As I review The God Who Weeps, by Terryl and Fiona Givens, we must first discuss “audience.”
- There are those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) who have great interest in the philosophical workings of their church. They enjoy dissecting, discussing, and analyzing the church to which they belong. They deeply ponder its scriptures, standards, doctrine, and history. By doing this, it only strengthens their testimonies and beliefs. (Many who find great satisfaction in such discussions, including friends of mine, belong to a network called the Mormon Transhumanist Association.)
- There are other Christians (“other,” because Mormons are also Christians) and non-Christians who are interested in the LDS Church, who perhaps have no desire to become LDS, but are still curious and interested in reading a philosophical approach such as this one.
- And there are those who make it their life’s work to study religions, either professionally or as a hobby–religions which fall under the umbrella of Christianity, as well as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., but are mostly interested in comparing and contrasting the various faiths and gleaning, what they perceive, as the best qualities of all of them. “Best,” of course, being subjective to the individual.
While reading The God Who Weeps, I identified people with interests and pursuits, like those above, as the book’s target audience.
Unfortunately, I do not fall in any of those categories. While I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons,) it is my experience that over-analyzing my faith and Church doctrine also over complicates it and has negative effects on my personal testimony of what I believe to be true. As a result, I usually avoid books such as this one.
That is not saying I don’t recommend The God Who Weeps. There is much good in it. Let’s look simply at the title. The idea of a “God who weeps” is that there is a loving Heavenly Father–an actual FATHER–who cares for us so deeply that our pain is His, our setbacks/worries/challenges/heartbreaks are things He mourns for right along with us.
It is this personalizing of God that I find so attractive and dear about the teachings in the LDS Church. (Among other things.) I feel He knows me individually, hears and answers my prayers, and knows the worries and concerns of my heart.
This Heavenly Father I love so very much is discussed in The God Who Weeps. However, I also feel like the best ideas (those with which I can most identify) are buried under a lot of philosophy and ideas that the authors admit they don’t agree with, but still discuss as a way to promote their original thought: that Mormonism makes sense of life.
So, I have to ask myself, what is the purpose in writing a book like this? To help Mormons feel better about a church they already belong to? To give non-Mormons an analytical perspective?
I would hope that a book like this, at the very least, strengthens the testimony of an LDS Church member. I would also hope that a book like this, at the very least, sparks interest about the LDS Church in someone who is not a member–with the disclaimer that true faith in God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ–as well as discernment about which church is true–may begin by reading a scholarly book like this one, but is actually created and nurtured through sincere scripture study, humble prayer, and a heartfelt witness of the Holy Ghost.