Author Archives: smallaxe

Welcome Jondh and Yellow Dart

We’d like to welcome two guest bloggers: Jondh from SundayPage and Yellow Dart from LDS Kai Ta Biblia. (For more on them see their “about” pages.) Both are young scholars planning on going to grad school in Biblical or Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Let’s welcome them to FPR!


Filed under Administrative

What’s Missing From the Three-Fold Mission?

I don’t really know much about the history of the Three-Fold Mission of the Church:

To Perfect the Saints, Proclaim the Gospel, and Redeem the Dead

(Perhaps someone can refer something to read)

I do know, however, that the Three-Fold Mission has been a central component of my church experience as long as I can remember. It seems, in most regards, that the Three-Fold Mission is meant to express the purpose of the Church (a “mission statement” for our religious organization). If I were to restate it succinctly it would be something like: To make (and keep) people a part of our church.  Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized

Interpretation and Revelation

I’ve been thinking lately about the question of revelation; not necessarily in a definitional sense (in terms of this post we can talk about revelation as knowledge revealed from God to his prophet(s)), but in a material sense–is revelation an idea interpreted into a particular language, recorded on paper, edited, and reproduced for others to read? Or is the reproduction the revelation itself? (And if so, then how materially should we take it–is the reproduced paper and ink sacred? Or if we download it, does our computer become sanctified? I remember a visiting GA on my mission talking about the power of having the BoM open when teaching, even when not using it.) 

I don’t believe there’s a clear cut answer (and it may vary from situation to situation); but I do believe that our response to this question, perhaps tells us a lot about the way we view the authority of prophets.  Continue reading


Filed under Doctrine

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction

In March Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction will be published as a part of Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction series. For those unfamiliar with the series, Oxford has put out over 300 titles written by “experts” in particular fields (the volume on Kant by Roger Scruton from the University of London, for instance is a fantastically accessible introduction). They are brief (around 100 pages 4×6 inches), and meant for the non-specialist.
Richard Bushman is the author of the volume on Mormonism. While it certainly won’t find the same use as the introductions by Shipps , Eliason , or Davies , one cannot but wonder what attention it will draw and where it will have its impact. I think the market for it is more akin to the Dummies series in which Riess has done the piece on Mormonism, which means it might not find its way into college classrooms, but may make it into the hands of those looking to know more about Mormonism than simply reading what they can find online (although Oxford’s introduction series tends to be written by some of the larger figures in the field).
What are your thoughts about Bushman’s Introduction? Which introductions have you been recommending? And would you consider recommending Bushman’s introduction instead, given its genre and the situations you find yourself recommending books on Mormonism.


Filed under Mormon Studies

A Course on Mormonism at Harvard

For the first time in the history of the Harvard Divinity School (as far as I can tell), a course on Mormonism (“Mormonism and the American Experience” taught by Melissa Proctor) will be offered. Continue reading


Filed under Mormon Studies

The Immaculate Reception… BYU Style

Leave it to a BYU student to invoke the name of the Lord in BYU’s win last weekend over the U.

Austin Collie, who caught a 49-yard pass on 4th and 18 to keep the drive alive (which eventually put BYU ahead for good), had this to say in a post-game interview: “Obviously, when you’re doing what’s right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in a plays a part.”

His comment, of course, has generated quite bit of controversy.

My gut reaction is to dismiss the statement as youthful frivolity; but is there any way in which it could be true?

 Oh, and for those unfamiliar with the “Immaculate Reception” see here.


Filed under Uncategorized

Which Rule is More Golden?

1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2) Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.

Or are they both more or less the same?


Filed under Doctrine

BYU Hiring Ancient Scrip Prof

BYU is looking to hire a professor of ancient scripture in their department of Religious Education. For the entire posting go here.

Here is an excerpt from the listing. Below it are some thoughts.
Continue reading


Filed under BYU

If All is Sacred

If all is sacred, is nothing sacred?

This is related to a previous discussion here at FPR.

The categories of “sacred” and “profane” have a long history in the study of religion. And attempts to collapse the sacred and profane can be understood many different ways. I actually find it valuable to consider “All as Sacred”; but not in the sense that “the sacred” is simply a spatial category. IMO, the sacred is a relational category contingent on how we perform within a given space. In other words the sacred is a mode of becoming involving multiple parties (us and God in most cases), rather than a state of being that exists independent of my performance and simply within a given space. In this light, everything is sacred in that there is a proper and an improper way of us performing life’s events (including the option of non-performance in cases that call for it). To perform it improperly is to desecrate a sacrality within ourselves. The sacred, IMO, need not be understood simply an external quality found in a given sphere.


Filed under Doctrine, Speculation

Have We Been Praying to Her All Along?

Submitted from an anonymous reader: 

If “the song of the righteous is a prayer” (D&C 25:12), does singing “O My Father” constitute praying to Heavenly Mother? It does, after all, contain the line “Father, Mother, may I meet you / In your royal courts on high? / Then, at length, when I’ve completed / All you sent me forth to do /  With your mutual approbation / Let me come and dwell with you.” 


Filed under Doctrine, Speculation