Cutting-Edge Latter-day Saint Research, March 2024

Sins of Christendom: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Evangelicalism

Reviewed by our own Chad Nielsen. 

Evangelical criticism of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dates back to the earliest days of the Church. Nathaniel Wiewora uses the diverse animus expressed by evangelicals to illuminate how they used an imaginary Church as a proxy to disagree, attack, compromise, and settle differences among themselves. As Wiewora shows, the evangelical practice to contrast itself with the emerging faith not only encompassed but also went beyond religious matters. If Joseph Smith was accused of muddling religious truth, he and his followers also faced accusations of immoral economic practices and a sinful regard for wealth that reflected worries within the evangelical world. Attacks on Latter-day Saints’ emotional religious displays, the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, and the dangerous ideas represented by Nauvoo paralleled similar conflicts. Wiewora traces how the failure to blunt the Church’s success led evangelicals to change their own methods and pursue the religious education infrastructure that came to define parts of the movement.

Calvert, Isaac, Sabrina Bengtzen, and Jessica Ashcraft. “Teaching and Learning Principles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: A Thematic Analysis of the Doctrine and Covenants.” Religions 15, no. 3 (2024): 356.

This article presents pedagogic principles prescribed in the text of the Doctrine and Covenants, a foundational book of scripture from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following a qualitative, thematic analysis of the text, we organized the data into seven themes: character of God as a teacher, learning as the pursuit of truth, attributes of a teacher and learner, warnings in seeking light and truth, learning methods, teaching methods, and non-compulsory teaching and learning. Most noteworthy among these themes is the text’s description of learning as the pursuit of embodied ontological truth and the fundamental questions it raises about the nature of compulsion in learning.

The latest issue of Dialogue recently dropped. To save time instead of inputting every article by hand I’ll refer you to their Table of Contents.

The Life and Adventures of Eli Wiggill: South African 1820 Settler, Wesleyan Missionary, and Latter-day Saint

The autobiography of Eli Wiggill offers a captivating narrative of one family’s journey from Gloucester, England, to South Africa, and eventually to Salt Lake City during the mid-nineteenth century. Eli and Susannah Wiggill’s conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Africa serves as a focal point in their remarkable story. Eli’s retelling vividly portrays their steadfast faith, missionary efforts, and the challenges they faced as pioneers in establishing communities of South African Saints. From their immigration to South Africa to their eventual migration to Zion, the Wiggills’ experiences offer valuable insights into the early history of the Church and the global gathering of its members.

With meticulous attention to detail, The Life and Adventures of Eli Wiggill: South African 1820 Settler, Wesleyan Missionary, and Latter-day Saint presents Wiggill’s original manuscript, enriched with extensive footnotes providing context and clarity. This publication aims to rectify previous shortcomings by preserving the integrity of Wiggill’s narrative while enhancing accessibility for contemporary readers. It not only chronicles a remarkable transnational journey but also sheds light on themes of faith, perseverance, and the pioneering spirit, making it a compelling read for historians, scholars, and anyone interested in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the global migration of its members.

Unique But Not Different: Latter-day Saints in Japan

Unique But Not Different: Latter-day Saints in Japan offers an insightful exploration into the experiences of Japanese members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shedding light on their integration of religious identity within a predominantly non-Christian society. Through comprehensive survey data collected from active practitioners, authors Shinji Takagi, Conan Grames, and Meagan Rainock delve into the challenges and opportunities these Latter-day Saints face. In doing so, they examine the diverse social, political, and ideological backgrounds of Japanese Latter-day Saints, providing valuable insights for scholars, missionaries, Church leaders, and members alike.

With meticulous analysis, the authors navigate topics ranging from personal conversion experiences to religious beliefs and adherence to cultural practices. They examine how Japanese Latter-day Saints successfully negotiate identity conflicts and contribute to the broader societal landscape amidst Japan’s evolving cultural institutions. Offering statistical profiles and key findings tailored to various stakeholders, Unique But Not Different serves as an indispensable resource for understanding the complex dynamics of religious identity and acculturation in Japan, while also providing valuable insights applicable to minority religious practices worldwide.

For Japanese readers, the volume also includes a Japanese Afterword and translations of the summary, findings, tables, and figures.

3 comments for “Cutting-Edge Latter-day Saint Research, March 2024

Comments are closed.