A while ago I was reading some sermons from the 1880s in the Journal of Discourses. The 1880s, of course, is the decade when the anti-polygamy crusades were at their most intense. Thousands of Mormons were incarcerated, the Brethren were in hiding from the law much of the time, and every time you turned around there was a new law confiscating Mormon property or disenfranchising Mormon voters. Hence, I was surprised to come across a sermon in which George Q. Cannon spoke unironically of his admiration for George Edmunds. Edmunds was a Republican Senator from Vermont, and the chief proponent of harsher anti-Mormon legislation in Congress. Cannon noted that he disagreed with Edmunds and thought him mistaken. Nevertheless, he said in effect that he thought Edmunds an admirable man of principle. Cannon’s remarks reveal a deep double-mindedness in nineteenth-century Mormonism, a double-mindedness whose preservation surely counts as one of the triumphs of the modern Church.
Richard E. Turley will be speaking at the Wesley Theological Seminary this coming Sunday. Last year I posted a couple of notices about a great series of events that Greg Prince, co-author of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, hosts every few months at his house in Potomac, Maryland.
Do these concepts have anything to do with each other? Apparently some Mormons think they do, hence Davis Bitton’s corrective essay “How Dark Were the Dark Ages?” (conveniently reposted at Meridian Magazine).
For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers.
It might seem that there are few Hegelians in the world today.
My wife and I were in Jerusalem for a week in March. Below are some thoughts on the city, its religious heritage, and the current conflict.
It is hardly news to this crowd that Mormons don’t accept the traditional understanding of the Godhead, the Trinity.
I had just completed the oral defense of my admission-to-PhD-candidacy exams, which emphasized the writings of medieval visionaries and mystics. My advisor extended his hand, and with his typical wry smile, said: “Congratulations. You passed. Now, go home and have a vision!” We all had a good laugh, but for different reasons. They all laughed because they don’t believe visions are possible. I laughed because I knew how much it would unsettle them to know that I do.
As much as we honor the Reformation in general, on closer inspection the individual Reformers have, from a Mormon perspective, some rough edges. Whether or not a given Reformation doctrine is closer to our views than traditional Catholic teaching had been seems about as predictable as a coin toss. One would hope that the Reformers would show tolerance for those of other faiths, but Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin all had their grumpy moments. Is there anyone that we can wholeheartedly embrace as our ideal Reformer? I nominate the Silesian nobleman Caspar Schwenckfeld (1489-1561).
Despite the striking resemblance of the Mormon and Anabaptist experiences, significant differences remain. The Book of Mormon and the temple are the most obvious LDS elements without a precise Anabaptist parallel, but I’m more interested in how similar beginnings have not (yet) led to parallel outcomes.
Mormons are neither Catholic nor Protestant, we often hear, and I see no reason to doubt the basic truth of the statement. Is there any spectrum of Christian religions such that we can say, “Mormonism is one of the X churches”?
Are theological friendships possible between different religions? At times I am skeptical. Consider the always fascinating question of which Christian denomination likes Mormons the least?
Which should we be more strenuously avoiding, and how? Clark Goble suggests that the Church in “the last decade and a half has focused on building on common ground. But that has also (IMO) had unfortunate doctrinal consequences on the population as well as I believe leading to the decrease in conversions the last 5 – 8 years.”
Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of view.
The church seems to have replaced the tribe as God’s pattern for organizing his people–or has it? When God covenanted with Abraham, the covenant was with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7-8+). This covenant was to be fulfilled in part through Abrahamâ€™s righteous leadership as a father
As Latter-day Saints, we often see the world in the terms given to us by Protestants. That isn’t surprising because they are those with whom we’ve had the most interaction as well as those from among whom most of us have been converted. I’m a prime example; before I joined the Church I thought about studying to become a Protestant minister. But the Protestant view of the world isn’t the only one and it isn’t necessarily the best. We often adopt that understanding of the Reformation without reflection, not only because Protestantism is, for us, a major intellectual inheritance, but also because we recognize the important role that the Reformation played in preparing the world for the Restoration.