On 7 March 2015, Terryl Givens gave a wonderful lecture and was interviewed at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York. The occasion was a Mormon History Association satellite event in which Givens was asked to speak on “An American Journey across the Landscape of Mormon Theology.” Since MHA does not have a podcast, and this is definitely a lecture and interview worth receiving a wide hearing, they asked Mormon Matters and A Thoughtful Faith podcasts to co-release the audio. A full video of the evening, including an additional 27 minutes of introductory material is now also available.
To view the full event, including the lecture, interview, and various introductory remarks, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRP_0dO5S2I
In his lecture, Givens roots Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in the various milieus of his time, both culturally and theologically. His special focus in on the current notions of Christianity’s “covenant theology” at play during his time, and how Smith re-imagined it—not always consciously but eventually coming to understand that aspect of his work. Ultimately Givens places Mormonism squarely in the Christian camp but prior to the time of the councils in which the ideas of the church fathers Origin and Pelagus were rejected and Christianity took the forms it did. In Givens’ hands, Mormon theology takes a path that emphasizes human beings as expansive, co-eternal with God, with their “covenantal” relationship far different than that of traditional Christianity. It’s quite compelling.
Please listen and then share your reactions and ideas in the comments section below!
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Great stuff!! 🙂
Terryl Givens does it again. I am always impressed by his ability to take a giant amount of data and ideas and distill it to compelling points and fascinating patterns.
Impressed as always.
Thanks for uploading this.
Joseph Smith must be placed in a context apart from the history claimed him, defined him, and boxed him into a theological and dogmatic contexts over the subsequent century. He is a uniquely important figure in early American religious culture. Twenty years after I first wrote about this subject, I still feel Joseph saw his tradition as something akin to the Hermetic tradition, with roots in a Gnostic, experiential, religious past — a past prior to all orthodoxy. Take a look at this old paper, I think it is increasingly relevant to discussions, such as Givens introduces:
Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection
I first listened this podcast through the “A Thoughtful Faith” podcast. As I listened I was quite surprised to discover that Givens severs Mormonism from Christianity and the “other church” referred to. However, unintended the conclusion, it is the correct one to make.
There will be many who will view this comment as malicious and opportunistic, but when I say it is the right conclusion, it is the strongest conclusion and the most positive one that can be made. It offers an opportunity for Mormonism to embrace itself in its fullness
Givens does not communicate his material in a way that allows me to conclude that he has a complete handle on the source material he draws from. He makes factual mistakes, false connections, and from those, erroneous conclusions. There will be few listeners with a background in theology and the early patristic period to appreciate the comment I have made, however I make it anyway by way of caution to the listener.