Doubt and the Dangers of Reading Alone

A lot has already been said about the Hans Mattsson article in the NYT. One issue, however, that I feel needs further exploration is how crises of faith might be approached from a more therapeutic or pastoral angle. Below are some excerpts from a sacrament talk I delivered at the beginning of this year. I hope it might contribute to the recent discussions of doubt and faith crises in Mormonism.This invitation to speak coincided with a presentation I attended on Islam. The presenter studied … [Read more...]

Exploring the Iconic Nature of the Book of Mormon: Part IIb – The Fluid Nature of the Text of the Book of Mormon

I here continue my series of posts dealing with the iconic nature of the Book of Mormon (BoM). For my introduction to this series, see here. For the first half of the current section on textual criticism and the BoM, see here.In my last post I gave a brief description of the various manuscripts and editions of the BoM. I would now like to examine what I have found to be several very interesting textual variants in the BoM textual witnesses. As I stated in my last post, anyone interested in … [Read more...]

Hans Mattsson and Joseph Smith’s polygamy

The online LDS response to the NYT article describing Hans Mattsson’s struggle with doubt about the Mormon faith that he had once believed in has been interesting to watch. Most responses have been generous and sympathetic, realizing that some serious soul-searching within the community is in order, while others have been more reactionary. One aspect of this discussion I have found particularly interesting has been the conversations that have ensued over Mattsson’s confusion and concern over Jos … [Read more...]

The Heresies of Father Brown and the Future of LDS Scriptural Studies

With the new direction at the Maxwell Institute, the launch of the Mormon Interpreter, the latest about the BYU New Testament Commentary project, and the search for a new dean of Religious Education, which culminated last week, there has been some talk about the future of LDS scriptural studies, including, but hardly focused on, the Bible.In talking about the future, we might consider the history of scriptural studies in other faith traditions, such as Catholicism. Broadly speaking, … [Read more...]

From the Archives: King Benjamin Killed God

This is a repost from four years ago. I was reminded of it and thought it worth rereading. Original with comments here.Jesus set up an impossible paradox when he explained that the two great commandments are to love God and to love one’s neighbor (though he was not the first to summarize the Law in such a way). The problem is that one simply cannot do both, as Jesus himself elsewhere noted that one cannot serve two masters.King Benjamin saw the impossible tension between these two c … [Read more...]

Hellenism and the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) has sometimes been put forward as one of those features of Christianity that marks it as distinctive from Hellenism. Traditional Protestant scholarship on the Bible reproduced popular racialized conceptions of culture in their analysis of ancient categories of thought. For instance, Adolf von Harnack distinguished between Judaism and Hellenism in his analysis of early Christianity. To this may be added the idea that Christianity represented something unique … [Read more...]

The Land Northward and the Land of Moron in the Book of Ether

Book of Mormon geography is an area of research that has taken interesting turns in recent decades. Scholarly apologists have come to recognize that traditional interpretations of the Book of Mormon that understand it to have encompassed the lands of both North and South America are historically untenable and so have constructed alternative limited geographical models that see the events recounted in it as having occurred in a relatively small area of Mesoamerica (or, as some would have it, in … [Read more...]

The Politics of Editing “The False Gods We Worship”

President Spencer W. Kimball's most famous sermon recently received a makeover in the June Ensign. Kimball delivered one of the most enduring sermons of his career, "The False Gods We Worship," in 1976 in the context of the bicentennial celebration of the United States. Kimball was a conservative political thinker, but this talk has endured in part because it appealed to conservatives and liberals alike.There are two sins that are at the heart of Kimball's critique of society. First, … [Read more...]