A Reponse to Hamblin on Mormon Studies

A few days ago William Hamblin posted his views on the issue of Mormon studies here. I believe his views are flawed in several respects. Any disagreement, however, is always cast against a backdrop of larger agreements. As such, I do not want to construe my criticisms such that it seems we do not largely agree on a few important issues. … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits About the Ten Commandments

1. Although commonly referred to as the "Ten Commandments," in the Hebrew Bible itself they are not so called; rather, they are referred to as the "ten words/sayings" (Exod 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4). Thus a better designation perhaps is that derived from the ancient Greek translation of the Bible, known as the Septuagint (LXX), from the 3rd or 2ndcentury B.C.E: the "Decalogue."  The word "Decalogue" comes into English via French and Old Latin from the Greek, deka meaning "ten," and logos (pl. l … [Read more...]

LDS Correlated Lessons and the Hermeneutical model “PaRDeS”

I deeply respect the Jewish approach to the study of the scriptures. It is said that simply stating an opinion about Torah without any background or training in how to critically think about the text is Torah discussion but is not necessarily Torah study. To encourage critical thinking, rabbis from at least the third century C.E. established a simple four-level system known as PaRDeS. Each consonant in this acronym stands for a Hebrew word, and put together they mystically form the word … [Read more...]

Now Reading… Bad Religion

Published this AM, by Ross Douthout.  Amazing what Kindle can do, no?So the "problem," so far, is the loss the great orthodox Christian center.   And this means heretics, among whom Douthout places us.  He writes: Heretics are often stereotyped as wild mystics, but they're just as likely to be problem solvers and logic choppers, well-intentioned seekers after a more reasonable version of Christianity than orthodoxy supplies.  They tend to see themselves, not irrationally, as rescuers rather … [Read more...]


I'll put up my next post on Mormon ways of knowing shortly. In the meantime I just wanted to touch upon some things I've written at my blog on LDS retention. I'll not go over my main analysis again. (You can read it at my blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) What I wanted to go into is just how hard it is to figure out how well the Church actually is doing in terms of retention. I will only deal with the Church population in the US. If knowing what is going on here is hard, knowing what is … [Read more...]

Knowledge For the Strong and the Weak

In 1 Cor 8, Paul give some advice to the "strong" who know something that the "weak" do not know.  He argues that even though the strong are in the right, and that what they know is fully true, they should keep such knowledge to themselves.  The reason is that, "by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died might be destroyed" (1 Cor 8:11).  Paul suggests that one's primary duty is to good of the community as a whole, not to the truth.  It even seems that Paul is saying that the lib … [Read more...]

The Creation of American Ignorance

Over on BCC, Steve P has posted a nice summary of an article in New Scientist which attributes the decline in scientific literacy in the US to three factors:  relativism in the academy, unserious journalism, and the illiteracy of Congress.Amen to the third one!  In fact, amen to all of them!   However, speaking as someone who has taught both science and religion at the undergraduate level, there is at least one discipline in which student ignorance exceeds that of science:  religion.  Just sa … [Read more...]

Christianity 101, Book of Mormon Style 3

So in this last week we, that is me and the 17-18 year old gentlemen I teach, were looking at the Tree of Life vision and Nephi’s interpretation.  As you know, our goal is to read the BoM and look for foundational Christian doctrine – hence the title “Christianity 101:  BoM Style." This time we started with that mysterious man who pops up in front of Lehi and declares his intent to lead Lehi to the Tree of Life (1 Ne 8:5-7).Who is that guy and what is the Bat Signal that brings him out?  I va … [Read more...]