BYUNTC Revelation

The Revelation volume in the BYUNTC series is back in the news, so I thought I’d say a bit about it. At last fall’s SBL Grant Underwood gave Richard Draper some advice regarding this volume. Since Draper’s work was not well-received by either LDS or non-LDS scholars, Underwood wrote: “Perhaps by drawing on the talented pool of younger LDS scholars trained in New Testament studies, [Richard Draper] and Michael Rhodes can extend their work in ways that more effectively bring LDS views into tough-m … [Read more...]

A Recent “Anti-Mormon” Essay: Trying to Understand Gee’s Response, Part II

In the last post I looked closely at the details of Dr. John Gee’s critique of Dr. Paul Owen’s essay in the most recent volume of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (JBMS). In that post I dealt especially with (1) Gee’s misrepresentation of Owen’s essay, (2) his lack of understanding of 2 Esdras/4 Ezra, and (3) how Gee’s response shows a lack of thoroughness in checking historical sources in making his critique of Owen’s paper. I promised at the beginning of that post that in a second part I w … [Read more...]

A Recent “Anti-Mormon” Essay: Trying to Understand Gee’s Response, Part I

The most recent volume of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (JBMS) includes a number of scholarly essays by researchers who are either established in the field of Mormon Studies or are promising to play a big role in this next generation of Mormon scholarship. Every essay has its own new offering to add to understanding the Book of Mormon (BM). Each of these scholars except Dr. Paul Owen is a member of the LDS church, and it seems that has played a big part in a recent misreading of his … [Read more...]

An Appeal to the BYU Board of Trustees: Please Trust Your Faculty

The appeal that follows is undergirded by a simple but unproven (at least not by me) set of assumptions that flows from my experience at BYU(-Provo) and with numerous BYU faculty currently employed. As I said at the end of part 2: The vast majority of BYU faculty members want BYU to succeed as a uniquely LDS university. They care very much about its students and their success in negotiating a transition to adulthood as faithful Latter-day Saints. They have deep experience stemming from their own … [Read more...]

Academic Freedom at BYU, Part 2: The Role of the Academic Vice President

(Part 1 here; part 3 is now up).Faculty issues at BYU are funneled through the office of the Academic Vice President. For our purposes it is important to know that the office of the AVP deals with faculty hiring and firing, promotion and “tenure” (“Continuing Faculty Status”*) and discipline. Thus when a department sends one of its own up for tenure, it will pass through the offices of the Chair, Dean, and AVP. Promotion can be vetoed at any of these levels, including the AVP. This is fairly … [Read more...]

On Academic Freedom at BYU, Part 1: The BYU Statement

[Part two; part three]The question of academic freedom at Brigham Young University provides an interesting case study in the dynamics of power and the pursuit of truth and the consequences of the concentration of power in a theologically defined hierarchy. Part 1 will explore the principles of academic freedom at BYU as expressed in its statement dated 1 April 1993 (available online, though a version dated Sept 14, 1992 was still handed to new faculty as of the end of the first decade of the … [Read more...]

Doubt is Not Always a Choice

Doubt is not always a matter of choice. With regard to many LDSs who experience a crisis of faith, I would state the matter more strongly: Doubt is rarely a matter of choice. In this previous post I told a fictional story about Jack, who was born in the Church, loved the Church, but came to doubt the Church. For people such as Jack, keeping his faith in the Church would in many regards make his life easier. Transitioning out of the Church would entail painful personal and social consequences. … [Read more...]

On Doubt and Trust

Doubt can be thought of as a kind of questioning; and to question is to ask for reasons or an explanation for something one does not understand. One might wonder, for instance, what the Church does with its money. People do not always provide reasonable answers to questions; and how one processes an unreasonable answer will depend on a number of factors including one’s relationship with the individuals (or entities) one questions. If I trust the Church, for instance, I am much more likely to a … [Read more...]


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