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
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.
Ryan W. Davis, “Divine Authority and the Conditions of Salvation.”
Craig Rossell, “The Covenant of Grace in LDS Belief and Ritual.”
Kaitlyn Pieper, “Gifts and Boondoggles: Spiritual Praxis among Early Mormon Missionaries.”
Helena Bushman, “The Blessing Female.”