Untangling Scripture from the Philosophies of Men

Review of Terryl L. Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014). 424 pp.

Abstract: Terryl Givens’ masterful work Wrestling the Angel takes on the daunting task of examining the history of Christian belief while also examining the worldly philosophies which shaped its scriptural interpretation. As in the biblical story of Jacob’s struggle with the angel, we all must forge our own testimonies while confronting a secular world including godless philosophies. Sometimes testimony wins, and tragically sometimes the world wins and a testimony is lost. In dealing with this intellectual “matter unorganized,” interpretation of the secular philosophy becomes the key. With the right interpretation, philosophies deemed “secular” or “godless” can be seen as helpful and even providentially provided by the Lord to help provide a philosophical grounding for a testimony instead of destroying it. Aspects of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant can be seen as laying a groundwork for much of contemporary American philosophy, Continental philosophy, and a possible basis for interpretations of these philosophies, which help rather than hinder the spread of the gospel. Kant’s concept of the synthetic a priori, for example, can help us understand how humans organize our individual ideas about reality from “matter unorganized,” perhaps in a way similar to how our “human” God organizes our world. Kant’s philosophy had vast influences, arguably resulting in a new way to see the relationship between God and mankind, which is compatible with the gospel. Finally I examine Givens’ view of humanism and how it can be interpreted as helpful rather than hindering the gospel. Continue reading

The Old Testament and Presuppositions

Review of Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation- Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, Second ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015). 197 pp. $19.99.

Abstract: Peter Enns identifies three problematic assumptions Evangelicals make when reading the Old Testament. LDS readers tend to share these assumptions, and Enns’ solutions work equally well for them. Continue reading

Understanding Genesis and the Temple

Review of John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2009). 192 pp. $9.85.

Abstract: Genesis 1 meant something very particular to the Israelites in their time and place. However, because that contextual knowledge was lost to us for thousands of years, we tend to misread it. Walton offers an interpretation of Genesis 1 that juxtaposes it with temple concepts, simultaneously allaying some of the scientific issues involved. Continue reading

A Modern View of Ancient Temple Worship

Review of Matthew S. Brown, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Stephen D. Ricks, and John S. Thompson, eds., Ancient Temple Worship: Proceedings of the Expound Symposium 14 May 2011 (Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation/Eborn Books, 2014). 293pp., $24.95 (hardcover)

Abstract: This well-produced, noteworthy volume adds to the growing number of resources available to help make more meaningful the complex and historically rich experience of the temple. Continue reading