BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 19: Mosiah 18-24

Mormons have a thing about Doctrine, with a capital D. We try to define it, we argue about it, we prioritize it. We even misquote scripture about "bearing down in pure testimony" (Alma 4:19), er, "pure doctrine" which is not a scriptural phrase, and I'm not even sure what it means. We tend to read scripture looking for doctrine. Sometimes, because of cultural expectations about how to identify doctrine, we can't see it when it's right in front of us.I think we are conditioned to … [Read More...]

Mormons, Evangelicals, Tradition, and Sunday School

  When it comes to frustrations with Gospel Doctrine class, one problem is that we don't pay a lot of attention to context, and we like to casually shoe-horn modern doctrinal concepts or concerns into any old bit of verse that seems to relate. This is really only made possible by ignoring context, and not reading. For example, I wrote this in 2007. I happened to be home once last year during a lesson on some chapters from Isaiah. The teacher did a decent job, but the comments all tended in one … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 18: Mosiah 12-17

It's been a busy week. I capped off the semester by editing an 11,000 word chapter of mine for a new Old Testament series out of BYU, then writing 13,000+words for my classes, and then a fellowship application due later today. So below is an intro, and I'll try to add more details later. I want to plug Book of Mormon Central for collating published scholarship on lessons- See here for today's links and summaries. What they have is partly based on my own old work.Most of today's chapters invo … [Read More...]

Stephen L. Richards on science, religion, questions, and General Authorities

On May 31, 1925, Elder Stephen L. Richards gave the baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class of BYU, which was quite small at the time. This was in the lead-up to the Scopes trial (which is why I'm reading it), and Richards, a lawyer, had been an Apostle for 15 years at this point. His address was printed in the Improvement Era in September, after the Scopes trial had concluded. (On which, see this great book.)That issue also eulogizes William Jennings Bryan (who had died suddenly right … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 17: Mosiah 7-11

I have an awful lot on my plate in the next week, so this is straight out of my previous notes. If I have time next week, I'll return and revise.First, a summary.Mosiah 7:1 Mosiah sends a much later follow-up team to the group that had gone in Omni  27-30 (Amaleki’s brother went with them), and then we start the account of the original group in Mos 9:1.Group 1 leaves (Omni 1:27-30/Mosiah 9:1). Zeniff isn’t the leader, but present. They see Lamanites, dispute among themselves, and kil … [Read More...]

May 4th is Not Just Star Wars Day…

Few Mormons, I think, know that May 4 is a significant day in LDS liturgical history.  … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 16: Mosiah 4-6

Once again, I'd remind you of the book on King Benjamin's speech (paper here), and the verse-by-verse commentary in it.I'll be adding my own bits which don't overlap, and happen to be, well, on quasi-controversial topics.First, on a general note, "wisdom" appears several times (2:17, 36; 4:6, 9, 27; 5:15). In the Old Testament, wisdom is a very specific technical term, referring to understanding how one should live a happy, successful life. We tend to think ALL scripture was written for t … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15: Mosiah 1-3

To open, we need some big picture structural discussion.Mosiah 1 is not Mosiah 1. In fact, it is Mosiah 3, ppeand the first two chapters are missing. How do we know this?First, Book of Mormon books tend to be named after the first and major character, but Mosiah opens with... Benjamin, not his father Mosiah1.Second, books usually get some kind of intro, but Mosiah starts in media res- "AND now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who be … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

It's been a few weeks since my last post. First came General Conference; the next weekend, I was in Utah presenting at a conference, followed by a family reunion. My parents were in Salt Lake City for mission training before heading to Ghana, and all the maternal siblings came. Last weekend, well, the end of the semester is nigh and it's always a little apocalyptic and high-pressure.We often assert that the Book of Mormon is historical, and rightly so, in my view. But even so, it was c … [Read More...]

Joseph F. Smith on Evolution and Teaching in Church Schools

The general thrust of my research over the next few years will be science, religion, and history, centered around evolution and scriptural interpretation. I'll post various things from time to time. The following comes from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol XLVI No. 4 (April 1911): 208-9. BYU had just undergone a controversy of sorts about evolution, the nature of the Bible, and some other intertwined issues. See my post here. Writing in the Church's magazine, President Joseph F. Smith, in the 10th ye … [Read More...]