BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 19: Mosiah 18-24

My bookshelf

My bookshelf

Latter-day Saints have a thing about Doctrine, with a capital D. We try to define it, we argue about it, we prioritize it. We even misquote scripture which supposedly says “bearing down in pure doctrine” (Alma 4:19), when it actually says “pure testimony.” “Pure doctrine” is not a scriptural phrase, and I’m not even sure what it means. We tend to read scripture looking for doctrine. Sometimes, because of cultural expectations about how to identify doctrine, we can’t see it when it’s right in front of us. Continue reading “BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 19: Mosiah 18-24”

Come Follow Me: Mosiah 12-17

I want to plug Book of Mormon Central for collating published scholarship on lessons- See here for today’s links and summaries. (What they have is partly based on my own old work.) Most of today’s chapters involve Abinadi, his preaching, his words. We tend to read our scriptures without regard for where they came from, or how we got them, but that kind of context is often important. We tend to read direct speech (e.g. “And Abinadi said…”) as verbatim records, but should we? And what difference does it make? Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Mosiah 12-17”

Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!

Red brick store in Nauvoo, where the first endowments were done on May 4, 1842.

Edit: I’ve added this syllabus to the main menu at left, and simplified the url for easy access, to http://BenSpackman.com/syllabus

May 4th holds significance in LDS history: it’s the day Joseph Smith introduced temple ordinances in the upper room of the red brick store in 1842. The temple ties together a number of questions, like: Continue reading “Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!”

Literal Interpretation of the Scriptures: Why We Need MORE

Melvin Cook, famous chemist and ardent LDS young-earth creationist, thought scripture should be interpreted literally, e.g.

My analysis is intended to be strictly literalistic; in my view, intellectual honesty requires literalism in the interpretation of the scriptures.

President Joseph Fielding Smith also made repeated statements about the necessity of reading scripture literally.

I agree with them. But I’ll go one better and do something they never seem to have done: I’m going to define the term “literal.” Continue reading “Literal Interpretation of the Scriptures: Why We Need MORE”

The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly

Something insidious infects our children from the moment they’re born. It’s unstoppable. It surrounds us, burrows in deep, far below our conscious minds, and like a computer virus, writes subtle programming that dictates our worldview, our attitudes, and assumptions, shaping our very reflexes… Ahem. Shifting away from threatening apocalyptic movie-trailer voice, I’m speaking, of course, about culture and tradition,  Continue reading “The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly”

Translation and Context: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, Isaiah and Job at Ugarit

Communication involves not just words, but the context, culture, and worldview in which they are embedded. Simple translation of words alone, reading words alone, however “clear,” will fail to communicate the entire message, because this kind of information is tacit and unstated. Sometimes we can tell we’re missing an intangible something, but most often we can’t even tell that, illustrated extensively in Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes.

Here are some modern examples. Continue reading “Translation and Context: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, Isaiah and Job at Ugarit”