Apologists at War: Religious Studies is Not the Enemy

The Maxwell Institute's removal of Daniel Peterson as editor of the Mormon Studies Review continues to raise the issue of the appropriateness of apologetics at institutions such as BYU (for a more recent discussion, see here)--on the one hand BYU has a mission to "build the kingdom" so to speak, and on the other hand BYU is working to establish a legitimate academic presence in fields such as religious studies. There are some that see these two goals as largely exclusive of each other. This … [Read more...]

Faith, Scholarship, and Teaching at BYU Series

For the series announcement and the question to which I am replying, see here.I believe that the dichotomy between the "intellectual" and the "spiritual" in religious education is a false one. Instead, I would prefer to appropriate for my approach to this important issue the German adjective geistlich (or Hebrew ruchi): a word that sees the spiritual and the intellectual as part of a synthetic whole that also includes an appreciation for the aesthetic. I believe that by adopting this … [Read more...]

Apologetics in the Academy

In line with Daniel Peterson’s recent comments, I see significant points of congruence between apologetics and religious studies. I also see no reason why the same institution cannot pursue both endeavors—particularly a private religious institution such as BYU. I do think, however, that much of the apologetics advocated by Peterson is better off done at another venue (congratulations to those involved with the new Interpreter project). At the same time, a more appropriate kind of apologetics can … [Read more...]

Why I Laud the Maxwell Institute’s Direction

I have nothing against Daniel Peterson, and I'm not a fan of John Dehlin. I'm not interested in the so-called "hit piece" that the Mormon Studies Review was supposed to publish, nor do I really care about who leaked what Maxwell Institute emails (for a chronology of sorts, see here). However, I am quite embarrassed by this whole event, and these feelings of embarrassment bring to the fore long-standing feelings of embarrassment that I've had about FARMS and its association with BYU. … [Read more...]

Dear BYU Religious Education (Part 2)

Dear BYU Religious Education,It’s now been over a year since our last correspondence. I’ve had some time to formulate my thoughts a little more constructively. I’d like to speak to you about the hiring process, and how you might adjust it to the mutual benefit of the candidates and yourself. I realize that some of these may be more applicable to one of your departments rather than both; but I hope this provides you some insight from the other side of the table. I also realize that some of the … [Read more...]

The Trouble with BYU’s Religious Education (Part III)

In the previous posts I described how two methodological problems with Religious Education allowed for the Bott problem, as well as the likely short-term response. In this post I’ll articulate a few thoughts in terms of what I see as a potential, and positive, long-term response to this situation.  … [Read more...]

The Trouble with BYU’s Religious Education (Part II)

The previous post discussed two methodological problems with Religious Education that fostered the circumstances leading to Randy Bott’s troubling statements. In this post I will discuss what I see as the likely short-term response within RE. In the next post I will discuss my desired long-term response.In the short-term, the Randy Bott situation will push RE professors toward what I’ll call an “orthodox professionalism.”  … [Read more...]

The Trouble with BYU’s Religious Education (Part I)

This post isn’t meant to discuss the specifics of Randy Bott’s circumstances. Instead, I’d like to write about how the Bott situation signals two long-standing methodological problems for Religious Education as a whole. I believe this contributes to an ongoing discussion within Religious Education, but since I’m not privy to that discussion, I’d like to raise the issues here. … [Read more...]