A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains the fundamentals of his faith to non-Mormons.
Basic guides to Mormon beliefs and practices are in demand this year, and Brian Grant Kent’s contribution to the field is a good primer. In brief chapters filled with citations from both the Mormon and Protestant Bibles, Kent conveys a sympathetic and comprehensive picture of the philosophy of the Mormon faith. The book hews closely to its topic; it does not get into the church’s history or its role in American culture. Instead, the book starts with one of the foundational differences between Mormons and other branches of Christianity: While Protestant denominations are the product of reformations of the church structure, Mormonism stems from a reformation of the biblical text and its interpretation by Joseph Smith, as well as its continuing revelation to the prophets who followed Smith, up to and including the church’s current leadership. From there, the book moves through key aspects of Mormon belief, including the roles of baptism, grace and good works; the Mormon understanding of Jesus; the relationship between church leaders and the lay community; and the question of seeing versus believing that is common to most people of faith. The book concludes with a summation of a talk that the church president gave at the most recent general conference. Each chapter begins with a short anecdote from Kent’s personal or professional life. Some anecdotes fit better into the doctrinal discussions that follow than others, but together they serve to provide readers with an image of the author: an outdoorsman, a truck driver and a man confident in his understanding of his faith.
An effective explanation of an often-misunderstood faith that informs readers in a way that is persuasive without being proselytizing.