Shortly after the abrupt end of my nearly quarter-century long editorship of the FARMS Review/Mormon Studies Review and the sudden termination of my involvement with FARMS and the Maxwell Institute, Spencer Fluhman, who succeeded me as editor, kindly invited me to contribute to a roundtable concerning the nature of “Mormon studies.”
That roundtable was published quite some time ago, and it’s now accessible online. Here’s a link to my portion of it:
I would like this little article to be entered into the public record because it indicates quite clearly, I think, my lack of any objection to truth-bracketing “religious studies” approaches to Mormonism. My position has sometimes been misunderstood, and sometimes even misrepresented, as one of opposing non-confessional scholarship and of objecting to writing that fails to “bear testimony” or to argue for Mormon truth claims, as one that rejects any attempt to interact with non-LDS scholars on neutral ground.
On the contrary, I not only recognize that there are legitimate times, places, and venues for such endeavors, but I endorse them. Enthusiastically. I simply deny that they’re the only legitimate scholarly approaches to Mormonism (or Catholicism, or Evangelical Protestantism, or Islam, or Buddhism, or any other worldview). And I absolutely believe that, at Brigham Young University (of all places!) and in an Institute named after Elder Neal A. Maxwell (of all people!) overtly faithful scholarship, including apologetic defenses of the faith, should also have a valued place.
Do I still need to make my actual views any more plain?