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Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism
Response to The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism
A FAIR Analysis of: The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism, a work by author: Norman L. Geisler
Response to claims made in The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism by Normal L. Geisler
Jump to Subtopic:
- Alma Allred, "Coin of the Realm: Beware of Specious Specie"
- Danel W. Bachman, "The Other Side of the Coin: A Source Review of Norman Geisler's Chapter"
- Barry R. Bickmore, "Not Completely Worthless"
- Richard R. Hopkins, "Counterfeiting the Mormon Concept of God"
- Russell C. McGregor, "Widening the Divide: The Countercult Version of Mormonism"
Reviews of this work
My first experience with counterfeit money took place in a street market in Italy. I handed a merchant a 500-lira note. He politely explained that he couldn't accept the money because it was "matto."
Similarly, the authors of a recent book, The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism, have compared their religion to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Convinced that Mor-monism bears the marks of a counterfeit gospel, they lay out their claims in a series of chapters dealing with a variety of LDS subjects. One author, Norman Geisler, offers a comparison between his view of scripture and his view of LDS scripture. Although he has authored and edited several scholarly works and earned a legitimate Ph.D. from an accredited university, this is not representative of Geisler's best work. His reliance upon Jerald and Sandra Tanner's book, The Changing World of Mormonism, is so transparent that, at best, it qualifies as a rewrite of their material.2 This review, however, will consider the portions of the book Geisler claims to have written—including the foreword, the chapter on scripture, and the concluding section entitled "A Word to Our Mormon Friends."
"Matto? What do you mean it's 'crazy'?" I asked. <br. "It's counterfeit," he said. <br. I was amazed. It looked good to me. It had the feel and look of Italian currency, so I asked him how he could be so certain it was fake. He took some other 500-lira bills from his cashbox and put them next to mine. They were all 25 percent larger than the one I had given him. I had been easily fooled because I was just learning about Italian currency, but once I learned more about the subject, I was less likely to be deceived. <br.
In 1997 InterVarsity Press of Downers Grove, Illinois, published a book coauthored by moderate Baptist minister Craig L. Blomberg and a Latter day Saint professor of religion at Brigham Young University, Stephen E. Robinson. It was titled How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation and dealt with the evangelical and Latter-day Saint views on four subjects: scripture, God and deification, Christ and the Trinity, and salvation. The book does not seem to be widely known in Latter-day Saint circles beyond the scholarly tier and those interested in apologetics. In the evangelical world, however, it has created considerably more interest, even debate. Apparently some evangelicals feel that Blomberg was too agreeable and accommodating and that he didn't take Robinson to the mat. So, to date, evangelicals have written two books in response to How Wide the Divide?both from Harvest House Publishers in Eugene, Oregon. The most recent response is a volume of essays with the rather confrontational title The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism. It treats the same subjects as How Wide the Divide? and each chapter is written by a different author. The project was the idea of Phil Roberts and Norman Geisler, two of the contributing authors. Although there is no indication in the book, Norman Geisler claims responsibility as the general editor.
When Stephen Robinson and Craig Blomberg wrote How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation, they covered a lot of ground and were obviously limited by space constraints. They didn't intend their book to be the end of fruitful discussion between evangelicals and Latter-day Saints but rather a beginning. Therefore, I do not have any particular problem with the idea of a group of evangelicals writing what they see as a more complete exposition of their point of view, in opposition to that of the Latter-day Saints. This is ostensibly the purpose of The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism—to respond to How Wide the Divide? by providing evidence for their faith and against the Latter-day Saint faith, in the process showing more clearly that Mormonism is really "another Gospel," not fit to be called Christian.
Francis Beckwith expresses his thesis at the outset of his contribution to The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism as follows: "Most people, including some Mormons, are unaware of how radically the Mormon view of God differs from the picture of God that one finds in the Bible and traditional Christian theology" (p. 51). This is a controversial statement, but it is certainly true in one respect: Mormons are, indeed, unaware of any difference between their view of God and that taught in the Bible. What Beckwith is really trying to prove, however, is a little narrower. He promises to show "why Christians believe that their concept of God better captures the data of Scripture than does the LDS view" (p. 51).
A first, quick reading of Roberts's chapter on salvation might suggest that it is a reasonable, basic-level discussion of Latter-day Saint soteriology. The seeming reasonableness of this discussion results, perhaps, because of its use of Gospel Principles, a course manual for new members, which does not go into any real depth. A second look, however, reveals numerous problems. Roberts offers an "evangelical" view of salvation doctrine, but his views differ considerably from those of many other evangelicals. More important, the teaching he presents as Latter-day Saint doctrine, although composed mostly of authentic Latter-day Saint elements, is virtually his own creation.