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In the decades before the Civil War, Americans appealed to the nation’s sacred religious and legal texts – the Bible and the Constitution – to address the slavery crisis. The ensuing political debates over slavery deepened interpreters’ emphasis on historical readings of the sacred texts, and in turn, these readings began to highlight the unbridgea…
 
One of the first things I tell my students, and that I repeat throughout a semester, is that texts do not interpret themselves. Every time a person reads scripture they see it with new eyes and with shifting perspectives. The words on the page may be the same, though, of course, with the Bible, those words may vary, but it is up to us to seek learn…
 
Psalms! There’s over 150 of them marked in the book by the same name in the Old Testament. How can we read them? Are they more useful as a narrative thread, or as a spice to season our spiritual diet? We’ll discuss that and much more on today’s episode of “Abide: A Maxwell Institute Podcast.” The post Abide: Psalms Part One appeared first on Neal A…
 
Job, as a literary and biblical figure, gives us a lot to think about. He goes from riches to rags to riches again. He loses his family but begins another. He’s at the center of a contest between god and a devilish character. He relies on his friends but those same friends accuse him of doing evil works. What can Latter-day Saints think about when …
 
In Original Grace, Adam S. Miller proposes an experiment in Restoration thinking: What if instead of implicitly affirming the traditional logic of original sin, we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, emphasized the deeper reality of God’s original grace? What if we broke entirely with the belief that suffering can someti…
 
Can one be directed by God when one doesn’t know that one is being directed? The answer, of course, is yes. We learn about how God directed Esther in ways that may not have been recognizable to her, to ancient Israelites, and in ways that still surprise us today. We’ll discuss that, and more, in today’s episode of “Abide: A Maxwell Institute Podcas…
 
If an eighteenth-century cleric told you that the difference between “civilization and heathenism is sky-high and star-far,” the words would hardly come as a shock. But that statement was written by an American missionary in 1971. In a sweeping historical narrative, Kathryn Gin Lum shows how the idea of the heathen has been maintained from the colo…
 
How do we learn from failure? Especially the end of an organization as large as a kingdom? What if two kingdoms fall? Today, as we look at the end of both Kingdoms of Israel, I hope that we can explore what it means to understand a people’s historical failures and recognize that modern people are just as capable of failing, despite being God’s chos…
 
Elijah and Elisha are well-known to Latter-day Saints. The prophecy that Elijah would return was foretold in each of the four books of the Latter-day Saint canon. Indeed, Elijah visited the Prophet Joseph Smith and his counselor, Sidney Rigdon, in the Kirtland Temple, restoring the keys of the sealing power to the earth. Elisha may be less known, b…
 
Solomon’s reign was glorious, but what he gained in wealth, wives and infrastructure he lost in spiritual standing. He had not been faithful to the God of Israel. Instead, he adopted a cosmopolitanism that accommodated the religious preferences of his wives. However, God kept faith with David and Solomon, and the kingdom was split in two, with the …
 
Spiritual experiencesare famously transformative. They sometimes inspire dramatic effects ofconversion and healing, of vision and new life direction. But even in theirmore quotidian forms they expand our cognitive and emotional capacities, helpcultivate virtues, and intensify our feelings of closeness to God, others, andthings we deem ultimate. For…
 
In Mosiah 29, Mosiah says that “if it were possible that you could have bjust men to be your kings, who would establish the claws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father dBenjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it …
 
The Old Testament names more women, and has more books named for women, than any of the other texts in the Latter-day Saint canon. They fulfill their roles as disciples, family members, and in following their personal integrity with living up to their commitment within community relationships. How do they fulfill those roles? And how can Latter-day…
 
There’s a difficulty in reading the scriptures. I’m not referring to words on the page. I’m also not referring to the habit of scripture reading, though that could certainly apply, too. No, I’m referring to making the scriptures, whose figures and narratives are familiar to many Latter-day Saints, new and refreshing and insightful. In today’s episo…
 
“This Church will stand, because it is upon a firm basis. …The Lord has shown it to us by the revealing principle of the Holy Spirit oflight.” Lorenzo Snow, April 1900 That quotes embodies much of what is going on in the thirdvolume of SAINTS, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ ongoinghistory being produced by the Church Historical De…
 
Scholars spend entire careers debating texts, their origins, their impact, and the most valuable contributions they make to broader understanding. At the Maxwell Institute, we participate in these debates, but recognize that a text’s value cannot be narrowed down to observable fact–the long-lasting test of scripture is how it shapes the readers’ or…
 
Deuteronomy is the final book in the Pentateuch, containing Moses’ last sermons, as well as poetry regarding Israel’s future. Moses pleads with Israel not to repeat their past mistakes, such as falling into idolatry. They must keep their covenants and keep the law given by Yahweh, or else they will lose the Promised Land. What does that mean for La…
 
Elder Neal A. Maxwell once preached, “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing, for He has said, “All things must come to pass in their time.” (D&C 64:32.) Ironically, some who acknowledge God are tried by His timing, globally and personally!” We certainly see that in the Book of Numbers. The Israelites were thirsty but had no water. God directed …
 
When someone brings up Leviticus, my mind turns almost automatically to the Law of Moses. Which, I admit, doesn’t always seem like the most applicable thing to my life. However, when reframing it to think about the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I can’t think of anything more important for Latter-day Saints to know about. We’ll discuss the …
 
Knowing how to transform conflict is critical in both our personal and professional lives. Yet, by and large, we are terrible at it. The reason, says longtime mediator Chad Ford, is fear. When conflict comes, our instincts are to run or fight. To transform conflict, Ford says we need to turn toward the people we are in conflict with, put down our p…
 
Often, when we speak about matters of religion, we discuss belief. “I know the Church is true. I have received a witness for myself that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I have had these experiences and share them in Sunday school and other venues. For me, though, faith also takes place in the fleshy here-and-now. My religion is taking the sacram…
 
President Spencer W. Kimball said in 1976 that “Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to m…
 
Easter. A time for Christians to consider the life, atoning sacrifice, and miraculous resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How can we use our knowledge of the Old Testament to deepen our Easter experiences? And how can understanding how other religions approach Easter help us commit to being better Christians and Latter-day Saints. Th…
 
“When we begin to see ourselves as the prodigal in that famed biblical parable, we are better able to minister to that prodigal daughter or that prodigal father. When we see them as in process and recognize the same in ourselves, we can forgive their wandering because we know we must.” The post Maxwell Institute Podcast #140: Prodigals All, with Sp…
 
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