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Patheos Featured Writers

James Faulconer
Columnist

James E. Faulconer (Jim) was born in Missouri and raised as the son of an Army officer. Because of his father’s work, he grew up in Japan, Arkansas, Germany, Texas, Korea, and Massachusetts. Faulconer joined the LDS Church as a teenager in San Antonio, Texas. After serving as a Latter-day Saint missionary in Korea from early 1967 to late 1969, he returned to Brigham Young university. While a student he met and married Janice K. Allen of Herlong, California. They have four children and eleven grandchildren.

Faulconer obtained his BA in English from BYU. Discovering along the way that he wasn't really cut out to be a poet and falling in love with philosophy on the rebound, he took his MA and PhD in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. Faulconer's philosophical interest is primarily in contemporary European philosophy, particularly that associated with and subsequent to Martin Heidegger, such as one finds in the French phenomenological tradition. Currently, for example, most of his reading and research is in the work of Jean-Luc Marion.

Faulconer has taught in the Philosophy Department at BYU since 1975 and is a former holder of the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding. He is the author of Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions (FARMS 1999), Faith, Philosophy, Scripture (Maxwell Institute 2010), and The Life of Holiness (Maxwell Institute 2012), the latter, like the first, the consequence of his hobby of scripture study.

Faulconer has edited three philosophy books, including Reconsidering Psychology (with Richard N. Williams; Duquesne 1990), Appropriating Heidegger (with Mark A. Wrathall; Cambridge 2000), and Transcendence in Philosophy and Religion (Indiana University 2003). His early publications were in the philosophy of psychology, but most recently his publications have been in journals of Continental philosophy, such as Studia Phaenomenologica and Levinas Studies. Faulconer also publishes regularly in LDS journals on topics concerning scripture study and the philosophy of religion. He was formerly a contributor at the group blog Feast upon the Word.

Faulconer is currently living in England as the Academic Director of BYU's London Centre. His job is to be BYU's agent to sponsor and cosponsor academic lectures and conferences in the UK and on the European continent.

Works by James Faulconer
Let's Not Be Heretics
James Faulconer | October 30, 2013
We are not unified just because we agree on theological questions, even when we do....
The Only True Church
James Faulconer | March 14, 2014
What do Mormons mean when we say that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is......
The Mormon Law of Consecration
James Faulconer | March 12, 2015
Zion may always be in transition and always under revision. Perhaps that is what it......
The Promise of Easter
James Faulconer | April 16, 2014
We celebrate the new bodily and spiritual life that he offers, an embrace by God here......
Technology, Interrupted
James Faulconer | May 16, 2012
Amidst the relentless chain of production, grace infuses beauty, truth, and goodness,......
The School of Mormon Theology, or The Lure of Fame
James Faulconer | October 21, 2015
The desire for a faction or party within a larger whole, a sect in the literal sense, is......
Discernment without Judgment
James Faulconer | January 30, 2013
The refusal to judge ought to go beyond refraining from doing. It ought also to mean not......
Divine Life
James Faulconer | April 02, 2014
To live the Christian virtues as they lead from one to another is to come to the Lord......
The Christian Alternative to Demonic Happiness and...
James Faulconer | January 02, 2013
Ivan's story of the Grand Inquisitor sets up a dire choice. But is his scenario really......
Protestant and Catholic Mormons
James Faulconer | January 29, 2015
The danger of identifying too closely with being not-Catholic is that we will forget......
"I Know . . ."
James Faulconer | June 27, 2012
Genuine knowledge is not an objective account, but a deep intimacy with what is known, a......
Coram Deo: Prayer and Life
James Faulconer | September 10, 2015
The more my life is a life of prayer, <em>coram Deo</em>, the more my private prayers......
Being a Body, Owing Grace
James Faulconer | August 29, 2014
We must think about the body in terms of grace: to be embodied is unavoidably to receive......
Confirmation
James Faulconer | September 28, 2011
I am stronger when I am with others who have been strengthened, when I am with others......
"Beyond" the Provinces
James Faulconer | April 13, 2011
We are not in God's provinces rather than Rome's. In the gospel we are in no province at......
Union and Reunion
James Faulconer | October 05, 2011
Part of Mormon missionaries' work is learning to love the companions they work with as......
Transcendence in Mormonism
James Faulconer | March 11, 2011
The being that human beings share with God -- the being of intelligence -- is not fully......
Mormons and Money: Consecration
James Faulconer | January 26, 2012
Perhaps the most overlooked facet of Mormonism is that, within the history of Mormonism......
Mother's Day and Mary's Work
James Faulconer | May 09, 2012
We can honor our mothers as inheritors of the work of Mary....
The Kingdom of God: Here and Now
James Faulconer | February 07, 2013
To the degree that Christians postpone the kingdom of God for another world at another......
Staying in Sunday School
James Faulconer | October 03, 2013
Why not just cancel Sunday School if it isn't giving us what it should? Many people take......
The Odd Thing: Prayer
James Faulconer | October 18, 2012
We make a mistake if we believe that the point of prayer is the communication of......
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
James Faulconer | March 13, 2013
Having the Holy Spirit doesn't mean power, will, and vainglory. It means meekness, love,......
Ralph makes us uncomfortable because he won't quit asking those questions even when we......
Dread of Death and Hope of Resurrection
James Faulconer | September 05, 2013
Christ's resurrection is a proof of our faith and the cause of our hope....
There is room in Mormonism for private devotion, but at its heart it is a religion of......
Our Responsibility to Relieve Suffering
James Faulconer | November 11, 2013
Others needn't share my particular, Mormon beliefs to know that those who believe are......
Asking the Humility Question: Is It I?
James Faulconer | October 09, 2014
It's always easier to point the finger and be satisfied with our own righteousness, but......
Advice for a Mormon Intellectual, Part 1
James Faulconer | December 04, 2013
I want to give some probably presumptuous advice to Mormon intellectuals, advice that I......
How Do I Understand Faith?
James Faulconer | July 04, 2012
We may not have the faith needed at this very moment, but the divine promise is that we......
Every Day Is the Last Day: Advent Reflections for Mormons
James Faulconer | December 01, 2011
The gospel promise is that the power of the resurrection will be literal. It is also the......
The Lord Thy God Hath Chosen Thee
James Faulconer | February 17, 2011
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been called through prophecy to be a......
Perfect Love Casteth out Fear
James Faulconer | January 06, 2011
John and Mormon teach us that we have no reason to fear God's judgment if we live......
Profaning
James Faulconer | May 18, 2011
My task is to live a life of gratitude for what I have been given, a life that does not......
The Restoration of Priesthood Authority
James Faulconer | June 01, 2011
Our understanding of authority is at the foundation of our self-understanding as a......
Continuing Revelation
James Faulconer | October 19, 2011
We need continuing revelation, both as a church and as individuals, because that which......
The real way to effect change is not protest or revolution; it's family...
Living with Ahab, Jezebel, and the Pharaoh
James Faulconer | March 30, 2011
To what degree are we complicit with the order of Ahab, Jezebel, and the Pharaoh? Do I......
Something Else I Don't Know
James Faulconer | January 05, 2012
I am willing to live with uncertainty or ignorance in the face of my questions because I......
The Responsibility of (Mormon) Intellectuals
James Faulconer | January 19, 2012
We must not allow our intellects to separate us from the other members of the Church and......
He Comes
James Faulconer | December 16, 2010
Christians are called to patience, constancy, and stillness, to contemplative, expectant......
Leaving a Trace
James Faulconer | July 30, 2013
All of us are teachers. We all show others what we believe it means to live well, what......
Can we understand the Three Nephites as people, like the bodhisattva and the......
The Tension of Prophecy
James Faulconer | July 24, 2013
As individuals, as family members, as members of congregations, we are supposed to live......
Challenging Expectations
James Faulconer | June 26, 2013
When our religion ceases to challenge our ordinary expectations, either we have reached......
French Kangaroos: Notes from Bordeaux
James Faulconer | December 12, 2012
I've been guilty of assuming that most of the scholarly work on Mormonism must surely be......
The Fallacy of "Pure" Evil
James Faulconer | July 26, 2012
The Aurora killings were perpetrated not by a monster, but by someone who is in many......
Faith, the First Principle of the Gospel
James Faulconer | February 28, 2013
Faith is the trust we exhibit when we trust in God and respond to the call he makes......
Enmity
James Faulconer | October 24, 2012
It's all too easy to slip from a righteous hatred of evil into an unholy hatred of......
Advice for a Mormon Intellectual, Part 2
James Faulconer | December 11, 2013
Seven more presumptuous suggestions for Mormon intellectuals....
The Word of Wisdom, a Mormon Health Law
James Faulconer | October 04, 2012
Observing the Word of Wisdom means making a small sacrifice regularly, a token of my......
Suffering: No Artful Dodger
James Faulconer | February 24, 2011
Rather than opting out, we must learn how to live with suffering, which means "learn how......
Being Perfect; Perfect Being
James Faulconer | January 20, 2011
I do not need to compare myself to others or to demand a yardstick for deciding how......
Hidden Sorrow
James Faulconer | September 21, 2011
What if God changed our hearts so that we could see the world as a place of suffering, a......
LDS General Conference from the Inside
James Faulconer | April 06, 2011
In our General Conference we come together before God, and we know and can say things we......
The Food of the Kingdom
James Faulconer | November 02, 2011
It's a long road home to God. What will sustain us for the journey?...
The Kindness of Strangers
James Faulconer | November 10, 2011
Much of the magic of our lives comes from strangers....
Welcome to the World and the Ward
James Faulconer | July 13, 2011
When we name and bless a baby, we're doing much more than naming and blessing....
Magic Underwear? Your Own Planet?
James Faulconer | July 20, 2011
Certainly Mormons have some unusual beliefs and practices when compared to other......
Work We Must, But the Lunch Is Free
James Faulconer | August 03, 2011
Those who have a virtue have different psyches than those who don't, but the difference......
Obedience and Grace
James Faulconer | August 31, 2011
In spite of what it may sound like to someone else, Mormon talk about obedience does not......
Friendship
James Faulconer | June 23, 2011
It might surprise most Mormons to discover that Joseph Smith said, "Friendship is the......
Certainty, Doubt, and Pride: Interfaith Discussion
James Faulconer | June 08, 2011
The fact that there is truth about God -- and assuming that I know what that truth is --......
Joseph Smith's Translations
James Faulconer | March 28, 2012
Joseph's Smith's translations of texts were primarily the transmission of revealed......
Mormon Apostles?
James Faulconer | March 21, 2012
The most important part of what apostles do is bear testimony to the reality that Jesus......
Fifty Years as a Mormon
James Faulconer | February 02, 2012
The last fifty years have been good to me in many ways, but all of those ways are given......
My Responsibility for Pain: The Bully Within
James Faulconer | December 12, 2014
Every being is inexorably part of the lace of life and creation. Every other person is......
The Mormon Moment(um)?
James Faulconer | November 14, 2012
Because of Huntsman's and Romney's runs for the Republican nomination and the U.S.......
Toes, Fingers, and All that Stuff: Resurrection
James Faulconer | April 04, 2012
For Mormons the value of the body and the expectation that Christians will work to......
To Be Possessed by God
James Faulconer | September 19, 2014
Knowledge of God is the most important knowledge to have, and that knowledge is not......
How Theology Hurts, and Might Help, Mormons
James Faulconer | May 08, 2014
Many Mormons mistakenly believe that there is pure doctrine somewhere, some set of......
The Other World Must Be Revealed
James Faulconer | April 10, 2014
We rebel by being unable to hear and see. We cannot see our real condition. We cannot......
Reading Scripture: What's the Point?
James Faulconer | May 23, 2012
Some tips on how to read scripture in fruitful ways. The most important element?......
Reconciliation in Suffering
James Faulconer | August 22, 2012
We can move in ways of reconciliation even before the pain is gone or the justice......
We're Not in Provo Anymore
James Faulconer | March 07, 2014
We all know that stereotypes are dangerous to those who don't fit them, yet we ignore......
Death and Resurrection
James Faulconer | March 27, 2013
I still don't understand this central teaching of Christianity, that Christ suffered for......
Enlarging Our Memory
James Faulconer | August 01, 2012
Rehearsing our memories of God's goodness leads us toward repentance....
Salvation as Divine Life
James Faulconer | May 02, 2012
Grace is received through and in a God-given and God-ordered life. This is not about......
Being a Hypocrite
James Faulconer | April 26, 2012
Since the danger of self-deception is so great, especially when it comes to thinking......
Being the Body of Christ
James Faulconer | August 06, 2014
Membership in the community attests to the multiplicity of the self that Christian......
Mormonism in an Expanding World
James Faulconer | September 03, 2014
Like every religion, especially in the West we face the issue of how to deal with our......
Love, Faith, and Hope
James Faulconer | February 04, 2011
Love means exposure, uncertainty and fidelity....
The Fragility and Sweetness of Life
James Faulconer | July 06, 2011
Life gets sweeter as we learn to accept its fragility....
The Mormon Understanding of Persons . . . and God
James Faulconer | August 17, 2011
Has God existed forever? Have we? An exploration of LDS teachings about personhood....
Sometimes Mormons Drive Me Crazy
James Faulconer | October 16, 2013
I am a Mormon and I love being one. I love "my people" as well as my church. But......
Maturing Spiritually
James Faulconer | November 20, 2013
Helping others toward maturity requires spiritual maturity on our own part....
Living with Fallibility
James Faulconer | November 21, 2014
The documents recently released by the LDS Church are important to me because I hope......
Living Into Eternal Progression
James Faulconer | September 25, 2014
Recognizing our humanity, they teach us that we can be more, and the "more" that we can......
Suffer with Him
James Faulconer | September 27, 2012
Divine power is the power to feel pain with and for others, the power to feel pain and......
The Strength of Weakness
James Faulconer | September 11, 2013
The promise is that God's blessings and presence will come without compulsion, without......
Are We Strange Enough?
James Faulconer | August 16, 2012
The problem of Christian life in the secular world is not that we are foreigners in that......
Friendship and Charity
James Faulconer | June 05, 2013
Though our friendship doesn't often express itself through overtly religious discussions......
Taking the Red Pill of Theology
James Faulconer | July 12, 2012
Theology is not necessary to the work of the gospel or salvation. But some of us can't......
To My Sikh Friends
James Faulconer | June 27, 2012
I am sorry that we are ignorant of your beliefs, and suspicious of your faithfulness....
A Public Conversation about Mormonism
James Faulconer | September 19, 2012
The Mormon view of the world is different than the worldview of either political party,......
Forgiving Myself
James Faulconer | May 25, 2011
The idea of self-forgiveness is more than psycho-babble. Surely those who speak in those......
Some of the most important questions we can ask are about the life we should live, not......
I'm Not Offended; I'm Tired
James Faulconer | October 13, 2011
Can someone explain to me Jeffress' reasoning? His rhetoric is neither accurate nor......
What Is Scripture?
James Faulconer | February 16, 2012
Whatever we accept as scripture, however we describe its provenance, whether we believe......
Born of a Woman
James Faulconer | December 23, 2010
The Redeemer is born of a woman and makes himself womanly in making our rebirth......
Mormon Missionaries
James Faulconer | January 23, 2013
The Mormon missionary model not only provides new converts to the Church, it shapes and......
Meaning Without Metaphysics
James Faulconer | May 15, 2014
Beliefs, theological or otherwise, don't have a special, more fundamental place in their......
"They Without Us Cannot Be Made Perfect"
James Faulconer | April 04, 2012
The teaching is one of eternal love and commitment rather than of force and coercion.......
Organized Religion ... or Not?
James Faulconer | February 21, 2013
Despite the risks, the communal nature of life necessitates organization, but we need......
Scripture Study
James Faulconer | November 07, 2012
Reading scripture is not what we sometimes assume. It is not like reading a manual of......
How Do Mormons Understand the Gospel?
James Faulconer | June 06, 2012
Mormons differ from other Christians in significant ways, but there is little difference......
Bodies All the Way Down, and Up
James Faulconer | October 10, 2012
Everything is material even if there is material that we presently cannot see or......
From Explanations to Atonement
James Faulconer | December 19, 2012
If we cannot hope to permanently rid the universe of evil, then what can we hope for?......
Faith and Reason: Mutually Dependent
James Faulconer | May 30, 2012
Reason requires faithful response to those who surround and precede us, whose very......
A Mormon Understanding of Repentance and Baptism
James Faulconer | March 06, 2013
After repentance and baptism, the world ought to appear to us as a different place....
Are Mormons Christians? A Response to Ben Witherington
James Faulconer | August 29, 2012
Beliefs, practices, and history all point to Mormonism as a genuine expression of......
Sealing the Living and the Dead: The Eternal Family
James Faulconer | October 16, 2014
Why do we seal spouses to each other, children to parents, and living persons to their......
Let Earth Receive Her King
James Faulconer | December 15, 2011
Joy comes to us where we are rather than someplace else. Jesus comes to where we are......
The Most Dangerous Atheism
James Faulconer | March 07, 2012
If believers think that the most important thing they can do to combat atheism is take......
"Just say . . . whatever!"
James Faulconer | December 09, 2010
A religion needs a standard of belief -- a creed and then a theology to interpret that......
At the Beginning: An Introduction to Speaking Silence
James Faulconer | December 02, 2010
I hope to find a middle way, a way that crosses the several gaps -- between my......
Mastery and Letting Go
James Faulconer | February 13, 2013
The paradox is that when we give up the desire for mastery we first become slaves and......
Marriage and Human Being
James Faulconer | September 12, 2012
What exactly is marriage? How does it make it possible for the married couple to do......
Two Kinds of Religion
James Faulconer | March 20, 2014
That greatest of atheists, Nietzsche, may have been right in his arguments about one......
A (Sun)day in the Life of a Mormon
James Faulconer | June 13, 2012
Worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different than......
What Is Scripture: Muslims and Mormons
James Faulconer | April 18, 2012
I know the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, but I can also say I know......
The Hope of Resurrection: Personal and Political
James Faulconer | August 08, 2013
Mormons expectantly and patiently hope for the resurrection of the communal body as well......
Thanksgiving
James Faulconer | November 21, 2012
Count your blessings, past, present, and future....
Thought's New Regime
James Faulconer | February 19, 2014
How do we translate Christianity for the world in which transcendence makes no sense?...
The Call of the Gospel
James Faulconer | October 23, 2013
The real pursuit is fidelity to the call of the gospel and the Person to whom it calls......
Gospel: From Problem to Promise
James Faulconer | April 27, 2015
There is no answer to the question of suffering if an answer means an explanation of its......
There is a foundational knowledge that is prior to both subjective and objective......
The Overlooked Bondage of Our Common Sense
James Faulconer | July 27, 2014
When we read scripture, if we do not hear the call to be something <em>more</em>, then......
As we move more deeply into the 21st century, there are two major issues we must address......
Rejoice Evermore: The Lord Will Come Down from Heaven
James Faulconer | December 08, 2011
God has come among us. He will come again. We remember and rejoice....
The Book of Mormon, A Gift
James Faulconer | February 10, 2011
Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon has the power to shape our lives more than......
The Touch of God
James Faulconer | January 14, 2011
My faith allows me to see God in things and events; I see the Creator in his creations,......
The Work of Mourning
James Faulconer | September 07, 2011
So the work of mourning is to recognize the losses brought by death as real and to make......
Holy Week
James Faulconer | April 20, 2011
Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection are the ultimate symbolic enactment of......
How Mormons Understand Baptism
James Faulconer | July 27, 2011
Even a child can understand that we must repent and trust in Jesus Christ, and that our......
Responding to "The Book of Mormon"
James Faulconer | June 15, 2011
We may not be able to convince those who think our stories are goofy that they are......
Sendai
James Faulconer | March 17, 2011
Mourning, prayer, and (for most of us) money, those are what it means now to be among......
What Is a Mormon Prophet?
James Faulconer | March 14, 2012
Most often prophetic revelation is much like the revelation others receive in their......
Mormon Saints
James Faulconer | January 09, 2013
We are called saints. The covenant that makes us saints also obligates us to be pure.......
Justice and Righteousness
James Faulconer | July 18, 2012
Faithfulness requires that we strive to live in a just world and to create one beyond......
What Can I Do?
James Faulconer | October 31, 2012
If we have received God's grace, we must share it. Not to share it would be to receive......
Speaking in Tongues
James Faulconer | July 16, 2013
I cannot learn to understand others or learn how to make myself understood to them if......
Sexuality: The Path of Unity with God
James Faulconer | August 18, 2014
We not only believe but ritualize the importance of sexual difference to Christian life......
Our Hypocrisies
James Faulconer | June 18, 2013
Most often we are hypocrites when, thinking that we are doing what is right and good, we......
Persuasion and Repentance: The Nexus of Faith and Reason
James Faulconer | February 18, 2015
The point of persuasion is to bring about change, a change in us, in our relationship,......
Nous Sommes Tous Satiristes Juifs
James Faulconer | January 09, 2015
There's not much more that can be said at times like these....
A Changing World and a Continuing Revelation
James Faulconer | November 28, 2012
God must fit his revelations to our understanding and weakness, so that as our......
Certainty and Trust: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
James Faulconer | October 30, 2014
God seems to prefer that we trust him than that we have objective, scientific facts......
Faith Is Not Belief
James Faulconer | August 29, 2013
Faith rather than belief is central to Christianity. But if we equate the two, then our......
The Fall: Misery, Woe, and Blessing?
James Faulconer | June 20, 2012
Adam and Eve's transgression made our existence and redemption possible....
Proving God
James Faulconer | September 25, 2013
The real question is not whether God will be adequate to proof, but whether I will....
The Atrophy of Law, the Breath of Grace
James Faulconer | August 15, 2013
Our only hope of full human existence is in no longer fearing grace....
Be of Good Cheer
James Faulconer | July 16, 2014
The theme of the need for courage and the courage or cheer that the gospel brings......
The Joy of Bethlehem
James Faulconer | December 22, 2011
May the tidings of Bethlehem open our hearts to the joy of its Child....
Mormons and the Cross
James Faulconer | May 11, 2011
Mormons meditate on Christ's crucifixion when we partake of the Lord's Supper, so we do......
Friendship and Divine Imitation
James Faulconer | April 27, 2011
Full friendship with God is more than something merely inward. Being like God requires......
The Order of the Ordinary
James Faulconer | March 07, 2011
There is a broad order to my life into which the things I encounter, the work I do, and......
In the World
James Faulconer | March 24, 2011
Whatever our doctrinal disagreements, whatever our differences about authority or......
How Do Mormons Understand Salvation?
James Faulconer | January 12, 2012
Salvation is not just being beyond the power of the things, persons, and powers that......