Forthcoming Book “Bridging the Divide: the Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical” by Pastor Greg Johnson and Robert Millet
Pastor Greg has become a good personal friend, a great inspiration to me to continue my involvement in dialog between Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints, and has done more for the ongoing dialog between Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints than anyone knows.
Here is a description of the book: Inspired by the groundbreaking publication of How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation, Millet, a life long Mormon, and the former Dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University where he is still a religion professor, and Johnson, an ordained Baptist pastor from Utah who is actually a former Mormon, meet and begin their own conversation. Eventually they take their dialogues public, appearing in both Mormon and various evangelical venues. The first part of this book is a dialogue between the two authors themselves. The second part is a Q & A with Mormon and evangelical audiences. Throughout they provide guiding principles of constructive conversation and promote the concept of Convicted Civility.
This book is expected to be available about October 1st, 2007. You can pre-order it (and order copies of “New Mormon Challenge”, “How Wide the Divide?”, and other interesting books and materials) on the Standing Together website by taking this link:
or this link at Amazon.com.
Here is Pastor Greg’s biography from his website,http://www.standingtogether.org : Gregory Johnson
Founder and President
As its founder and President, Reverend Gregory C.V. Johnson, who has served as a pastor in Utah since 1992, leads the ministry of Standing Together. Standing Together is a non-profit 501(c3) ministry that was incorporated in March of 2001 and exists to advance biblical unity and spiritual transformation in Utah. Previous to directing Standing Together, Greg served as the Minister of Outreach and Discipleship at Washington Heights Baptist Church in Ogden, as the founding pastor of the Ogden Valley Baptist Church, and as the Pastor of Ministries at the Orem Evangelical Free Church. It is because of Greg’s passion for the Body of Christ to be one that he has given himself fully to the task of casting vision for unity, prayer, and strategic evangelism within the context of the Utah culture. It is his heart to see the Body of Christ committed to unity that the world might know that the Father has truly sent the Son (John 17:21).Greg was raised in the Mormon Church and became an evangelical in his mid teens. This may explain why he is so passionate about evangelical/Mormon dialogue. Greg graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara where he majored in Social Science with an emphasis in Sociology and received a Minor in Religious Studies. After college, Greg graduated with Honors and received a Masters of Divinity from Denver Theological Seminary. He is married to Jill and they have four children.
This is Pastor Greg’s FAITH DIALOGUE, his reason for doing this outreach:
Greg Johnson believes in truth and he believes that when people with differing world views dialogue in the spirit of genuine love and respect incredible things can be discussed. While raised in the Mormon faith, Pastor Greg has spent the last 22 years as an Evangelical Christian, and the last 11 years in full time Christian service in Utah. His philosophy of inter-faith dialogue is that “honesty and civility lead to relationships of integrity.”
Traditional forms of outreach to the LDS have largely focused on apologetic confrontations that have lead to a great deal of tension between members of the Mormon faith and Evangelical Christians. When two people are determined to prove each other “wrong” and to persuade the other that only their position is valid, they tend to communicate aggressively, often not realizing how polemical they are becoming. Greg believes that only when we honor I Peter 3:15 (all of it), which says we are to give an answer for the hope that lies within us, but to do so with gentleness and respect, can we truly communicate with others our conviction of Jesus Christ. While individuals should not compromise their faith understanding simply to be at peace with others, we surely can learn from the Bible that we are to love those who are different than we are, even theologically different, and that doing so does not suggest that we accept their teachings or views. If Jesus could tell us to love our enemies in the Sermon on the Mount, and if Jesus could tell a story where the Samaritan is the only one called “good,” and we know that Samaritans were certainly not an appreciated group of people to the Jewish community, then how is it that Latter-day Saints and historic Christians struggle so to be friends and to communicate?
Pastor Greg has taken his convictions regarding an approach of dialogue and genuine diplomacy to the streets with his good friend, Dr. Robert Millet, professor of Religion at Brigham Young University. Dr. Millet, former Dean of the Religion program at BYU, author of over 40 books, and current Richard L. Evans Chair holder, is a first rate Mormon scholar and theologian. Since their first meeting in April of 1997, Greg and Bob have fostered a genuine friendship and association. They have had many lunches together, traveled across the country together, and present a public seminar entitled, “A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation,” where they communicate how they have maintained their friendship and at the same time discussed candidly their theological differences and concerns for one another.
“We need to try harder as Evangelicals,” says Pastor Greg, “to love people we say we love (the Mormon people), but who often feel that we (Evangelicals) despise them and their faith. Not too long ago, for example, I witnessed an Evangelical passing out evangelistic tracts at the LDS Salt Lake Temple, while an LDS woman was screaming at him, ‘why do you hate us,’ as he yelled back, ‘I don’t hate you, I love you.'” When the person we say we love thinks we hate them, somehow we are failing to make our point, and it would behoove us not to insist that such people simply do not understand us, but rather that we should probably attempt to communicate differently to them hoping that we can more effectively reveal our Christian love for them. If you would like to know more about “A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation,” please read the newspaper transcript from Logan, Utah where Greg and Bob presented their seminar to a packed audience at Utah State, which was a co-sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ campus group and the LDS Institute of Religion. One could also read “How Wide the Divide?” by Robinson and Blomberg to better understand this philosophy of outreach.