Short lists always seem problematic. In this case, the list was made by Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond:
Mormons have largely left others to frame the the theological discussion. In opting to emphasize Mormon culture over Mormon theology, Mormons have too often left the media and ministers free to select the most esoteric and idiosyncratic for ridicule. So jibes about Kolob and magic underwear usurp serious engagement, much as public knowledge about the Amish is confined to a two-dimensional caricature involving a horse and buggy. But members of a faith community should recognize themselves in any fair depiction. And it is the fundamentals of Mormonism that should ground any debate worth having about Mormon beliefs or Mormon membership in the Christian community. What are these fundaments?
- God is a personal entity.
- Men and women had a pre-existence.
- Men and women are born pure and innocent.
- God has the desire and power to save.
- Heaven will principally exist for eternal familial relationships.
Any list of this sort is going to be controversial. But this one, given the author, is a bit of disappointment. I will briefly mention three points. (Also, I need to note that I have shortened each of the items from Givens’ original description.)
First, in the elongated version of 3, there is a brief discussion of Adam and Eve that is, for me, unnecessary. I think Christians, including Mormons, need to start thinking about how OT biblical metaphors fit into their belief structure. For example, there was obviously “death before the Fall.” If there was no literal Adam and Eve, how do Mormon’s and other Christian’s deal with the Fall and Atonement.
Second, there is no item explaining where mankind is headed long-term? What is the purpose of this life? Where are we headed in the afterlife? How are mortality and post-mortality related? Isn’t explaining this issue an important function of any religion?
Third, there is no mention of the importance that Mormon’s place on service. Givens’ suggests no credo like “faith without works is dead.” For me, the emphasis on “serving your fellow man” is one of the beautiful parts of being Mormon.