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Mormon History of Apocalypse (Part 2 of 7)

Apocalyptism has been important to Latter-day Saint theology and is why we’re called Latter-day Saints.  In our next conversation with Dr. Christopher Blythe, we’ll get an overview of his book, Terrible Revolution, and learn more about LDS thoughts over the past two centuries about apocalypse, and how it differs from Millenarinism.

Christopher:  Yes. There’s a great book by Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism.  [It’s a] brilliant book, and one of the things it did was talk about Latter-day Saint last days thoughts in context of Christian theology. Grant will walk us through and say, “Post millennialism is different than millenarianism, or what we call premillennialism.”  When you’re a post millennialist, you think things are going great, that society is going to get better and better and better, and then the Savior will appear, perhaps, and you’ll be in the millennium. It’ll be a wonderful–and sometimes it’s seen more symbolically, so the Savior doesn’t necessarily appear in the same way. But it’s human invention, a human turning towards Christ, it just perfects the world. Premillennialists or millenarians have a perspective that–it’s what we’re more used to seeing–the world is going to get worse and worse and worse, then Jesus shows up, destructions happen, the righteous are selected, and then the Millennium happens. So, Grant Underwood makes a point to say that Latter-day Saints, even though we have utopian ideas like building Zion as an essential part before the Savior comes, really, we’re millenarians, that we expect society to kind of crumble before the Millennium happens. So, it’s not by human invention.

Jan Shipps, or Philip Barlow, or Terrell Givens, or Grant Underwood are trying to position Mormonism into this evangelical frame. I’m less interested in that. So I wanted to jump in and say, “Yes, we’re millenarian, don’t worry about it. But what I want to talk about is apocalypticism.” That is the sort of on-the-ground disasters that Latter-day Saints are expecting and participating in.  I use a term that a great scholar, Catherine Wessinger, uses to describe this.  Instead of millenarianism, I talk about catastrophic apocalypticism. So we are waiting around and we are–we’re not waiting around. We’re participant in all these wonderful, building Zion ideas, doing missionary work, work for the dead, that we believe prepares the world for the Second Coming. But, also, there’s a sort of emphasis, which is what I looked at, of destructions.  The world is going to erupt.  These corrupt governments, which from an early Latter-day Saint view is all governments, will collapse. So, we’re waiting for that to occur.

We’ll also get a preview of his book.  Check out our conversation….

Dr. Christopher Blythe talks about the apocalypse and how it will lead to a “Terrible Revolution.”

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Chris!

460: Maxwell Institute: A Religious Thinktank

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Maxwell Institute: A Religious Thinktank

What is the Maxwell Institute exactly?   I’m excited to introduce Dr. Christopher Blythe of the Maxwell Institute.  We’ll get acquainted with him, learn more about the Maxwell Institute.

Christopher:   I am the author of Terrible Revolution: Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse that just came out. I’m also a research associate at the Maxwell Institute here.

GT:  Do you do any teaching at BYU here, or…

Christopher:  No, just if I want to. So I taught a class in 2019 for the Religion Department–what did they call it? [It was] sort of, Church History/Doctrine and Covenants merged together, I forget the name. [It was] Gospel Foundations. So I like teaching, but I also love having this time to write. So this is a great spot to research and write and they hook you up with great student researchers to help you with your projects and fund you to go visit different sites and different archives.

GT:  Sounds like a dream job!

Christopher:  It is a dream job, there’s no question.

GT:  So can we think of this as kind of a think tank? We have political think tanks. Is this a religious think tank?

Christopher:  Yes. I think that’s probably right. We all have our own different projects. Then we meet together, brainstorm together on–read each other’s writings. Sometimes, there’s a project that comes from above that those that actually work here might be part of or might not be. So, right now, brief theological introductions to the Book of Mormon have been the big thing. One of us wrote a volume for it. These are these wonderful little 30,000 word books, each on a different book in the Book of Mormon.

We will also find out more about their collaborative relationship with the Interpreter group. Check out our conversation….

By the way, here is a link to Dr. Blythe’s book, Terrible Revolution.  It’s currently over 40% off, here’s your chance to get a good deal!

The Maxwell Institute has changed over the years.


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*Remembering Armand Mauss (Part 7 of 7)

Dr. Armand Mauss is a well-known LDS scholar that wrote the conclusion of the LDS Gospel Topics Series by Dr. Matt Harris and Dr. Newell Bringhurst.  Matt and Newell will share Armand’s conclusions, and will discuss their memories of Dr. Mauss, who passed away just 4 months ago in August of 2020.

Newell:  Yeah, I thought that that essay is really one of the critical essays. If I was going to recommend the way you read the book, I would recommend reading the introduction that Matt and I wrote, and then going to read what Armand Mauss had to say in his concluding essay, because what that does, is it really does two critical things. It kind of summarizes the gist of what’s in most of the essays, so that if you read that second, you’d be able to go back and read each of the subsequent essays themselves. He does really a good job of summarizing the gist of what each of the authors mean, and how they approached it. I think that’s one of the great contributions of his essay.

Matt: Newell summarized it nicely. I’d say one thing about Armand, the person, though. I think that there isn’t probably anybody in the Church, in my opinion, who represents an honesty and truthfulness, but yet, from a believing Latter-day Saint as Armand.  He really has walked that balance his entire life. He’s not afraid of the truth. He’s not afraid to let the chips fall where they may, but as a believing, practicing Mormon. I always loved his scholarship, because I knew that he wasn’t an apologist. I knew that he wasn’t going to whitewash race or anything else he wrote about. He was always going to do it in a very sensitive way. That, I think, is really what should be expected of each of us who writes on Mormon Studies. I really think he’s a model of a believer, but also a scholar. That’s one of the reasons why Newell and I wanted him to participate in this volume is because he really did have that balance. He’s going to be missed.

To hear the conclusion, sign up for our free newsletter and I will send you a secret link to check out our final conversation with Matt & Newell.

Dr. Armand Mauss wrote the conclusion of the Gospel Topics Series book.

And don’t miss our previous conversations with Newell and Matt!

458: Race, Priesthood, & Randy Bott

457: Racism in Mormon Scripture

456: Pros & Cons of Race Essay

455: Critiquing Polygamy Essays & Sources

454: Are Gospel Essays Hidden or Public?

453: Swedish Rescue & Gospel Topics Essays