The current issue of the FARMS Review of Books (volume 11, number 2) features reviews of the groundbreaking book How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation, by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson. Review editor Daniel C. Peterson writes, "The appearance of [this book] seems to us, as well as to others, to offer a very significant opportunity to begin a new chapter in the often troubled relationship between Latter-day Saints and their conservative Protestant brothers and sistersperhaps even ultimately with other Christians beyond the evangelical wing of modern Western Protestantism. We want to further the conversation, to encourage it, and to participate in it. We think it has much to offerto both sides."
The reviews begin with Paul Owen and Carl Mosser's evangelical response to How Wide the Divide" Although somewhat critical of LDS claims and positions, the essay is informative and largely fair in its approach. The authors recognize that Blomberg and Robinson "articulate their views well, seek to understand the other's beliefs, and generally give each other a charitable hearing." Owen and Mosser then endeavor to emulate that approach as they proceed to challenge Robinson's views on certain points and to extend the dialogue between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals. They conclude that although the groups are in "substantial agreement on many points" of doctrine, "LDS beliefs remain unacceptably outside the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy" on many other points. In an appendix to their review, Owen and Mosser explore the role of Hellenism and Greek philosophy in Christian orthodoxy.
The remainder of the issue seeks to honor their seriousness by responding in kind, seriously, honestly, respectfully, and as rigorously as possible. "Honest concern for truth (as distinguished from propaganda and posturing) deserves no less," reminds Peterson. The essay by Blake T. Ostler responds directly to How Wide the Divide? as does the essay by William J. Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson. Ostler deals with such issues as sola scriptura (the notion that only doctrines presented in works accepted as scripture are binding on Latter-day Saints), biblical inerrancy, scriptural inspiration, the deification of humans, the nature of God, incarnation, the Trinity, and grace.
The remaining essaysby Daniel W. Graham and James L. Siebach, David L. Paulsen and R. Dennis Potter, and Roger D. Cookare mostly directed to defending the LDS views challenged in the Owen and Mosser review. They deal with philosophy and early Christianity, the nature of revelation and salvation, and apostasy in the early church. Peterson, in his afterword, tackles once more many of the issues raised and concludes with a plea to continue such serious, honest, rigorous conversations in which differences should not be ignored, but accurately understood, and commonalities should be recognized and appreciated.