Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormon America: The Power and the Promise

Table of Contents

Response to Mormon America: The Power and the Promise

A FairMormon Analysis of: 'Mormon America: The Power and the Promise', a work by author: Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling

Claims made in "Introduction: A New World Faith"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 1: Sealed with Blood"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 2: Beginnings: A Very American Gospel"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 3: The American Exodus"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 4: Polygamy Then and Now"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 5: Redefining the Kingdom of God"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 6: Almost Mainstream"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 7: Mormons, Inc."

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 8: Some Latter-day Stars"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 9: The Power Pyramid"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 10: Families Forever"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 11: A Peculiar People"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 12: Rituals Sacred and Secret"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 13: Two by Two"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 14: Saintly Indoctrination"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 15: Faithful History"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 16: The Gold Bible"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 17: Discovering 'Plain and Precious Things"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 18: 'How God Came to Be God'"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 19: Are Mormons Christians? Are Non-Mormons Christians?"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 20: Rivals and Antagonists"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Claims made in "Chapter 21: Dissenters and Exiles"

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims made in "Chapter 22: Mormonism in the Twenty-first Century"

Summary: There are currently no claims addressed in this chapter.

Quote mining

Summary: Some critics mine their sources by extracting quotes from their context in order to make the statement imply something other that what it was originally intended to mean. We examine instances of such "quote mining" in Mormon America: The Power and the Promise.


About this work

Should non-Mormons write a book about Mormonism? The coauthors, are, admittedly, conventional Protestants...the outsiders will find some fascinating information and want to learn even more. And the insiders will see themselves portrayed fairly while learning some things they would not have known otherwise.
—Preface, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise
Mormon America is very much like two books in one. The first depicts individual Latter-day Saints "as a model minority, a hardworking people with more education than the American average, deeply committed to church and family" (p. xxiv)...Yet in the second part, when the Ostlings begin to discuss the church's doctrines, its history, and its leaders, they paint a landscape that, to a knowledgeable Latter-day Saint, is selective with a bias toward the sensational.
—Raymond Takashi Swenson,
Faith without Caricature?, 2001
[T]he Ostlings do not want to seem openly or stridently hostile toward the Saints. They are, instead, condescending in ways that are analogous to the way virtually every community of believers gets treated by journalists, including evangelicals and their allies. But at times the Ostlings drop the guise of balanced, objective reporters.
—Louis Midgley,
Faulty Topography, 2002

Reviews of the Work

Louis Midgley, "Faulty Topography"

Louis Midgley,  FARMS Review of Books, (2002)
The Ostlings recognize that "the Book of Mormon was controversial from the outset" (p. 261). They also realize that, "from the beginning to this day, the reaction of Book of Mormon readers has been divided between those committed to it as ancient literature and those who consider it a product of the nineteenth century" (p. 261). They argue that these "older polemical traditions" also "split on two sides of a simple prophet/fraud dichotomy: either Joseph Smith was everything he claimed to be, a true prophet entrusted with a new scripture from authentic ancient golden plates, or he was a charismatic fraud" (p. 261). They exploit the fact that recently a few authors operating on the fringes of the Mormon academic community, while denying that Joseph Smith was a genuine prophet and the Book of Mormon an authentic ancient text, have striven to avoid directly charging him with being a conscious fraud. The Ostlings are correct in claiming that some of these writers recognize that a "simple prophet/fraud dichotomy" does not exhaust all possible explanations (p. 261). They then indicate that "some participants in [the] current discussion" over the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, while rejecting its authenticity, "would like to carve out a middle path" (p. 261) somewhere between its being read as an authentic ancient text and as a nineteenth-century sham. This effort by a few cultural Mormons, dissidents, and former Latter-day Saints is then turned by the Ostlings into a main component of their campaign against the Book of Mormon.

Click here to view the complete article