Wandering Over the Plains of the Nephites

Mound_Builder_City

In my last post, on the Book of Mormon, I asked a question: Does the Book contain a statement or idea about the New World that Joseph Smith could not have known at the time, but which has subsequently been validated by archaeological or historical research? I mention this point because the apologist literature includes [Read More...]

Mormons and New World History

Recently, I have been posting on fringe and mainstream ideas in scholarship, and have identified a number of working principles. Today I am going to illustrate these themes through one particular religious text, namely the Book of Mormon. This story also has lessons for mainstream Christians, who to varying degrees also have to face the [Read More...]

The Monte Verde Principle

I have been discussing fringe or marginal theories that run contrary to the scholarly consensus in a given field, and why we need to be very careful about rejecting that mainstream opinion. Just because an idea seems bold or iconoclastic does not make it right. You may at this point be thinking that I am [Read More...]

Tom Brady and Joseph Smith, Lies and Liars

“And yet Joseph Smith was plainly a liar,” informs Lawrence Wright in his best-selling Going Clear. In an epilogue, Wright compares Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to the founding prophet of Mormonism. As evidence, Wright points to Smith’s denial of polygamy and his claim that scrolls of Egyptian papyrus contained the writings of the biblical [Read More...]

Doing Bad to Do Good: Carter’s Race-Baiting Election of 1970

In 1970 Jimmy Carter ran a sordid campaign for governor of Georgia. Courting the support of segregationist George Wallace, Carter used Wallace’s slogan “our kind of man,” which was a barely veiled appeal to the laboring classes who opposed integration. Carter’s campaign workers, who called themselves the “stink tank,” found a photograph showing Carter’s liberal [Read More...]

Do You Love Theology More Than Jesus?

In a recent blog post lamenting Southern Baptists’ decision to disinvite Ben Carson from speaking at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Pastor Perry Noble said that the disinviters “love theology more than Jesus.” Although Noble conceded that theology played an important role in the Christian faith, he could see no legitimate reason why Ben Carson’s theology should [Read More...]

Outliers and Iconoclasts

I have been writing about mainstream and fringe scholarship, and defending the sometimes unpopular idea of mainstream orthodoxy, or the scholarly consensus. Blogging on any religious topic invites wacky comments and responses. As one example of many, I had a commenter not long ago who asserted that most of what Christians believed about their origins [Read More...]

Corporate Evangelicalism

Recently, Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God has generated considerable attention for its claims about the way that the 1930s and post-WWII alliance between politically conservative businessmen and evangelicals created modern ideas about “Christian America.” According to the book’s self-description, Kruse “reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin [Read More...]

The Limits of Free Speech?

Salman Rushdie (By Kyle Cassidy via Wikimedia Commons)

The moment you limit free speech it’s not free speech. ~Salman Rushdie In the wake of the recent near attacks on the satirical cartoon contest sponsored by the American Defense Freedom Initiative self-appointed pundits have begun to talk about the “limits of free speech,” asking questions such as: is some speech so provocative that it should [Read More...]

“Theological Police”? Paleo Evangelicals and Ben Carson

In the week since my Washington Post piece on Baptists and Ben Carson, some critics have accused the Southern Baptist Convention of a new kind of fundamentalism. Baptists unduly rescinded the offer to Carson to speak at the Pastors’ Conference because of (what the critics see as) irrelevant theological differences between evangelicals and Seventh-Day Adventists [Read More...]


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