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About Daniel C. Peterson

Daniel C. Peterson (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles) is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and is the founder of the University’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, for which he served as editor-in-chief until mid-August 2013. He has published and spoken extensively on both Islamic and Mormon subjects. Formerly chairman of the board of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and an officer, editor, and author for its successor organization, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, his professional work as an Arabist focuses on the Qur’an and on Islamic philosophical theology. He is the author, among other things, of a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007).

On Being a Tool

Abstract: Members, missionaries, and apologists must never lose sight of the fact that the gospel isn’t merely about abstractions and theoretical principles. It’s also, and most importantly, about people, about people with their own life stories, fears, hopes, and questions. Thus, if we want to be optimally effective, we must listen to people, understand them, and craft our message to reach them individually, where they are. The Interpreter Foundation is committed to helping with this task, but it cannot replace personalized instruction and caring. Continue reading

Cloud Illusions and the Perfect Day

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall.1

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.2

The Sun makes life possible on Earth. It’s the source of virtually all of the energy that we use or need. No wonder many ancient civilizations worshipped it as a god. During the daytime, it’s the principal reason that we can see anything. Indeed, it’s so bright in itself that we find it difficult, if not impossible, to look directly at it. Continue reading

Making Visible the Beauty and Goodness of the Gospel

Abstract: Apologetics is typically seen as a purely cerebral activity designed to convince others of the truth or, at least, of the plausibility of certain propositions, typically but not always religious. In the case of the Gospel, however, mere intellectual assent isn’t enough—not in the eyes of God and, probably, not for the typical mortal human being. To please God, we must live our lives according to the Gospel, not merely concede its truth. But living such lives to the end requires that we love God and the Gospel and find them desirable, in addition to checking off a list of required faith-statements. Can apologetics play a role in encouraging and cultivating such attitudes as well as in convincing our heads? This article maintains that apologetics can and should play such a role, and invites those with the appropriate gifts and abilities to make the effort to do so. Continue reading

Toward Ever More Intelligent Discipleship

Abstract: The temporarily rather comfortable “fit” between the Restored Gospel and American civic religion is a thing of the past, and we contemporary Latter-day Saints seem to find ourselves in a more and more marginalized position, theologically and socially. This was where our predecessors, both earlier in this dispensation and among the first Christians, were located, and it may not be an altogether bad thing. It will, for instance, force us to take our beliefs more seriously, less casually. And it may well drive us back to the unique resources provided by the Restoration, which have much to offer. Continue reading

Questioning: The Divine Plan

Some critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chiefly of the secular variety, claim that Latter-day Saints are mind-controlled robots who are forbidden to think for themselves. I collected an example of this claim nearly twenty years ago that will serve to represent many other such expressions before and since. Continue reading