Visiting author’s new book ‘clearing fog’ about LDS church



    For the past ten months, Chris Gellenick has been at BYU as a visiting professor. He had a special reason to come — a question to pursue.

    “All my life I have pursued the question: ‘What of the truth of religion?'” Gellenick said.

    By trade, Gellenick is a legal scholar, but he is also a church historian. It is in this area that Gellenick has provided a unique gift to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Although Gellenick is not a member of the LDS Church, he recently published the first church history book of the LDS religion written in German. His book is titled, “Christ in Amerika?”.

    “Since the book concerns the distant past and the name ‘America’ was not historical before 1500, it is in italics. Actually it means overseas or the new continent,” Gellenick explained.

    Gellenick said he put a question mark in his title because he wanted to clear up some questions, such as whether the LDS religion is a sect or a Christian church.

    “My book is clearing some fog,” said Gellenick.

    Gellenick, who was born in the heart of Prussia, grew up in Germany and studied law. He said he has come to the conclusion that the LDS Church is a Christian church.

    “I can put readers to rest, in case they have any doubt, that it undoubtedly is a full-fledged Christian church rather than a mere sect,” he said.

    Gellenick said he has compiled years of reading and research on his own and has collected from LDS colleagues in order to lead him to the point of writing the book.

    Gellenick explained the subject of religion in Germany is sensitive and rarely discussed openly.

    “In Germany you don’t really lightly or easily talk about religion,” he said. “Religion is private. You don’t talk to missionaries on the street. You might treat them to coffee, but we are not as open as people are here.”

    Because of this, Gellenick said he is uncertain how the book will be received in Germany. The company that published the book is located in Munster, Germany, near the university. Gellenick said it is the Protestant capital of the world, and also a catholic school. At the university in Munster they publish the bible used by the Vatican. Gellenick said they do not look too kindly on other “sects.”

    “At first, the book will raise a stink,” Gellenick said, but hopes it will eventually be accepted.

    Gellenick said he appreciates the opportunity to visit BYU and attributes the completion of his book to being able to work here.

    “I am deeply grateful that I was invited here. I could not have finished it and honed it without the background and resources here,” he said.

    Gellenick said he is very impressed with BYU and those who attend.

    “It’s paradise. The students are honest, hardworking, humorous,” he said. “They behave in a chivalrous and nice way. However, they are very busy. It’s a beehive alright.”

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