Normally, with my reviews, I start out with a quote or an anecdote from the book. This time, I'm taking a different approach. I want to start with a confession.
As I read Lynn Wilder's Unveiling Grace - The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the The Mormon Church, I wanted the story to be false. I wanted to learn that what she was revealing was untrue about the Mormon faith. Sadly, it's not.
Before I get into the topic of the story itself, let me comment on the style. Wilder shares their story more like a narrative, and, within their story, she weaves in teachings from the Latter Day Saints (LDS). The story has almost the feel of a clandestine spy novel. Her storytelling style pulls the reader along, much like a well-written dramatic tale. From a pure storytelling standpoint, I enjoyed it.
From the content, however, I was very disturbed. It was not her story that disturbed me, however, but rather the content of her story. To get a first-hand story of the LDS church, I was very much shocked and saddened at what she reveals.
Unveiling Grace is not a story written by an embittered ex-member of the LDS. Rather, this is the story of a couple steeped in the faith (he was very active in Temple activities, teaching, leading; she was a full professor at Brigham Young University) and their journey to the biblical Jesus.
Back to my first comment. I really wanted this story to be false. Why do I say that? Even if Wilder exaggerated facts - even if only 10% of her story was true (I believe her story is as she tells it) - it saddens me to know so many people have been, and are continually being, wooed to a false gospel.
Wilder adds three appendices which I found to be of great use. First, she lists a series of resources for Mormons seeking to know the truth about LDS teaching and for help in leaving the Mormon faith...and for non-Mormons to understand the truth about the LDS. Second, she adds a rather large appendix that lists what the Doctrines & Covenants (an LDS book) teach compared to the Bible; this alone is probably worth the price of the book. Third, she includes a glossary of Mormon terminology; reading the book, I referred to this often, even though she does a great job of defining terms within the text.
One small critique I have, overall, is sometimes it's a bit challenging, especially near the end of the book, to track with the timeline. At times, I was a bit confused, as she starts interweaving story lines, and it would have been helpful to have dates more explicitly called out. This is a small critique, and when this book goes for its second printing (as I hope it does), it would be nice to see that cleaned up a bit.
One final thought. As a Christian, I found myself very convicted reading Wilder's story. Too often we take our faith, and our interactions with others, far too lightly. Wilder has encouraged me to engage people respectfully, but honestly, probing what they believe and why. In some ways, I felt the same conviction I felt from David Platt's statement about a "functional universalism" in the church.
Did I agree with everything in the book? No. There were some aspects of the Christian faith that I'm not sure I agreed with Wilder. But my understanding of biblical Christianity and the view she espouses were congruent on the "big" topics, and my disagreements were more on the road of sanctification, not salvation.
Overall, I found this book to be very helpful. Key audiences would be 1) Mormons - both practicing and non-practicing, 2) Christians, especially those with an active Mormon congregation in their area, and 3) those seeking out faith in general.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book
review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.
The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in
accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”