their beliefs. Often, the authors will present areas where the teachings and teachers of Mormonism contradict or over-write each other. Finally, the authors present how orthodox Christianity addresses each of these issues, and where it clearly diverges from Mormon teaching.
There are 3 aspects about Mormonism 101 that really stand out to me: its level of research, its tone, and its clarity.
The book is well-researched. Each chapter has detailed end-notes that point to primary sources and quotes. Each claim is documented with chapter and verse. Each chapter begins by defining words that mean different things to Mormons than they do to Christians. This helps the reader understand the language differences that distinguish the two religions so greatly. Each chapter ends with summary statements and discussion questions, which facilitate using this book for personal or small-group study. The level of detail that the authors include in the book has helped me understand Mormon thought a little more, rather than just know how to better debate with them. One last great feature in the book is an appendix that briefly describes 15 logical fallacies to be avoided when discussing theology with non-believers. This is a great feature to close out the book and remind the reader that this information should not just be studied, but used as well.
The tone of Mormonism 101 isn’t insulting or dismissive. The authors state that they care about the Mormon community and want to engage them with compassion and truth. Some of the questions at the end of the chapters are posed to Mormon readers, revealing the authors’ intention for this book to be a conversation starter between both sides. While the book draws unambiguous distinctions between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism, it does so without needless insult or belittling language. Any offense a Mormon reader could take from the book is solely from its content, rather than its tone.
The best quality of this book is its clarity. Each chapter presents an aspect of Mormon theology with clean lines and clear facets, and then just as clearly points out its inconsistency with the Scriptures. As I read, I never felt confused about what was truth and what was error. The authors take great care to equip the reader with not only information about Mormonism, but training in true doctrine as well. The chapter on Mormonism’s teaching of grace and works ends with a careful discussion of how Christianity defines justification, salvation, sanctification, redemption, grace, and glorification. This helps the Christian reader come away from the book with greater understanding of his or her own faith, as well as how to defend against the questions a Mormon would pose.
Final Verdict: Mormonism 101 provides an approachable and thorough introduction to the doctrines of Mormonism, along with insightful and helpful instruction in essential doctrines of orthodox Christianity. This volume is certain to help the Christian reader grow stronger in their understanding of Christianity, as well as lovingly challenge the beliefs of Mormons who are seeking to understand how orthodox Christianity is different from their faith.
Please Note: A complimentary review copy of this book was provided to my by the sponsor, in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts are my free and unbiased review of the book.