I’ve been invited to contribute a chapter to an interesting new book for average Mormon readers that will seek to clarify evangelical Christian positions on important theological questions. The book will not be about proving Mormon beliefs wrong but will seek to provide a positive, winsome, and persuasive explanation of what we believe – and why – on key issues.
My contribution will focus on the relationship of grace and works. Other chapters will explore such topics as the Trinity, deification and exaltation, divine disembodiment, Scripture and revelation, the meaning of conversion, and more. I don’t know what the book will be called, but the working title is Evangelicalism for Mormons.
What’s interesting is that the book is not being produced by an evangelical publisher, but by Greg Kofford books, a publishing firm devoted to regional and Mormon studies and the discussion of Mormon thought. (See gregkofford.com). Hopefully the publisher’s reputation in the LDS world will encourage people to pick up the book, and the winsome and informative tone of the articles will encourage them to actually read it.
I hope to make some significant progress on my chapter after I return from my trip to Japan. I’m not getting paid anything for my part of the book, so if you feel moved to make a contribution toward my expenses, you can use the “Donate” button to your right.
Loving Utah – our sister ministry here at Utah Advance – has scheduled the next Utah Church Planters Summit for Thursday, October 3. We will gather from 9am to 3pm at K-2 the Church in Salt Lake City, for prayer, networking, and sharing ideas about ministries practices. We’ll send out more information about the theme of this fall’s event, but for now put it on your calendar. We welcome church planters and spouses, leaders of reproducing churches, denominational and movement executives, and anyone interesting in seeing healthy churches multiplied in Utah. If you want to be included on the mailing list, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For years I’ve been interested in theological training that equips people for ministry in Utah’s unique cultural setting. That’s why I’m excited about a new opportunity coming to Utah. Church Birthing Matrix is a strategy for planting churches. But I’m particularly encouraged about one aspect of that strategy. They are creating a training process to give individuals a theological and practical foundation for ministry right where they live. The process will involve gathering cohorts throughout Utah (and the USA) for webinar training using highly qualified trainers. The cohort will meet every Tuesday night and one Saturday each month. (Some students might attend Tuesdays OR Saturdays as schedule allows.) The entire training would take two school years to complete for someone enrolled in both Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Each cohort will be led by a local trainer, a mentor / coach who will help cohort members apply the training in their own ministry settings. To me, this is an advantage to this approach versus online programs. The cohort will learn in the context of relationships and will have a personal trainer who is experienced in local ministry. I will be leading a cohort in northern Utah. (We’ll be meeting in Layton).
This training is geared for laypersons exploring a transition into vocational ministry, whether as church planters or any ministry role. It is also ideal for those who have started in ministry but have not been able, because of job or family commitments or costs, to enroll in traditional theological education. The program is not accredited at this point, because the emphasis is on actual preparation for ministry rather than meeting institutional requirements. The cost of this group will be very accessible. (I can’t say what it will be yet, but it may be in the range of $50 / month.)
Right now I’m recruiting participants for a Fall 2013 cohort. An online registration process is being set up and should be ready within a couple of weeks. To learn more about this training opportunity, go to http://www.cbmatrix.org/Training.html. Please feel free to contact me if you’re interested or have particulat questions: email@example.com
One other thing: if we have a qualified trainer and enough interested parties, we can form a cohort in other communities as well. If you’re interested in doing this in Cache Valley, St. George, etc. please let me know.
On June 10, I’ll be flying to Japan for 2 1/2 weeks to teach a series of seminars on Mormonism. I’ve been invited by an alliance of evangelical churches who want to prepare their members for the LDS missionary presence in Japan. The seminars will be held in Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, and Hiroshima. I may also have opportunity to speak at a Bible College. I’ll be covering four subjects:
- The Origins of Mormonism
- The LDS Claim of Restoration
- The LDS Plan of Salvation
- The Book of Mormon
LDS Temple in Tokyo
No, I do not speak Japanese. I will rely on able interpreters to help me communicate. I have completed student notes and power point slides and sent them ahead to be translated in advance.
Mormonism does not have a large presence in Japan, with about 125,000 members in almost 300 congregations, but only about 25,000 are estimated to be active. (Find out more about Mormonism in Japan.) It’s hard to know how many LDS missionaries are serving in Japan, but there is a surge of new missionaries there since the LDS Church lowered the eligibility age for missionary service. The LDS Church has two temples in Japan (Tokyo and Fukuoka) with a third under construction (Sapporo). A few popular LDS celebrities do give Mormonism credibility in Japan. And certain elements of Mormon doctrine and culture seem to fit in well with the Japanese culture: such as emphasis on and reverence for ancestors; hard work and responsibility; patriarchal structure; and deference to authority.
While I’m in Asia, I will also spend 3 days in Manila making some connections for Alpine Church.
Because of the generosity of my hosts, I have few expenses for this trip. However, if anyone would like to make a donation to help cover what costs I do have, you can use the “Donate” button to the right. Thank you!
My book Understanding the Book of Mormon has been well received by the reading community, as represented by people who use the Goodreads site. Reviews there average 4.13 out of 5 stars, with no negative reviews. If you haven’t read it yet you can get Understanding the Book of Mormon in print version, e-book, or audio book. Here are the comments people have left at the Goodreads site:
“I am very new to this topic and I thought that this book did a wonderful job of teaching the basics. It was written by an ex-Mormon who is still close to his Mormon family but he is also Pastor and is the perfect person I believe to write on this topic. He comes at it from not only head knowledge but a compassionate heart as well.”
“Fair and balanced, no bashing, gave me insight to the beliefs of my close friends and helps me understand them more.”
“This is a good, balanced introduction for someone who isn’t familiar with the Book of Mormon.”
“The author, a former Mormon, offers a temperate critique of the Book of Mormon, and he doesn’t use straw man techniques. In fact, he submitted the most controversial material to active LDS members (including friends and family) for review and critique. He gently points out the flaws of the Book of Mormon.”
“This is a fantastic book! So greatful there is a generous and kind book that helps christians gain perspective on this other religion.”