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Radio Free Mormon: 116: The Amazingly Subversive Terryl Givens

In his most recent book, noted scholar Terryl Givens gives us a fistful of reasons to suspect he is a subversive influence on the LDS Church.  And that’s just in the first chapter!


13 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 116: The Amazingly Subversive Terryl Givens”

  1. Loved the episode RFM. I’d suggest, however, that Terryl Givens actually gives us an entire bakers dozen of subversion.
    He talks about using the Biblical sources as material to inspire Moses chapter 1. What about the first vision?
    In the thesis he states that the Pearl of Great Price is the source of the theology regarding the Godhead. What about the first vision?
    It would seem that his subversion is so much a part of him that it is even part of his subconscious. Is the first vision no longer a credible account to him, at least on an unconscious level? Certainly interested to see how he refers to the Vision as the book continues.

  2. Great summaries and articulations of significant points again I really appreciate it!

    Your question about what Terryl Givens meant by saying that the church could use the Enoch story more to support their theosis doctrine – I think is at least in part answered in his “God Who Weeps” book. In the last chapter he mentions how the city of Enoch being carried into the bosom of God is a beautiful metaphor of us becoming ONE with God (theosis), but not individually, but doing it together (in families) like Enoch’s united people.

  3. Wow, the Mormon scriptures really were made, reformed, changed, copied from other sources just like the bible was made the same ways. Both also backdated doctrines and have an unethical, evolving god. Amazing that Givens gave all those sources which JS “copied” from.

  4. Excellent analysis of The Pearl of Greatest Price chapter 1. Certainly appreciate the hard work. It should be noted that Terryl Givens is Senior Research Fellow at the Maxwell Institute.

  5. Amazingly subversive or brilliant architect of transition? Perhaps, Terryl Givens is trying to rescue the church from itself, knowing that they cannot cling to the truth arguments of the past. How does a church with a false narrative in the age of the Internet become an organization that keeps its followers attached and obedient without a subtle twist to the idea of meaningful “revelatory imagination” that might just get them closer to Heaven?

  6. Great analysis of brother Givens as a “subversive”. After all, what does brother Givens want us to do? It all seems intended to urge us to consider staying with the church because Joseph Smith took a lot of interesting ideas, had first by others, confirmed them through his own “inspiration”, then called them “translation.” Later, intellectually uninteresting “leaders” who really knew no better codified them as authoritative “revelation,” such that now we have some ideas (which, in the history of ideas, really are not all that remarkable) on the basis of which we really should consider “staying in the boat”, i.e., assume that a group of relatively old chaps who never have thought a whole lot about it should have authority over us. Here’s the thing: brother Givens’s Mormonism ain’t your grandma’s Mormonism. Until the old geezers who run the show start talking like Givens, he’s an apostate. It’s impossible that they will, because the Book of Mormon, not the Pearl of Great Price, is the keystone of the religion. And the Church, and is sina qua non, the missionary program, depends on it. The Pearl of Great Price, however interesting, can never be more than a kind of inconvenient curiosity in Mormonism–which is why it is treated as such.

  7. I just finished your entire interview over at Mormon Stories. I’m surprised neither of you mentioned, or maybe haven’t heard of, president Oaks admitting he’d never seen an angel or anything like it, and he didn’t know of any in the first presidency or quorum if the 12 who had either.

    He said this at a youth fireside in Bellevue WA a couple years ago. You can hear him say it if you start this recording at about the 30 minute mark:

  8. I just noticed you posted your Mormon Stories interview on this site. I’ll post my previous comment on one of those posts so it’s more applicable to the content.

  9. I have been a fan of Dr. Givens since the mid 1980s when we both found ourselves in an Elder’s Quorum at UNC – he taught, I tried to understand. His books and approach started to make more sense to me as I learned more about the intellectual frameworks of Romanticism and Post Modernism, as opposed to the Enlightenment. The former are at least suspicious of objective reality and grand truths while the pursuit of both are at the heart of Enlightenment philosophy. Romanticism and Post Modernism allow individuals to create their truths and their religion. As a scholar of Romanticism, I don’t think Dr. Givens would think he is being subversive when he consistently allows Joseph Smith to create scripture and religion – that’s how scripture and religion are created (is there another way?). This may seem subversive to those of us trained in proper Enlightenment disciplines (the law for RFM, economics for me) but not necessarily for a Romantic.

  10. If the church is to persist as a religion, then making it more main stream with it’s own interesting theology would be the way to go. I agree with a previous comment that Dr. Givens is trying to save the church from itself. The difference in freedom to change churches, pay tithes as you see fit, and serve as you choose from mainstream religions and Mormonism is a pretty large divide. Unfortunately, thinking for oneself is a privilege only given to the higher up, dare I say protected, class of Mormons. The rest of us aren’t allowed to decline participating in fundraisers without risking our social status and acceptance. I’m still impressed that Dr. Givens is as bold as he is. He is brilliant. I agree that this is the only direction to go to be sustainable. The recent conference shows me that the leaders are actually going in quite the opposite direction. Good luck Dr. Givens and thank you RFM!

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