Papers from the 2013 Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture, a guest post from Terryl Givens

09.11.2013 | The Maxwell Institute

In this post, Terryl L. Givens discusses the recent seminar on early Mormon culture that was hosted at the Maxwell Institute. Links to the transcripts of most of the resulting papers follow Givens’s remarks, more to be added as they arrive. —BHodges

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The annual Mormon Scholars Foundation Summer Symposium on Mormon Culture was held from June 3 to July 11 at the Maxwell Institute in Provo, Utah. This year’s topic was “Workings of the Spirit and Works of the Priesthood: Gifts and Ordinances in LDS Thought and Practice.” Much of our research and discussion expanded upon one simple question: Why are the ordinances essential to salvation? (Or, does Mother Teresa really have to be baptized?) Along the way, we explored the diversity and role of spiritual gifts in the early LDS church, their relationship to the priesthood, the place of covenants in LDS theology, and early Mormon understanding and practice of priesthood ordinances. On July 11, our thirteen students presented their papers to one of our best-attended public symposiums ever.

We had the second largest applicant pool I have ever seen, so interest obviously continues to grow. Our seminar participants came from England, Canada, and the United States, and from diverse universities such as Berkeley, Princeton, Claremont, and several others. From the very start, the group demonstrated tremendous unity, sharing lunches, social activities, and the results of their research in and out of class. These are just three unsolicited comments I received afterwards: “Much soul building has occurred for me this summer,” wrote one. Another expressed appreciation for “the most soul-satisfying seminar of my academic career.” Finally, one wrote, “It has been Mormon in the best sense: it helped my study and faith both.”

Once again, I believe the fruits of this summer’s seminar will prove to be deep and long-lasting.

Summer Seminar Working Papers, 2013

Carl Cranney, “Web of Kin or Chain of Family: Theological Implications of Early Mormon Sealings to 1894.”

Jeremy Talmage, “Ever Expanding Eternities: An Exploration into Early Mormon Ontology and Soteriology.”

James Egan, “A Flood of Light and An Abyss of Darkness: Mormons, Heathens, and Bringing Truth Home to Zion.

Mie Inouye, “The Kingdom of God in Early Mormon Thought: Divine Governance in Heaven and on Earth.”

Ryan W. Davis, “Divine Authority and the Conditions of Salvation.”

Craig Rossell, “The Covenant of Grace in LDS Belief and Ritual.”

Jeremy Leatham, “That ye may not be deceived’: Discerning of Spirits and the 1831 Priesthood Developments.”

Kaitlyn Pieper, “Gifts and Boondoggles: Spiritual Praxis among Early Mormon Missionaries.”

Kirk Caudle, “Joseph Smith and the Gift of Translation: The Development of Spiritual Gifts during the Early Book of Mormon Translation Process (1828-1829).”

Alan Clark, “‘Perverted by the most frantic enthusiasm:’ The Embrace of Spiritual Gifts in early Mormonism.”

Helena Bushman, “The Blessing Female.”