Category: Interfaith

On Hope

Harley with a Funko POP of her namesake, age 10
Harley with a Funko POP of her namesake, age 10

Last Friday I recorded a podcast on the theology of hope with Dan Wotherspoon for Mormon Matters (available now). The other guests were Brian Hauglid of the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies and Patrick Q. Mason of Claremont. Though the podcast was by Mormons for Mormons, I had a lot to say about traditional Christian views on hope and eschatology.

Dan asked us at the end of the podcast if we could answer the call of 1 Peter 3:15 and “give a reason for the hope that is within [us].” I have given a personal testimony here, but I wanted to repeat here what I said on the podcast:

My daughter was born in 2006 at the end of a healthy pregnancy in which I’d had every reason to expect a healthy baby. As I looked down at her resting in my arms for the first time, a horrible thought came into my head. I felt like I was being silly, but in that moment my fear and dread were all-consuming. I had to say it. “Does my baby have a cleft palate?”

The doctor and the nurse exchanged confused glances and looked at me like I was CrazyMom. I thrust my daughter back at them, made the nurse take her to check her palate. I’m sure she was expecting to say, “No, CrazyMom, your baby does not have a cleft palate. Please stop acting crazy now.” Instead, she called out, “Actually, doctor, can you come and take a look at this? I think there’s something here…”

It was the beginning. (more…)

Mormon Theology Seminar Conference

I have been in California for the past two weeks participating in the Third Annual Mormon Theology Seminar, sponsored by Brigham Young University’s Maxwell Institute and the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies. You may recall that I am an alumna of BYU (long story!). While I have never been Mormon and am not a believer in the Book of Mormon as Scripture, I regard the book as 19th century demi-Protestant theological fiction (perhaps inspired in some places) and my paper, “Called and Ordained: Alma’s Priesthood of All Believers” is on some theology in the Book of Mormon that I think both Mormons and evangelical Christians can embrace. I will be presenting that paper tomorrow (June 15th) at the seminar’s public conference.

The conference is free and runs from 9 AM – 6 PM. My presentation is at 3:45. Conference program available here.

Mormon_Theology_Seminar
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Mutuality Article on Women in Mormonism

Mutuality is a quarterly magazine published by Christians for Biblical Equality. The theme for this season’s issue was “Building a Bridge to People of Other Faiths,” so I submitted an article on women in Mormonism entitled, “How Wide the Divide, and Can Biblical Equality Bridge It?” My article is approximately 1800 words long and covers the status of women in Mormonism, the use of egalitarianism in dialogue with Mormons, and the possibility that Christian egalitarianism can serve as an evangelism tool among Mormons.

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So casual it hurts

My quest to understand what sort of evangelical I really am has had me doing more than just pondering things like traducianism and preterism. Lately I’ve begun to question how we as evangelicals ought to approach God for our Sunday worship in dress and attire, and before you can understand my dilemma on the subject, you have to realize that I am, in so many ways, a product of both Mormonism and evangelical Christianity even if I’ve never been LDS. Evangelical Christianity captivated me as a teenager with its “come as you are” motto, its willingness to hand you a guitar and a fish necklace and let you worship God in your own way in your own place, its ability to reassure you that it’s the inside of the cup that matters and the heart God looks on when you come before Him. I was baptized at a lake in the mountains of western Washington that truly sparkled with the sky and the evergreen trees around it, while some of my best worship experiences have happened from blankets on beaches at night under a thousand effulgent stars while I sat clad in jeans and a flannel jacket. Those are experiences I treasure, experiences I suspect I would not have had if I had spent my high school years as a Mormon.

Mormonism, on the other hand, was a tradition that grew on me rather than impressing me from the start. I remember sadly packing away all of my sleeveless dresses, tank tops, and thigh-length skirts as I prepared to head off to BYU and thinking that I was about to spend the next four years pretending to be someone I was not. I could not have anticipated how my time spent conforming to Mormon culture would instill me with an appreciation for the spirit of what Mormons try to do when they dress up for church on Sunday, how they make an effort to approach God in their best and so set themselves apart from the world around them. Sure, no one wants to turn away the homeless guy who honestly has nothing to wear to church apart from jeans and a t-shirt, but why should the poor man’s best be the standard for everybody? If you are able to give God more, shouldn’t you give Him more? I still disagree with where Mormonism draws the lines on those standards—when I hear cases of shoulder-phobia and little girls being instructed to dress their Barbie dolls in accordance with church standards, I cringe—but I think it’s safe to say I’m won over on the spirit of the law.

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