At the opening of BYU’s 2019 Reconciling Evolution workshop—which focuses on biology pedagogy with religious students— Associate Academic Vice-President John Rosenberg represented the University in welcoming the dozens of participants to BYU. He spoke on the pursuit of knowledge, using medieval depictions of Mary, Gabriel, and the Annunciation. I have adapted from my notes for this post, by permission.
Melvin Cook, famous chemist and ardent LDS young-earth creationist, thought scripture should be interpreted literally.
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 did: I’m going to define the term “literal.” Continue reading “Literal Interpretation of the Scriptures: Why We Need MORE”
(Originally published in 2010 elsewhere) Most people know the genre of “parable” because they’re in the Gospels, but “myth” is poorly understood and the term carries a lot of negative baggage. Like “literal” you have to be very careful throwing around the term without defining it. One simple definition of myth is that myth is worldview in narrative form. That is, it’s a way of explaining one’s conception of how the world works in everyday language or story form. Continue reading “Science and History as Myth and Fiction: Exploring Some Common Labels”
1 John opens reminiscent of both the Gospel of John (thematically) and Luke/Acts (in contrast). That is, the vocabulary and ideas resemble John (the Word of life made visible, eternal life, light/darkness, etc). But the point-of-view contrasts Luke. Whereas Luke says he had to investigate and talk to witness, because he wasn’t a firsthand eyewitness himself, 1Jo 1:1 and 1Jo 1:3 strongly imply the opposite for the author (authors?) of 1 John. Note the plural “we” there, present from the first verses onwards. Is this a rhetorical “we” or a real “we”? Continue reading “Come Follow Me: 1-3 John”
These three epistles are usually grouped with James and the three epistles of John, together called the Catholic Epistles. Greek katholikos means “universal”, and so they are sometimes called the General Epistles, since they’re written universally, to everyone, in general. Once again, there’s not really an overarching theme, so we’re going to play thematic wack-a-mole. Find something significant you like and expand on it. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: 1-2 Peter, Jude”
I assume James gets his own Gospel Doctrine lesson because… Joseph Smith and James 1:5? Not sure, really. But James is “the most socially conscious writing in the New Testament” (Brown, Introduction to the New Testament, 725), so it has that going for it.
Like Timothy and Titus, this epistle lacks a Big Picture woven throughout. Like Timothy and Titus, it contains very practical advice. Like Timothy and Titus, it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: James”
Philemon used to be covered with Philippians and Colossians, and consequently, it went ignored. (Do you remember the last time Philemon came up in Gospel Doctrine?) However, Philemon merits our close attention. It’s short and it offers a great discussion point for something really relevant and important. So, I’ll go long on Philemon (and the bottom has some old-post leftovers about Philippians and Colossians.) Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Philemon”
Three cryptic times in the New Testament (Ephesians 1:14, 2Co 1:22 and 5:5), Paul speaks of the Spirit as an arrabōn, which the KJV translates as “earnest.” But it’s clearly a noun, AN earnest, not an adjective, “an earnest woman.” So what’s Paul talking about? Continue reading “The Importance of Earnest: What Judah and Tamar have to do with Baptism, the Spirit, and Buying a House”
We’re moving into some dense historical, textual, and doctrinal territory today, as there is lots of background to cover. I lean pretty heavily on some of my tools. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: 1-2 Thessalonians”
As always, it’s important to start with setting and context. Remember back in Acts 19, where the silversmiths who make Athena shrines start a riot and get Paul thrown out of the city? “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”? Paul met some disciples there and stuck around for three months, and now he writes to that congregation. Paul himself is now apparently in prison (Eph 4:1) and writing letters. Whether in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea, we don’t know. Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon are known collectively as The Captivity or Prison Letters. These are Paul’s Folsom Prison Concert, if you will. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Ephesians”