that reviewing a book review
, which this (sort of) is, is a little unusual.
However, it is the best I can do since I refuse to read the actual book that
was reviewed. I see such a read as a complete waste of time. More and more, as
so-called “Mormon Studies” (the academic
study of “Mormonism”) increases
at the university level, we see books and articles being produced that purport to
apply the training of the academy to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is an
exercise in futility at best and spiritual danger at worst. The things of God (His
words) can only be understood by the Spirit of God. We now have another superb instance
of proof that this is the case.
half of Alma 12 and first part of Alma 13 are the Book of Mormon passages that
receive intense academic scrutiny in this book, A Preparatory Redemption
issued by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (still?!) attached to BYU. My comments
on the book are necessarily restricted to the quotations and summaries from it and
reactions to it found in the review, which the book’s authors and editors are
not responsible for. Yet it appears to me that some conclusions can be reached.
The discourse being covered is Alma’s teachings to the people of Ammonihah. The
text includes quoted material from Alma, but is also part of a larger
abridgment by Mormon.
reviewer, Charles Harrell, explains that the book’s introduction cautions that
the essays in it should bee seen “as theological and speculative, rather than
as definitive.” They are “clearly exploratory and experimental.” Right away we
see that this book will have very limited appeal and use; after all, what good
is experimental theology to Latter-day Saints who only desire revealed truth?.
Only those who enjoy the specious speculations of others will want to read this
material. Most people are seeking gospel truths, not academic speculation. We
get “a diversity of perspectives” from scholars instead of attempts to glean gospel
truths. The reviewer thinks much of it evokes “new and insightful ways of
thinking about the text.” But is that what we really want, especially when they
are readily acknowledged to be entirely speculative?