The Mormon Bonhoeffer

20th-century Martyrs, Westminster Abbey

In the 1970s, Latter-day Saint leaders began to quote C.S. Lewis in the semi-annual General Conference talks. Earlier this month, Mormon Apostle D. Todd Cristofferson made a rather striking reference to the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a discussion of marriage. Cristofferson quoted at length from a May 19, 1943 sermon that Bonhoeffer wrote while [Read More...]

Mormons, Race, and Slavery

Reeve

In the middle of 1870, Scipio Africanus Kenner feared losing the girl he loved. For some time, he had been courting Isabel Park with her family’s encouragement. Then, suddenly, Park’s mother cooled on the match and asked Kenner never to visit the home again. Park, however, did not stop seeing Kenner. According to Kenner, Agnes [Read More...]

Hunting Heretics

Epiphanius-Kosovo

The heresiography (or heresiology) is something of a dying genre among Christians today. For centuries, though, heresiography was a staple of Christian literature, as those who contended for their understanding of orthodoxy theology catalogued the theological sins of others. To give a recent example, through at least most of the twentieth century, conservative Protestants in [Read More...]

Jesus, Time, and Calendars

A funny thing has happened to time during my adult lifetime. When I began college, it was customary to use the abbreviations “BC” (Before Christ) and “AD” (Anno Domini, or in the year of our Lord) in the rather tricky task of keeping track of years. Thus, the Babylonians destroyed the first Jewish temple in [Read More...]

Lincoln’s Shrewd Sermon

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration as President of the United States. On that date, Lincoln delivered an address that, while never quite rivaling the Gettysburg Address in terms of fame, has nevertheless earned the lasting admiration of many Americans. Carl Sandberg termed it ”the great American poem”; Frederick Douglass praised [Read More...]

A Thief in the Night

A_Thief_in_the_Night_poster

Today, as part of a course on religion and film, I had the opportunity to discuss the 1972 film A Thief in the Night with a group of religious diverse undergraduate students. My church — a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation that straddled the worlds of evangelical and mainline Protestantism — did not screen the film [Read More...]

Americans Incarcerate

An 1858 Harper's illustration of a freezing "shower"

Americans incarcerate. So begins and ends Jennifer Graber’s The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons & Religion in Antebellum America. Americans incarcerate. One of out every hundred American adults is behind bars. One would rather not think about the economic, emotional, and spiritual cost of this mass imprisonment. I imagine that most Americans and most American Christians [Read More...]

Jesus Delayed

Sutton

Christians have no good reason to believe Jesus is coming soon. Okay, in the final chapter of John’s Apocalypse, Jesus himself says, “See, I am coming soon” (I prefer the King James Version’s “Behold, I come quickly”). But let’s face it, “soon” and “quickly” do not usually mean after two millennia. Indeed, a surface reading [Read More...]

Be Nice to Missionaries

Harline Way Below

There are many good reasons to read Craig Harline’s Way Below the Angels: the pretty clearly troubled but not even close to tragic confessions of a real live Mormon missionary. First of all, it offers solid proof that at least some historians have a wicked sense of humor and can employ it in writing. This [Read More...]

The Kirtland Temple

Kirtland Temple, 1934, from the LOC Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Every year tens of thousands of people visit the Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836 by what was then the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The vast majority of those visitors are members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they come in part to see where Joseph Smith and Oliver [Read More...]


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