By Chris Van Allsburg
Many of my family and friends are still Mormon. I love them dearly; I love the Mormon people. In fact, Mormonism has been in my family since 1836. My great, great, great grandfather was Joseph Smith's personal body guard! But, I left Mormonism. Why? As President of the fastest-growing campus ministry in the United States, and as an adjunct professor of philosophy and comparative religions at Indiana University, I am pleased to announce my new book, Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds. See a one minute video about the book here.
This book features the personal stories and spiritual journeys of four scholars who, as former Mormon “insiders,” found Mormonism insufficient in meeting not only their intellectual questions, but their spiritual yearnings as well. The personal testimonies in this book, then, are far more than academic treatises. They are heartfelt autobiographies connecting the reader to the authors' personal lives. In addition to me, as one trained in philosophy and theology, other contributors include: my co-author, a former Brigham Young University (BYU) professor, a former BYU grad student with a PhD in biblical studies, and finally, an astrophysics professor from Utah State University.
What both religious leaders and scholarly reviewers are saying about this unique book is striking:
“I have never seen anything like it…. The book is fair, irenic, and inviting. This is now the first place to go for anyone who wants an honest, serious critique of Mormonism, along with an alternative to consider. I give it my top recommendation.” (Dr. JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy)
“As a Pastor in Utah we have a shortage of reliable resources that we can recommend without hesitation to those who are leaving Mormonism and making their way into Gospel Christianity. This is at the top of my list for that kind of resource.” (Dr. Paul Robie, Lead Pastor at largest church in Utah)
“The authors combine their authentic personal stories with scholarly analysis of critical issues and are not afraid to point out how evangelicals have sometimes failed to engage Mormons in a constructive manner.” (Dr. Robert Bowman Jr., Executive Director Institute for Religious Research)
“This will be the go-to book for those interested in Christian-Mormon dialogue for years to come.” (Dr. Paul Gould, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Christian Apologetics)
In this volume, we seek to help the reader understand that we are not anti-Mormon. Rather, we desire to lovingly, credibly, and honestly challenge Mormons who may or may not struggle with some of the same experiences or questions we did. Having all lived in Utah at one time or another, we take an honest look at Mormon theology and cultural experience, providing insight into sociological and psychological elements, as well as doctrinal and theological questions. We credit Mormonism in certain places and critique it in others.
Many Mormons who leave Mormonism now come to readily affiliate with the new atheism. We provide reasons for not feeling compelled to proverbially “throw the baby out with the bath water.” Jesus is the most amazing person with the most audacious claims, and who has had the single greatest impact on human history and in our lives personally. Our historical knowledge of him is incredibly strong and there is no reason that one should fail to consider his unique claims simply because one feels “burned by religion.” We are thinkers who believe in Jesus, and we are believers who think any reasonable person should believe in him as well. For personal interaction with the authors, join the Facebook Group Leaving Mormonism. For social media, use the hashtag #LeavingMormonism.
The article was originally posted on the Ratio Christi blog here.