LDS Perspectives: In the Beginning, with Ben Spackman

December 20, 2017: Genesis 1 – Ben Spackman


Ben Spackman talks with LDS Perspectives about what scholars believe about the Genesis creation accounts, of interest because of how scholarly research informs our understanding of the LDS creation accounts found in Moses (June 1830), Abraham (1835, published 1842) and the temple (May 1842). Ben is writing a book on the creation accounts tentatively titled Reading Scripture, Reading Creation: The Ancient Context of Genesis 1.

Benjamin T. Spackman has a Bachelor’s Degree in Near Eastern Studies from BYU. He then received a MA and did further PhD work in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Comparative Semitics) at the University of Chicago, where he was a Hugh Nibley Fellow. He has been an Institute teacher for over ten years and has taught at BYU.  Ben blogs at Times & Seasons, and writes Gospel Doctrine background posts at Benjamin the Scribe.

LDS Perspectives – Catching Up!

It’s been a few weeks since we blogged about LDS Perspectives podcasts, which have been great. Below are the episodes you may have missed if you haven’t subscribed directly to the LDS Perspectives feed. As always, feel free to comment on anything that strikes you about these episodes.

December 6, 2017: An Introduction to Higher Biblical Criticism with Philip Barlow


Russell Stevenson talks with Dr. Philip L. Barlow about factors in the nineteenth century that changed how scholars interpreted the Bible, including the introduction of historical criticism.

Dr. Barlow is the Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University. He earned his PhD from Harvard University. Dr. Barlow’s books include The Oxford Handbook to Mormonism (co-edited with Terryl Givens) and Mormons and the Bible: The Place of Latter-day Saints in American Religion. He is also the author of “Adam and Eve in the Twenty-First Century: Navigating Conflicting Commandments in DLS Faith and Biblical Scholarship,” which appeared in the most recent issue of Studies in the Bible and Antiquity.

December 1, 2017: Musicians David Archuleta and Jenny Oaks Baker talk with LDS Perspectives about #LightTheWorld and how they have lived their faith in their respective high-profile musical careers.


November 28, 2017: Richard Turley on the Aftermath of the Mountain Meadows Massacre


Laura Harris Hales and Richard E. Turley talk about the aftermath of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Turley has written extensively on the Mountain Meadows Massacre including Massacre at Mountain Meadows with Glen Leonard and Ronald Walker and the recently released Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers with co-editors Janiece Johnson and LaJean Carruth. Continue reading

Guest Post: Follow Me, Boys! (And Girls!)

Scouts saluting, American flag in background, circa 1960s. (Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images)

On 11 October, the newsroom for the Boy Scouts of America posted something you may have heard of by now:

“Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.”

Some bona fides are likely to be demanded of anyone seriously commenting on this, so here are mine. I’m an Eagle Scout. My father is too. My grandfather was too. I’ve got a scout shirt hanging in my closet with adult knots on it. I’m a guy who’s had some experience in the program. That doesn’t make me unique; Mormon boys are also Boy Scouts. It’s how we roll.

With that out of the way, it’s also important at this stage to read the details of the move. Consider, from the press release: Continue reading

Toxic Perfectionism and the Reformation- LDS Perspectives #58: The Martin Luther that Mormons Don’t Know with Craig Harline



It is clear Luther suffered from Toxic Perfectionism, a condition that in his day was thought of as “overscrupulousness,” a common peril for monks in Luther’s day. When one’s entire life was focused on devotion, it became easy to see the myriad ways one had fallen short of the possible. Luther’s inability to believe himself saved within a paradigm that required any works caused him to spearhead the movement that became Protestantism. Luther proclaimed that mankind is saved by grace alone.

Some Mormons regard Martin Luther as a hero. While this could be true, most of the things that Luther was against, Mormons would be for. In fact, Mormonism has more in common with Catholicism than it does with most Protestant belief systems.

500 years ago this October, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, the act that is seen as the beginning of the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism. In celebration of this world-changing event, BYU professor Craig Harline has written A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation.

As an educator, Harline tries to teach Luther on his own terms instead of trying to fit him into a Mormon paradigm. Years of teaching the Reformation to college students have shown him that most Mormons don’t know much about this period, and what they do know is usually wrong.

“We want others to study us as we would recognize ourselves,” says Harline, “so why wouldn’t we study others in a way that they would recognize themselves as well?”


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LDS Perspectives #57: Wilford Woodruff and Temple Doctrine with Jennifer Ann Mackley

Jennifer Ann Mackley has children, and admits, “they don’t ask me questions… They go to Google.”

Getting your gospel education via the internet is risky, particularly when it comes to those matters we hold most sacred, the matters least likely to be accurately described by the faithful in tweets and Wikipedia articles.

Mackley speaks of the account where Wilford Woodruff saw the founding fathers of the United States in the St. George temple and was impressed that their temple work needed to be performed. Taken out of context, non-Mormons see this as a story of how Mormons are making dead people into Mormons.

But of course, that is not what Mormons believe. We believe that everybody should be given the opportunity to choose, and Wilford Woodruff had come to the point where he said, “I have been so focused on my own family that I didn’t even think about expanding this.”

Mackley feels that if we don’t talk to our kids about the context of our history and revelations, then these revelations and history will seem odd and strange to our children and form a core of disbelief.

Mackley was surprised when she was doing research out of her own curiosity that there wasn’t a book out there that put the development of temple doctrine all in one place, so that members could see the continuity. As she got further into her studies, she realized Wilford Woodruff’s life experiences spanned the bulk of the development of modern temple doctrine. Mackley’s Wilford Woodruff’s Witness: The Development of Temple Doctrine was published in 2014.

Mackley explains that as the Saints learned about the New and Everlasting Covenant and the temple, “It was like a puzzle: they were given pieces. Now we have the box with the picture on it; we know what we’re putting together. They had no idea.”

Deprecated practices such as rebaptism or priesthood adoption may confuse modern students of Mormonism. Mackley doesn’t see these practices as necessarily trial and error, but rather as evidence of increased learning.

Mackley strongly believes that members need to prepare spiritually to attend the temple but also need to prepare intellectually by doing some research.

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