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

(Part 1 here).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 standard procedu … [Read more...]

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

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 2000s, if not still to … [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...]

Korihors, Secular Humanism, and the Book of Mormon

The topic of Korihor, noted Book of Mormon anti-Christ, has come up in Mormon discussions recently. The identification of Korihor with various contemporary groups or individuals marks such as illegitimate and dangerous. Boundaries, separation, and vigilance against such ideas is warranted. One of the most popular interpretations is that Korihor teaches secular humanism, situating secular humanists (and often religious humanists) as not only heretical, but also demonic. It is worth m … [Read more...]

Doubting Our Doubters

We have a problem with doubt. More specifically, we, LDSs, have a problem with how we conceptualize doubt and how we treat those who doubt. The short story is that we tend to employ an ambiguous notion of doubt and that we treat those with anything resembling doubt as insincere, as prideful, and as involved in sin. A prime example of this is the article entitled “When Doubts and Questions Arise” in the March 2015 Ensign.  … [Read more...]

The Call of Simon Peter in Luke 5:1-11

This story, which is unique to Luke, is a bit of a gem among call narratives. It may be divided into three distinct sections: vv. 1-3, 4-7, and 8-11.Unlike Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ interaction with Simon in this scene is preceded by his healing of Simon’s mother-in-law (4:39); presumably Simon also saw or heard about the rest of Jesus’ activities in Capernaum (4:40-41) before Jesus appeared on the shore: Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing … [Read more...]

Biblical Texts and Historicity

There's been quite a lot of concern reflected in comments in discussions here and elsewhere about whether the Old Testament contains reliable history, so I thought I would link to a valuable recent treatment of the issue by biblical scholar Marc Brettler in Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World (ed. Raaflaub; 2014), where an up-to-date bibliography can also be found:"No direct evidence explains why Israelites told and wrote history. No ancient Near Eastern historical t … [Read more...]


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