Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 89

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1 2015 STEPHEN H. WEBB’S MORMON CHRISTIANITY: A CRITIQUE Richard Sherlock∗ Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity is an intriguing follow-up to his praise of Mormonism in his earlier work, Jesus Christ, Eternal God, Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter.1 It is an even stronger endorsement of Mormon metaphysics and an argument for Mormonism being considered a branch, though perhaps a distant branch, of the Christian tree. As a former Mormon and a philosopher/theologian, I found his description of Mormonism reasonably correct. He does, however, omit central Mormon beliefs that render it even less Christian than what he presents. His description of the problems with classical Christian theism and his disagreement with the patristic appropriation of Greek philosophy, however, is where he makes claims that are at best poorly supported and at worst plainly wrong. An example of a cla im that is wrong is found in his discussion of how Christians have fought against the inroads of modernity and how Mormonism might do a better job than either Evangelical Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. Of Catholicism he writes, “Roman Catholicism rejected modernity from the very moment of modernity’s birth. But Vatican II opened the doors to the modern world and it rushed right in” (147). If he means that modern culture has tempted Catholics away from practicing the faith, true. But Mormonism fares no better. Fifty percent of Mormon converts in North America leave during the first year. If he means that Vatican II fundamentally altered church teaching, he is just wrong. The most contentious Vatican II document was and remains Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Liberty. The core teaching of this text, however, can be found directly in St. Thomas Aquinas’s Quaestiones Disputate de Veritate (Q 17) (Disputed Questions on Truth). DOI: ∗ Richard Sherlock is Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University; 1. Stephen Webb, Jesus Christ, Eternal God, Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). 88