The New Mormon Challenge (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002) is, by many accounts,
a different type of anti-Mormon book. Indeed, many would take exception with using the term “anti-Mormon”
in relation to the book. The book does not use trite, insubstantial, and oft-answered arguments in building its case
against Mormonism, and in that regard it is a refreshing change from the plethora of “me-too” books that
take recycled pot-shots at the LDS Church.
Instead, The New Mormon Challenge pulls together essays from some of the brightest
apologetic minds in Evangelical Christiandom, presenting their “best shots” against the theology of the LDS.
Such attempts cannot, of course, remain unanswered.
The following reviews address different essays within The New Mormon Challenge. The reader is invited
to examine both sides of the story and make up their own mind concerning the challenges and responses presented.
- The Doctrine Of Creation Ex Nihilo Was Created Out Of Nothing: A Response To Copan And Craig. Part 1: The Scriptural Argument (Blake Ostler)
- The Doctrine Of Creation Ex Nihilo Is A Big Fuss Over Nothing: A Response To Copan And Craig. Part 2: The Inductive Argument (Blake Ostler)
- The Doctrine of Creation Ex Nihilo: A Response To Copan And Craig. Part 3: Do Kalam Infinity Arguments Apply To The Infinite Past? (Blake Ostler)
- Necessarily God Is Not Analytically Necessary: A Response to Stephen Parrish (Blake Ostler)
- Evil: A Real Problem for Evangelicals: A Response to Carl Mosser (Blake Ostler)
- Moral Obligation and Mormonism: A Response to Francis Beckwith (Blake Ostler)
Blake Ostler’s Introduction
The New Mormon Challenge represents somewhat of a breakthrough for Mormon studies in philosophical theology. The authors are pioneers in the sense that they take seriously modern Mormons and how we portray our own beliefs. It is well known to those who frequent this web-site that anti-Mormon works are usually worn-out caricatures that are based upon assumptions that Mormons themselves simply don’t accept. Thus, most anti-Mormon works generally have been irrelevant at best and slanderous at worst. No so The New Mormon Challenge. The authors show genuine respect for the scholarly acumen of Mormons.
In addition, I know personally many of the authors of The New Mormon Challenge and have developed a friendship that I value and intend to nourish. I have interacted with Frank Beckwith at meetings of the Society of Christian Philosophers and other venues. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet Carl Mosser, Paul Owen, Paul Copan, William Craig, Richard Mouw, Craig Hazen and Craig Blomberg (there are a lot of Craigs in this group) along with Mr. Beckwith at the American Academy of Religion meetings in Denver in November of 2001 where we interacted on a panel about The New Mormon Challenge. I interacted with Mosser, Owen, Beckwith, Hazen and Blomberg again in Salt Lake City in January of 2002 at a conference which focused on their work. In addition, I have spoken with Stephen Parrish by telephone on several occasions.
In all of my a dealings with these good men, I have been impressed by their charity and kindness. My assessment is that they are genuinely good people and I like them. In addition, the authors are in fact among the finest Evangelical scholars. It is refreshing to deal with Evanglicals who engage the presumption of the rule of charity. That is, rather than attack a caricature of Mormonism, these authors have made an informed and good-faith attempt to present our arguments and beliefs in their strongest form. They present their best take on Mormonism and then honestly assess problems that arise given these beliefs. Thus, their arguments are worthy of both respect and considered response.
In addition, rather than simply attempt to trash Mormonism, these authors often attempt to provide “a saving interpretation” that would allow Latter-day Saints to adopt a view closer to the Evangelical view of things. Whether they are persuasive is of course left to the reader.
I have attempted to reciprocate their high standards of scholarship and astute observations about Mormonism in my responses to them. I obviously don’t think that their arguments are as persuasive as they do. But I have learned a great deal reading and responding to them. That alone makes engaging The New Mormon Challenge worthy of careful attention.