“What we have in common is of far greater significance than that which divides us.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, remarks from the inaugural John A. Widtsoe Symposium
Book of Mormon Conversations: Alma 30-63
In this week’s Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation Board Member Chris Eastland spoke with Oxford professor Mark Wrathall about his brief theological introduction to the last 33 chapters of the book of Alma. Alma the Younger is forever changed by an overwhelming personal experience with God’s mercy—a mercy capable of overpowering justice and giving Alma the means to exercise faith unto repentance. Driven by his new desire to share the joy that God’s mercy brings, Alma confronts the apostate Korihor, preaches a sermon on faith to the Zoramite outcasts, and encourages and consoles his sons. His ministry cannot be understood apart from the miraculous transformation initiated and powered by God’s mercy. In this brief introduction to the second half of the book of Alma, philosopher Mark Wrathall painstakingly works out the logic of Alma’s understanding of faith, justice, mercy, and the final judgment and restoration of all things, encouraging readers to receive salvation today. Mark Wrathall is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Corpus Christi College. He works on the phenomenology of agency and religious life, and is interested in the temporality of human existence. He is the author of Phenomenology and Human Existence (forthcoming with Oxford University Press), Heidegger and Unconcealment (Cambridge University Press), and How to Read Heidegger (W. W. Norton). He has edited numerous volumes, including The Cambridge Heidegger Lexicon and Religion After Metaphysics. You can pre-order the volume and learn more about this series on the Maxwell Institute website mi.byu.edu/brief.
Book of Mormon Conversations: Alma 1-29
In this week’s Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation Chairman Larry Eastland spoke with BYU professor Kylie Nielson Turley about her brief theological introduction to the first 29 chapters of the book of Alma. In this brief theological introduction to the first twenty-nine chapters of the book of Alma, literary scholar Kylie Nielson Turley considers how Alma’s profound transformation from anti-Christ to high priest of the church of God can deepen our understanding of Christ’s mercy. What if God forgives and forgets but humans do not? Does following God ensure a less painful life? Is it faithless to mourn, question, or cry out when beset by sin, violence, or death? Turley foregrounds Alma as a man who sinned grievously and who was grievously sinned against, a man who found hope and healing in the darkest abyss, a man whose words offer hope and healing to a burdened world. Kylie Nielson Turley has taught writing, rhetoric, and literature classes since 1997 at Brigham Young University, where she emphasizes a literary approach to the Book of Mormon in her Literature of the LDS People course. She has published articles on Alma, LDS “home literature” fiction and poetry, and Utah and LDS women’s history. She is also the author of numerous personal essays. You can learn more about this brief theological introductions series at mi.byu.edu/brief
Book of Mormon Conversations: Mosiah
In this week’s Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation Vice-Chair Michael Stanley spoke with BYU professor James E. Faulconer about his brief theological introduction to the book of Mosiah. In this brief theological introduction to the book of Mosiah, philosopher and theologian James E. Faulconer untangles a complicated timeline. Mormon transports readers back and forth through time—King Benjamin’s sermons provide a backdrop for the earlier speeches of the prophet-martyr Abinadi and the later conversion of the renegade Alma. What might we learn about covenant and community from a history of Nephite division? Faulconer presents the book of Mosiah as a fragmentary history about a fragmented people, written by a record keeper obsessed with unity. According to Mormon, destruction can be avoided only if we understand the mysteries of Christ’s atonement and perform the service God calls us to do together. James E. Faulconer is a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University and a senior research fellow at the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Faulconer’s area of expertise is twentieth-century and contemporary European philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion. In addition to writing scholarly books and articles, he is the author of the Made Harder series of scripture study questions and Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions. Learn more about the series, and purchase this volume at mi.byu.edu/brief
Book of Mormon Conversations: Enos, Jarom, Omni
In this week’s Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation Executive Director Jacob Rennaker Spoke with BYU professor Sharon Harris about her brief theological introduction to the books of Enos, Jarom and Omni. In this brief theological introduction, literary scholar and theologian Sharon J. Harris investigates this messy middle era between the genesis of the Nephite people and their reorganization under King Benjamin. What keeps things—relatively—together?Harris uncovers the personalities, concerns, and patterns of righteousness and wickedness that are often overlooked in these short books. She illustrates how Latter-day Saints today might learn to better keep covenants and pass a promising inheritance to those who come after. Sharon J. Harris is an assistant professor of English at Brigham Young University. She studies early modern literature, focusing on how it intersects with music. In addition to literary studies, Dr. Harris has published on theology, the Book of Mormon, and the history of Latter-day Saint singles wards. She holds degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Chicago, and Fordham University and has worked in public education, nonprofit arts administration, and academic publishing.We encourage attendees to respectfully participate in the discussion chat, submit questions, and enjoy a dynamic conversation about Book of Mormon principles and how they inspire us to develop and improve our lives and communities. To learn more about this series, or purchase Harris' volume on Enos, Jarom and Omni, visit https://mi.byu.edu/book/enos/. To learn more about The John A. Widtsoe Foundation, visit widtsoefoundation.org
Book of Mormon Conversations: Second Nephi with Laura Redford and Terryl Givens
In this week’s Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation board member Laura Redford spoke with BYU Research fellow Terryl Givens about his brief theological introduction to the second book of Nephi. In this brief theological introduction, Terryl Givens echoes Nephi’s invitation for readers to keep Christ front and center in their minds, hearts, and worship. Givens finds clear emphasis on the Redeemer’s healing atonement, the promise of resurrection, the necessity of oppositional strife and of agency wisely employed, and other plain and precious truths lost or obscured by time. Above all, Nephi presents essential elements of the doctrine of Christ, emphasizing repentance as a lifelong process of heart reeducation, and of scripture as a resource for spiritual succor and personal revelation. Learn more about this volume and the rest of the series at mi.byu.edu/brief For many years, Terryl Givens was the Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. Now a senior research fellow at Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Givens is the author of several books on the Latter-day Saint tradition, including Wrestling the Angel, By the Hand of Mormon, and The Pearl of Greatest Price. With his wife, Fiona, he coauthored The Crucible of Doubt, The God Who Weeps, and The Christ Who Heals. Laura Redford is a historian, scholar and teacher specializing in United States urban history and Los Angeles history. She has taught at UCLA, Scripps College in Claremont, California, and Brigham Young University. She was also an educator at the Geffen Academy at UCLA, teaching in the upper school. Her work has been published by the Journal of Planning History and an online US History textbook, The American Yawp. Dr. Redford earned her PhD in history from UCLA, holds a master’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University, and an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. She served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints in Pusan, Korea. In addition to many teaching opportunities at church, she has served as the Director of Public Affairs, and in the leadership of the church’s women’s organization, and as a counselor in the Los Angeles Stake Relief Society Presidency. She and her husband and three children now reside in Orem, Utah.
Book of Mormon Conversations: First Nephi
In this Book of Mormon Conversation, John A. Widtsoe Foundation board member Richard Turley spoke with BYU Professor Dr. Joseph M. Spencer about his brief theological introduction to the First book of Nephi. In this brief theological introduction, philosopher and theologian Joseph M. Spencer investigates the central themes and purposes of a book he calls a “theological masterpiece.” What was Nephi trying to accomplish with his writings? How can readers today make better sense of Nephi’s words? What can an ancient seer offer readers in the twenty-first century? Spencer introduces a Nephi for our moment, a complex prophet with an urgent message for a world in turmoil. Joseph M. Spencer earned a PhD in philosophy at the University of New Mexico and has published extensively on Latter-day Saint scripture and theology in BYU Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies where he serves as associate editor. Spencer is co-editor of the book series Groundwork: Studies in Theory and Scripture. His other books include Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah and For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope. For more information about the series, or to purchase Professor Spencer's book on First Nephi, visit https://mi.byu.edu/brief/ To learn more about The John A. Widtsoe Foundation, visit www.widtsoefoundation.org
Book of Mormon Conversations with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute: Introduction Event
The John A. Widtsoe Foundation and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU are proud to announce a collaborative series of live virtual discussions entitled "Book of Mormon Conversations." In this series of live events, a member of The John A. Widtsoe Foundation will interview authors of the Maxwell Institute's The Book of Mormon: brief theological introductions series. In its brief theological introductions, the Maxwell Institute offers fresh and inspiring examinations of Latter-day Saint scripture using the lenses of history, theology, philosophy, literary studies, and above all, faith in Jesus Christ. Details at mi.byu.edu/brief. The John A. Widtsoe Foundation's key mission is to promote interfaith conversations, relationships and appreciation. We hope that by joining the Maxwell Institute in this project, we can help members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as members of other faiths, see how principles taught in the Book of Mormon impact our spiritual, civic, and social lives. We're thrilled to discuss these important topics and invite all to join in the virtual conversations and Q&As. This first event featured Maxwell Institute executive director J. Spencer Fluhman and associate director Philip Barlow, who together serve as general editors of the brief theological introductions series. The conversation was moderated by The John A. Widtsoe Foundation President, Larry L. Eastland.
"Discovering Mark's Unique Voice" by Julie Smith
Biblical scholar, theologian and author Julie Smith delivered the John A. Widtsoe Distinguished Lecture for Chapman University’s 2019 Excellence in Religious Education Forum. This event is hosted by the Fish Interfaith Center and the Latter-day Saint Student Association at Chapman University, and presented under the auspices of the John A. Widtsoe Foundation. Smith's remarks focused on neglected stories of women in the Gospel of Mark and other surprises from her book The Gospel According to Mark in the BYU New Testament Commentary Series.