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  1. I have to admit…I originally selected this episode for listening because Dan said he would address moving from feeling triggered/despair over certain concepts on the Gospels to being to a place to be able to preach again. And I wasn’t disappointed there (actually, maybe just a little bit, because I really do think there could be more on that…but I understand that it would not have been fair to Eric to go on that for much longer…I guess I can see Eric’s point about the 80%…but I do think that MMatters does reach out to a lot of folks in the 20%…for me personally, I think I kinda resonate with the idea that theology is a stumbling block, in the sense that I don’t “grok” a lot of the Christian concepts. I mean, I don’t get what it means to be in need of salvation, so everything else about the NT kinda falls apart for me. [This is not saying that I don’t think human beings can be better than we are, but I don’t identify with the framework of the fall, of a sin nature, of the need for salvation, of the need for Jesus, etc., That whole setup doesn’t make sense])

    Anyway, I wanted to say that even though I came for that part, I was very intrigued/impressed by the rest of the episodes…I have known colloquially about the differences in presentation of the different Gospels, but never have really thought more about the particular differences, why those differences exist (e.g., Harry Potter gospel to emphasize actions for an audience would would be hearing things in one session or so…vs gospels that are trying to polish things up, put it in better Greek, etc., vs gospel that has a more developed/later Christology as it were.)

  2. Dan,

    Thank you for putting together another wonderful episode. I’m reading Eric’s book on the Miracles of Jesus, and I’m seriously studying the NT this year, trying to build my faith and connection with it. My faith transition being still close to my mind, it can be a challenging experience at times.

    I really appreciated Eric’s heartfelt sharing of his religious approach to the word of God as well as his academic approaches. I honor my parents, family and friends who have traditional orthodox beliefs. I also recognize my own beliefs have evolved, but I don’t want to reject all of the past good that I received in an orthodox world view. That Eric doesn’t feel compelled to be apologetic about his scholarship makes his personal religious experiences, much more palatable for me. I appreciate his willingness to share it, and I’m sure there are those who resonate with his approach. Apologetic approaches to these same issues frequently come across as antagonistic towards my struggles with scripture. Eric’s approach is welcome, and I’m so grateful you had him on.

    I also really appreciate what you shared at the end of the podcast. Your podcast and works are helping keep me in the church. I consciously have chosen to remain here because I love my family and friends, and I love my connection to God, even though I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in what God really is anymore, I still have that spiritual connection from time to time that feeds my faith and makes me feel loved. Because I can’t turn off my brain, and can’t accept so much of the myth that has been constructed, I still try to hold on to the good fruit while acknowledging the messy ingredients. Thank you for being a lifeline in my efforts to do this, you are preaching to people like me, and showing me that there is a path forward, and I am forever grateful for this. Thank you!

  3. Dan, thanks for taking this on. It was fantastic listening to Taylor and Eric give a much-needed overview of the four Gospels. My only regret is that the last part of your podcast, perhaps the last 15 to 20 minutes, could not have stretched out into a much deeper and more developed conversation. I was happy to hear you both speak and disagree tolerantly. I believe it was a good example of how two people can speak fervently about dimensions of the same topic without disrespecting one another.

    Anyway, one more thing: I was a little taken aback, to be honest, that Eric – seemingly a quite rational person and interested in historicity – would be so quick to say that that one should accept the Gospel as taught by one’s parents out of loyalty to those parents and out of some aesthetic feeling towards the teachings. Forgive me if I misunderstood him, but I believe that’s what he was saying towards the end there when he spoke of his mother. That though there is messiness in both Mormon history/doctrine and also biblical history/doctrine one should just accept it, and believe because it is beautiful and a family legacy. I have a very hard time with that as it does not seem to be a very honest way of pursuing truth and meaning. It’s a response I have heard multiple times by friends and family around me. But it doesn’t seem satisfactory to me.

    So someone please correct me if I misunderstood his point.

  4. Dan, Just wanted to drop a line and let you know I listen to most of MS and MM Podcasts and really enjoyed this episode. I wish we could have these kinds of scriptural discussions on Sunday. It would help us so much as a culture to realize the wold outside ourselves and better enhance our ability to view others in context rather than our box. Thanks for all you do!

  5. Anachron,I am sorry if I did not express myself clearly or if perhaps you did not understand what I meant. My point was that one should not forget the feelings or *experiences* one had early in her or his spiritual walk. It is not that I feel that I need to espouse certain beliefs out of loyalty to my parents per se. Rather I do not want to forget the genuine experiences I had when my mother taught me, which are as important, for me at least, as have been both my intellectual and more mature spiritual experiences since. Each person must negotiate his or her own odyssey through this life, and I was simply sharing how it has worked for me. I know it is not that “easy” for others, and, if I have been prepared for that kind of concluding discussion (I thought I would just be talking about the texts), perhaps I would have been more ready to share what my own intellectual and spiritual wrestles have been and how I, individually at least, have dealt with them.

    And Andrew, my bringing up of the 80% was not intended to somehow distance myself from the usual Mormon Matters clientele. Rather, I wish more from moderate and more conservative points on the continuum would engage in this kind of open textual and gospel discussion. I think the more we know about each other’s views, the more tolerant and charitable we will be of each other . . . and I think more of my usual audience could certainly be more generous and accepting of those within out community who experience things much differently. Of course that goes both ways: sometimes the simple faith of some of our coreligionists comes in for ridicule as well.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the reply. It seems I did misunderstand and I apologize. I agree with you that one should not dismiss experiences one has had with the spirit early in ones life. Many times it’s these experiences that have kept me from completely jumping ship and, in some ways, give me hope to reconcile all of this someday even though now I can’t see how that would quite work out.

      Thank you for your candid conversation at the end of that podcast. I felt as well that you might have been caught offguard. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother and, like you perhaps, consider my mother and spiritual experiences with her as comforting and stable pillars of my childhood.

  6. Dan,

    Fantastic episodes! I have been struggling through Sunday School this year, it has not been as robust as I personally would like it to be (I know some of that is me) but this episode was so interesting. I have never felt much of a connection with Christ per say, but Eric and Taylor and yourself made the era and the background and the stories come alive in a way that was fascinating and uplifting.

    Thank you Eric for your clarification. Though I don’t necessarily agree with all of the things you said, I found your point of view to be a very fair and authentic and it was much appreciated.

  7. Eric,

    Thanks for the response. I think part of the reason that the “simple faith” of some of your/our coreligionists (I don’t know if I would deem myself sufficiently religious to be coreligionist to anyone, haha), is that faith transition or faith crisis to many is a very dramatic, very extreme loss of one’s own simple faith. So, there is a sense in which some people are actually triggered by those sorts of expressions, concepts, and ideas — and that those ideas are necessarily distancing (even if it’s not your intention). That’s why I think I would be more interested in hearing how Dan has moved past those sorts of reactions — because I am well aware that he and others have, but I know many people who have not, and the bridge between the two groups seems uncertain. I am not all that optimistic that people can be nice enough to each other with such raw experiences going about.

  8. I appreciate Eric’s comment that (at least as I understood it) we can and should still allow for and value the experiences in our youth that, while perhaps experienced in the context of a simpler, more orthodox theology, are not the bath water. Those experiences were real and as much a part of the baby as our current, more nuanced, perhaps less orthodox beliefs/experiences are now. In fact, all of it supports Dan’s excellent ending points that the transformational experiences with God through life, through text, etc are probably what matters most. In other words, I can’t really believe that God is going to come to me after this life and say, “Did you or did you not believe in a virgin birth with Jesus being 1/2 God, 1/2 man? Did you or did you not believe in the atonement as Jesus paying for all sin to pay the debt justice demands? Did you or did you not believe in Jesus rising again in his earthly body as flesh and bone?” Insead, I imagine God asking me, “Through these stories did you come away understanding how much I love you and have been a part of your life’s journey for good? Through these stories did you understand how much I love all of my children? Through these stories did you come to understand how to see and treat your human family? Now, through your own experiences did you see me there? Did you allow your experiences to transform you into a better person that would in turn be better able to use the understandings you gained from these stories more fully?”

    In other words, does it matter if the working gloves I wear are red instead of green? Does it matter that they are green instead of red? Or does it matter more to God that I wear a pair, no matter the color, and used them to do a good work?

  9. Thank you for two very enlightening and intriguing episodes, especially the last discussion on faith and scholarship. If the three of you do some episodes on the letters of Paul in the future, would you please consider offering some more enlightenment on the following:

    Which letters do most scholars attribute to Paul?

    In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke.

    1 Timothy 5:18–“…The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
    Luke 10:7–“…the laborer is worthy of his wages.”

    How does this affect the dating of 1 Timothy and Luke’s Gospel?

    Lastly, what is the current scholarly view on dating the pre-Pauline creed (1 Corinthians 15) to 33-36 AD/CE?

    Whether these questions come up or not in your discussion, I am looking forward to the possibility that the Passion and Paul’s Epistles might be examined by you all.

  10. Search, ponder and pray

    I too very much enjoyed the podcasts. For some time I have been interested in a more critical and textual approach to the scriptures. These episodes were shining lights on a hill for me.
    I feel invited to read more carefully each of the gospels alone. The predominant urge to “harmonize” seems to stem from a view that the words written and now recorded in the Bible were orchestrated by the Spirit in a way that makes each one of them historically accurate and collectively complete or sufficient. I feel that each witness, no matter how we came to have it in the Bible, is an APPROACH to the Divine. Thank you Dan, for providing this resource to me and my family.

  11. Our Mormon approach to the scriptures is typically one of “Knowing > Doing”. You can arrive at a knowledge of a passage by the confirmation of the Holy Ghost. In this way, you understand and then act on your understanding to complete the pattern.

    A different approach is one of “Meaning > Being”. In this sense, there isn’t knowledge to be arrived at through interpretation of the text, but there is meaning to be derived inside the heart of the reader, through the spirit, regardless of what the words say. Because this meaning is created within the heart of the reader, it begins to transform our being.

    The only way to access this approach to study is by “experiencing” scripture through the lens of the infinite love of God.

    Unlike with “Knowing > Doing”, the approach of “Meaning > Being”, by its nature never allows us to arrive at a sure knowledge or a completed action. It does, however, leave open the possibility for us to continue towards the completeness that Jesus refers to in Matthew 5:48.

    Thanks for this episode…I’m looking forward to continuing my New Testament study with this excellent insight!!

  12. Thank you, Dan, Eric and Taylor, for an interesting and educational podcast. I always enjoy academic looks at the gospels, and being able to learn things via my i-pod while going about manual tasks like house painting! 🙂

  13. Dan, Thank you for this podcast. The commentary on the four gospels was very interesting. One aspect of the four gospels that I would like to have heard more on is how, as the Christology evolved from Mark to Mathew to Luke and finally John, the guilt for the crucifiction of Christ shifted more and more towards blaming the Jews for Christ’s death. The gospel of John is by far the most extreme in calling “the Jews” the enemy of Christ.

    Eric and Taylor mentioned the evolution of the New Testament as documented by evolving manuscripts from the earliest surviving manuscripts which are dated around 200 AD and the the latest documents which would have been copied around 1500 AD when the printing press was invented. I would be interested to know how much of the antisemitic verbiage in John was found in the earliest manuscripts and how much was added by scribes who were copying the earlier manuscripts.

    It has been many years since I last read the Book of Mormon. I do not remember antisemetic overtones, but I would be interested in knowing if it treats Jews as the enemy of Christ as John does or in a Jewish friendly way like the gospel Mark?

    The other issue I found interesting was Eric’s identifying the Mormon Matter’s audience as the 20% and the rest of the church as the 80%. Based on the recent Pew survey of US Religion in the US, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Mormons is shrinking as a percentage of the population and stagnant in actual numbers. If this survey is correct, perhaps there should be more concern about addressing the questions of the 20% who have honest concerns.

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