Some of you may remember when I wrote a review of Stephen Mansfield’s The Mormonizing of America last year, that I said I have some friends who are Mormon. They are some really great people, and I love them dearly, despite our differences of belief. So when Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons became available for review, I was excited! Finally, a tool to help me share the Gospel more effectively with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints (henceforth referenced as LDS).
The author, John Wallace, is a dentist, and was a member of LDS for twenty years. His familiarity with the beliefs of LDS is valuable and extensive, and for me, was the best part of Starting at the Finish Line. It was so nice to have someone to explain different doctrines and positions held by the LDS, and actually have references from LDS standards and literature.
But while I came away understanding far more about what members of the LDS believe, I could not in good conscience advise others to buy copies to share with their Mormon friends, family, and coworkers, due to some major concerns I have with Wallace’s theology.
I found Wallace’s theology to be a bit confusing, in that he seemingly embraces aspects of Calvinism, Arminianism, dispensationalism, and the charismatic movement.
Starting at the Finishing Line had an oft-repeated emphasis on actively accepting salvation, even stating that we have a role in our salvation (p.86). We know this is not true, however, since Scripture clearly says we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13) and enemies of God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). Wallace seems to purport, too, that our salvation can be lost if we do not “maintain” it (p. 94, 187), but the Bible says our salvation is eternal (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39). He also intimates that God loves us before we are deserving (p.69), but we know there is no way we could ever deserve God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace (Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 64:6; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:8,10). Wallace also shares a story illustrating our relationship with Christ (p.102-103), however it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our relationship with Christ. In his illustration, because the young woman’s fiancé was the owner of the store where she had amassed great debt, her debt was forgiven. But according to Scripture we know that our debt was paid (Isaiah 53:4-5; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:6,8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Overall, I found Starting at the Finish Line to be helpful in understanding LDS doctrine and beliefs, but would love to see a book address the topic from a distinctly Reformed perspective. I would give Starting at the Finish Line a “C”.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Cross Focused Reviews Blogger 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.