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...]

On Pseudonyms and Insults

Reflecting on the behavior of certain other co-bloggers at Patheos and their commenters on the question of pseudonyms, I was inspired to repost some ideas on this from last year. Let me share my observations about being a pseudonymous Mormon blogger for over a decade.  There is a common belief that bloggers who “hide” behind a pseudonym will abuse that position to do bad things.  My experience, however, has not born this out.  Instead, the pseudonymous blogger is often the target of rude treatme … [Read more...]

John Gee, Biblical Studies, and Credentials

John Gee has alleged that Biblical Studies degrees at elite universities do not require history or archeology. As evidence, he looks at the minimum course requirements, and in a few cases at general exam areas. The immediate implication of this claim is targeted at David Bokovoy, whose PhD is from Brandeis in Hebrew Bible--the first target of Gee's "analysis." The broader implication is that people with Biblical Studies degrees are less qualified to speak about the ancient world relevant to the … [Read more...]