McDermott Releases New Book on Mormon-Evangelical Debate

SALEM, Va. - Dr. Gerald McDermott, professor of religion at Roanoke College, is the co-author of a book about Jesus-how Mormons and evangelical Christians see him differently. Published last fall, Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate (Brazos Press) is a debate between McDermott, who is an evangelical theologian, and Dr. Robert Millet, a Mormon theologian.

"Historically, evangelicals and Mormons have demonized each other. This book is an attempt to change that and to be able to talk in a friendly fashion about our differences," said McDermott.

In a respectful conversation, both theologians seek to clear up misconceptions as they find both common ground and deep difference in competing texts and traditions. Their conclusions can help pastors, college students and believers of both faiths better understand the differences and similarities in how Mormons and evangelicals view Jesus.

Understanding and respect appear to be the common principles that run through not only Claiming Christ, but also their relationship. McDermott calls Millet "one of the top Mormon theologians in the world," and a good friend. But this doesn't keep the two from differing on every major issue that separates evangelicals and Mormons, such as the origin of the Book of Mormon, the earthly travels of Jesus, and the pre-existence of Jesus.

"We both agree that the question of 'who is Jesus?' is absolutely fundamental - we just disagree on how to answer it," McDermott said. "The most essential difference is that Professor Millet believes that the Mormon Jesus is the same as the Jesus of historic Christianity, and I don't."

Millet is a professor of religious education, outreach and interfaith relations at Brigham Young University. He has written numerous articles and forty books, including A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

McDermott has taught American and world religions at Roanoke College for eighteen years. The author or editor of ten other books, his God's Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions-Insights from the Bible and the Early Church was published in March 2007, and his Baker Pocket Guide to World Religions will be released in May 2008. Claiming Christ is available on and in the Roanoke College bookstore.

Roanoke College, the country's second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast." Roanoke's 2,000 students represent 40 states across the U.S. and 26 foreign countries.

For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

Released: March 20, 2008
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