I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has taken an interest in my books. As of the end of 2012, you have invested in 2,314 copies of Understanding the Book of Mormon and 1,702 copies of Understanding Your Mormon Neighbor. If you haven’t seen the books yet, or you want more copies, you can order them at our Online Store.
Last fall I mentioned the Transitions curriculum, an excellent new resource to help former Latter-day Saints navigate the journey into a new faith and church life after leaving Mormonism. I had the privilege of being involved in this fine program.
As part of their research into the post-Mormon journey, the producers of Transitions also explored the implications of that journey applied to planting churches in the LDS cultural sphere. Check out these insights here: Notes for Church Planters.
My Book Reviewed
My most recent book, Understanding Your Mormon Neighbor, recently received a very favorable review at the Christian Book Preview site. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you can order it from Utah Advance at our store. Click here: Understanding Your Mormon Neighbor.
My new book has now been released. You can order it from the Utah Advance store for the best price available. This book gives insights into Mormon life and culture that will help traditional Christians understand and relate to friends and acquaintances involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It highlights essential elements in the experience of life as a Mormon—stories, practices, teachings, community activities, and beliefs—to help Christians form faith-sharing relationships with Mormons.
The book relies on my experiences growing up Mormon and living in Utah for the last three decades, as well as on current research that utilizes many Latter-day Saint sources. It explains the core stories that form the Mormon worldview, shares the experiences that shape the community identity of Mormonism, and shows how Mormons understand truth. It will help you understand how most Mormons see themselves and others around them, illuminating why people join the LDS Church and why many eventually leave.
Understanding Your Mormon Neighbor suggests how Christians can befriend Latter-day Saints with confidence and sensitivity and share the grace of God wisely within their relationships.
The book includes discussion questions for individuals and small groups, black and white photographs and charts, and an appendix that includes “Are Mormons Christians?” and “Should I Vote for a Mormon?”
Janis Hutchinson is a well-respected writer, author of the ground-breaking book Out of the Cults and Into the Church. Today on her web site (www.janishutchinson.com), she posted a very positive recommendation of my book Understanding the Book of Mormon.
Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Quick Christian Guide to the Mormon Holy Book by former Mormon, Ross Anderson (Zondervan 2009)
This is an excellent overview for those who prefer quick, but informative coverage of not only the Book of Mormon, but also the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and Joseph Smith’s inspired version of the Bible. Especially commendable is Ross’s nonjudgmental and respectful presentation of the doctrinal differences between the Bible and Book of Mormon. Also, his section entitled, “Are Mormons Christian?” and “How Christians Can Talk With Mormons” call attention to the fact that when Christians approach a religious culture that is different than their own, it is imperative that, aside from knowledge of their doctrines, they comprehend the mindset of the members. Without this information, most evangelistic endeavors by Christians will fail. Ross does an excellent job in conveying this information.
As part of my doctoral studies, I created a curriculum designed to help former Mormons make the transition into a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ in the context of a local Christian church. This 10-week study guide is designed to be used in a small group or mentoring relationship, but it work for individuals as well. It is called “Jesus Without Joseph: Following Christ after Leaving Mormonism.”
The chapters include:
Former Mormons feel vulnerable and disoriented in the unfamiliar environment of a new church. Yet the local church is God’s ideal, and God will see them through the challenging transition to hopeful prospects ahead.
Dealing with Loss
Former Mormons suffer many losses in leaving their former culture: loss of purpose, loss of family, loss of history, loss of personal identity. But they also receive a new identity and heritage in Christ, which puts our losses for Jesus’ sake into perspective.
Former Mormons grapple with uncertainty about who or what to trust. Since they may feel that they were deceived by a church, it is hard to trust a church again. Yet their trust can be placed in a completely trustworthy God, who has revealed himself in a trustworthy Bible.
New Kinds of Relationships
Former Mormons may become frustrated with how relationships are experienced in a Christian church compared to an LDS ward. The Bible presents a pattern of relationships based on genuine love, unconditional acceptance and authenticity.
New Ways to Grow Spiritually
Mormons practice ways of drawing near to God that Christians find familiar, such as prayer, fasting and Scripture study. What former Mormons may find foreign is the emphasis on grace versus merit, and on the primacy of the Bible.
New Freedom and Responsibility
Coming from a more structured religious culture, former Mormons may feel anxiety over new freedoms to think and choose for themselves. Yet the Bible presents models for how to make responsible ethical decisions and how to practice liberty without license.
Worship and Symbolism in the Church
Many former Mormons find Christian worship practices, postures and symbols quite foreign, and need to understand why churches do what they do. Other practices that look similar, such as baptism and Communion, need to have their meaning redefined.
Finances in the Church
In contrast to the LDS concept of tithing, and the attitudes and expectations associated with tithe-paying for Mormons, the Bible presents a principle of whole-life stewardship. Money is handled in relationship with God first, not the church.
Ministry in the Church
Former Mormons are used to being very busy in service, but may not know how to find a place to serve in a local church. As opposed to being assigned a “calling,” the Bible emphasizes taking initiative to serve, as a way of life, based on spiritual giftedness.
Leadership and Authority in the Church
Former Mormons are used to a rigid and uniform ecclesiastical structure. Yet Christian churches are organized and make decisions in many different ways. A pastor is not a bishop, and the universal Church is not an organized denomination.