We just received copies of Terryl Givens’ latest book (co-written with wife, Fiona, who also co-wrote The God Who Weeps):
The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith. Deseret Book, 2014. 168pp. Hardback. $19.99. Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So what happens when a person has doubts? Questioning is not the problem, according to authors Terryl and Fiona Givens. “After all,” they write, “the Restoration unfolded because a young man asked questions.” The difficulty arises when questions are based on flawed assumptions or incorrect perceptions, which can “point us in the wrong direction, misdirect our attention, or constrain the answers we are capable of hearing.” This insightful book offers a careful, intelligent look at doubt—at some of its common sources, the challenges it presents, and the opportunities it may open up in a person’s quest for faith. Whether you struggle with your own doubts or mostly want to understand loved ones who question, you will appreciate this candid discussion.
Also recently published (co-edited with Reid Neilson:
The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States. Columbia University Press, 2014. 455pp. Hardback. $80.00. This anthology offers rare access to key original documents illuminating Mormon history, theology, and culture in the United States from the nineteenth century to today. Brief introductions describe the theological significance of each text and its reflection of the practices, issues, and challenges that have defined and continue to define the Mormon community. These documents balance mainstream and peripheral thought and religious experience, institutional and personal perspective, and theoretical and practical interpretation, representing pivotal moments in LDS history and correcting decades of misinformation and stereotype. The authors of these documents, male and female, not only celebrate but speak critically and question mainline LDS teachings on sexuality, politics, gender, race, polygamy, and other issues. Selections largely focus on the Salt Lake-based LDS tradition, with a section on the post-Joseph Smith splintering and its creation of a variety of similar yet different Mormon groups. The documents are arranged chronologically within specific categories to capture both the historical and doctrinal development of Mormonism in the United States.
“I can scarcely imagine a better collection. Teachers of Mormon studies will think of it as essential. I know of nothing that speaks to contemporary interests as well as this volume.” — Richard Bushman, Columbia University
“The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States is the best thing we have for the foreseeable future as a compact sourcebook for the historical study of American Mormonism from the inside. That is, it is the finest available harvest to provide wide-ranging, effective, and representative documents by Mormons themselves. This is a judicious collection. Precisely as the editors aspire to do, the assemblage expands the genres, subject matter, and historical scope of primary materials gathered in one place for the scrutiny of how diverse Mormons think and live.” — Philip L. Barlow, author of Mormons and the Bible
Coming in October (early arrival!)–pre-order now:
Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity. Oxford University Press, 2014. 424pp. Hardback. $34.95. In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L. Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day. Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow. Givens shows that despite Mormonism’s origins in a biblical culture strongly influenced by nineteenth-century Restorationist thought, which advocated a return to the Christianity of the early Church, the new movement diverges radically from the Christianity of the creeds. Mormonism proposes its own cosmology and metaphysics, in which human identity is rooted in a premortal world as eternal as God. Mormons view mortal life as an enlightening ascent rather than a catastrophic fall, and reject traditional Christian concepts of human depravity and destiny. Popular fascination with Mormonism’s social innovations, such as polygamy and communalism, and its supernatural and esoteric elements-angels, gold plates, seer stones, a New World Garden of Eden, and sacred undergarments-have long overshadowed the fact that it is the most enduring and even thriving product of the nineteenth century’s religious upheavals and innovations. Wrestling the Angel traces the essential contours of Mormon thought from the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the contemporary LDS church, illuminating both the seminal influence of the founding generation of Mormon thinkers and the significant developments in the church over almost 200 years. The most comprehensive account of the development of Mormon thought ever written, Wrestling the Angel will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Mormon faith.
See our review here.