Spiritual Sundays: Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I occasionally read religious books, but in the past I haven't featured them on this blog, mainly because I don't feel like I can review them the same way I can review secular books. I go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (nicknamed "Mormons"), and most of the religious books I read are from that faith or other Christian faiths, but I have always enjoyed learning about other religions as well and will occasionally read a book about Hinduism or Islam or Judaism. I decided to start an occasional feature to highlight religious books I have read. The books I post won't be exclusively from any one religion, although LDS books may show up more often because that is the religion I believe and practice. I think religion in general is fascinating and I am looking forward to exploring more of how I and other religious people connect with God. Please be aware that I do moderate comments and will not post anything that is demeaning or derogatory to any religion or group of people. 

The book I am highlighting today is Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson. This slim little volume was written by a religion professor at BYU, the first university I attended, and is often referred to at church or in religion classes. I finally picked it up after going on a little rant about perfectionism on my personal blog and having it recommended by a friend from high school in response to that rant.

I appreciated the book not only because it helped me understand more about Christ's Atonement and Resurrection, but also because it very clearly explained what exactly the LDS position is on works vs. faith. A few months ago, I read some articles on a website that was against the LDS church stating that we expect to "earn our way to heaven" through works and that therefore we weren't Christian. I knew this wasn't true - I've always been taught in church that Christ's sacrifice was essential for salvation - but I knew that we also didn't believe in a free ride, just by acknowledging that the sacrifice was for us. This book does a great job of explaining the balance of faith and works that we believe in the LDS church. If you are not LDS and are curious about the relationship between grace and works in our teachings, this is a good resource. It is very anecdotal, told with quite a few metaphors and personal stories, but does an overall excellent job of teaching the balance and how the two principles, often seemingly contradictory, work together and balance each other. 

If you are LDS, this book should really build your faith in and understanding of the Atonement. While the teachings really aren't that complicated, I think often we do forget that Christ has offered salvation with his sacrifice and that we don't have to "earn our way to heaven." I think that is why that misconception exists among those not of our faith. 

Overall, I think this little book is fantastic resource for any LDS person. I also think others hoping to understand our view on grace and works or on Christ's Atonement and Resurrection in general can learn from this book as well, although you should be aware that there are some LDS terms that you might not be familiar with, mainly having to do with church organization (examples: Relief Society is the women's meeting, a ward is essentially a congregation, a bishop is the leader of the ward, kind of like a minister but not paid, etc.). 


  1. I almost don't review religious books, either, because a) it is sometimes difficult to do this objectively and I don't want to sound as I'd want to impose my beliefs on anyone, and b) I'm always afraid of accidentally insulting someone - I'd never do this intentionally, because I believe every religion deserves the same respect.

    I the question of works vs. faith is being asked by a lot of Christians and this book seem good fro trying to find an answer. I will mark it to-read. Thanks for the review!

  2. Pepca - I have been worrying about people thinking I am imposing my beliefs as well. I think there is a difference between explaining and imposing.Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. You're only being yourself. Don't worry about pushing people away. Just keep writing about the stuff you read and sharing about it.

  4. Lorren, thanks for posting about this. I'm about halfway through it right now. I agree, he does an excellent job discussing how faith and works function together and how we are saved by grace. I look forward to your religious reviews, because you know I love religious books.

  5. Great review! I've heard this book quoted from many times but have not actually read it. I need to!

  6. I think this is actually a great idea. I don't know enough about other religions and I should probably remedy that. At least I don't bash other religions...that's something. ;)

  7. @Dawn - Thank you. :)

    @Allison - It is so good, huh? I read most of it on the treadmill and so it was always kind of interesting to be having this intensely personal moment while I was running and sweaty. I definitely think it is going to be a book I reread.

    @Shelley - It is great! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    @Jenny - That is a very good something! I took a world religions class in college that taught with the assumption that in every religion there was something good, even if it wasn't complete or parts of it didn't agree with what I believed was the truth. I feel like I've learned a lot from having that point of view.


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