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  1. I have listened to all of the interviews with David and have to rank these with the best ever that I have heard. I could listen to David Bokovoy for hours and never get bored. I hope he comes back soon and many more times. I really liked his statement at the end where he say’s “I don’t need a Church to be true with a capital T — I need a church to be good with a capital G”. I think that was a wonderful way of putting it.

  2. I’ve loved the podcast and I’m a big fan of David Bokovoy. One thing I would love to hear from him that I have not heard so far is a state of the union on CES. I’ve heard that CES is trying to change and not be so Mcconkie-esk since Ballard gave that talk. It would very interesting to hear from David what he thinks of the current status of CES. Where they are now and where they are going? To what degree students are asking these really through questions and are the CES teachers able to answer them and deal this this new world? How are the essays being used by CES? Does he see a difference between older CES’s instructors and the younger ones coming in as far as their openness to the messiness of the church history. Since he spent 18 years in CES and was just there until a few months ago it would be a really interesting conversation to have.

  3. I am new to Mormon Stories and this is the second podcast I’ve listened to. I was raised Mormon and loved my upbringing and the Mormon people but left the church fifteen years ago because of numerous reasons I won’t go into here. My whole family (parents and five siblings) are very active LDS and my Dad served as a Bishop for several years. I have tried to show my family unconditional love and acceptance of their faith despite our differences and focus on building relationships with them outside of our religious beliefs, but I recently lost my 18 year old Nephew to suicide and I believe with all my heart that he struggled with loving and accepting himself because of things he was being taught at church, but unlike myself, he didn’t escape and find a new faith that taught him self love. Without going into too much detail out of respect for my family, my reason for commenting here is to boldly ask why David or someone like him doesn’t start a new community of believers that opens their arms to the LGBT community and teaches the beautiful messages of scripture that has obviously shaped his life for so much good? Why are we waiting for the Brethren to open their hearts? Maybe something like this exists in other denominations, but is there such a community in Mormonism? There is an incredible need for people that want to belong to a system similar to the Mormon system without having to fit into a box outside of who God created them to be or blindly put their faith in broken doctrine. I know it’s not that easy to snap our fingers and make this happen, but I have numerous nieces and nephews that I worry about daily and we have to start somewhere. This all may sound extremely naive to many of the educated listeners out there, but I felt compelled to comment, for my lost nephew. Thank you John for the work that you’re doing. I’m so grateful to have found you all!

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Bokovoy. His wisdom, education, compassion, and position are most impressive. I’ve waited a long time for an educator of his prowess to address the issues brought up in these interviews. However, Dr. Bokovoy claims he does not fear the possibility of excommunication. I disagree. If he continues his pursuit of “higher criticism” where the BOM and the Bible is concerned, he will face disciplinary action. The good Doctor is shining a bright light on texts that are falsely used to control members of the Church. Although he is careful not to criticize Church leaders directly, he is walking a very fine line. I would love to take classes from Dr. Bokovoy. Thank you!

  5. I’ve been watching Mormon stories for 3 years now. I love all the interviews.., but this one has to be my favorite. I still struggle with bitter feelings toward the church and it’s leaders but Dr. Bokovoy has helped give me a new perspective – it was therapeutic. Thank you for producing this great content!

  6. It’s a problem in both interviews, that Bokovoy speaks so much more softly than Dehlin (well actually, softer than most people I think). His microphone should have been adjusted. Listening, I had to go back and forth with the volume. Bokovoy would speak a while, and then Dehlin came thundering in to wake up my neighbors.

    1. Post
      Author

      There are adjustments we make in post-production to ensure a smooth mix. The finished version of this interview is now uploaded to this blog post. Thanks–

  7. RE the Elijah / Elias problem, while the names may be interchangeable in the NT, the OT and NT together have identified them as at least two people i.e. Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist. Anyone else?

  8. After all the episodes, we see that Dr. Bokovoy, loves scriptures, all religions, people, and especially his Mormonism grounding, in life. I too feel the same way, but don’t quite follow with the same conclusions. I also respect different interpretations. Without question, David has embraced “give Joseph a break!”….not to mention all the man-made scriptures as well, and the polyandry, banking schemes, and Temple rituals and policies that divide good families and cause much pain. The Gay Issues was a bridge to far for him, but there is so much more for most of us, that is too much to swallow. I very much appreciate the scholarly truth aspects he has brought to light, and I wish him success with his work and creation of the book that might give the historical and secular take on the creation of the Book of Mormon. It seems like there has already been much written already, but there are angles and perspectives that have been missed, I’m sure, and I will share one of my own perspectives.

    I think David’s overwhelming love of the written stories of scripture, poetry, etc., allows him to remain comfortable and at home with Mormonism. I doubt Bob Dylan, another modern day “prophet” would agree with him….then again, Dylan might just say “the answer my friend….is blowing in the wind”.

    Another musician once said, “If you want to find the truth in life, don’t pass music by”. This was, I believe, a serious element that was missing in the life of Joseph Smith and his family. Life in that area was farming, religion, and the Bible for entertainment and some odd superstition type “magic world” activities. Most of us have grown up surrounded with music and art. We have piano lessons, play guitar, play in a band, go to concerts, sing, dance, perform in plays etc. In Joseph’s time, the religious leaders were the ‘rock stars’. Joseph wanted to be a ‘rock star’, and he did succeed, but it was in the only way he knew to apply his creative genius to. There was no piano, guitar, banjo, or even a harmonica in his home, as far as I know or have read. There were no crayons and drawing materials, watercolors, to play with. This is a perspective that so many writers about Joseph have missed. The lack of the arts in his life, and how that affected what he produced. This artistic aesthetic ‘blind spot’ reveals itself in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon prophets spanning this thousand year history have relayed nothing of artistic interests of their people. Just as this was a blind spot in Joseph’s mind, it became a ‘blind spot’ in the minds of the story tellers in this “voice from the dust”. Most cultures that are going to leave a ‘time capsule’ to pass on to future generations to tell their story, will include information about their important cultural advances in literature, music, art, and science. The arts help balance our minds and lives and bring us joy. There are no colors mentioned in the Book of Mormon, to describe beautiful things…only for “white and delightsome” and a skin of “blackness”. I agree, in regards to problems in the Book of Mormon, its not so much what is mentioned in the Book of Mormon that didn’t exist at that time, but what should have been mentioned that isn’t. Couldn’t at least one prophet with just a hint of artistic interest used one plate to scratch a piece of art, or describe the beauty of their culture? Instead all we get is “why do you adorn yourself with that which hath no life.” To “convince the Jew and Gentile” why not use one gold plate to describe an ancient calendar or described the craftsmanship of their incredible stone work? Ancient America was brimming with art and culture and yet descriptions and interest in it is essentially void in the Book of Mormon. Oh yes, the Liahona was of “curious workmanship”….but once again that was getting into the “magic” realm of things.

    Thanks very much for the presentation, your work, service and positive outlook….except for the Trump part…Joseph gets a pass and Trump gets slammed….it is the popular thing right now, isn’t it?

  9. I listened to all 4 episodes with intense attention and learned much from Dr. Bokovoy’s perspective. I came away with a deep respect for Dr. Bokovoy’s empathy and a powerful sense of sadness for his journey through Mormonism. Much of that sadness comes from the realization that his journey isn’t done yet. While he may think the Church isn’t coming for him, they almost certainly are. Bill Reel is out, Gina Colvin is headed out,David Bokovoy is in the sights. We are in a retrenchment period, a doubling-down on the hard rules, like it or leave it. If you can’t like it, or at least sit quiet and say nothing, they’ll show you the door.

    His quote about not “needing a Church to be True with a capital T, but Good with a capital G is lovely”, but here’s the flipside. This current Church doesn’t need its members to Believe with a capital B, it needs them to Obey with a capital O.

  10. John described David’s views as “nuanced”, but a better word is “intelligent”.

    There is a framework commonly used for attacking belief in the LDS church that goes something like this: (a) God is perfect and not messy, (b) Joseph Smith’s work was both imperfect and messy, therefore (c) Joseph Smith’s work is not of God. This seems to be John D’s sole line of thinking about the church and its history.

    But David’s rebuttal is on a different level of insight and wisdom: humans interact with God in a messy, human way, and that result is a beautiful, human thing.

    As a believer, I have always felt this way (and it is consistent with my own experiences with God), but I never heard someone articulate it so well.

    So, I give my thanks to David. I would like to meet him, b/c I feel like I have met a fellow traveler.

    –David

  11. Very interesting and worthwhile, thanks.

    My impression is that pretty much everything Bokovoy loves about the Mormon church and Book of Mormon, and Jesus and the Bible, are compatible with the values and principles of Humanism. It doesn’t seem like he has any real belief in standard Mormon or Christian concepts of “God” or “Christ,” inspiration or revelation.

    I struggle to grasp how someone who knows so much about the Book of Mormon and Bible, and about Joseph Smith and the origins of Mormonism, and can “love” the Book of Mormon. But I trust that emotion in Bokovoy is real and genuine. While even as a Formon and agnostic atheist I still love the Bible, I find the Book of Mormon odious and grating as hell. Not least because of how self-falsifying it is. And because of stuff like 2Nephi 10:3. And then non-stop with all of the preachments of Jesus as “Christ” and savior, and virgin birth, etc.

    I accept Joseph Smith to be an authentic religious genius as per Harold Bloom and others, and that he eventually had a substantial grasp of the Bible. But until the Book of Mormon came out, what in the record suggests that the young Smith knew the Bible backwards and forwards? And had a deep understanding of the Bible and Christian theology? I’m mostly convinced that Smith could have and probably did concoct the BOM by himself, but when he delves into Christian preaching & theology, I often still wonder if it’s Sidney Rigdon talking. I’m not 100% persuaded that there wasn’t an earlier connection between Smith and Rigdon than the standard Mormon narrative allows.

    But even then, what in BOM theology wasn’t commonly in the air in Smith’s Protestant Christian world? And what is the evidence & argument —before the Book of Mormon appeared—that Smith had acquired such a profound knowledge & understanding of the Bible at such a young age? Does Clarke’s Bible commentary of both the OT and NT show up as a source?

    I hope Bokovoy can eventually return to academia, especially regarding Hebrew/Jewish scripture. Maybe still combined with his prison work. He’s a good man, BYU’s loss, and our gain. Good luck and thanks.

  12. Rob Grover made the following comment. “My impression is that pretty much everything Bokovoy loves about the Mormon church and Book of Mormon, and Jesus and the Bible, are compatible with the values and principles of Humanism. It doesn’t seem like he has any real belief in standard Mormon or Christian concepts of ‘God’ or ‘Christ,’ inspiration or revelation.”

    I would like to add my impression of what was said in the interview and my understanding of David’s relationship to Jesus.

    I want to first say that I like David Bokovoy. He reminds me of a number of other people who have told stories of their struggle while in or while leaving or out of the LDS Church. He impressed me as a sincere, well educated man who loves his family and who still has a strong connection to the LDS faith in spite of many hardships he has experienced while in the LDS Church. My difficulty is not with David the person, it is with what I perceived to be a very liberal interpretation of the Bible and a very unusual belief position. David said his paradigm shifted or changed many times in order to maintain his faith while he remained in the LDS Church. His belief system seemed to have no firm anchor.

    In part 4 of the first series, David said he was an agnostic believer. He also said he was a Christian and that he loved Jesus. In addition he said he loved secular humanism along with other religions. I was confused by what seemed to be conflicting and contradictory statements. Loving Jesus and loving secular humanism seem to me like a very unusual position. About that time in the interview, John Dehlin made what I thought was a very insightful and accurate comment. He said that for him (John) Christianity denoted an exclusive truth claim … a path. John was not making a statement of faith, he was simply clarifying what the term meant to him. David said he didn’t believe that. He admitted that he is not a Christian in the traditional sense of the term.

    I’m not sure what sense of the term Christian David is applying to himself. A love for Jesus as a man in history who did not rise from the dead does not constitute a Christian in any sense of the way the term is commonly used. Mainstream Christianity would consider it essential to believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus in addition to putting faith and trust in Him as Savior and Lord.

    C. S. Lewis presented the often quoted trilemma about Jesus. That quote follows.“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    If I understand David correctly, he has taken away the divinity of Jesus but loves the historical man Jesus. C. S. Lewis didn’t think that was a reasonable option. Once you remove the divinity of Christ, you end up with either a madman or something worse … at least according to Lewis. Of course, the position Lewis takes depends on reading the Bible in the normal way that most mainstream Christians would read it. Based on David’s comments in his interviews, that is not the way he reads or interprets the Bible. Calling himself a Christian does not make him one in any sense of the way the term is normally used or understood by most people in mainstream Christianity. Without John’s insightful comment, I don’t think David would have made that nearly as clear as he eventually did.

  13. Question to David B: Are you familiar with Margret Barker? She is a British OT scholar who has written extensively about a major apostasy from the Jewish faith that occurred around 650-600 BC. If so, I would be interested in your opinions regarding. Thanks

  14. This was a great interview. David’s approach is as good as it gets. So refreshing to hear every attempt to incite resentment being shot down with appreciation. I really appreciate David’s approach.

  15. David Bokovoy’s basic explanation of Christology is concerning to me. Regardless of what stance it taken on Christology, the LDS Church, or anything else; a serious discussion necessitates a foundation on which you build your views. A basic point of his Christology foundation seems to be the timeline he tries to establish with the Gospels and when they declare Christ became the only begotten Son of God. A major concern I have is his misquotation of the gospel of Mark’s account of Christ’s baptism. For context, here is an excerpt of some of Bokovoy’s remarks:

    “…early Christology was that Jesus became the Son of God when he was resurrected; that is when he became the Son of God. Then if we take that view, which is the earliest one we can document historically, and compare that with what we see in Mark, which is the earliest new testament gospel, (Mark was written in about 68 CE or so) and in Mark when was Jesus identified as the Son of God? At the baptism. … Mark puts Jesus’s Son of Godship at the baptism at the start of his ministry. God speaks from heaven: ‘This is my beloved Son, THIS DAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’.” (For full context, listen to 6:45-8:55 of the interview)

    Bokovoy declares this quotation as “a fact you cannot deny”. Well, I deny it because that “fact” is wrong. Whether you look to the KJV, the Inspired Version, or even the Greek text; the Gospel of Mark NEVER declares ‘This day I have begotten you’. Here is the KJV version:

    9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
    10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
    11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
    (Mark 1:9-11)

    Not only does Bokovoy misquote the Gospel of Mark, but he also seems to be making some large interpretive leaps here. The text shows that the Father is declaring that Christ is the Son of God ‘in whom I am well pleased’, not that he had just been begotten as the Son of God. This removes a pivotal point of Bokovoy’s foundation of Christology. It erodes much of the argument that he proposes.

    I sincerely wish I had a platform to ask Bokovoy about this and many other points from the interview. That being said, I hope what I have stated here is at least thought-provoking for someone. One who is truly searching for truth should never be afraid to ask questions, especially when those questions are directed to someone who is intellectually superior. Seek for truth “and the truth shall make you free.”

    1. This is addressed to An Earnest Searcher.

      I am in complete agreement with your comment. The mainstream Christian understanding from John 1:1 would be that Jesus (referred to as the word) was in the beginning with God and was God at that time … He didn’t become God.

      You concluded your comment with the following paragraph. “I sincerely wish I had a platform to ask Bokovoy about this and many other points from the interview. That being said, I hope what I have stated here is at least thought-provoking for someone. One who is truly searching for truth should never be afraid to ask questions, especially when those questions are directed to someone who is intellectually superior. Seek for truth ‘and the truth shall make you free.’ ”

      Your comment definitely provoked some thought on my part. David seemed to have such a liberal leaning in his understanding of the Old Testament that I felt it would take a yearlong Bible study with more conservative Bible scholars to address all the questions he raised. Based on the way you clearly stated your comment, I am impressed that you probably have an intelligence that rivals David’s. You may not have his expertise in Old Testament studies, but I suspect that you are quite capable of understanding and discussing those issues. I agree with you that truth is very important. We are discussing issues that have eternal consequences. Deciding what is true is central to those issues.

      The name you used suggests to me that you are still on a journey in search of the truth. I am convinced that truth comes through a proper understanding of Jesus and His teachings. I think that understanding comes from a simple straight forward reading of the New Testament in the same way a child would read it. It is obvious that many who comment on this site would not agree with me. I understand why that is the case. After hearing or reading so many stories of those who have experienced difficulties while in, out or transitioning from the LDS Church, I can understand the skepticism that they also hold for the Bible. I’m sure I would have that same skepticism If I had experienced what they and possibly you have experienced.

      I wish you all the best as you earnestly search for the truth.

      1. I wanted to clarify a point from the comment by An Earnest Searcher as I understand it. In my opinion, the time stamp of 6:45-8:55 is in reference to part 4 of the first series of interviews … not the second series. That would be number 1016 of the podcast series. I’ll put a You Tube link to that interview in case anyone wants to listen to the particular portion that was referenced.

  16. My wife and I are loving the Bokovoy interviews. I am a Jack Jew married to an excommunicated Mormon. I know what pseudepigrapha actually means, but I want it to mean “Kosher bacon.”

  17. Thank you to both An Earnest Searcher and Bill McClymonds for sharing your thoughts, in a way that I am unable to express. I was a third generation Mormon for 59 yrs , but now( 4 yrs.) along with my children and grandchildren, a born again Christian. I truly had to seek truth , like a little child. These scriptures came to mind as I watched the interview. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “ And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 1 Corinthians 1:” For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. “ Hebrews 11: 6 “ But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. “

  18. I share Michael’s comment above. During the interview, I was sometimes frustrated with Bokovoy’s elasticity of belief. Such flexibility doesn’t arise from any form of Mormonism with which I am familiar. Consequently, I do feel deceived and I don’t share his view that church leaders are neither complicit nor culpable. (John, thanks for hitting these concepts.) Nevertheless, Bokovoy’s perspective gave me a way to reexamine my own frustrations as well as my family’s devotion and view them in a more forgiving light. The interview was fascinating in so many ways. Thank you both for creating it.

  19. Loved this series so much. Perfect balance of respect for the beliefs of others and skepticism of empirically unsupported claims. Inspired me to donate to Mormon Stories. I really admire David a ton and would like to hear more from him.

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