Old Manuals, Unintended Consequences, and the Optimistic Turn of “Come Follow Me”

At an amazing S&I address a few years ago, Elder Ballard described past curriculum as well-meaning, but inadequate.

It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly, our young people lived a sheltered life. Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today

Continue reading “Old Manuals, Unintended Consequences, and the Optimistic Turn of “Come Follow Me””

A Paradoxical Preservation of Faith: LDS Creation Accounts and the Composite Nature of Revelation

Creation of the Sun, Sistine Chapel

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.

Give it a read.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here, or you can support my work through making your regular Amazon purchases through the Amazon links I post. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). You can also follow Benjamin the Scribe on Facebook. If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you’re a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I’m not acquainted with.

“Absolutist” Revelation and Creation Accounts in Moses, Abraham, and the Temple

I presented a short paper at the Joseph Smith Papers conference a few weeks ago, a spin-off from my Genesis 1 manuscript. (I presented an expanded version at the 2019 FAIR Conference.)
My basic argument was this. Certain common conceptions of revelation, which I term “absolutist,” cannot account for the major textual, doctrinal, and other differences between Genesis, Moses, Abraham, and the temple; this suggests we need to think and teach about revelation differently and in more depth.  Continue reading ““Absolutist” Revelation and Creation Accounts in Moses, Abraham, and the Temple”

The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It

Ben contemplating his words at Petra.

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”

An essay on the nature of prophetic knowledge, with a side helping of evolution

Ben contemplates his words, at Petra.

Regardless of what you think about evolution, it poses a problem. In the past, the issue might have been framed as “since we know scripture is true, the science behind evolution must be false. How do we make sense of this?”

Today, the hypothetical teenager might wrestle with this question from the other side. “Since we know human evolution is true, and God knows all truth, why don’t God’s earthly proxies like scripture and prophets seem to know it?” Continue reading “An essay on the nature of prophetic knowledge, with a side helping of evolution”

D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 42: Some important background and resources on OD2

Rubens, Cain Slaying Abel (Public domain)

Rubens, Cain Slaying Abel (Public domain)

This, I think, is important enough for a post. Lesson 42 on Continuing Revelation highlights Official Declaration #2, the written aftermath of the 1978 revelation. So whether you’re teaching or commenting, you should get informed, because there’s a lot of misinformation and tradition out there.

First, get familiar with the Gospel Topics Essay called Race and the Priesthood. If you’re a teacher, Elder Ballard thinks you ought to know this material “like the back of your hand” and “If you have questions about them, then please ask someone who has studied them and understands them.” Well, below are two. Continue reading “D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 42: Some important background and resources on OD2”

Announcement: MI Seminar Conference on Thursday

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 11.23.59 PMThe Maxwell Institute Seminar draws to an end with a public conference this Thursday. I’ll be speaking at 9:40 on Mormonism as Rough Stone Rolling: Towards a Theology of Encountering the World.

The full schedule is below.

 

Mormonism Engages the World”

Thursday, August 3
9:30 AM to 4:30 PM MST

Brigham Young University
Joseph F. Smith Building
Education in Zion Theater

Co-sponsored by the Mormon Scholars Foundation and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

MORNING SESSION

9:30 AM
Welcome and Invocation

9:40 AM
Ben Spackman
“Mormonism as a Rough Stone Rolling: Towards a Theology of Encountering the World”

10:10 AM
Amber Taylor
“A Patriotism of Peace: Suffrage, Americanization, and the Peace Movement among Early Twentieth-Century Mormon Women”

10:40 AM
Jessica Nelson
“World War II and Making Modern Mormonism”

11:10 AM
Richelle Wilson
“The Disenchantment of Callings: From Consecration to Delegation”

11:40 AM
Aubrie Mema
“The Suffering Christ: Finding the Tragic in Mormon Art”

12:10–1:25
LUNCH BREAK

AFTERNOON SESSION

1:30 PM
Randy Powell
“Savin’ for a Rainy Day: Mormon Food Storage and the Survivalist Movement”

2:00 PM
Adam Brasich
“‘An Everlasting Order’: Fundamentalist Mormonism’s Response to the Great Depression”

2:30 PM
Gavin Feller
“Modest with a Little Mystery: Television, Swimsuits, and Mormonism in 1950s America”

3:00 PM
Liz Brocious
“Invitation to a ‘Mix and Mingle’: Bringing a Mormon Theology of Agency in Conversation with a Secular Theory of Self”

3:30 PM
Ty Mansfield
“‘Eternal Companions’: Orders of Priesthood, Victorian Romanticism, and Shifting Narratives in Mormon Discourse on Marriage and Family”

4:00 PM
Norma Calabrese
“Mormonism: (The Challenge to Become) a Glocal Church in a Globalized World”

“Glocal” btw, is a combination of global and local.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here, or you can support my work through making your regular Amazon purchases through this Amazon link. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you’re a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I’m not acquainted with.