On Doctrinal Authority

This essay represents a very short, and provisional set of ideas about the topic as I am just beginning to think about it more seriously. So much of the so-called “faith crisis” in contemporary Mormonism hinges on these issues, but very little theoretical work has been done on it.For a while now, Mormons have been concerned with doctrinal authority, especially what is authoritative and the consequences of deviating from it. Most recently the question has arisen concerning prophetic fal … [Read more...]

Junia The Apostle and Mormonism’s Priesthood

Most Mormons don’t know it yet, but Romans 16:7, "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was," may soon become one of the most important and contested verses in our community. If we look at how other Christians dealt with their own internal struggles over women’s ordination, we can see that in the 1980’s-1990’s, this text received a dramatic increase in attention from mainline Protestant and Evan … [Read more...]

Ordaining Women Is Not Going Away for LDS

The issue of women’s ordination in the LDS church is at least in its fourth decade.   In the 1970’s, and especially in the 1980’s after the expansion of the priesthood to all worthy males in 1978, LDS women and men have published and organized in favor in women’s ordination.  Such movements have been common in other American churches, which vigorously debated the issues during the 20th century. Movements for women’s ordination exist in nearly every denomination which has not already made the tran … [Read more...]

Being a Mormon Intellectual

Indulge me a moment in some reflections on how I think about a portion of my scholarly life and activities in personal, religious terms.Nearly 40 years ago, Eugene England delivered an address to young BYU students called “Good Books or True Religion? Defining the Mormon Scholar.” In this essay, England lays out a vision of the Mormon scholar modeled on Elder B. H. Roberts: You must develop your own vision of what, as an intellectual, your contribution to the Kingdom might be, of how you mi … [Read more...]

Mormonism and the Christianity Police

This post is a slightly modified reprint of an earlier post. I am adding it as part of the Patheos Roundtable on "Are Mormons Christians?"If one were to rank the issues about which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is most sensitive, near the very top of the list would be the persistant accusation that Mormons are somehow not Christians.  This is literally the first question in the FAQ section at www.mormon.org.In responding to this charge over many decades, the church has … [Read more...]

Belief and Belonging in Mormonism

Mormonism's founding narrative is of a young man struggling with doubt, and finding sure answers.  Mormonism implicitly and explicitly repeats this promise, which often puts the Mormon doubter in an uncomfortable position.  How can one claim to doubt in a tradition which is based on a promise of surety of knowledge? This is precisely the space that many, including those at the highest levels, are attempting to carve out. For instance, Latter-day Saints have recently been given permission to d … [Read more...]

The Greater Apostasy? Responsibility and Falling Away in LDS Narratives

Over the course of the 20th century, LDS narratives about early Christianity shifted dramatically in one respect. While earlier accounts explained that the Great Apostasy occurred due to the failure of church leaders, by the 1980's retellings of the Great Apostasy narrative blamed the general membership for going astray. LDS narratives about early Christianity, like most other Christians, have a great deal to do with constructing a meaningful identity. In this way, these narratives have a … [Read more...]

LDS v. USA: Mormonism in the Age of Same-Sex Marriage

In a newspaper interview in 1994, Marty Baudet, the executive director of Affirmation, the flagship gay Mormon support group, said: “I predict society will acknowledge gay rights and, 20 years down the road, the church will find itself out of step once again [as in the case of LDS racial restrictions] and trying not to look bad.”⁠1 Baudet’s prediction was not quite as prophetic as it seems. It took only 19 years.In the wake of this prediction, the Church would spend the past two decades ov … [Read more...]