In these Mormon Stories episodes, we interview Bert Fuller – PhD student and former researcher for the Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University.

In Part 1, Bert shares his background as a Mormon and provides an insider’s view of the Maxwell Institute.  Part 2 includes his critique of Mormon Neo-Apologetics and compares its approach to the more traditional form of Mormon apologetics.  Finally in Part 3, Bert shares what his life is like now in terms of spirituality.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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  1. Nancy March 21, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    A couple of thoughts: The Q15 don’t care if you believe they are fallible as long as you obey as if they are infallible. Obedience to their authority is their main concern. Also the notion that you need religion to be a good or better person is ridiculous. All that is needed is empathy, which , BTW is totally lacking in the policies for LGBTQ in Mormonism. By their fruits you will know them.

    • Daniel Kayse March 24, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      The Brethren KNOW that many or most Mormons think they speak with God and/or Jesus in the Temple, like one man speaketh to another, weekly. Of course, they DO NO SUCH THING! The Brethren don’t “claim” to do that, but they “let” Members believe that. Because it increases their “power” (authority).

  2. beth March 29, 2018 at 4:33 am - Reply

    Thank you Jon for a very good interview, thank you bert for your honesty and integrity, for standing up for truth and your sincerity.

  3. Scott Bidstrup April 3, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Where Bert is, is where I was 30 years ago. And what I have learned in the 30 years since, I hope can be useful to him – and that is that religion is not what he thinks it is. It’s a meme system that has co-opted spirituality in an attempt to legitimize itself. Yes, true spirituality (Gandhi was an example of true spirituality) is exceedingly valuable and important, and the world needs more of it. But conservative and/or fundamentalist religions pay a lot of lip service to spirituality, but fail utterly to actually promote true spirituality. Some religions embrace it, to varying degrees, but very few make it their focus, because it does not draw large numbers of adherents (no one wants to be told that they’re there to do a lot of hard work on themselves, but instead, as in many fundamentalist religions, many adherents are looking for a license for moral nihilism and bigotry, and they often find those in conservative and/or fundamentalist religions). And that is what Bert has yet to learn. As soon as he does, he can embrace true spirituality and throw the junk that is religion away. And doing so will help him to learn what few religions he should embrace and the plethora he should reject. He is a man of great intellect and erudition, and I hope that he learns this sooner rather than later. It took me a very long time.

    • Rico April 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      Speaking of Gandhi and his spirituality…

      As his wife lay dying of pneumonia, Gandhi refused to let British doctors inject penicillin to her because it was a “foreign medicine.” So he let her die rather than be saved. Yet when he himself contacted malaria, he allowed the “foreign medicine” quinine into his body to save himself. That doesn’t sound like a spiritual person to me.

      That account is not popularly known. In fact, many of Gandhi’s not-so-spiritual moments are no longer known today. The Gandhi we have come to know is largely the product of “Gandhi” the 1982 movie starring Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. That movie was funded by the government of India, and therefore, its screenplay and other aspects of its production had been thoroughly reviewed, censored, and approved by the Indian government.

      Allowing your wife to die when it is possible to save her is something that makes sense under Hindu spirituality. It does not make sense to Western Christianity. That is why not all “spiritualities” are equal. Some spiritual systems are better than others. Gandhi the movie was not created to convince Indians of Indian spirituality, but to convince a Western audience of the goodness of Indian politics.

  4. Neal April 3, 2018 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    This ship would have run aground and sunk if you hadn’t constantly made course corrections, John. This guy is hard to listen to when he can hardly finish a sentence without drifting off subject.

  5. DMac April 12, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Bert, you will make a great pretentious academic, and I mean that as a compliment. I really enjoyed your analysis and insight, even the tangents. So, for you and John, I need to read more about the ‘ritual abuse’ mentioned. I know nothing of this. Any suggestions?

  6. John Muir May 6, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

    The last segment where he discusses politics and economics is trite, shallow and often wrong. He apparently asserts that only the right wing has power, that only the right wing attempts to silence dissent, and that economics is sort of a right wing conspiracy. In other words, all the things he complains about on the right, he is blind to on the left. I have no problem with his having a faith transition, but what the simplistic arguments he makes in this last segment diminishes his credibility.

  7. Bill November 12, 2019 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Most Mormons are just 115 I q people trying their best to get back home . so the above conversations don’t make sense to the masses .it’s funny how when digging deep into academia , you find yourself in the bedrock of realism . Spirituality is the exact opposite of of all this jargon . can we follow such an entanglement ? The only thing that made sense to me was the statement , when Bert quotes king Benjamin ,who we are suppose to believe was conjured up out of a hat with a rock in it . I am beginning to believe that the Maxwell institute is in need of a whole bunch of rocks and hats and these academics need to work at McDonald’s for awhile following king Benjamin’s advice to provide for themselves .it’s no wonder the leadership of the church is in such a state right now .Jesus said things that Gandhi reiterated , and we all espouse , but it is the miracles that are missing .even a 70 I q person gets it when someone is raised from the dead or a blind person is blessed and can then see . listening to apologists and academics talk about religion is painful to a person who has relied on his faith for every breath and every movement of his adult life. Those of us born into Mormonism have no concept of what it is like to live without it The faith is like oxygen Yet we are slowly coming to realize that like the air in China all oxygen is not pure .yet we still have to breathe. .Finding fresh air is what we need . getting back to the basic fundamentals of Christ and his core teachings is the air we are so needing right now ..Joseph and Brigham both exemplified religious leadership but it was the blind followers that took the faith and found the miracles and moved it forward to the cliff it now resides upon .the great philosopher of our time ,Kaycee Musgraves sings. And when you finally get to the top !! Jump off !! Dan Peterson and the lot at farms and fair all have bailed off the grain of sand they were perched upon and it is all summed up they just need to try the rock in the hat it will produce better for them .the hat and the rock has lead us all to where we are now life is more about living and learning ..without putting the knowledge to use is in fact not true academics. Prove me now here with is what God expects us to do . Ask and ye shall receive. The problem is what in the heck are we asking for?

  8. Larry Ballard April 17, 2020 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    What a great interview with a person who thinks correctly. I love his eclectic approach in reading what he is motivated to read…less linear thinking and open to a wide variety of compelling issues. Thank you Bert for putting a proper perspective on the Dan Witherspoon approach. If religion is a toxic world view, if it can’t prove the validity of its truth claims, if it is hurting people in ways that people have been habituated to and do not see where pride has crept in, there is no amount of social gluing of society that makes up for a poisoned framework that makes people actually less than they could be and enslaves them to overlook the destruction being done. Pride I would define as a construct that people ego attach to and ego identify with that distracts them from true interior awareness and introspection and binds them to the culture at an emotional level that side steps the rational capacities of reasoned syllogistic correct thinking processes. Religion can be a binding down of the mind and heart to a framework that can be emotionally addictive and even satisfying that obscures the vision and locks down the mind to pursuing TRUTH. I love this guy.

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