Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

B&B Media Review: Starting at the Finish Line The Gospel of Grace for Mormons by John B. Wallace

on September 16, 2014

About the book:

John Wallace recognizes that the devout Latter-day Saint is unlikely to ever read his new book Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons (Pomona House Publishing LLC June 2014). In fact, they are prohibited from doing so! But even if they did, the book’s central message of salvation by faith alone in the completed work of Christ would likely seem overly simplistic and terribly inadequate to them. This is unfortunate and is the cause of much frustration for both the Christian who just cannot seem to “get through” to his or her LDS loved one and to the Mormon who feels insulted that someone should feel the need to “save” them.

Realistically, Starting at the Finish Line is for three groups of people: 1) The “cultural Mormon” who values the benefits of belonging to the LDS church, but secretly doesn’t fully believe in the Joseph Smith/Moroni/gold plates narrative (or in any of a number of difficult doctrines). 2) Those that have already left the Mormon faith, but aren’t sure where to turn. These people often feel lost and untethered in this world, often concluding that if Mormonism isn’t true, then nothing is. 3) The Christian who desperately wants to better understand the Mormon mindset, if for no other reason but to know how to dialogue with them.

Dr. Wallace excels in relating to his audience. Having been Mormon for twenty years and deeply committed to the LDS way of life and doctrine, he serves as a “double agent” of sorts. While this book is not intended to be a comprehensive, point-counterpoint analysis of Mormon and biblical Christian theologies, it may very well prove to be the most powerful and relatable explanation of the gospel of grace in terms that the Latter-day saint will readily understand. As Wallace is fond of saying, this is all about “sharing the good news of the gospel and making it sound like good news to the Latter-day Saint.”

Starting at the Finish Line seeks to reveal three primary truths to its reader. 1) The Bible is the Word of God. It is trustworthy in its translation and transmission over the many centuries and is authoritative in terms of leading people into a saving relationship with Christ. 2) Christ purchased mankind’s salvation with his precious blood on the cross of Calvary. This is the work of salvation and no other work remains than for people to receive the free gift by faith. 3) Any attempt to contribute or “add to” Christ’s work on the cross is an offense to God and demonstrates a lack of faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s redeeming blood. As Paul so bluntly wrote to the Galatians, attempts to gain salvation through works sever people from God’s grace and place them in the unenviable position of obeying the law perfectly in order to enter God’s kingdom.

By sharing his own personal journey, Wallace ultimately demonstrates the incomparable joy of emerging from a religion of works into a relationship with Christ that is based on acceptance and freedom. He further explores the mystery of what it means to be “born again,” inviting the Latter-day Saint to faith in Christ alone, explaining that good works are but natural by-products of the indwelling Holy Spirit – the same Spirit who gives the believer assurance that their salvation is indeed secure in Christ. Good news indeed and cause for great celebration!

You can learn more about the book at Starting at the Finish Line.

My Opinion:

Having family and friends that are Mormon has me wanting to understand how they believe, what their faith entails and how it is so different from my Christian walk that I knew I wanted to read John B. Wallace’s book about the Gospel of Grace for Mormons in Starting at the Finish Line.  I’ve known for awhile that Mormons don’t believe in Jesus Christ as other Christians do, that He is the Savior came to save us all by His work on the Cross and His Resurrection.  I also know how easy it is to get things muddled and forget what He did and think we need to add to it or somehow feel that we aren’t good enough and so we must work and work at earning our Salvation.  However, if you pick up this book, this isn’t so much about their doctrine and their adding to the Holy Bible through the Book of Mormon but more on how a devout Mormon can find freedom in accepting Christ’s sacrifice, not partially, but fully embracing the work He did for us.

I would desire that all my Mormon friends and family read this book, but as it says in the description even the author recognizes that they more than likely won’t and so it’s up to as Christians to read it so we can learn how best to minister to those who are open to the truth by using what they’ve been taught and showing them through the Bible how it is really is.  While Mormons believe they are Christians, John shows the reader why that isn’t true and even that Mormons teach they are the only true church – so why would they want to be a Christian?  This wasn’t a quick read and it took me about a week or so to read the whole book as some of it was heavy and needed quite a bit of brain power to digest, and even then some of it I still could go back and re-read again to really get it.  Overall, this is a great book for those questioning their Mormon faith or for those who want to minister to a Mormon in their life and show them the Gospel of Grace.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


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