Written for both Mormons and non-Mormons interested in the relationship between Mormonism and classical theism, this book highlights various perspectives within Mormonism itself, including a detailed analysis of Joseph Smith's Lectures on Faith and discussion of the thoughts of Orson and Parley Pratt, B. H. Roberts, and John Widstoe. Blake T. Ostler outlines areas in which Mormon approaches to questions about free agency and God's omnipotence might suggest resolutions to some of the difficult issues that have troubled theologians and philosophers for centuries.
In volume 2 of the series, Exploring Mormon Thought: The Problems of Theism and the Love of God, Blake Ostler explores issues related to soteriology, or the theory of salvation. He argues that the commitment that God loves us and respects our dignity as persons entails that God must leave us free to choose whether to have a saving relationship with him. He explores the "logic of love" and argues that the LDS doctrine of a "war in heaven" embodies the commitment that God leaves us free to choose whether to enter into relationship with God. He explores the nature of inter-personal prayer and the contributions of LDS beliefs to a robust prayer dialogue. He offers a view consistent with LDS commitments that makes sense out of asking God to assist others, to alter the natural environment and to grow in relationship with God.
He then turns to the concept of grace and argues that the traditional views lead to insurmountable problems. He argues that though God does not owe any obligation to us to give us grace, God does so out of love. However, because divinity arises from loving relationships, he argues that God could not fail to give sufficient grace to all persons and remain a loving God.
Finally, Ostler argues that creation out of nothing is not consistent with the type of freedom of will that is necessary to sustain loving relationships of the kind revealed in scripture. He argues that only the LDS view of uncreated intelligences allows for the kind of free will that is essential to leaving the beloved free as to whether to enter the divine relationship as a matter of grace.
Blake T. Ostler, Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2008, hardback, 6.25x9.25", volume 3, 490 pgs.
Written for both Mormons and non-Mormons interested in the relationship between Mormonism and classical theism, this book highlights various perspectives within Mormonism itself.
Praise for the Exploring Mormon Thought series: "These books are the most important works on Mormon theology ever written. There is nothing currently available that is even close to the rigor and sophistication of these volumes. B.H. Roberts and John A. Widtsoe may have had interesting insights in the early part of the twentieth century, but they had neither the temperament nor the training to give a rigorous defense of their views in dialogue with a wider stream of Christian theology. Sterling McMurrin and Truman Madsen had the capacity to engage Mormon theology at this level, but neither one did." —Richard Sherlock, FARMS Review