A Guide for the Perplexed

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Robert L. Millet, Shon D. Hopkin
Guides for the Perplexed
  • New York, NY: 
    Bloomsbury Academic
    , November
     280 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Robert L. Millet and Shon D. Hopkin have skillfully produced an introductory book on Mormonism titled Mormonism: A Guide for the Perplexed. The authors present two primary goals for the book, and they execute both successfully.Their first goal aims to address basic questions about Mormonism that are typically found in introductory texts, such as “who are the Mormons?” and “what do they stand for?” (viii). Second, Millet and Hopkin argue that Mormonism is a Christian tradition, and demonstrate how Mormon “beliefs and lifestyle differ from that of other professing Christian groups” (viii). Millet and Hopkin write for an audience already familiar with basic Christian doctrines, but their writing does not necessitate that the audience have any previous knowledge about Mormonism. The book has an approachable language and style that is accessible to those both inside and outside of academia. 

Millet and Hopkin guide readers though an impressive range of Mormon ideas and practices that could be perplexing to non-Mormons. They skillfully weave historical context and scriptural examples throughout twenty topical chapters to explain ideas like deification, multiple heavens, and Zion. They also discuss missionary work, Joseph Smith’s first vision, an overview of the Mormon canon, the doctrine of continuing revelation, and numerous other topics. In most cases, they provide a comparison to other Christian groups, specifically focusing on how Christians have historically addressed these topics, and they provide responses to common critiques. The authors also include helpful lists of suggested readings after each chapter. These lists would benefit readers interested in learning more about a specific topic, and professors assigning supplemental class readings. 

Additionally, Millet and Hopkin incorporate an appendix, containing four official documents from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first document, The Articles of Faith, was written by Joseph Smith in 1842. He wrote it to explain the thirteen basic Mormon beliefs, and in 1880 the Church voted to accept it as scripture. The other three the documents in the appendix are joint statements from the leaders of the LDS Church. The oldest statement was published by the Church in February of 1978 and is titled God’s Love for All Mankind: The First Presidency. This document emphasizes that all humanity is family regardless of different religious traditions. The Church published The Family: A Proclamation to the World in September of 1995. It focuses on the composition of the family and states that God ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman. The Living Christ is the most recent statement included in the appendix. It was written in 2000 to commemorate the birth of Jesus and conveys the Church’s beliefs about Jesus. These documents are also good supplemental resources for individual readers or for classes.

It should be noted that, by no fault of the authors, one of the topics covered in the text is now outdated due to recent changes in LDS Church practices that occurred after the book’s publication. Millet and Hopkin briefly describe “home and visiting teaching,” however, the church switched from “home and visiting teaching” to “ministering” for both men and women during the April 2018 general conference. The church also decided to pair women and girls together in ministering teams similarly to how it pairs men and boys. While this is an important change in LDS practices, its absence in this text does not detract from the authors’ goals or arguments. 

Overall, Millet and Hopkin have produced an approachable and engaging guide to Mormonism. While there are several introductory texts on Mormonism, this book is unique because of its attention to the connection between Mormonism and Christianity, and its response to common critiques of Mormon doctrine and practice. The book covers a wide variety of topics on Mormonism and could easily be adopted for use in an undergraduate classroom. It is a comprehensive and welcoming starting point for anyone interested in learning about Mormonism.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Shelby D. Lamar is a doctoral student in Religious Studies at Claremont Graduate University.

Date of Review: 
June 12, 2018
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Robert L. Millet is Abraham O. Smoot University Professor and Professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, USA.

Shon D. Hopkin is an assistant professor of ancient scripture at Bringham Young University, USA. 



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