Home > Book Review, Grace, Mormonism > I Love Mormons – by David L. Rowe

I Love Mormons – by David L. Rowe

I don’t often feel the need to give my 2 cents (which is about all this is worth) about a book but I guess there is always a time and a place for everything. On my latest trip to Half-Price Books, which have become more and more frequent, a book called “I Love Mormons” caught my eye.

There are a growing number of books dedicated to the discussion of the many facets of Mormonism. Some are great, while others tend to be the same recycled material. There is something different about this book and its approach to Mormonism. Instead of taking the hard-line, doctrinal approach, it focuses 90% of its pages on the LDS culture which is the driving force behind its teachings, how they are put into practice and the subsequent impact on members lives. In short…it is woven into EVERYTHING.

The book’s premise is simple. Due to the influence of the LDS church in every part of the believer’s life, opening their eyes to the truth of the Bible and how Mormonism contradicts it is better done once certain nuances of how they think and act are understood. He proposes “A new way to share Christ with Latter-day Saints” as the sub-title reads. Let’s take a closer look at his proposed way of evangelizing to them.

One of the reoccurring themes Rowe talks about is the LDS Persecution Complex. This is the tendency for Mormons to see most (if not all) questions about their belief system and way of living as an attack. The origin of this deeply ingrained perspective has its roots in the very early days of the church’s existence. LDS history often teaches that the early Latter-day Saints (as they will call themselves) were heavily persecuted by those living around them. It is a common belief that these persecutions were un-provoked, and some were. But a closer, more thorough look at the historical accounts show that the Mormons were not the innocent victims being portrayed today. Some examples of this are briefly outlined in chapter 3.

If someone begins to talk with members of the LDS church about their beliefs, it will not take long before you see them pull the persecution card. In many ways, it is a method of protection designed to discredit any information that comes from outside the church that is not “faith-promoting”. This can be subjective and will be triggered without intent or warning. This understanding is important to his approach because once you are seen through this lens; the chance of being able to effectively reach-out to that person will be almost non-existent. I did this as a Mormon and have recently experienced it from the other side as well.

As a result of this inclination to shut-down any real conversation once an “attack” is perceived, Rowe suggests that direct questions about doctrine are better kept in our hip pocket until there is more relational trust. I would agree with that based on my own personal experience.

He tells a number of stories of people he has interacted with that ring true to me as a former Mormon. The stories dealt with the different potential reasons Mormons might be inclined to distance themselves from the LDS church. These include a deeper hunger for God, deal-breaking inconsistencies with either doctrine or history and besetting burdens.

Allow me to speak about this last reason. LDS doctrine teaches a type of “conditional grace”, a grace that is extended to a person only after they complete certain tasks or demonstrate their continued devotion. When combined with a list of “must-do” rules, the byproduct of this errant teaching of God’s grace is a weight that no one can or should carry. Though they may not admit it, many of your LDS friends and family are weighed down by this very thing. The story of Janet demonstrates this. After years of faithful service in the church she told her husband:

 “I can‘t do it anymore. I can’t lift it. My load is just too heavy. I can’t do all the things I’m supposed to.” She goes on to list the responsibilities she feels obligated to juggle and then says, “I’m just not perfect – I’m never going to be perfect, and I just can’t pretend anymore that I am. I’ve finally admitted to myself that I can’t make it to the Celestial Kingdom, so why should I break my back trying?”

This kind of weariness is common and was actually the first reason I stepped away from Mormonism. My heart breaks for people experiencing this. The true grace Jesus offers escapes them but only because they have been presented with a false grace that in no way demonstrates the love and mercy God has for them. Unconditional grace is what every LDS person needs to see and understand.

One of my favorite quotes in the book that I think highlights his plea for Christians to cultivate real relationship with Mormons is when he says, “Let’s carefully observe what particular way God seems to be at work in a person’s life and think that way as we relate to him or her.” It is by partnering with God in what he is already doing that we can show the LDS in our lives the grace, freedom and rest found in Jesus.

The end of the book highlights another need that I experienced as I worked my way out of Mormonism and into Christianity…a welcomed place to land. Understanding the issues most LDS face once out, he identifies areas in which the local Christian church can improve on to make the transition as easy as possible. He also includes a glossary of commonly used LDS terms to help you understand “Mormonese”.

While the end of the book can come across as advocating a “soft” approach when discussing doctrine (which I tend to disagree with) I think this book is a must-read for anyone who has someone close to them in the LDS church but is struggling trying to understand and relate to them. Having spent 30 years in the LDS church I can say that they way he presents Mormons is accurate and is full of great insight into how they think and act. Combining the wisdom found in “I Love Mormons” with a basic understanding of LDS doctrine will go a long way in helping you effectively share the truth of the gospel with those who are in need of it most.

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Categories: Book Review, Grace, Mormonism
  1. Noelle
    June 27, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I just read “Under the Banner of Heaven” and “Leaving the Saints”. I have not studied much on Mormonism since high school. My 11 year old son’s favorite friend at school is a devout Mormon. Since they have had some spiritual conversations I wanted to understand what his friend’s beliefs are.

  2. June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Noelle, Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m not sure if you go to Gateway Church but if you do I just taught an Equip Class on Mormonism. The CDs of the 3 classes are available in the Bookstore if you are interested in hearing them. The third class has questions you can ask and ways to approach conversations with Mormons that might help your son.

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