Grace and Apostasy

Unveiling Grace

As a historian, I am grateful for anti-Mormon exposés. Admittedly, the genre poses obvious problems. Those who leave (and especially those who are expelled from) a religious organization often have an obvious axe to grind. At the same time, they have been inside the organization and know things about which outsiders are not privy. And [Read More...]

The Beginning and End of Mormon Polygamy

Zina D. H. Young

Many observers of Mormonism have offered their thoughts on the recent statements on plural marriage published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They discuss the origins of plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s own practice of polygamy; the living out of polygamy in early Utah; and the church’s abandonment of plural marriage between [Read More...]

The Lost Book of Mormon

9780385535694

There are not very many contemporary accounts of Mormonism in which the author is expelled from the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Avi Steinberg was not passing out illicit evangelical tracts to audience members, nor was he smoking pot behind the LDS Visitors Center. Instead, he was rehearsing for the show under an assumed name. “Like a [Read More...]

The Elders of Israel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds semiannual general conferences, with twenty thousand of the faithful gathering in the church’s conference center across the street from Temple Square and others watching in local meeting houses, stake centers, and over the internet. General Conference always receives some coverage in the media. This year, the [Read More...]

Inventing Eden

Inventing Eden

Zachary Hutchins’s Inventing Eden is a remarkable book. As its subtitle explains, Hutchins examines “primitivism, millennialism, and the making of New England.” Many of us probably know that various colonial and early American boosters promoted the environs of the New World as paradisiacal, Edenic destinations in which beleaguered Europeans could quickly reap a bounty from [Read More...]

Brigham Young’s Favorite Hymn

Eliza-R.-Snow

On April 8, 1877, Brigham Young delivered a sermon on the occasion of his imminent departure from the St. George Temple. Many observers of Young’s multifaceted career forget how significant temple-building was for him and for his legacy. “We shall build Temples over north and South America,” Young declared in 1875 while planning the construction [Read More...]

Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham

Outsiders to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints familiar with Mormonism typically have heard something about the Book of Mormon. Perhaps they know that Joseph Smith claimed to have received golden plates from an angel. Those a bit more familiar with Mormonism might know that Smith also dictated scores of revelations, messages from [Read More...]

Have Visions Ceased?

luther-tischreden

In his published account of his first visionary experience, Joseph Smith reported that a Methodist preacher reacted to his report of his vision with utter contempt: “he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in [Read More...]

The Papers of a Prophet

The Joseph Smith Papers Project website (josephsmithpapers.org) is one of the very best electronic resources pertaining to the history of religion in the United States. It is a companion to the printed volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, which have set an outrageously high standard for documentary editions because of their clarity of transcription, extensive [Read More...]

Nihilism and “The Book of Mormon”

I refer to the blockbuster musical, not the sacred book of Mormons.  Recently, I took a group of (mostly evangelical) students at Gordon College to see the play when it was staged in Boston.   (No parents have complained—not yet anyway!)   Much has already been written about the play.  Still, after watching it, I could not [Read More...]


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