“Liberal” and “Orthodox” Views on the Faith of Abraham

AbrahamA while back I did a post called The Faith of Abraham where I discussed the considerable challenges surrounding the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice Isaac. I have been in conversation recently with a blogger from Wheat and Tares about this story because it really bothers him — to the point where he has come up with ways to discount it as truly having come from God. As the discussion went on we agreed to ‘take it public’ because its such an interesting topic for discussion. His response to my post is found here. He then posted it on W&T today.

One thing I’ve long believed is that this story largely defines the difference between what it generally means to be “conservative” vs. “liberal” when it comes to religion. Maybe I’m over emphasizing this, but this tends to be a pretty good litmus test. Further, this particular story and the discussion that follows is a fairly straightforward example of why I self-identify as a “conservative” despite being quite literally 25% atheist and only 75% believer. Those that know me know that I believe that liberal theology is a rational non-starter. It doesn’t even make it out the rational gate for me and this is a great example of why.

Summary of Liberal Friend’s Argument

First, let me summarize his argument, though I hope you’ll all go read his full post yourselves. Continue reading

Inviting All Critics

It appears many who read Millennial Star are tending to personal concerns on Saturdays and religious commitments on Sundays.

At least that’s my hypothesis for why relatively few individuals responded to my examination posted Sunday showing Eliza R. Snow’s own poetry indicates she was seduced by Bennett and places the death of the child that resulted in November 1842.

Then there’s the discussion I put up about Ordain Women.

So for those who are waiting for a Monday tweet to prompt them to read interesting content, here’s your tweet. For any who do not agree with me, this is also a formal challenge to tell me what facts inform your opinion that I am wrong. Opinions uninformed by facts will be found to be less persuasive, possibly ridiculous (literally inviting ridicule).

The game is on.

Eliza and the Stairs

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

Eliza R. Snow, circa 1850

Eliza R. Snow, circa 1850

Eliza Snow is arguably the most prominent woman in early Mormon history. Though Emma was Joseph’s wife and help-meet, Eliza Snow would go west with the Saints. She was an adviser to Brigham Young, president of the Relief Society, and was influential in the formation of both the children’s ministry (Primary) and the youth ministry (now called Young Men and Young Women). Eliza was prominent in the campaign that won female suffrage in Utah in 1870 – fully fifty years before all women in the rest of the United States would receive the right to vote. 1

Besides all these accomplishments, Eliza Snow was regarded as a prophetess, and her hundreds of poems were treasured, whether they conveyed doctrine (e.g., the concept of a Mother in Heaven conveyed by the hymn “Oh My Father) or comforted those who had recently lost an infant. 2

Eliza as Deceitful Seducer

In 1984 Doubleday published Mormon Enigma, a biography of Emma Smith written by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery. In 1984 there was great excitement about a number of previously undiscovered documents from early Mormon history, including documents painting Joseph Smith as a being committed to a magical worldview, telling of a vision of a white salamander, and documenting Joseph’s use of magic to dig for money.

As Linda Newell and Valeen Avery put together their view of Joseph’s wife, Emma, they used these new documents to inform their understanding of the man Emma loved. They found Joseph to be a flawed man who wedded and bedded women behind Emma’s back. The betrayal Val Avery felt Joseph had practiced caused her so much distress that she could only write about Joseph and these women for a few minutes before she would literally feel the gorge rise within her. Val would vomit, then go lay down to regain her composure enough to write for a few more minutes. 3 The women Newell and Avery believed Joseph had bedded were anathema. Of all Emma’s friends Newell and Avery said bedded Emma’s husband, Eliza Snow was the worst. She was Emma’s confidante in the Relief Society. Emma had taken Eliza into her own home. In return, the authors believed, Eliza had betrayed Emma by sleeping with Emma’s husband under Emma’s own roof. Continue reading


  1. Wikipedia article on Eliza Rocxy Snow, available online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliza_Snow, retrieved April 15, 2014.
  2. Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry, edited by Jill Mulvany Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson, 2009.
  3. Recounted by Jan Shipps in private conversation on May 23, 2010 in the home of Gregory Prince, documented in my post “Mormon Enigma (ex ante), available online at http://www.megstout.com/blog/2010/05/24/mormon-enigma-ex-ante/, retrieved April 15, 2014.

Ordain Women: A Husband and Wife Respond


My husband, Bryan, shared with me a comment he posted on Kyleigh Ruth’s post titled Ordain Women: thanks for nothing. Which prompted a spirited discussion. Below is my attempt to capture the discussion in less than 2000 words. The 40 minute podcast in the link above represents us talking to one another live, informed by the text below and our original conversation.

We offer this as a window into the kinds of discussion and manner of discussion taking place in at least one Mormon household where we view each other as equal but different. Continue reading

Jesus, The Miracle Worker

JesusWalksOnWaterWhen contemplating the life and teachings of Jesus, there is no way to ignore the many miracles he performed – even if his death and resurrection are put aside. Each Sunday the Communion/Sacrament commemorates the glorious miracle of the Atonement in our faith. Perhaps because Jesus is already seen as the Savior not as much attention is paid to the miracles during his ministry. Yet, the gospel writers all included several illustrations of his power over Satan, Nature, and even Death long before his glorious act of salvation for the human race. They were included because the miracles demonstrated more than simple awe inspiring spiritual strength. Each of them pointed to his identity and mission.

His Reputation

Before the meaning of the miracles can be discussed, it is important to note that Jesus was perhaps best known as a miracle worker almost as much as a teacher. In fact, his first notable introduction as something special came during a family wedding party where he turned water into wine. His critics pointedly questioned when and to whom he did his miracles, without denying he did them. John, independent of the other Gospels, even implied that it was the miracle of raising Lazarus that angered the Jewish leadership enough to plot against his life. A contested reference to Jesus by Josephus includes the fact of his miracles even in a stripped down “non-Christianized” version:

Continue reading