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About Ralph C. Hancock

Ralph C. Hancock holds degrees from BYU and Harvard, and has taught political philosophy at Brigham Young University since 1987; he is also President of the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs, an independent educational foundation (johnadamscenter.org). His most recent book is The Responsibility of Reason: Theory and Practice in a Liberal-Democratic Age (Rowman & Littlefield), and a new edition of his Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics has recently been published by Saint Augustine’s Press; he has also translated numerous works from French. His chapter, “Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, Relativism and the New Mormon Love-In,” is forthcoming in Van Dyke & Ericson, eds., Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics. Dr. Hancock is also a contributing editor of the quarterly Perspectives on Political Science, an editor at the online scholarly journal SquareTwo.org, which addresses public affairs for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a regular columnist for the Deseret News. Ralph and his wife, Julie, are parents of five and grandparents of thirteen.

Beyond Agency as Idolatry

Review of Adam S. Miller, Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2016)

Adam Miller has already established himself as the most venturesome and original of LDS thinkers exploring our complex inheritance of Mormon beliefs with the tools of contemporary academic philosophy. Richard Bushman, certainly the most highly honored living scholar of Mormonism, in a foreword to an earlier collection of Miller’s essays, Rube Goldberg Theology, praised the author as today’s “most original and provocative Latter-day Saint theologian.” This originality and provocation are all the more impressive given Miller’s institutional prominence in the LDS academic establishment as, practically, the leading philosopher/theologian of BYU’s Maxwell Institute, where he is a series co-editor as well as co-founder of the book publisher Salt Press, which was absorbed by the Institute in 2013. Continue reading

Failing the Progressive Quiz: a Response to Dehlin

John Dehlin wrote:

Several people have contacted me in respond to my “Oaks Fail” post to say: “If you believe in this church, then you believe in revelation and in following your leaders. Consequently, it is inappropriate for you to be speaking openly about wanting LGBTs to be more accepted in the church, supporting gay marriage, or for women to receive more responsibility in the church. Either the leaders of the church get their direction from God, or they don’t. If you choose to be a part of this church, then it’s either get in line and follow, or get out.”

My response: A quiz for you. Continue reading

To Really Read the Book of Mormon

Review of Grant Hardy. Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. xix + 346 pp., with index. $29.95.

Grant Hardy, chair of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, studied Chinese history at Yale and clearly has read a lot of ancient texts with the greatest care. Somewhere along the line, he learned to really read a text: to savor it, to interrogate it, to listen to every voice, to compare and contrast, to hear resonances of one voice in another, and, not least, to hear silences. We are all fortunate that he has not limited the employment of his finely honed textual skills to his academic specialty. We thought we were reading the Book of Mormon all along, but it turns out we weren’t yet really reading it—not in this full sense, not with this loving attention, this openness to possibilities, this exposed humanity. Continue reading