Each day when I enter the Institute, I pass by the apostolic portrait of our namesake, Elder Neal A. Maxwell—a generous gift of the Maxwell family that hangs in our lobby. It never fails to inspire and motivate me. His blend of brilliant engagement with the world of words and ideas and his profound discipleship form the model for our aspirations.
“For a disciple of Jesus Christ,” Elder Maxwell once wrote, “academic scholarship is a form of worship.”
We at the Institute are convinced that inspired scholarly endeavor is integral to the work of the Restoration. The challenge and opportunity of our time rests in refusing either to abandon the life of faith for modernity’s charms or, conversely, to turn one’s back on the secular world of scholarship and thereby fail to help shape it. To be simultaneously scholar and disciple marks the more challenging but more rewarding and consequential path. We gladly claim it as our own in the service of Brigham Young University and the Latter-day Saints.
Accordingly, I am excited to introduce the Institute’s new mission statement, which has now been approved by Brigham Young University and its Board of Trustees:
The Maxwell Institute both gathers and nurtures disciple-scholars.
As a research community, the Institute supports scholars whose work inspires and fortifies Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and engages the world of religious ideas.
Elder Maxwell coined the term “disciple-scholar,” which we believe conveys something of the opportunity that falls to each Institute scholar. Were one a disciple only, one could reasonably ignore the life of the mind and the various academic fields related to religion. On the other hand, were one a scholar only, one could conceivably treat secular academic life as preeminent and approach religious practice and belief as mere objects of study. Given our hyphenated commitments at the Institute, however, neither part of the pairing can be ignored. Both demand careful attention here.
Of course, our updated mission statement reflects what we’ve been endeavoring to do since I was appointed director in May of 2016, and in some ways, even before. We believe the fruits have proven worthwhile thus far, as evidenced in our Annual Report. We invite you to see what we’ve been up to. We also invite you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, which will keep you up to date on Institute happenings.
We express our sincere gratitude to Brigham Young University’s administration and Board of Trustees for painstakingly helping us refine and clarify our mission, as well as to the donors whose contributions make our work possible, to the scholars who contribute their time and talents, and to everyone beyond the walls of the Institute who benefit from the work we do here.