Notices are going out for the MHA Conference this year, to be held in Rochester NY, June 4-7. The schedule is not up yet, but a panel I organized has been accepted, entitled “Developing LDS Exegesis, Hermeneutics, and Epistemology from 1876-1980: Trends and Influences.” Continue reading “Mormon History Association Conference 2020: Scripture, Science, Interpretation, and Fundamentalism”
Several scholars have identified a LDS shift in the mid-20th-century towards a kind of fundamentalism. In 1980, for example, Leonard Arrington reflected in his journal on the
[emergence] at BYU in the 1950s…. particularly in the College of Religion [of] A sort of Mormon Fundamentalism like Protestant Fundamentalism [which] Emphasizes Biblical literalism, rejects the Higher Criticism [in biblical studies, and] the law of evolution… Continue reading “The 1950s: A Fundamentalist Shift”
A friend asked me for some references on how Evangelicals think about scripture, so I naturally turned it into a blogpost. Let me introduce this with a few basic points about definitions and history. Continue reading “Understanding Evangelicals and Scripture”
My 2019 FAIRMormon Conference presentation is up now, here. There’s a lot in the footnotes as well.
The takeaway is this: Many LDS have unsustainably fundamentalist assumptions about the nature of revelation, prophets, and scripture. The conflict these cause sometimes leads to a loss of faith, instead of recognizing and reexamining the assumptions.
I draw on a variety of things to argue against these assumptions, to argue that revelation is composite, that is, always contains divine and human aspects, and we should expect those. It’s ok, though, because it’s a progressive, iterative process. As time goes on, the human progresses towards the divine until the categories overlap completely. But we’re not there yet and won’t be for a long time.
So I take Acts 15:28 as my paradigm for understanding Church leadership. “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.”
Paradoxically, it is by recognizing and understanding the presence of the human that my faith in the divine is preserved.
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However the divine inspiration or divine origin of the Torah might have worked, it apparently did not involve starting with an absolutely clean slate.– James Kugel
Let me open by saying, this is a wide-ranging and complex subject; I may well prove to be wrong on this or that point. You may well quibble with some of what I’ve written, and I may be missing important nuances here or there, and it’s a bit scattered and repetitive. Let’s get those disclaimers out of the way. Continue reading “Covenant and Law, Grace, Works, and Faith Resources”
One of my qualifying exams is in Reformation history. As the story goes, Oct 31 is the day Martin Luther nailed his
99 95 theses to the door of the church, so Oct 31 is sometimes known as Reformation Day. What many people don’t know is that a) this story doesn’t mean what people think it does and b) it might not even have happened. Continue reading “Reformation Readings for Reformation Day (Oct 31)”
“You either believe the scriptures or you don’t.” I have, on occasion, been accused of wresting or disbelieving scripture. More often than not, this accusation has come from well-meaning people of my own faith who don’t understand how interpretation of scripture works. Often, they don’t even understand that interpretation exists.
It is impossible to read scripture without making an implicit claim as to what a passage means, which is “interpretation.” So everyone is interpreting, all the time, consciously or unconsciously. Continue reading ““You either believe the scriptures or you don’t””
BYU’s Late Summer Honors offered a course recently called, “What Does it Mean to be Human? A Scientific and Spiritual Journey into Human Origins.” I was invited to take a 3-hr class period to talk about what Genesis has to say about evolution and the place of humanity in creation. I’ve presented much of what I said before, in other venues, but virtually everything was new to these freshman honors students. By necessity, I tried to keep it simple and use some humor. Continue reading “Genesis and Evolution: A BYU Guest Lecture”
I was grateful for the invitation to speak at UVU’s Mormon Studies Conference on Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith in February. I spoke about how and why we’ve come to understand the creation chapters of Genesis certain ways, and then participated in a panel on evolution with two BYU biologists. You can watch my presentation here, with subtitles. My slides aren’t visible, but you can download them here (pdf) to follow along. Continue reading “The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It”