D&C 20:1, Plain Reading, and Literal Reading; or, Chexegesis Before You Wrexegesis

The line “check yourself before you wreck yourself” is from a rap song and also happens to be good advice. “Chexegesis before you wrexegesis” adapts that wisdom to the realm of scripture, that you shouldn’t make strong declarations about scripture’s meaning without checking up on what it actually says and means. Continue reading “D&C 20:1, Plain Reading, and Literal Reading; or, Chexegesis Before You Wrexegesis”

What I’m Doing Here, and What I Hope Others Will Do

I am not an “evolution apologist.” Although I suspect I have more scientific training than your average historian, I’m not a scientist. And more likely than not, neither is my average reader. For that reason, and because I don’t follow the specialized and technical literature, I don’t engage in scientific debate about evolution. Rather, in keeping with my own training and expertise, my approach is historical, scriptural, and theological.  And historically, I understand how and why evolution has come to be the dominant way to make sense of mountains of data across multiple fields, and why 98% of scientists accept evolution as the best explanation of all that data. Continue reading “What I’m Doing Here, and What I Hope Others Will Do”

Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot

From 1934-5, the age of the earth, evolution, and scripture was hotly debated in the Deseret News. (See here for a little history and context.) Elders John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith wrote nothing themselves, but encouraged, solicited, and pushed articles reflecting their own views. On Widtsoe’s side was James E. Talmage’s son Sterling, who had received a PhD in geology. (JET had died the year before.) On Smith’s side, were several people, including Sidney Sperry, Major Howard S. Bennion, and Dudley J. Whitney, a Pentecostal farmer. Continue reading “Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot”

Mark E. Petersen, Expertise, Interpretation, and McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine

Many people are aware that Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s book Mormon Doctrine was not universally received among Church leadership as a positive thing. That story has been told in a number of places, from a number of perspectives. This, however, was new to me, summarizing from this article and expanding from the McKay diaries, around Jan 14, 1960. Continue reading “Mark E. Petersen, Expertise, Interpretation, and McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine”