In 2013, the LDS Church sent Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley to Sweden to answer tough questions about church history. This was a pivotal moment in addressing faith crisis, and led to the Church putting out the Gospel Topics essays to answer thorny questions of Church history. We’ll learn more about this with Dr. Newell Bringhurst and Dr. Matt Harris. I’m excited to have them back on the show. They’ve put together an anthology on essays critiquing the Gospel Topics essays. We’ll learn more about the key players behind the scenes.
Matt: The topic that I gave or presented on that day was how the Gospel Topics Essays came about. The earlier sessions that Newell and I had worked on dealt with our respective content themes, Newell with polygamy, and I did the race one. Well, in this instance, at the MHA, I looked at the introduction and I recognized that there were many Church employees in the room that day, including the Church Historian, Elder Snow, who had inside knowledge about all of this stuff. So, I remember prefacing my remarks to the Church History employees, and also Elder Snow. I said, “Look, if there’s anything that I say today, that is incorrect, or you would like me to flesh out more of a detail or some lead to pursue, please let me know, this is the chance. This is why we do these conferences. I am eager and energetic to solicit your help.”
So, anyway, I presented the material and the first person who came up to me afterwards was Elder Snow. He pulled me aside and he said, “There’s something,” he said, “Congrats this is a great, I really enjoyed the presentation, the panel today”, and so that was nice. And he said, “There’s something I want you to know. Have you ever heard of the name Travis Stratford?” I said, “No, I have not.” For your viewers or listeners today, Travis Stratford is the person who really deserves most of the credit, much of the credit for getting the Church to release Church History essays. The introduction talks about that at length, how he does that. He works with the brethren, the General Authorities. He does a number of things. I guess we can talk about that in a second. But nonetheless, it was Elder Snow, who planted that name in my mind.
Then I remember telling Newell later on, maybe that night at dinner, “We’ve got some work to do. We got to find this Stratford guy, who is he.” So I went on this sleuthing mission to figure out who this Travis Stratford guy was.
It is important to note that Travis served a mission and is acquainted with Hans Mattson, the general authority Seventy whose faith crisis led to the Swedish Rescue, where Church leaders went to Sweden to help with faith crises of members in Sweden. We also talk about several surveys put together by Travis, as well as John Dehlin, that helped motivate the brethren to put together the Gospel Topics Essays. Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our other conversations with Matt and Newell on the topics of race.
Newell Bringhurst – Author of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks
135: Critiquing the Gospel Topics Essays (Bringhurst)
134: Role of Women in 4 American Religions (Bringhurst)
133: More about Polygamy: Bennett, Bushman, & Compton (Bringhurst)
132: Bringhurst’s Approach to Controversy (Bringhurst)
131: Bringhurst on Bushman-Brodie (Bringhurst)
130: Walker Lewis: Faithful Black Elder (Bringhurst)
129: Warner McCary: Real Native Genius? (Bringhurst)
128: How Lester Bush Debunked the Missouri Thesis (Bringhurst)
127: Writing Saints, Slaves, and Blacks (Bringhurst)
Race Struggles at BYU 1965-1985
353: Impact of Protests on Apostles (Harris)
352: BYU Law School Almost Lost Accreditation (Harris)
351: Civil Rights Investigation at BYU (Harris)
350: Sports Protests Against BYU (Harris)
349: Race & Religious Minorities at BYU (Harris)
348: How Brazil Influenced Official Declaration 2 (Harris)
347: Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race? (Harris)