How Wide The Divide Indeed! -- By: Phil Roberts
JCA 1:2 (Winter 1997) p. 3
How Wide The Divide Indeed!
The recent book, How Wide the Divide? published by InterVarsity Press (1997), has stirred enormous interest and not a little controversy. Infused with seemingly good intentions by its two co-authors Craig Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, the volume touts itself as “A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation.” Left to this limited and modest goal, simply the record of two scholars from opposing sides of the divide seeking to find grounds for conversation, the book would be an important and perhaps even a valuable contribution to interfaith dialogue. Instead it has become a lightening rod not so much from the Mormon community, but from within evangelicalism itself.
What are the contents of the book? The book, as noted, is a dialogue between Blomberg, professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, a well-respected and noted evangelical, whose credentials as a biblical scholar and inerrantist are impeccable, and Stephen Robinson (Ph.D., Duke University), professor of ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, formerly head of that department. Robinson is author of several widely-read books, even by evangelicals, including Are Mormons Christians? and Believing Christ. How Wide the Divide? is divided into four sections dealing with what are the obvious and clear theological concerns which separate evangelicals from Mormons: “Scripture,” “God and Deification,” “Christ and the Trinity,” and “Salvation.” In each chapter one of the contributors takes the lead by presenting what is thought to be the consensus of that person’s religious constituency regarding a particular doctrine. The other writer then responds with a similar section. The chapter is then ended by a joint conclusion. The book has a concluding chapter, jointly written by the two authors. The work ends with a list of twelve “foundational propositions of the Christian gospel as we both understand it,” or, in other words, things that may be agreed upon, and a list of eleven “important issues” which “continue to divide us.”
The issues it seems are clearly identified and the important questions are raised! So what is the rub? Why is it that the evangelical community has not jumped in with both feet to endorse the book and recommend its wider use? Here is where the problems start.
Heralded as a breakthrough personal dialogue book in its opening pages, the reader almost immediately encounters a different agenda. Stephen Robinson offers that this volume will correct so-called “false impressions” which have been generated by extremists on both sides.”2 The next page indeed leaves the
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