Friday, July 25, 2014

Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons Book #Review

John Wallace recognizes that the devout Latter-day Saint is unlikely to ever read his new book Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons (Pomona House Publishing LLC June 2014).  In fact, they are prohibited from doing so!  But even if they did, the book’s central message of salvation by faith alone in the completed work of Christ would likely seem overly simplistic and terribly inadequate to them. This is unfortunate and is the cause of much frustration for both the Christian who just cannot seem to “get through” to his or her LDS loved one and to the Mormon who feels insulted that someone should feel the need to “save” them.

Realistically, Starting at the Finish Line is for three groups of people:  1) The “cultural Mormon” who values the benefits of belonging to the LDS church, but secretly doesn’t fully believe in the Joseph Smith/Moroni/gold plates narrative (or in any of a number of difficult doctrines).    2) Those that have already left the Mormon faith, but aren’t sure where to turn.  These people often feel lost and untethered in this world, often concluding that if Mormonism isn’t true, then nothing is.  3) The Christian who desperately wants to better understand the Mormon mindset, if for no other reason but to know how to dialogue with them.

Dr. Wallace excels in relating to his audience.  Having been Mormon for twenty years and deeply committed to the LDS way of life and doctrine, he serves as a “double agent” of sorts. While this book is not intended to be a comprehensive, point-counterpoint analysis of Mormon and biblical Christian theologies, it may very well prove to be the  most powerful and relatable explanation of the gospel of grace in terms that the Latter-day saint will readily understand. As Wallace is fond of saying, this is all about “sharing the good news of the gospel and making it sound like good news to the Latter-day Saint.”

Starting at the Finish Line seeks to reveal three primary truths to its reader.  1) The Bible is the Word of God.  It is trustworthy in its translation and transmission over the many centuries and is authoritative in terms of leading people into a saving relationship with Christ.  2) Christ purchased mankind’s salvation with his precious blood on the cross of Calvary.  This is the work of salvation and no other work remains than for people to receive the free gift by faith.  3) Any attempt to contribute or “add to” Christ’s work on the cross is an offense to God and demonstrates a lack of faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s redeeming blood.  As Paul so bluntly wrote to the Galatians, attempts to gain salvation through works sever people from God’s grace and place them in the unenviable position of obeying the law perfectly in order to enter God’s kingdom. 

By sharing his own personal journey, Wallace ultimately demonstrates the incomparable joy of emerging from a religion of works into a relationship with Christ that is based on acceptance and freedom.  He further explores the mystery of what it means to be “born again,” inviting the Latter-day Saint to faith in Christ alone, explaining that good works are but natural by-products of the indwelling Holy Spirit - the same Spirit who gives the believer assurance that their salvation is indeed secure in Christ. Good news indeed and cause for great celebration!

MY THOUGHTS-This is a book I was very excited to get reading. I am in touch with Mormons almost every week, if not every day. We all run into them. But do we know how to lovingly share the Gospel with them in a way that they understand? In this book Wallace brings example after example for us to use in dealing with a Mormon. I found my heart hurting at the deception given by their leadership but also praying in earnest like never before for those in this group.

One of the things I really like about this book is how it is broken down. Wallace goes through his own conversion while bringing defense of the Bible and in-depth discussions about Mormon doctrine. There is so much in here it is hard to tell it all. The author shows great care and love in telling the truth about the false doctrine involved in Mormonism. If you are looking for a book to give a someone who is in the Mormon or LDS church, this is one I would urge you to purchase. I was overwhelmed at all the evidence but also his compassion. Excellent book!!

**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

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