Thursday, January 08, 2015

An Interview with Dayton Hartman

Dayton Hartman, author of Joseph Smith's Tritheism: The Prophets Theology in Historical Context Critiqued from a Nicene Perspective, took time out to answer a few of our questions about apologetics and his new book.

This week we are giving away a copy of Dayton's book.  Enter to win here!

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in apologetics.

I have the great joy of being a husband and a father. I also have been blessed to pastor the church I planted in 2013. My first calling in life is to shepherd my family. My second is to shepherd my church family. If one can have three “callings” in life, my third great love is for defending the truth claims of Jesus. From the first time I picked up a Francis Schaeffer book thirteen years ago, through today, God has grown my desire to proclaim and defend a Christian worldview. Since my first foray into apologetic studies, a lot has happened. I earned an M.A. from Liberty University and a PhD in Church History and Dogma from North-West University. Since then, I have taught classes in world religions, history, and apologetics for a number of colleges over the last eight years. During that time, God has opened a variety of doors for publishing apologetic articles in various academic and popular level publications.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book that engages the theology of Joseph Smith?

Mormonism is an American phenomenon. Its appeal to the religiosity inherent to American culture is undeniable. Further, the LDS Church has made a concerted effort to engage evangelicalism in a way that diminishes the differences between LDS orthodoxy and historic Christian orthodoxy. My desire was to clearly demarcate what Joseph Smith claims about the nature of God from what the Scriptures teach and what Christian’s have always believed.

Q: What should readers expect to walk away with after reading your book?

few things. First, a greater understanding of the biblical basis of Trinitarianism. Second, a thorough understanding of the historical development of Trinitarian language in church history. Third, I carefully explain the religious context in which Joseph Smith developed his theology. Fourth, I demonstrate the theological, historical, and logical contradictions inherent to Smith’s theology.

Q: When I have the opportunity to discuss theology with Mormons I try to take a very evidential approach, but they usually seem reluctant to do so and commonly appeal to the "burning in the bosom" as evidence for the authenticity of Mormonism.  Has that been your experience as well?And if so, what is the best way to combat that?

It has been. I have made efforts to read and re-read the BOM annually. I have on a few occasions, in the presence of LDS missionaries, prayed that God would show me if Smith is a true prophet. I then invited them to return to see if I experienced the burning bosom. Of course, I did not. When I share that I have not felt this burning but instead further conviction that Smith is a false prophet, I have engaged them at the level of the subjective to which they appeal. I have yet to have a missionary explain what I did not experience the burning. They cannot say I failed to pray, because I did so in their presence. This always opens the door for me to then engage their worldview presuppositions and the evidences which the Holy Spirit has used to confirm in my heart that Smith is a false prophet.

Q: What is the most important thing readers should keep in mind when witnessing to a Mormon?

These are real people. These are valuable people made in the image of God. Our commission is to win their soul with the good news of the gospel, not to win an argument. Be humble, be gracious.

You can order Dayton's book here.

Checkout more of Dayton's work here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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