According to the book “Are We Special?” many Latter-day Saints struggle with viewing themselves as better than others because they believe they are God’s chosen people.
The book was written by brothers-in-law Jeffrey Reber and Stephen Moody. Reber is an associate professor of psychology at BYU, and Moody is a licensed clinical social worker in Irvine, Calif.
The book states that Mormons have to respond to the truth that God loves them and that they are special in his eyes and also respond to the lie that Satan tells them that being a Mormon means they are better than others. Reber and Moody believe that people fall into four different quadrants based upon their belief in the truth and the lie.
Someone can accept the truth as well as the lie and become self-righteous and prideful. Denying the truth but accepting the lie can cause someone to become egotistic. Denying both the truth and the lie causes someone to become nihilistic and hopeless. Accepting the truth and denying the lie is the best option, and this belief system can bring someone closer to God.
Professor Brent Slife, one of the few professors at BYU who is not Mormon, believes that these quadrants apply to everyone, regardless of religion.
“We’ve all selected a particular value and belief system because we think it superior to others,” Slife said. “Why else would we choose it? But … this leaves us open to the temptation of judging other religious systems as inferior, with us being the ‘special ones’ to discern the superior belief system.”
Professor Ed Gantt, a BYU psychology professor, said it is human nature to put oneself above others.
“My favorite example is when we discuss the Parable of the Prodigal Son and identify ourselves with the elder brother — the one who was obedient, stayed home, worked hard and only sinned one time in being a little jealous of his wayward younger brother,” Gantt said. “I believe that the point of the parable is to help us remember that we have all gone astray, that we are all prodigal sons and that, even though we are special and loved by our Father in Heaven, we all need forgiveness and lots of it.”
Reber and Moody wrote the book to encourage people to come unto Christ.
“This is a book about helping people,” Reber said. “This is a book about lifting people up, and helping people realize that we don’t need to despair so much. That we don’t need to work so hard to be perfect. We want to help people see that if they can just look to their Savior, if they can just realize that His arms are outstretched to embrace them in his love, they’re going to find that their problems will just shed off of them.”
More information about the book can be found at AreWeSpecial.com. There will be a book signing with both authors at Deseret Book in the University Mall on May 11 from 3 to 5 p.m.