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182: Perspectives – Richard Bushman


In a new “Perspectives” series, Bill Reel from Mormon Discussion Podcast sits down with various LDS Authors and Scholars to ask them each the same questions of how they frame their belief in the gospel.  What does it mean that the Church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, what is scripture, and what is the role of a prophet.

Today we sit down with LDS scholar and author Richard Bushman and get his take.  I think you will find this interview to tackle new ground and offer groundwork along the nuanced path.  Follow along as Richard shows us a life that “leads with Faith”


9 thoughts on “182: Perspectives – Richard Bushman”

  1. Enjoyed this, but it might inform the next discussion if you note that the biblical genocides for the most part did not occur. They are later additions of traditional triumph narratives.

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  3. I think a number of issues were misrepresented by the interviewer in the podcast. The essay on was an historical overview of the issue and makes clear we do not know it’s origins, only that it was fully implemented by Brigham Young, but did not disavow the ban as racist (which is a common and clear misreading of what was actually stated and results, I think, from an uncareful reading of the essay). It disavowed the speculations regarding the reasons for the priesthood ban, not the ban itself.

    There were some other points as well that I think were misstated in terms of the expectations of the Church. The idea that gays are expected to act as if they aren’t gay seemed a bizarre statement. It suggests those experiencing same-sex attraction should be treated differently from heterosexuals who are asked to not act on their heterosexual feelings that are immoral. You seem to want to carve out an exception for gay *behavior* as opposed to heterosexual behavior that is considered immoral under gods laws (such as adultery or fornication) and that they are clearly asked not to flaunt or promote or or engage in/mentor in Church gatherings. And it applies to 100% of heterosexuals in one way or another–some are unable to marry at all and others are certainly tempted by adultery and fornication regardless. It’s not different from anything that heterosexuals are asked to do in “hiding” their heterosexuality. It’s a non-sequitur. The Church asks all those who do not obey the commandments to leave their sins at home and not present them as normative while being welcome at church at the same time. The standard is the same.

    It is also clear that the blessings given in the early days of the Church were not priesthood ordinances, but done by the power (and gift of faith)–the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of healing are not limited to male members. The Prophet Joseph couldn’t have been more clear on the matter as regards the fact that those blessings would flow from faith, not priesthood ordination.

    I’ll leave it at that, but I thought it important to point out the seeming incongruities I found in the assumptions made by the interviewee.

    I also think you misunderstand the concept of doctrine (as opposed to policy that are implemented under the general doctrine). For example, the doctrine of polygamy has always included both it’s approval (if commanded by God) and it’s disapproval (an “abomination” as the Book of Mormon calls it) when not commanded by God. The same would be true of the priesthood ban. The doctrine ALWAYS foresaw a time when all restrictions would be removed. So the doctrine didn’t change, but the policy under the doctrine that was always envisioned by the doctrine itself.

    I agreed with most of what Richard Bushman had to say, though I think he’s developed a habit of being a bit PC so as to not offend anyone (which sometimes can come across as being ashamed of the more difficult, but clear, doctrines of the LDS church). As an example, I agree that all should be welcome in the Church, regardless of sinful status, but that’s not a statement that we should make everyone feel comfortable in their sins (not something I think Bushman was advocating, but it was hard to tell from his sometimes obscure answers). It’s not the mission of the Church.

    1. Iraneus….you said same things I wanted to only much better. I think it is wrong to give any leeway about same sex married couples being given full standing ….they along with others who never get to marry in this life must trust in God and his timing for them. The priesthood ban …we don’t know why, perhaps it was the same type of thing as the gospel not going to the gentiles at first, we just don’t know, but we did know the blacks would get all the blessings and more, as for polygamy it served the Lord’s purposes, the Book of Mormon makes that purpose clear. Hopefully we will get more revelation someday on this. As for the Israelite killing…perhaps these people had become as wicked as say ISIS is today and needed to be wiped out…of course we know what happens to the innocents, they are saved in the Celestial Kingdom.

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