Each week Christian Premier Radio in London broadcasts Unbelievable with Justin Brierley. Unbelievable brings together people from different belief systems, typically a Christian participant and a non-Christian participant, to discuss matters relevant to the Christian faith.
On February 28, 2009, Unbelievable made available on their online archives a show they did in 2006 with Baptist Pastor Greg Johnson of Standing Together and Dr. Robert Millet of Brigham Young University.
Listen online begins at audio marker 17:20-1:20:33.
What happens when you engage in a non-confrontational dialogue with those of another faith? Well, for one thing it allows exchanges such as the following. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary in Virginia, interviews and dialogues with LDS missionaries in front of a live audience (in 2006) as part of his “Engaging The Cults” podcast (1:06:36 total time).
The podcast description notes:
“Caner invited leaders of such groups of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Baha’I and other, to speak directly to evangelicals. Instead of lecturing about world religions, this series was designed to speak to them, and to engage various systems with the truth claims of the Gospel. This is an entirely unique approach, and one that has generated more interest than we expected. As a result, these debates are now available online for you.”
This really is a unique approach. One thing I appreciate about this interview is that two competent and seasoned LDS missionaries have been chosen for this event (i.e. they have been in the field over 20 months). Both missionaries are converts to the LDS Church, one a convert of four years.
In addition, I appreciate Caner’s ability to allow them to tell their conversion story, explain things in their terms as well as to seek clarification about their beliefs in a respectful manner. They discuss topics such as salvation, baptism, temples, worship services, marriage, priesthood, nature of God, trinity, etc. A question and answer segment with the audience takes place afterwards.
I want to highlight portions of an interview between John Morehead and John Bracht at Morehead’s Musings (part one and part two) that took place last February, 2007. Bracht wrote an MA Thesis titled “Mormonism: The Search for a Personal God” in 1988 at the University of Sydney. Bracht’s experiences in the LDS Church has influenced his approach, currently as a Presbyterian pastor, in Evangelical-Mormon dialogue.
Note: I’ve heavily edited Bracht’s transcript and organized his quotes by topic to make the post flow. There is nothing new or necessarily shocking that Bracht views the LDS position as heretical and ‘ultimately futile.’ Indeed, one of Bracht’s goals is to “define the Mormon heresy,” but the other goal, the one I want to focus on and encourage is his attempt to understand why Mormon’s believe what they believe, because I believe in that area, he offers extremely important insights, which should not be overlooked. Read more…
As part of Southern Gables’ Sound Living 2007 What Would Jesus “Say” Summer Preaching Series, Dr. Craig L. Blomberg of Denver Seminary, was assigned to speak on the topic of What Would Jesus Say to a Mormon (mp3 audio here 42:19). Professor Blomberg is the interlocutor with Stephen E. Robinson in the watershed book “How Wide the Divide: A Mormon and Evangelical in Dialogue” (Intervarsity Press, 1997). I want to highlight his introduction because I believe it is highly significant.
“Let me tell you two things that I’m not going to do this morning. I’m not going to read one specific passage of scripture at the outset and then confine my remarks primarily to that text. This will be what is called topical rather than expositional preaching…
“The other thing that I’m not going to do this morning, which maybe somebody wondered if a guest speaker would, is to preach some harsh or condemning message. Read more…
Blake Ostler was interviewed by Interfaith Voices on May 31, 2007. Ostler’s interview comprises the first 27 minutes (listen to audio and mp3). The original topic is Mitt Romney’s candidacy. However, before this topic is discussed, Ostler is asked to explain the position of the Church on polygamy, homosexuality, abortion, and whether a Mormon politician would be required to hold political positions in conformity with Church doctrine, the view of the trinity in Mormon theology, and differences between Mormons and other Christian faiths such as Catholics and Protestants. Ostler is also asked to explain the Book of Mormon, explain baptism for the dead.
The landmark book in this field is “How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation” (Intervarsity Press, March 1997) by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson. And despite the severe backlash from many in the Evangelical community, this book did much to model genuine dialogue. Anyone interested in interfaith dialogue should read this book.
Following this model, two new books will be available this fall.
Since publishing his book, “Rough Stone Rolling: A Cultural Biography of Joseph Smith,” Professor Richard Lyman Bushman has been widely interviewed concerning Mormon history. As someone who enjoys Bushman’s explanations of things Mormon, I’ve decided to collect the resources I know about that are available online for this post, partly because they are excellent, and partly to belatedly coincide with the celebration of Pioneer Day.
May 6, 2005. Bushman speaks at “The Worlds of Joseph Smith” International Academic Joseph Smith Conference at the Library of Congress. Bushman’s talk is titled “Joseph Smith’s Many Histories.” Both audio and video are available.
January 22, 2007. Interviewed by John Dehlin at Mormon Stories Podcast. Excellent Interview. Audio format. Do yourself a favor and download them to your iPod.
January 22, 2007. Rough Stone Rolling Interview, Part 1 of 5 – MP3 FILE
January 25, 2007. Rough Stone Rolling Interview, Part 2 of 5 – MP3 FILE
February 1, 2007. Rough Stone Rolling Interview, Part 3 of 5 – MP3 FILE
February 4, 2007. Rough Stone Rolling Interview, Part 4 of 5 – MP3 FILE
February 7, 2007. Rough Stone Rolling Interview, Part 5 of 5 – MP3 FILE
May 14, 2007. Text only. Mormonism and Democratic Politics: Are They Compatible? Bushman is asked a bazillion questions by reporters from Newsweek, the Washington Post, NPR, CBS News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, US News and World Report, the Economist, and other news media at Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life. Whew…and by the way, answering them probably the best I’ve ever heard these questions answered by anyone hands down. It’s too bad we don’t have the audio.
July 5, 2007. Interviewed by NPR “Explaining the Underpinnings of Mormonism.” 7 minutes.
July 24, 2007. Interviewed by Doug Fabrizio about his book “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling.” Rebroadcast. 52 minutes.
July 28, 2007. And just as I write this post, it’s come to my attention that Dan Gilgoff at the New York Times has written an article on Bushman titled Scholar Becomes Chief Explainer in a ‘Mormon Moment.’
Gilgoff notes, “In fact, as his teaching and research focused on colonial American history, Professor Bushman also managed to become something of an ambassador for Mormonism to the outside world.” I think that is extremely accurate. In my view Bushman speaks the language of the outside world, the academic world, in a way that I think few have been able to.
March 5, 2008. “Rough Stone Rolling and the Intellectual Prospects for Mormonism.” given at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Life on Gold Plates blog. (transcript only).
July 29, 2008. “Introduction.” To the 2008 Summer Seminar: Joseph Smith and His Critics. Life on Gold Plates blog. (transcript only).
January 14, 2010. “Nibley and Joseph Smith” part of the “The Work of Hugh W. Nibley” lecture series.
February 26, 2010. “Joseph Smith and the Routinization of Charisma.” BYU Church History Symposium, 2010. No audio or transcript available. However two individuals took notes on the talk: Juvenile Instructor; Life on Gold Plates.
October 12, 2010. FAIR Podcast, Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman p.1 Approximately 61 minutes.
I recently became aware of and finished listening to one hour public conversation titled “The Mormon Jesus” given at Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia on September 20, 2005 (mp3 audio here). The lecture was moderated by Dr. Paul Hinlicky. I personally like to hear audio conversations of this nature and enjoyed the interchange between Robert L. Millet and Gerald R. McDermott.
I found McDermott extremely well spoken and I felt he gave a rather accurate view of what he finds to be uniquely Mormon doctrine. It is very fortunate that this public lecture was recorded because the difficulties of discussing one’s beliefs really comes through. Again, I was struck with the fact that, even two Ph.Ds can have a difficult time coming to terms and understanding each other’s theological positions. However, this interchange clearly began with the fact that Millet and McDermott genuinely like each other and consider each other friends. This interchange is a good model of the kind of discussion which needs to take place with greater frequency. Read more…