The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Inclusion leads to unity

In April 2021 General Conference, Elder Gary E. Stevenson taught:

The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division.

The importance of his teaching cannot be overstated.

On this blog, as well as my other blogs and books, we include all points of view. I link to and discuss multiple working hypotheses, always hoping this leads to unity (which is not the same as agreement). Everyone who loves, lives by, and seeks to share the Book of Mormon ought to feel a sense of unity of purpose, even if we have different ideas about its setting, historicity, and origins.

Yet leading LDS intellectuals oppose inclusion and actively exclude even faithful members whose interpretations don't perfectly align with their M2C and SITH theories.

Specifically, the editorial policies of, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter and others specifically and adamantly exclude those of us who don't accept M2C and SITH. 

Maybe someday they will change. No one is asking them to abandon the theories they have promoted for decades.

We just ask them to accommodate multiple working hypotheses so Latter-day Saints can make informed decisions. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Consensus building-MormonBookReviews

If you don't know about him already, you should start watching Steven Pynakker's youtube channel Mormon Book Reviews. He is doing more to explore and explain all the facets of the Restoration than anyone else I know of.

He recently posted an interview we did about my book Infinite Goodness, which examines the influence of Jonathan Edwards on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

In my view, the Book of Mormon is the fulfillment of long-held Christian hopes and dreams, including those expressed by Jonathan Edwards. There is tremendous potential for all Christians to come together and pursue the glorious future that Edwards described, as I discuss in the book.


On this blog we've discussed the pros and cons of consensus. Often, groups seek consensus for purposes other than seeking truth. They can seek consensus for harmony, for consolidation of common beliefs, for financial reasons, and for lots of other reasons that may or may not be productive.

In other cases, individuals or groups who have differences of opinion can unite by finding common ground in the pursuit of truth.

It has been said that a necessary condition of any "solution" is to live in truth, and to address the facts honestly.

Regarding the Book of Mormon, there has been a long-running debate over the existence of biblical passages in the text, along with nonbiblical language drawn from other sources, such as The Late War.

Critics claim such evidence shows Joseph Smith composed (copied or plagiarized) the text. Believers deny Joseph read those sources because he was mostly uneducated and illiterate.

What both sides seem to have overlooked is that evidence of composition is also evidence of translation.

Translators necessarily draw upon their personal lexicons to express the information from the original source into the target language they are translating into. Thus, if Joseph translated the plates as he claimed, he would have had to draw upon his own lexicon, or mental language bank. And he could have acquired that lexicon only by reading (or, possibly, hearing) the Bible and related Christian writings.

My study led me to focus on Jonathan Edwards, whose works were easily accessible to Joseph Smith, as I explain in my book Infinite Goodness

Monday, September 6, 2021

High culture, but not high demand

I saw the excerpt below in the WSJ and thought of how it relates to Church history and culture. 

As an artist, I encourage everyone to become familiar with the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts.


High Culture, Not High Demand

‘How many Americans pay attention to serious contemporary literature, art, or music?’

Kindle and Spotify give us a degree of access to “the best which has been thought and said” that a Medici or a Rockefeller couldn’t have bought at any price, while simultaneously reminding us that almost no one cares.

For instance, if you search for Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on Spotify, the most popular recording of the most popular piece in the classical repertoire is the one made in 1984 by Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic. The first movement has been streamed about 1.5 million times, the third about half a million (which tells a story in itself). By contrast, the hit song “Driver’s License,” by the teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo, was released in January 2021 and by the end of May it had been streamed 800 million times. . . .

Of course, Spotify and Kindle are imperfect measures of the true currency of any work. But they confirm the impression that people devoted to high culture must already have: that they are members of a very small minority. Just how small is impossible to say with any confidence. How many Americans pay attention to serious contemporary literature, art, or music? An estimate of one-half of one percent of the population—1.6 million people—would surely be on the high side.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The ideal school

 The ideal school would teach health, wealth, & happiness.

It‘d be free, self-paced, & available to all. It‘d show opposing ideas and students would self-verify truth. No grades, no tests, no diplomas - just learning. Actually, you’re already here. Careful who you follow.
"When building habits, choose consistency over content. The best book is the one you can’t put down. The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing every day. The best health food is the one you find tasty. The best work is the work you’d do for free." @naval