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  1. Well, now I have to buy another book :).

    One day prior to this episode being posted, I listened to the Maxwell Institute podcast with Miranda and John. That was a wonderful podcast, but this MM episode took what was presented in the Maxwell Institute podcast a step further.

    Thanks to Dan and Mormon Matters for podcasts like this one. Episodes like this help me reframe and reexamine so many of my “stories.” I am often surprised to discover the number of stories that I am still hanging onto. Sometimes it is difficult to confront incomplete framings of historical events but it is always liberating to do so!

  2. Given how difficult it is to understand what’s going on in the world today, it’s no wonder that the foundations of Christianity are complex. I hope we can hear a more sophisticated narrative from the brethren at some point in the future. Some of our leaders’ talks simplify the narrative so much that it makes you wonder how much of our narrative is a cultural invention, and what is based on fact (see https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2014/01/what-is-the-blueprint-of-christs-church?lang=eng).

  3. As a matter of clarification. The editors of this volume did not look for other presses because Greg Kofford Books was taking too long to get a series started. This volume was intended to be the inaugural volume of the Perspectives in Mormon Theology series, and it was while Kofford was eagerly waiting for the manuscript to begin the series that we learned that the editors had chosen to submit it to OUP.

    As the managing editor of Greg Kofford Books, I have worked hard to streamline our production while maintaining our quality–and most of our authors can attest to our ability to get books into print far quicker than most other publishers.

  4. Interesting, Years ago I asked Wesley P Walters about his opinion of Nibley’s The Passing of the Primitive Church which appear in Church History. In several letters he takes apart Nibley’s arguments, the idea of a tunnel period etc. I also think Michael Green’s Evangelism in the Early CHurch is an interesting challenge to the LDS narrative.

  5. Enjoyed the podcast. Love what your doing with MM, Dan. My question is, how do you keep the term, and concept of “restoration” as a vibrant (or even semi-meaningful) dimension of your faith practice within the church? It’s omnipresent in our collective discourse and even a temple recommend question. . .”Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?”

    Do you feel that Joseph Smith “restored” anything that was actually extant at one point, but lost or damaged in some fashion?

    I personally like the approach that Joseph and others have helped shape and develop already-existing ideas in new and powerful ways. But, how to keep an affinity for the concept of “restoration,” I do not know.

    Loved the ideas in this podcast, but, didn’t feel like this question was addressed.

    1. Hi Eric,

      In a piece I published when I edited Sunstone, Jana Riess has a nice definition of restoration (on the fourth page/magazine page 23 of the linked file), that uses the metaphor of restoring an old home and the goal of “bringing things back to their original state” but not ever wanting to “destroy the foundations; you assume they are solid and will stand the test of time.” But for her, and here is where she and I agree and why I have remembered this article for years, is that it isn’t the “church” that is restored, but the “gospel.” The gospel is the solid foundation. She writes: “And to be clear, what I mean by that is that God has broken into history in an alarming way to perfect the Christ-story in us–in our institutional church and in our individual hearts…” A few sentences later: “I believe the LDS church is poised to contain the fullness of the gospel of Christ, whenever we as individual members of it are prepared to accept his invitation to participate in redeeming the world rather than merely reveling in our comfortable and unearned status as chosen people.”

      As we look more widely at how the word “church” is used in scripture, it isn’t usually about organization but rather the collection of people: “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church” (D&C 10:67). So, with Jana, I celebrate a fresh breaking into the world of God in interactions with Joseph Smith. There is a boldness to his openness to shake up mostly stagnant forms and to declare us all worthy of communing with Deity ourselves rather than through an institution or clergy. So “that” is what was restored for me, and it is a way I have massaged rhetoric in Sunday School and other classes through the years whenever it has gotten way too off course and overboard on the “form” (which, as this book and wider scholarship shows, is not the same as what Mormonism has now) rather than the message that Jesus brought into the world that in its transforming power “freed the captives” and in many ways gave them a new Way to be in the world back in his day and still does now.

        1. Really appreciate that, Dan. Thank you! Gonna read the article more in depth and sit with it a few days. Definitely a form of “restoration” I could see matching up with my spiritual and intellectual experiences in life.

          1. Dan,

            Grabbing the tails of Eric, I think a great follow up to this two-episode series, would be one on the restoration. I great panel would be Jana Reiss, Phillip Barlow, and Gregory Prince. The latter two have a little different take on the idea of “restoration” and it would be great to hear differing opinions.

            As you know, Phil Barlow, somewhat recently, published an article entitled, “To Mend a Fractured Reality: Joseph Smith’s Project.” It’s not available on PDF form yet, but here is one link:


            I asked Phil Barlow about his notion of restoration as he briefly went into it on your December 24, 2013 podcast entitled, “Teaching the Old Testament to Latter-day Saints.” I later wrote him an email asking him to expound on his ideas of what he meant by “restoration.” I could share it here if you want (as he gave us permission on Rational Faiths to publish it as a blog-post).

            Lastly, when I began reading stuff by Bart Eherman, I thought, “What does this say about my view of apostasy?” I loved what you all said. I haven’t bought the book yet, but will be asking for it for Christmas.

            Great work everybody.

      1. Dan:
        You said,
        “As we look more widely at how the word “church” is used in scripture, it isn’t usually about organization but rather the collection of people: “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church” (D&C 10:67).”
        Dan, that’s all fine and good but we need to remember that those people can repent and come unto Jesus until they are blue in their faces and it won’t matter much because they will all go to hell in a hand basket without the keys of the kingdom. When the Lord talks about his people (‘my church’), you can count on it that that is what he is referring to whether or not he uses all the words.
        I believe there have always been very good people on the earth, but the organization he established simply wasn’t. That organization is here today and in time those people will be taken care of.

  6. I thought this was excellent. This is a topic that has recently been extremely important to me. In reading the BoM not too long ago, I found it open up to me in a way it never had before. Throughout most of my life, the BoM has helped me gain healing insight. But this time was unique in that the insight was more profound, more otherworldly in that I was learning things I had never thought about or supposed, and it was joyous, yet contradictory to the Church’s narrative. My paradigm shifted to see the meaning of apostasy, restoration, church, and many other things dramatically change. At first it was a happy change, but it’s gotten harder as the disconnect between my new paradigm and the official narrative is so often near opposite, irreconcilable. In the back of my mind, I wanted to do research and attempt a book like this. Lo and behold, there are others out there who have done some serious scholarly work on this. Music to my ears. Good to connect to some community. This is very important stuff! Groundbreaking in my opinion, as it seems to be part of a key to addressing so many problems we’re currently facing. I will need to get the book. Thank you.

  7. Thank you!!! Listening to conference today has been very difficult for me. I had to take a break and so I listened to this podcast. I have been in 1 1/2 years of therapy and wake up happy most days now. I have taught yoga for years but was trained about 9 months ago and then started studying mindfulness. I began meditating and changing my entire paradigm. I really try fill my life with as much good as I can. I am teaching yoga as my main job now. I really felt “triggered” by all the commandment shame talk. Anxiety was guiding light before but now peace is what I desire. Peace even among the many circumstances I go through. My faith has only grown in a God who loves me but I now know I create my own life. The little man I thought was putting discouraging and negative thoughts into my head was only my thinking. It was my brain wiring. A 5 lane freeway to anxiety/depression. I appreciated this new look at the apostasy. I really appreciate your fresh but faith filled approach. My faith that I can create what I believe will be manifest has only been strengthened. I see miracles happen and doors open but I see that creative power is God’s power available to all. Ask and you shall receive is real- positive or negative. Hard for me to say but we have a very difficult culture to live in. Thanks!

  8. Another exceptional podcast Dan. Thanks to you and your guests. Our creation theology is one based on organization of existing elements. Restoration would be the same I’m guessing. Taking all the elements and reorganizing them in a fashion that is right for the times.

    I was reading Abraham 4 and was struck by vs 18: “And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered (organized) until they obeyed.”

    I like that sense of things in terms of ideas, science, etc. It’s a process. It’s evolution.

  9. “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matt 15:12-13).

    In less than a hundred years of its less than 200 year history, Mormonism has been characterized by the uprooting of so many of its cherished doctrines. Polygamy, Adam-God, Seed of Cain, Lamanites, Temple blood oaths, etc. And now this, another post mortem analysis of the once mighty doctrine of the Great Apostasy, the only doctrine that justifies the Restoration.

    “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt 15:14-16).

    When do we draw the line and accept the fact that we have fallen into a ditch?

    1. Rico:
      You Quoted Jesus as saying,
      “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt 15:14-16).
      He said that to the apostles He chose to be the foundation of his Church at that time about the Jewish clergy of that time. He would NEVER inspire His people today to talk about the apostles He has chosen to be the foundation of His Church at this time.
      You might want to reconsider your actions.

  10. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian saints that God had appointed apostles and prophets in the Church so “…that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:14).

    “Every wind of doctrine” is the main feature (or fruit) of the Protestant philosophy. Protestants like Martin Luther hated the Catholic pope for acting like some kind of dictator of theology. Yet no sooner had these revolutionaries rejected their Catholic faith than they began to behave like mini-popes in their little Protestant sect dictating what their followers should believe. No wonder then, with every man being his own pope, we have every wind of Protestant doctrine blowing in all directions, tossing the children of men.

    It was in this chaotic religious environment that the Mormon revolutionary sect was born. The first Mormons breathed the poisonous air of Protestantism. As our historians in this podcast pointed out, Mormon theologians like BH Roberts, James Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, etc. had no other source to fill their lungs. That’s why in the current Mormon narrative, everything before 1830 was the “Dark Ages.”

    Unfortunately, the Dark Ages is nothing but an invention of Protestant imagination. And the doctrine of the “Great Apostasy” depends on the darkness of the “Dark Ages.” The darker the better. Yet, as pointed out in the podcast, this doctrine cannot stand the sunshine of historical facts. There is nothing dark in the Middle Ages. In the cultivation of spirituality and piety, the Middle Ages were matchless. That age produced an intellectual and spiritual giant in St. Thomas Aquinas. The suggestion for Mormons to abandon the “Great Apostasy” fulfills what Jesus said: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew15:13).

    Now, the problem with uprooting the doctrine of the “Great Apostasy” is that it also uproots the doctrine of the “Restoration.” If the Church of Christ did not disappear from the earth, then there is nothing to restore or bring back. Clearly, the participants in this podcast recognize this painful problem. Even the collective weight of the ecclesiastical authority of Elders Roberts, Talmage, and Smith can not save these doctrines. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

    And if one uproots the doctrine of the “Restoration” then every Mormon doctrine becomes fair game. Every cherished belief and teaching becomes disposable. Instead of seeing fewer plants uprooted by God, we will see more of it.

    God set apostles and prophets in the Church so that men will find stable teachings to nurture their faith. The Church is meant to be the “pillar and ground” of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Protestantism has had 500 years to produce such a stable church, how are they doing so far? Any success yet?

    Take a look at the LDS church and consider its many abandoned teachings: Polygamy, Adam-God, Curse of Cain, Blood Atonement, Temple blood oaths, etc. These were doctrines deemed too important that the early Mormons suffered greatly for them. They were tossed to and fro by these winds of doctrines. Even today, these teachings still blow us today. Do these abandoned doctrines paint a picture of a church growing up to be the pillar and ground of truth? Or do they exhibit the fruits of Protestantism, ie, what a church looks like where men appoint their own teachers to tell them their favorite myths (2 Timothy 4:2-4)?

    The “Great Apostasy and Restoration” are problematic doctrines that cannot be resolved by using a Protestant mindset and tools. Searching for new narratives to describe Joseph Smith’s church-building project will not fix it. This is akin to searching for another wind to toss us to and fro. The new narrative may look compelling to us now just as the “Great Apostasy” looked compelling to Elders Roberts, Talmage, and Smith, but a future generation will see our folly. And perhaps wonder why.

    1. (A different Sue from the one above: I’m non-LDS, non-denominational Christian and from Australia!)

      Rico, that’s it exactly…and that’s why I don’t believe in institutional restoration notions, having once been open to that idea, and then finding that every so-called restorationalist church is flawed like every other church, and their materials suspect. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I think people necessarily need to abandon their churches – just view them differently maybe. Christ himself had an uncomfortable relationship with the religious institutions and so-called authorities of his time, and took a more personal approach with people that cut through all these boxes and categories and assumptions people like to make. Food for thought there.

      1. Post
        1. Hi Dan, there appears to be a cookie-monster in cyberspace – I haven’t had any email responses from you since 21/10. We’ve tried three times since and can’t seem to get through. I am still receiving all my other expected emails so maybe try to see if the address is correctly transferred into the send line… Cheers Sue

          1. Post

            I’m clicking on the email link that shows up for me when you post. I’ll send a test today. If you’re sending me emails, I’m not getting those at all (only getting the notifications when you post comments to these blog discussions).

  11. People, people:
    Why are you trashing the Apostasy? There was nothing dark about that time period?? Let’s go back to Ephesians again:
    10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
    Before his death, Jesus put people in these callings not just to give talks in church but to preserve something much more important – the keys of the kingdom.
    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
    Without the keys none the things mentioned in verses 12 and 13 would come to pass. Wihout these keys it is deathly dark. I don’t know why Ged allowed it to last so long, but inspite of the accomplishments of some, darkness would have to have prevailed.(Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given. Even so. Amen. D&C 42:69)
    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
    The keys give us valid baptisms of water and the Spirit. Without them there is no cleansing from sins and there is no constant companionship of the Spirit. The Light of Christ can lead us in truth but if it could have brought us the keys it would have done that. It didn’t! Why didn’t it? I don’t know, ask God.
    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
    16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
    Without the keys, there would not have been enough ‘effectual working’ to have sustained the body of Christ. I would say history shows that. The Church went out of extistence. The body of Christ could not exist without the keys.
    17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
    18 Having the understanding darkened, (There’s that word ‘dark’ again) being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
    19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Hello apostasy, Good bye Church. The members were supposed to go towards perfection. They went the other way instead. A good word for that is apostasy. It really happened and so there was really a need for the restoration. That happened, too.

    Oh, and by the way. What’s all this talk about we having ‘uprooted polygamy’? We still recognize it as an holy ordinance. Or, at least, we should. There are three ways to bring about unholiness with the practice of it:

    1. Practicing it when you are commanded not to do it.
    2. Not doing it when you have been commanded to pratice it.
    3. When you have been commanded to do it, you do it unrighteously.

    Polygamy is a holy ordinance, it always has been, and it always will be.

    1. Nice coming from a man. Christ in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon never talked about polygamy. If it’s such a holy ordinance, how come he never mentioned it?

  12. Jesus: Okay guys, listen up. I am going to start a church and I am going to protect it so you guys don’t screw it up. I’ll be with you guys until the end of things and not even hell will bring it down.

    Peter: Cool
    John: Nice
    Andrew: Wait a minute, you put Peter in charge? Are you sure you know what you are doing.

    *an undefined amount of time later*

    Jesus: Lol, jk everyone. Dad and I decided to try again in 1700 years or so.

  13. Pingback: Dark Times - Rational Faiths | Mormon Blog | Rational Faiths | Mormon Blog

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