Church History Matters

Church History Matters

The Church History Matters Podcast features in-depth conversations between Scott and Casey where they dive deep into both the challenges and beauty of Latter-day Saint Church History


December 5, 2023 51 mins

A fundamental moment in all good learning is that moment where we modify our assumptions about the world as a result of acquiring new and more accurate knowledge. This in turn hopefully primes us to make better decisions. On one level, it’s what learning is all about. Sounds pretty basic right? Well, it is. But it isn’t always easy. Church History can teach us that modifying one’s assumptions can be a challenge for some when it req...

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How can we confidently discern the difference between a reliable historical claim and an unreliable one? This is what Casey and I discussed in our last episode where we introduced five source critical questions we can all ask to carefully assess the reliability of a historical truth claim.  

In this episode of Church History Matters, we’re going to practice putting these five questions to work by actually using them to measure and ...

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November 21, 2023 57 mins

How can we know what actually happened in the past? Whose stories are true? Piecing together accurate history can be tricky business. People in the past, like people today, were diverse. Some were honest. Some were not. Some were straight shooting truth tellers who gave honest (though subjective) accounts of what happened. Others emphasized or omitted specific details in ways that would serve their particular agenda. So, how should...

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November 14, 2023 51 mins

How can we confidently determine what is and what is not reliable doctrine so we can decide what to believe? This is what Casey and I discussed in our last episode where we introduced what we called the Three Doctrinal Lenses, or criteria, by which we can assess the doctrinal reliability of a truth claim.  

In today’s episode of Church History Matters, we’re going to practice putting these three lenses to work by actually using the...

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November 7, 2023 61 mins

Just before he left home for college, eighteen year old Henry Eyring, the future world renowned LDS scientist, was invited by his father, Edward Eyring, to sit down for some fatherly counsel. After sharing his firm conviction that Joseph Smith was a true prophet whom God used to restore his church, Edward said to his son, “Now, there are a lot of other matters which are much less clear to me. But in this Church you don’t have to be...

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October 31, 2023 54 mins

What is truth? What does it mean to really “know” something? And what are the best methods and tools to come to know a thing? 

In today’s episode of Church History Matters, we begin our new series on Good Thinking where we explore the important role our brain and intellect play in truth seeking and the life of faith. Specifically in this series we want to explore what mental moves are made, or what frameworks of thinking are used b...

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There was in 2nd Century BC Egypt an indisputable multicultural sharing of religious ideas between Jews, Greeks, and Egyptians. How should that fact influence how we evaluate Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the Abraham facsimiles in general and individual hieroglyphics on the facsimiles specifically? 

On a related note, some of Joseph’s descriptions of Facsimile #2 contain temple themes, saying more will be revealed about those i...

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October 17, 2023 64 mins

So, the Book of Abraham is the touchpoint of some serious controversies—and we’ve talked about some of those in our last two episodes and we’ll probably talk about them more next week as well. But, to be clear, the Book of Abraham is also the source of some dazzling doctrinal gems which validate and expand upon other key restoration teachings. 

So, in this episode of Church History Matters we leave the controversial to bask, howeve...

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In Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles found in our Pearl of Great Price he ties all three of them to Abraham; yet, when some modern Egyptologists look at those same facsimiles today they say they have nothing to do with Abraham: one is simply an embalming scene, one a disk representing the eye of Horus, and one a judgment scene from an Egyptian book of the dead. So, is this an either or, sudden-death scenario? Must we...

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The book of Abraham, Joseph Smith’s final translation project, is easily one of the most controversial books of scripture in the Latter-day Saint canon. And we want to talk about it.

In this episode of Church History Matters, we dig into the fascinating story of how the exploits of a 19th century grave robber in Egypt ended up expanding our scriptural canon! We look at where in Egypt the papyri from which the Book of Abraham was pu...

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Because of our location in time and good record keeping, we are privileged to have an up close and personal view of the production of modern scriptural canon. And it’s a bit of a rollercoaster! From its first publication in 1835 to its current version today the Doctrine and Covenants has undergone major additions, deletions, rearrangement, and textual changes to its contents. 

In this episode of Church History Matters we’ll take a ...

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One of the biggest criticisms of scripture generally is the extent to which humans were involved in its production. On the one hand, we can’t really expect scripture to be effortlessly beamed down from heaven to flawed and imperfect humans and then interpreted flawlessly and recorded perfectly, can we? But on the other hand, how “divine” and trustworthy can scripture be if flawed humans were involved in writing it, compiling it, ed...

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September 12, 2023 50 mins

Did Joseph Smith ever consider his Bible translation work finished? Will the JST ever be canonized and replace the King James Version as the official Latter-day Saint Bible? Why haven’t any other of our prophets since Joseph Smith engaged in similar translation work? How can we reconcile Joseph Smith’s Bible revision work with Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:19 which actually warn against adding to the Bible? Is there any evidenc...

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In his Bible translation project did Joseph Smith plagiarize the work of a prominent British scholar named Adam Clarke? Or, if you don’t want to call it plagiarism, did Joseph Smith “borrow” or appropriate phrases and ideas from Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary (without attribution) which are found in our JST footnotes today? This is the question at the heart of the biggest modern controversy surrounding Joseph Smith’s Bible Translat...

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August 29, 2023 54 mins

Because there are no explicitly stated purposes of Joseph Smith’s Bible translation project—either by him or in any of his revelations—all explanations offered about or criticisms leveled at his Bible translation are based on assumptions and best guesses at best.

But then, there’s nothing wrong with educated best guesses so long as we are not overly dogmatic and we humbly recognize the tentativeness of our position. The current bes...

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August 22, 2023 58 mins

Aside from his Book of Mormon translation project, Joseph Smith engaged in at least three other scripture production projects that we know of. The first was his ambitious Bible translation project we now know as the Joseph Smith Translation, the second was the printing of his own revelations which we now know as the Doctrine and Covenants, and the third was his project of translation which commenced after he acquired papyrus scroll...

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August 15, 2023 73 mins

Some people see a connection between the Church’s past restrictive policy towared blacks in the Church and the Church’s current restrictive policy toward gays in the Church—specifically prohibiting gay temple marriage. In what ways are these two issues similar and in what ways are they different? How can church members reconcile (a) the teaching that the prophet / president won't ever lead the church astray with (b) the fact that c...

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Paul Reeve recently wrote: 

In June 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation which returned the Church to its universal roots and restored what was lost, priesthood and temple admission to people of African descent. This … did not mark something new as much as it reestablished a commitment to the founding principles of the Restoration. [It] reconfirmed the Church’s original universalism, that the human family in all...

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In 1907, the First Presidency codified the Church’s official policy about black African participation in both priesthood and temple declaring that, “No one known to have in his veins negro blood, (it matters not how remote a degree) can either have the Priesthood in any degree or the blessings of the Temple of God; no matter how otherwise worthy he may be.”

By contrast, in 2020 Church President Russell M. Nelson reminded all church...

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Once people come to terms with the uncomfortable idea that Brigham Young committed an error in endorsing a priesthood ban on church members with black African ancestry, a puzzling question naturally follows: “If the ban was an error, then why didn’t it get corrected earlier than 1978?! There were nine Church presidents between Brigham Young and Spencer W. Kimball and 101 years between President Young’s death in 1877 and President K...

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