Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Dialogue: Vol 14 No 3
The Writing of Latter-day Saints History: Problems, Accomplishments and Admonitions
FROM THE PULPIT The Writing of Latter-day Saint History: Problems, Accomplishments and Admonitions Leonard J. Arrington The CHALLENGE of writing religious history is an old one.1 The ancient Hebrews incorporated history into their scriptures, and Luke the physician is but one of the historians whose writings were canonized in the Christian New Testament. That the same facts could look quite different when viewed through a variant set of religious glasses was made clear, if it had not been so before, by the writing of St. Augustine's City of God. The monastic and ecclesiastical histories of the Middle Ages tended to set forth the drama of salvation, while secular histories, when they finally began to appear, were little more than chronicles or annals of rulers and battles. Histories of families, guilds, towns and nations gave emphasis to the political and economic realities of life but did so with little analysis. Indeed, history was more a branch of literature than of science. To worshipful and believing Christians, history was a vast pool from which could be drawn moral lessons, faith-promoting stories and examples of faith and dedication. The problem is that facts never speak for themselves. Chronicles and testimonies and stories mean different things to different people. The inevitability of diverse opinions on the meaning of historical events became clear early in Christian history. Could the real bearers of the Christian message be, not the successors to the bishop of Rome, but those who were being persecuted by the established Church—the Waldensians, for example? This version of "a saving remnant" was picked up by the Reformers in the sixteenth century, and the Reformation brought about a great confrontation of different versions of Church history: Catholics vied with Protestants, and Protestants with Protestants. The writers in all camps faced questions about assumptions, about interpreting events, about the metahistorical meaning behind the events. And there were practical, immediate questions. How open should the This speech was prepared for the Inaugural Lecture Series of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, Brigham Young University, March 18, 1981. 119