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More on Mouw's comments

Baptist Press reports that some Evangelicals are not happy with the conciliatory comments offered by Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw at the recent Tabernacle event. Most interesting is Mouw's defense. In clarifying his own beliefs, Mouw has subsequently written, "For the record: I do not believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God; I do not accept the Book of Mormon as a legitimate revelation; I do not believe that temple baptism saves; I do not believe that all people will be saved."

He added, "[But] when my good friend [and Brigham Young University professor] Bob Millet says that his only plea when he gets to heaven is 'the mercy and merit of Jesus Christ,' I want to respond by saying with enthusiasm, 'Let's keep talking!'"

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Blogger John W. Morehead said ... (May 11, 2005 1:48 PM) 

Evangelicals tend to approach new religions (or "cults" in popular terminology) primarily through an apologetic paradigm that seeks to contrast biblical truth with heretical error. When viewed from this perspective, the presence of a book by an evangelical en publisher that articulates a Mormon neo-orthodox or minimalist theology tends to provoke a defensive response by evangelicals, as we see in the new Robert Millet book.

Might there be another way of approachign this topic? A growing international network of evangelicals has begun to experiment with a new way of understanding new religions that is informed not only by apologetics and systematic theology, but also by other disciplines, including missiology. This framework recognizes the presence of teachings incompatible with biblical theology in the new religions, but also seeks to understand the new religions on their own terms, and views them more as spiritual or religious cultures or people groups.

This insight was recognized in 1980, and again in 2004, by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. As a result, new analyses and methodologies have been and are being developed and applied to groups such as Mormonism, as well as other new religions.

Those interested in exploring such concepts and methodologies, which have a bearing on issues like the Millet book, will benefit from reviewing the new book, Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach (Kregel Academic, 2004), a 2004 Christianity Today Book of the Year Award finalist. The book has been positively reviewed by Christianity Today, as well as international missions journals. The book can be ordered through Kregel at:

http://shop3.gospelcom.net/epages/Kregel.storefront/en/Product/2893-9

or through Amazon.com at:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0825428939/qid=1115831211/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-1764602-0099110

A review of the book can be found at the Global Missiology website at:

http://www.globalmissiology.net/docs_pdf/reviews/hexam_encountering_new_religious_movements.pdf

Those interested in this topic might also benefit from a free e-journal, Sacred Tribes: Journal of Christian Missions to New Religious Movements found at:

www.sacredtribes.com

Finally, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization recently released a new paper on mission to alternative spiritualities as a result of their international gathering in October 2004. It may be downloaded at:

http://community.gospelcom.net/lcwe/assets/LOP45_IG16.pdf

Perhaps in response to the increasing religious diversity of America and the Western world, evangelicals might benefit from fresh theology and missiological reflection in formulating responses to new religions.

 

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