171558_126278530779478_3121263_oBrad Kramer represents a rising generation of young, thoughtful, faithful Latter-day Saint scholars.  In this two part episode, Brad briefly discusses his own faith/intellectual journey within the LDS church, and then offers a parent/child, developmental framework for approaching a more mature LDS faith.  Brad also briefly discusses a new approach to LDS apologetics, often dubbed “pastoral apologetics.”

Brad is married to Tracey von Bose-Kramer, and is the father of five children.  Brad holds a B.A. in Russian from Brigham Young University, a B.A. in History from the University of Utah, an M.A. in American History from the University of Utah, and is a hair away from obtaining his Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan, with an emphasis on religion, religious language, and secrecy.



  1. Rachel April 17, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Great podcast! I think these analogies and frameworks are very helpful. I was quite moved by Brad’s sum up regarding love and kinship being more potent in a world where death is possible, and then carrying that with us to the eternities. That this is part of the purpose of life, to make these strong attachments.

    I was also intrigued by his references to his dissertation. Any chance that it will be publicly available at some point?

  2. Howard April 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Great interview! Brad is a very bright and articulate guy who draws both my attention and respect with his balanced view. Knowing where the exits are always reminds me of what I need to know when I’m in a plane that is going down. I was very attracted to the patent/child analogy of the church to it’s members and the church still being in an early immature part of it’s existence. But on balance the church claims to be managed by God not by man and well, God ought to be old and mature by now so that idea plays more like a slick apology to me.

  3. Matt April 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm - Reply


    I am appreciative of the parent-child/church-member analogy that you formulated. I think that the analogy captures a lot of the complexity that can occur when the beliefs of a member shift out of alignment with the church.

    It does make me wonder how the church could help the members to grow up in a respectful manner without going to far and not making any demands of its members. Any chance you are going to do a BCC post on this? I would definitely be interested to see the framework in a concise, static form.

    I look forward to the future podcasts. Sounds like a great series.

  4. Andrew S. April 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    There was a thing going on throughout the podcast but not entirely explicitly stated (well, I think it was, but it wasn’t emphasized) that I want to draw on.

    The idea is that in some instances, the harm or abuse that the parent (or, in analogy, the church) causes can justify a breakaway (and that such a breakaway is the most mature response.).

    Notice here, though, that the emphasis is about harm/abuse/effects. It is not about, say, claims, truth, etc.,

    I think that this is important. Many people think that the most important thing to consider with respect to the church is whether it is what it claims to be. Like, just to quote John from a post he had on FB:

    Ordaining women….LGBT rights…..historical acknowledgment/candor — those are all very important steps for the LDS church that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of latter-day saints across the globe. I acknowledge this from the outset.

    But from where I sit, they are all merely window dressing to the real issue.

    Is the LDS church really what it claims to be — “…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased?”…

    My challenge would be that whether the LDS church really is what it claims to be is not the “real issue.” In contrast, it’s whether the harm that various members face outmatches the good.

    In part 2, Brad had his analogy to how different children could respond to learning something very different about their parents. John had raised up learning that your parents are not actually your parents, and I think this was meant to be a parallel to learning that the church is not what it claims to be.

    But I think the analogy shows the basic flaw here…What defines a parent? It’s not necessarily genetics (adoptive parents are still parents). If someone has raised you your entire life, taken care of you, etc., that still has to be taken into consideration. Their identity is not backed by some history of facts…it is backed up by their actions.

    The real question with such a separation is — how did they treat you? Did they really take care of you growing up, or did they neglect you? Do they respect you and support you, or do they bring you down?

    So, a better question than whether the church is what it claims would be: how does the church treat its members (and this is a question each individual answers for himself.) At best, what the church claims about itself is only relevant to the extent that it affects how it treats its members. As was already mentioned, the church treats itself as the absolute, ultimate authority parent to members (who are the children). Perhaps one could say this arises *because* of the truth claims that the church makes, but in this instance, it’s not the claims that are the concern, but the behavior and mindset. (For whatever its worth, I think that if one’s literal parents insisted to continually treat them as a child into their adulthood, undermining their decisions, etc., then they would quite reasonably decide that is a deal-breaker.)

    • Kevin April 21, 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

      Your insight of the Church™ behaving like an authoritarian parent resonates with me, Andrew. God himself chooses to entreat us toward salvation rather than coerce us with his superior intellect and his outright power over all things. While you’d hope the Church™ grows into its potential the prophecy of one mighty and strong coming to set the house in order suggests otherwise.

    • DP April 27, 2014 at 9:43 am - Reply


      Very well thought out observation. Your point resonates with me personally. And I think it would be good for all of us, “children” and “parents” to really consider this.

      At times, the abuse happens because the “parents” believe the truth claims support it or justify it (as in the case of the way we have treated people of different race or culture, or gender, or sexual orientation… there is usually a truth claim behind the abuse).

      In the end, if we are really honest about what we do “know” then we will understand that we “know” so very little. And what ultimately matters is our treatment of one another.

      So… for example, It is more important that I can love my neighbor then that I can stand up and say “I know the book of mormon is true.” I wish the “Parents” had this view and emphasis in their teachings.

      At the same time I understand the disenchantment many face when they find out the “Parents” aren’t exactly who they think they are. And that is the important thing. I don’t believe the “parents” are out there trying to deceive. I believe they see themselves as guardians of sacred truths. I believe this can lead to fear and defensiveness and self righteousness which can lead to the mistreatment of people.

      When we let go of our concerns about being right, it is easier to do good and be kind.

      Thanks for your awesome comment.

  5. J April 18, 2014 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Example of a more mature faith. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_KoyQ-ooyiQ . YouTube agnostic barmitsfa. Can you imagin how well this talk would go over in sacrament? The kid would be called into the bishops office faster than flipping a hot pancake. they would probably call in an adult if an adult gave this talk. The church I belong to is tolerant of others views as long as those views are the same as the churches. The church says you can have different ideas and be a member you just have to keep quiet. It’s immature. It’s also a sighn of fear. A fear that members will truley think for themselves.

  6. jg April 18, 2014 at 9:18 am - Reply

    The believers paradigm has people focused on this life as a means to enhance the next. The rewards in this life, but especially the rewards in the next life, are the clear focuses of the church. perhaps without this eternal perspective, no one would spend their golden years in the temple or at the genealogical center. the true-believing mormon perspective is a form of eternal perspective, perhaps quintessentially.
    meanwhile, the best representation of those just focused on this life are perhaps secular humanists. (a group dallin oaks recently declared war on, again recently: https://bit.ly/1fpEQ26)

    if we view one of the central purposes of parenting as helping our children grow into adults that can lead healthy and productive lives, then we have to ask which one? the mortal life or the next one? What did you parents teach you about? Did they prepare you for the practical realities of this world? Or arm you with the mysteries and knowledge necessary to navigate the next? I think the framework falls apart here because what you believe about the eternities massively changes what you do in this life. It affects your values. It affects your focus. It affects what you are willing to die for.

    Brad’s framework is perhaps largely an attempt to focus our interaction largely about something other than truth claims, and i love that. It is at moments laughable about how much as been written and said about reformed egyptian and geography theories and more.

    If the church were merely a family, no one would go home teaching, no one would go on missions, no one would pay tithing. Without the undercurrent of “what we do here echoes in the eternities”, the church has no gravity.

    The framework doesn’t work when trying to explain anything. Perhaps it here gets reduced to a helpful analogy that is only good for giving believer and once-believer a chance to be critical and complimentary of the church together. I don’t think it gives much new to the once-believer about staying, mostly because three points that Brad made that need to be underlined:

    1. at least the way i experienced it, bushman is wrong. belief is not simply a choice. brad’s description was ringing very true. what we believe is better described as something we experience than something we choose.

    2. this is largely because our belief in the church and in god is largely a reflection of our own emotional experiences with our parents. our key relationships are reflected in our views of god (believer or not).

    3. The analogy is most fitting when considered as members are sub-10 year-olds and the church is an ill-informed, out of touch, 85 year-old corporate-focused father. (it has to be a father because the church is run by men, of course).

    Finally, it is important to point out that the Mormon Stories listeners are the anomaly. Brad highlighted that most of the people he knows that have left are for “less principled reasons”. The church can do almost nothing to change the views of the people on this site. They should focus on the 99 sheep who leave because simply because mormonsim has become boring and irrelevant to them. They should leave sheep number 99 (or is it 100) because those really considering the existential questions are impossible to reach in mass–too much nuance. That goes for me and that goes for brad too.

    However, if they don’t keep the brads of this world, their chance of joining the ranks of mature faiths (who take many kinds) like Judaism go from slim to none.

  7. jg April 18, 2014 at 9:32 am - Reply

    One final question that my wife and I were discussing on this topic centered around the analogy to tangled (we have a 3 year old girl so these things are top of mind :) ). aside from violence, is there a greater crime a parent can commit than locking your child up!

    Isn’t trying to keep a child from progressing to adulthood one of the greatest crimes a parent can commit?

  8. John April 19, 2014 at 7:09 am - Reply

    Very interesting podcast and discussion. I enjoyed both segments very much. Yet, I agree with the post above and the quote from facebook. All the discussion is thought provoking but it is all irrelevant if the church is not what it claims to be. This is the unrest that I struggle with as I learn more and more about un-sanitized history. I do not condemn anyone, past or present in the church and I do not judge to the point of assuming anyone lies to me intentionally, yet there is a difference between believing and knowing. Guess like the crook in the Dirty Harry movie faced with the .44 magnum…I got to know.

  9. J April 19, 2014 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Any way John can interview some one from this web site ldswomenofgod.com ? They recently released a short blurb condemning the women of OrdainWomen. I am wondering if they intend for their message to come across as judgmental and divisive or if it is not their intent? Are they as people really as narrow minded as they come across in their writings or are they just not very good writers. I would like to hear their side with out the bog format getting in the way.

  10. Eli B. April 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I thought this was an insightful podcast. I especially liked the analogy of the marriage: that you would never treat a marriage the way we tend to treat an exit from the Church. That said, does this come from scriptural accounts? Or the symbol of Adam being Priesthood and Eve being the body of the Church?

    My other question, if the Church has a personality in itself, which many who are disturbed by past and present issues use as a justification for staying (which to me makes sense), then do we treat the entire story as one reflective of our own? For example, we (historically speaking) were in the place we believe to be Zion (Missouri) and upon several shortcomings of our own and of the state were deemed unappreciative and incapable and were cast to present-day Utah, and then commanded to sort our pilgrimage back to Zion. The same thing happened to the Children of Israel (were in the promised land, famine hit, brought into Egypt, placed in Slavery, and then had an epic pilgrimage back to Zion). Can we therefore treat the Church as an actor in the Plan of Salvation, or at the very least, treat its history as a metaphor or a sermon of that truth, if we were to believe that is a truth? And if so, how can that play into aiding the wounded, or at least offering explanation to the wounded that the Church is on a similar journey to our own?

  11. Matt April 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    John and Brad, great discussion. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.

    John, you basically read my mind – I would have asked Brad the exact same questions. I felt like his answers were a little lacking in power because you asked the questions that get to the root of the problems, and there are no good answers there. For example:

    Find me a “believing” (whatever that means) Mormon apologist of any flavor (orthodox, pastoral, whatever) who doesn’t fit most or all of these criteria: early identity formed within Mormonism, strong familial and social ties to the church, above-average intelligence, not of African descent, heterosexual… All the well known Mormon apologists, intellectuals, scholars, etc. almost without exception fit that mold. I don’t believe for a second that it’s coincidental.

    If I went back to my mission in South America and laid out all the church’s problems in context with no bias, I guarantee you that none of the apologetic frameworks would keep those folks in the church. They’d either live in denial or they’d go right back to the churches they came from. Does that mean that God favors heterosexual, intellectual, etc. Mormons?

    To be clear, I’m totally fine with apologists like Brad, as long as they don’t agree with D&C 1:30. Because if they do, they need to admit it and be forthcoming with their true opinion, otherwise they are just being misleading.

  12. Randal Young April 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Interesting as we mature as a society and increase in scientific evidence how we must rework our world views to hang on to religion. I wonder if your framework, Brad, is rather than a response to maturation of the membership, an explanation of something like the metaphor of the Titanic hitting the iceberg of truth. As science has been set free by religion over the centuries and come up with rational explanations for ancient mystical ideas, religion has had to rework itself to fit science – ultimately. I also wonder if your framework is simply a complex way for you, an incredibly intelligent and thoughtful person, to rationally hang onto the thought of the LDS Church as a reason you feel good and safe in the world.

  13. Jordan April 20, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Thank you Brad and John for this podcast. While listening, I realized I have a lot in common with Brad.

    I too am 35, white, male, heterosexual, social science guy, politically liberal, and raised very much in the church but without an expectation of perfection.

    I also resonated with the sentiment that historical issues do not create as much tension for me as do current social issues. I think that I am somewhat more ideologically moderate than Brad and so perhaps am not as much in “constant (managed) crisis” over these issues. Though it is an underlying concern that the church often feels to me more like the Rameumpton church of the Zoramites than a place to console and shepherd the most vulnerable.

    The metaphor for looking at one’s relationship with the church as a parent/child relationship is very intriguing. I think it works for me. It reminded me initially, of something that Teryl Givens (I think) said on his mormon stories interview. I seem to recall him describing the “only true and living Church” doctrine as being able to be interpreted from the perspective as a husband saying that his wife is the most beautiful or the only one for him or something like that. The idea that the factuality of absolute truth is not as important as the fact of the relationship.

    This relational (parent- child) metaphor works better for me with the institution than the husband/wife one. I also like that Brad acknowledged that the “mature” (or maybe what I would call “healthy”) relationship could mean different things for different siblings of the same parents. I’ve experienced this in my family of origin where characteristics of my father are seen from some as annoying yet palpable (even endearing at times) and by others these same characteristics have caused real resentment and heartbreak.

    For me, the key to this paradigm is that Brad is seeing church membership and affiliation as a living relationship between two dynamic organisms (himself and the church). Perhaps, this is in contrast to seeing membership as a signifier of knowledge of or belief in certain historical facts and events. I think the church itself sets itself up for both relationships but leans more heavily toward the second – a static entity or object (like a train that you have to get on or get off) rather than a dynamic organism that is not just made up of buildings and policies but also of human hearts, brains, and socio-cultural contexts.

    This likely makes it hard for those who have left and those who stay to naturally go toward this relational paradigm.

    The reference to Judaism as having a mature relationship with its people I think is appropriate as it is clearly more a relational and cultural relationship and yet retains a broad and varied set of beliefs and practices. Catholicism may be similar. On my mission I remember being so confused that cultural catholics that I would teach would believe in Joseph Smith’s story and the book of Mormon and then would not even consider getting baptized into the one true church! Their logic was so flawed from my perspective. And yet I could see back then that for them religious affiliation was not about which church was true but which church was family. I could empathize with them that I wouldn’t leave my family either if someone came to show me that their family was better. This makes more sense to me today as well.

    Now, if you experience your family as being continually abusive – there comes a time to leave. This is where the paradigm also works for social issues. And abuse occurs on a continuum. I agree with Brad that all parents (even the most well-meaning) mess their kids up at some level. So for most kids, the parents deficits will not be “abusive” per se and may even help them grow closer (if it’s dealt with in mature ways – empathy, assertiveness, etc). But for some parent-child relationships there is real abuse and the child becomes much more safe, happy, and healthy when they cut ties with their parents.

    I have real faith and hope that the parent institution and the children will both step up to the plate in seeking a more mature relationship. Growth requires growing pains. For me, my growing pains include me having more courage to vocalize and testify when church discourse is hurtful to the most vulnerable.

    Long post… just glad to be part of the dialogue here.

  14. Scott April 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Brad, I ultimately think there is value in your point but it would be helpful to get to the point quicker. I understand the concepts are complex but you came off as either quite loquacious or a bit under-prepared. You conceded that your “framework” is a work in progress but that may be better worked out prior to recording. I intend this constructively as it sounds like you’ll be back as a panel guest.

    • Marty Erickson April 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks much for your views, ideas, insights, and framework. I think you are hitting on some beautiful ideas that may help some of us. I’m going to kindly and respectfully agree with Scott. I wish I could have simply read your frameworks in full first, or had you state them clearly without so much hedging first. And then heard you and John talk about it and explore it all. Thanks for your work, and I look forward to your book you mentioned.

    • D May 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Ditto. Great ideas that need to be made more concise or you lose the ADD folks like me.

  15. Scott T April 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    One place where the analogy breaks down is the fact that while the corporation/organization can definitely shape and influence an individual deeply, it is NOT family. There are no genetic ties. It is simply a social structure that has shaped us. In that sense, there needn’t be as much angst disowning the corporation vs disowning a true family member. But I do appreciate the fact that this is definitely a tool someone can use who wants to “own” their Mormonism and put the corporation on a leash.

    Additionally, I think the real relationship to focus on is the one with the babysitter (Local ward). That is where Mormonism is lived. The parent (corporation) is distant, always working, always out of town. What does the babysitter allow you to do/not do, express/not express? Some babysitters are better than others.

  16. Andrew April 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed this podcast. For me, a lot of it feels like another form of spiritual/emotional/mental calisthenics that one can try to make the church “work” in our lives, when, at the end of the day, we all know in our gut it really doesn’t.

    That said, I thought the concept of evaluating our relationship with the church from a parent/child relationship was pretty ingenious. More than anything, what I took away from this was a way to make sense how disaffection from the church can be really overwhelming for some and not that big a deal for others.

    If we are projecting the relationship we had with our parents onto our relationship with the church (and it now seems pretty obvious to me that we do), then the variety of childhood experiences we all have is going to effect what happens when the crisis hits. For me, my parents were very strict and distant and demanded perfection and adult-level responsibility from us from very young ages. I think this gives me a very severe, unforgiving view of my disaffection.

    As I have grown, I have learned to let go of and forgive my parents parenting style and shortcomings and embrace the good. I think for me, it is time to do the same with the church… and look into taking that sabbatical.

  17. Scotty P April 22, 2014 at 8:58 am - Reply


    Doesn’t your approach require a lack of empathy for those being “abused” (as you labeled it)? Just because you aren’t the target of abuse, why does that mean you should tolerate, justify, or excuse the abuse to others? Why maintain a healthy relationship with a parent who is abusing your siblings?

    • J April 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Even abusers need help. Just because you remain friendly with the abuser does not condone the abuse.

  18. Chad April 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Interesting views and podcast. If only more LDS were like Brad. The Church would be a lot more to my liking.

    As he mentions Brad’s decision to believe and remain LDS hinges largely on the personal spiritual experiences he’s had and that he feels good about the bet Mormonism poses. Without either of those, despite the good the Church produces, I’ve come to the point where it’s not worth the time and effort. I actually agree with much of what Brad said about the Church but I don;t agree that they are “just inspired enough” to pull it off. I actually don’t see LDS leaders any more inspired than anyone else and their bet on eternity I think is no more plausible than any other.

    Thanks to both Brad and John.

  19. Seasickyetstilldocked April 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Parents raise their children and do the best they can because of love. Parents, for the most part, love their children. The church does not engage their members out of love. The church engages members in a very specific way in order to produce a very specific kind of member by the time they are say 23 years old. Then, if you stray from that ideal, the church engages you in a way to put you back in that box. The church engages their members in order to get productivity out of their members. Parents don’t raise their kids to work for them or to serve them the rest of their lives. Parents do the opposite.

    I think the analogy is terrible. I am glad it works for Brad but this “framework” is pretty much only useful to someone…………………exactly like Brad. So what we have is a useful way for white, highly educated males from tbm families to frame the abysmal social and historical record of the church in a way that makes them still fee good about “believing”. I don’t think the analogy travels in the real world.

    However, any effort to improve apologetics is appreciated. I thank you for those efforts. Finally, Brad, if you are reading these comments, FWIW, the Young Womens program is as bad as you think it could be. I am managing my kids through it now. Good luck.

  20. Chris April 23, 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    I have to comment, since I see it the opposite way…
    To me the truth-seeking individuals, that no longer fit the church mold, are the adults and “the Church” (read: “content TBMs”) are the children.
    Looking at Fowler’s stages of faith, the TBM’s in stage 3 are LESS mature than the individuals who has moved on to in stage 4, or higher.

    • Ephima Morphew April 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Stage 4 or higher On Mormon Stories
      I’m swooning over the rainbow of permutations of mormon thinking.
      From Rock Waterman’s “Pure Mormonism” to Brad Kramer’s Letting Go of Eden and onto Tarn and Jason Nelson Seawright’s, On Returning and Leaving.
      Mormon Stories explores the arc of Mormon Tribals; all within the las three episodes.

      Wow what a Revelation.
      Mormon Myopia embraces the spectrum of Mormon OCD from Mormon Transhumanism to the Book of Jeraneck –– Seems there is still lots of room for Mormon Revelations to flourish or dissemble, however the cacophony of thinking seems to be leading to some inexorable end . . .

      A point to note: Mormons are being watched. The Gentile of the West is affected by “The Mormon Brand” and its influence on the poor Natural Man, i.e. The Baggage of Mormonism.
      Thanks to Mormon Stories and other venues we gentiles can peer into the petri dish without having to inhale the fumes.
      A plea for Mormon Compassion, there are others who, both, live in the earth and are of the earth.

      Thank you John, a tour de force

  21. Mike Maxwell April 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed this podcast and the parent\child analogy is a nice mapping of my own spiritual journey. However, I do believe that remaining “childish” may be good thing for many, particularly those with a conservative nature who are drawn to and nourished by the assurances absolute truths. While I am not one of them (due, in my opinion, primarily to my biology), I am grateful for the zeal of the iron-rodders, as I seem them as the bedrock of the church. I just hope they continue to make enough room for progressives like myself to bring the innovation and adaptation that the church needs to flourish and sustain.

    Given that, I am not sure “parent\child” is the right analogy, as “child” is inherently pejorative of those who choose to stay in that stage. Perhaps something like “Commander\Soldier” is more appropriate, where a soldier is a noble stage of subservience where some stay indefinitely, while others aspire to advanced leadership but experience the adolecence of military command (i.e. learning to send soldiers to their death, etc).

    I don’t think it is moral to pass judgement on those who are happy and fulfilled by their conservative ideologies, any more than it is appropriate for conservatives to pass judgement on progressive thinkers for their forward-thinking views.

  22. Samuel Stolpe April 27, 2014 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Terrific podcast, John. And Brad… thanks for sharing your story!

    I liked your quote on what you consider the preferred approach to pastoral apologetics:

    “We’re not targeting enemies, we’re targeting doubters from a pastoral perspective. [We’re saying] if you are struggling with question X, I acknowledge that this is difficult. I acknowledge that this painful; that these are real problems; you’re not crazy for doubting because of this; you’re not evil. This is the biggest problem in the Church: it’s not that these difficult questions exist, it’s that believers are not in a position to listen when doubters express doubt. Because instinctively we react defensively and we blame people when someone has doubts. For example, if someone says, ‘Did you know that there are multiple and divergent accounts of the First Vision?’ and [the response is], ‘SHUT UP! I don’t want to hear it. I don’t know why you allow yourself to read this terrible anti-Mormon stuff, but put it down, and be faithful.’ We react defensively and we blame people for what they are experiencing. That is the antithesis of what we need to do, which is a combination of fellowship and conversion. If someone is struggling with their testimony, the last thing that they need is for you to kick them in their solar plexus and call them faithless, and react to them like they are an enemy, like they are a threat. We need to empower believers to react generously and sympathetically to those who express doubt. And we need to develop a language of talking to doubters that acknowledges the legitimacy of their concerns and doesn’t try to neatly resolve them. That doesn’t say, ‘Oh, I know you are concerned over this, but all you need to remember is “A, B, and C”, and it’s totally fine; you don’t have any reason to doubt anymore.’ That’s a terrible approach. It’s another of the worst reactions, the bad reactions being to treat someone like an enemy and a threat, the other trying to dismiss [doubts] by trying to neatly tie them up in a bow. The good reaction is to say, ‘I get it. And this is how I have learned to accommodate the doubt that I experience in regard to this question, or the uncertainty that I experience with regard to this question, and still generally have faith in the Church and still want to be a part of it,’ because that is really the only thing that you can say to someone who is in good faith but seriously doubting. It’s not going to always work. It may not even work the majority of the time, but we really need to get better at not just accommodating doubt into our ideological framework, but accommodating doubters into our social framework and into our fellowship—making a space for people who are sincerely struggling with some doubt.”

    Under the current paradigm, the Church cannot equip the membership with anything other than the knee-jerk reaction that you describe. You didn’t point to it directly in the podcast, but you’d likely agree that it ties into the “childlike faith” the Church idealizes. An unintended consequence of fostering the parent-child relationship, and not allowing the child to achieve adulthood themselves, is that the child remains generally unable to address adult concerns, and may likely feel threatened by them.

    If I understood your idea, the ability for members to accommodate doubters presupposes a fairly mature view; that the issue the doubter is struggling with is known, understood, and if not totally reconciled, at least that person can articulate why they still continue to believe. Is that right? And if so, I’m curious if you think Mormons can get there without a change in leadership philosophy? Is that asking too much? You later say that it’s probably for the best that we have a relatively few set of members like yourself; or at least, it’s better that they are not the majority. Seems to me that the membership would have to consist of people very comparable to yourself. How do you reconcile those two ideas?

    Thanks again for a great podcast!

  23. Adam April 29, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Brad’s discussion about why people often leave, over quality of life/soul issues rather than particular doctrinal principles was also recently discussed on “The Good Fight” by a Rootscamp representative in regard to a large point of misunderstanding by conservatives about more liberal thinkers in general. Conservative forces often assume incorrectly that people abandon the status quo because of monetary or status issues, when the reality is that they abandon them over real life effects from conservative policies and creeds that no longer meet their needs. As Rush Limbaugh once remarked on the Tonight show, Capitalism is not about needs, but focuses on wants. The church wants power, status, wealth and control, but doesn’t seem to care about how the needs of its members get ignored in the process.

    Much like a famous discussion that Brigham Young had with his counsellors over an increase in masturbation among young men out west, and it came out that there were simply not enough women for them to marry, when polygamist men were snatching them all up.

    Needs based thinking, much like that of the Native Americans before they were co-opted by European values, not only is more sustainable, but also by its very nature more respectful of the individual and effective in providing for individual well being. “Might makes right”/”End justifies the means” thinking conversely ignores the suffering of others and actually finds ego boost in its own fortune, when compared to the suffering of others.

  24. Steve May 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I really liked this podcast. Brad is the only apologist I’m aware of that is willing to admit that the church may not be for everyone. He strikes me as being much closer to the Dan Wotherspoon school of thought than the mental gymnastics and slash-and-burn approach of the FAIR crowd. I’m listening to the Nelson-Seawrights right now and I look forward to the panel discussion.

  25. Karen May 5, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Best take away for me:

    “How would you like to learn how you could spend eternity with your family?”

    It presumes a concern on their (non-Mormons) part that doesn’t exist.

    “Mormonism isn’t unique in that it believes families can be together forever; Mormonism is unique in that it believes its possible not to.”

  26. Rob May 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Brad said he wanted Utchdorf to give a talk saying something like “I know the church is true, because if it weren’t the General Authorities would have ruined it a long time ago.”
    This is a variant on the phrase in Acts 5:39 “if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought”

    It is an unsound principle to base your faith on, because what you are really saying is that anything you are born into is meant to be unless it implodes. This goes against free agency & personal responsibility.

    Existing is not evidence of divinity. Longevity isn’t existence of divinity. If it were, Jews and Catholics would have far better claims to divinity than mormons.

    The church claims to be the singular true church on the face of the earth, guided by God. It must either be that, or it should be fought against.

  27. Cack May 22, 2014 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Went back and listened to all the interviews with Daymon Smith, haha. Great info, got me thinkin :)

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