metcalfeFew people had more of a front-row seat than Brent Metcalfe to the goings-on surrounding Mark Hofmann, the “Salamander Letter,” and the tragic events of October 1985 — what would be dubbed as the “Mormon Murders.”

As a personal friend and research assistant for both Steve Christensen and Mark Hofmann, Brent Metcalfe watched the whole episode unfold right before his eyes.

In Part 1, Brent talks about his early days in the Church and his time working for Church security. He also talks about his early forays into Mormon studies.

In Part 2, Brent describes working for and with Steve Christensen and Mark Hofmann, the Salamander Letter episode, and the bombings that took the lives of Steve and Kathy Sheets.

In Part 3, Brent discusses the aftermath of the Hofmann murders, including the trial and Hofmann’s eventual plea deal. He also discusses the events leading up to, and including, his excommunication.

In Part 4, Brent examines some of the issues surrounding traditional approaches to the Book of Mormon.

In Part 5, we explore the history surrounding Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham (one of the primary scriptural texts for the LDS Church). We also talk about the concept of translation, Joseph Smith’s views on his “translations,” the traditional apologetic responses concerning the Book of Abraham (Hugh Nibley, John Gee, and Kerry Muhlestein), as well as the LDS Church’s recent essay on the Book of Abraham.

In Part 6, we talk to Brent about his interactions and run-ins with prominent Mormon apologists like Daniel Peterson, Lou Midgley and others. We’ll also talk about the recent history of BYU’s Maxwell Institute and what he sees in its future and in the future of Mormon apologetics overall. We’ll also talk in depth with Brent about how he has been able to construct a healthy and happy life outside of Mormonism.

A special thanks to Brent for giving up so much of his time to do these episodes, especially some of them as he was feeling very much under the weather. His contributions, reflections, thoughts and insights represent some of the most important contributions in the history of not just Mormon Stories, but Mormonism in general.



  1. Fazapops August 20, 2014 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for posting this. It’s great to find all this background information. I’m curious who is singing “Lead Kindly Light” in this… it’s beautiful.

    • James Patterson August 20, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Awesome music, right? It’s a band called The Lower Lights.

      • Paul M. August 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

        Love the new music!!!

  2. Crystal August 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Listening now- so far, I like the new intro lots!

  3. Rude Dog August 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Wow John, what an interview. The insight into the many corners of Mormonism important to us here was delicious. From Spencer Kimball’s battle with dementia to Monson’s “where the hell is that driver”, to the insights with Mark E Peterson, Brent’s influential instructors at the University of Utah. What a fascinating glimpse. Part two was chilling as details we have never heard about Mark Hoffman, Steve Christiansen come out. The interview was superb and the insight into this extraordinary life was gifted. This one is up there with the best.

    Brent, thanks so much for sharing your tender moments as well. Your account of why you didn’t pursue a doctorate was extremely touching to me as I absolutely admire those that can do the tedium of historical research. I do not have that ability as I actually changed an Economics major when I took my first accounting class. Talk about ADD. I had no idea what your beliefs were and it piqued my interest in part 1 where you talked about scripture being inspirational yet often times not historical. I was nervous that you belonged to the catalyst crowd and relieved to hear your developed belief, or non belief. I was hoping you would have spoken more about the Book of Mormon and Abraham. What are your views about these books and how some contemporary Mormon scholars approach them as catalytic for revelation, though they may not specifically be historical? What are your views on how the Book of Mormon was created? The Book of Abraham? Thanks again Brent for sharing a sketch of your life with us.

    • John Dehlin August 20, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Rude Dog – Never fear! Our interview continues tonight!!!

      • Alison August 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply


      • Mark September 1, 2014 at 8:06 am - Reply

        Are there still more episodes of this series on the way?? When??

    • BobD August 23, 2014 at 1:33 am - Reply

      I had a similar reaction to the section about ADD. I teared up with Brent during that part. It is those moments of intimacy that really help me connect to the humanity of the interviewee. Best wishes, Brent!

      • yvonne September 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm - Reply

        I wish we could let go of the idea that a person can only be an “expert” in a particular field if they have a college degree saying they are. Some people who study and read deeply can be more “expert” than others with advanced degrees. You can have a PhD and still not have great knowledge. It all depends on the depth of study one does.

  4. Rude Dog August 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Awesome. This is one that definately left me wanting more.

  5. Thomas Murphy August 20, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks, great interview!

    • Joe Geisner August 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Tom, have you considered allowing John to interview you? I always enjoyed our discussions years ago about your love for the Indians in your mission and then your experience doing research with their culture and you feelings towards the Book of Mormon. I hope you consider doing this.

    • Rude Dog August 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      I was going to ask the same thing. I’m definitely a fan. Hope all is good with you. Come to the dark side and tell your story.

  6. Paul M. August 21, 2014 at 7:58 am - Reply

    As a teenager and still TBM I read some books on the Hoffman Salamander Letter and events surrounding it. It is something that has fascinated me, and this Metcalfe interview did not disappoint!!! One question though, has Hoffman done any interviews since being in prison?

    • David Macfarlane August 21, 2014 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Years ago, I attended a book reading and signing by Jon Krakauer in Marin County when he was promoting Under the Banner of Heaven. He told the story of writing at least a few letters to Hofmann in prison asking for an interview. He said that a response finally came not from Hofmann but from one of the Lafferty brothers who was apparently Hofmann’s cell mate or on the same block … or something like that. According to Krakauer, the letter said something to the effect of, “Mark won’t talk to you, but I will, and you definitely want to talk to me.” That response introduced Krakauer to the Laffertys and gave him the story he needed to animate what he considered his analysis of radical faith.

      So, based on Krakauer’s shared experience, it sounds like the answer is no, Hofmann doesn’t do interviews.

  7. Bill August 21, 2014 at 7:59 am - Reply

    I have heard that Mac Christianson financed the mission of one of Hofmann’s sons. Truth or legend? I was in a mission conference in Bolivia when Steve’s younger brother was called out and told of the murder. That piqued my interest in the whole sordid affair. Great interview. Thanks to the both of you!

  8. Mark August 21, 2014 at 9:40 am - Reply

    It is true that Mac Christiansen did pay for Mark’s son’s mission. I have that info direct from Mac himself.

  9. Terry August 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    This was an excellent broadcast! Brent provided a detailed account of the Mark Hoffman story with a perspective that we seldom hear. Very informative. Thank you so much for the story and the insights.

    Part 1 of the interview stuck much closer to home for me. I was a writer for 7th East Press. I was there at the very beginning. In fact, it may just be possible that I stood right next to Brent during our official kick off meeting, when Elbert invited his brother Lyle to give us all a magic show. I’m pretty sure I was standing next to Maxine.

    Ron Priddis was my friend, and had recruited me to be a writer. He had not let on that the 7th East Press was his brainchild. Elbert was the managing editor, and Ron the financial guy, so I had the impression that Elbert created the whole thing. Gary at the time was an up-and-coming star because of his writing skills. And a small footnote: Many of these original founders had been part of an on-campus group, called the Open Door Club. Elbert once quipped, “The Open Door Club has become the 7th East Press!”

    Maxine Hanks was also in my ward. As coincidence would have it, a few months later I became her home teacher. She was in the middle of her frustrations with the MTC (and some of you know the story). She related all this to me and my companion. But being new to the church and “so unacquainted with church matters and such things” I was not much help. I clearly remember the frustration in her voice. Perhaps she remembers me, the useless home teacher. So sorry Maxine!

    But those were interesting times! And much was going on. Many of the writers did become illustrious personalities, exactly as you point out. I happened to not do so—at least, not yet.

    In another post I’ll comment on the Mark Hoffman affair. I have some insights into that. But I have a question for Brent. Do you know if the church took down the names of all the 7th East Press people? Were they watching us? This is a rumor I heard. I’ve always wondered if my church record was blighted in some way. You know, “guilt by association.” The irony is, I wasn’t an activist for anything, I simply wanted to write. Sincerely, Terry

  10. Jasmine8 August 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this interview. Steve Christiansen was my bishop in that centerville ward and I grew up with his children. I very much appreciated the beautiful memories and great stories Brent shared about what a remarkable and kind person Steve was.

    • George August 22, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Very cool, any personal stories you’d like to share?

      • Jasmine8 August 23, 2014 at 10:25 am - Reply

        I was only 8 when Steve died, so I just remember his smiling face and that everyone, especially my parents, just loved him. There was an overall feeling that he just had it together. I do remember after my baptismal interview having a strong feeling of love and admiration for him because someone so respected thought I was special too. Growing up I only had positive interactions with his beautiful wife and kids. Really, such a great family.

  11. Lindy August 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Nicely done, John. You seem to be back on your game of simply inviting your guests to tell their stories. If you’re familiar with image editing, straying from objectivity reminds me of having a color cast in a photo. I sensed a full range of colors in the photo that is this interview.

    I just shook my head to hear the tale of the magisterium giving you the boot, Brent. You sound like a delightful guy. What is not to love about John’s revelation of your worthy biceps? Your excommunication reveals more about your accusers than it says about you. When you described Hoffman’s futile attempts to delay the inevitable meeting where his house of cards would come tumbling down I couldn’t help but compare it to the decades-long quest among some of the church leadership to keep the brand pure by weeding out doubters. What did they accomplish by kicking any of you out? It’s a pity Joseph Smith couldn’t sit them all down for a good coming-to-Jesus admonishing. Unintended consequences here we come! I don’t agree with all the conclusions of your research but the research is a gift to all of us. Without good research, ours is a heritage shallow in meaning. So cool that you provided some of the research used by Michael Quinn. had the same reaction to the Sandra Tanner’s interview.

  12. Ray Agostini August 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I haven’t listened to MS for several years now, but with Brent being interviewed I couldn’t miss this, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve known many of Brent’s views (his liking Raymond Brown, etc.) going back ten+ years when we first interacted online (message boards), but this interview gave me many more insights. The “failure of faith” concept was very interesting, and I can only say “but for the grace of God…”. (I think that was my only disappointment, that Brent basically “gave up on God” because of an “epiphany”.)

    On acquiring a PhD, after a year of university, apart from a lack of finances, I quickly noticed that the “degree factory” isn’t a reflection on one’s intelligence. It was torturous turning out essays to suit a particular lecturer’s preferences in order to gain high marks. Phooey to that.

    Brent had some trouble remembering the details of the events (so did I, and I wasn’t there, although I read all of the relevant literature at the time), but I think this is a very good summing up by Jerald Tanner, “Confessions of a White Salamander”:

    Hofmann really believed he could pull it all off, and maybe it wasn’t just the police who thwarted his scheme? We may be “on our own” and need to create our own justice and future, but it’s possible that Providence does in fact sometimes intervene. I happen to believe so.


  13. Scott August 21, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this podcast! Riveting stuff. You guys at MS are doing great

  14. Charles August 21, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Boy, what a chilling conclusion. Reminds me of the Mormon interpretation of Amos 3:7 (“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets”). Why didn’t the Lord reveal to the the prophet that Hofmann was going to kill? Why didn’t the Lord reveal to the prophet that the documents were forged?

    It also struck me that Brent in some ways represents the inverse of Sandra Tanner. Sandra was criticized by some Mormon Stories listeners for not being as critical of Christianity as she was of Mormonism. But Brent seems to do just the opposite. The problems he discovered lay at Joseph’s feet, but he threw out the baby with the bath water as if the success of Christianity rode on the success of Joseph Smith.

    And am I the only one who likes the older music better?

    • Mark August 22, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

      I’m with you on the music Charles!! :-) I really R E A L L Y loved the podcast, and will listen to it all again today. I can hardly wait for the rest!

    • JT August 23, 2014 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      “but he threw out the baby with the bath water as if the success of Christianity rode on the success of Joseph Smith.”

      Research into the origins or Christianity strongly suggest that there are no “babies” – only “bathwater.”  Joseph Smith’s myth-making leveraged Christian myth-making at the dawn of higher criticism. Now, in the wake of 200 years of such scholarship, the Bible doesn’t hold up much better than the Book of Mormon.

      I wouldn’t presume that Brendt is unaware of this and that his worldview does not follow from this – he’s well read.  

    • Brent Metcalfe August 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Charles, I don’t think I threw the baby out with the bathwater since my examination of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures resulted in the same intellectual concerns that I had with LDS scriptural extensions. But such intellectual issues didn’t play a role in my failure of faith.

      • Dave Fife August 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm - Reply

        I think that the LDS church’s main competitor in the marketplace of ideas is not a “bigger tent” more liberal church, its Agnosticism/atheism. Once you start to deconstruct Mormonism, the next step is Christianity, and then the existence of a god, or not… There are plenty of stops along that road to hang your hat, but the fastest growing belief system around the existence of god, is atheism.

        I think that the Salt Lake LDS church is concerned with becoming the RLDS church, which has changed its narrative to a very noncompelling one, and about 80% of its members have left.

  15. Eric August 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply


    Thanks for the great podcast. I was curious about the book that Brent photocopied from the archives. (The audio starts in Part 1 around 1:23.55) I did a little research and found a digitized & searchable copy of Elias Smith’s autobiography.

    The full title is: “The life, conversion, preaching, travels, and sufferings of Elias Smith. Vol. I.”

    **My question is if Brent could provide a copy of the parallels between Elias Snow and Joseph Smith that Wilford Paulson (former BYU professor)inserted into the book. I believe Brent said he has the copy in his records.**

    For the listeners who are curious, a portion of the book describes a “first vision”, copied below:

    Taken from Page 54:

    The Lamb once slain appeared to my understanding, and while viewing him, I felt such love to him as I never felt to anything earthly. My mind was calm and at peace with God through the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. The view of the Lamb on mount Sion gave me joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is not possible for me to tell how long I remained in that situation, as everything earthly was gone from me for some time. After admiring the glory of the Lamb for some time, I began to think of the situation my body was in, and rose up to return home. Looking around me, every object was changed, and a bright glory appeared on everything. All things praised God with me. As I went towards the house, this thought came into my mind, “why do I feel so different from what I did a short time past : I am unspeakably happy and shall never see trouble again.”

    • Brent Metcalfe August 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Eric,

      Yes, that’s the book, though the volume I perused was the first (1816) edition published in Portsmouth, NH. The portion you quoted is an example of what I dub a “conversion epiphany” (as I mentioned in the podcast). Other early-19thC religionists were even more literal in their descriptions. Billy Hibbard, for instance, who became a Methodist preacher, recounted:

      “I thought how happy must Jesus Christ have been when he suffered for sinners. It would yield some satisfaction to me, if my misery can be a cause of happiness to others; but when I came to the place of prayer, had kneeled down, and closed my eyes, with my hands uplifted toward the heavens, I saw Jesus Christ at the right hand of God looking down upon me, and God the Father looking upon him. The look of Jesus on me removed the burden of my sins, while he spoke these words, ”Be faithful until death and this shall be thy place of rest.” I never had seen Jesus Christ before, nor heard his voice, nor ever had a sense of his intercession at the right hand of God for me till now” (Billy Hibbard, _Memoirs of the Life and Travels of B. Hibbard, Minister of the Gospel_ [New York: J. C. Totten, 1825], 23).

      Hibbard later had a dream in which he again,

      “saw heaven open, and Jesus at the right hand of God, and the Heavenly hosts surrounding the throne, adoring the Father and the Son in the most sublime strains,” (Hibbard, _Memoirs_, 181; cf. D&C 76:20–21).

      I shared this source with Mike Quinn when he was writing _Early Mormonism and the Magic World View_.

      As for the photocopy of Wilford Poulson’s parallel, yes, I still have it… in one of hundreds of boxes in a storage unit while my house is being remodeled. I may have a chance to look for it next week, but I’m not promising anything. :)

      All the best,

      • Ray August 23, 2014 at 9:18 am - Reply

        Thank You for contributing your experiences with us all… I am curious this morning about the possibility of any reports during the time JS says he had his First Vision, that were published in local newspapers, town Crier printings? The church history claims there was a great uproar about this youth that claimed to have a vision of God. These other people that had experiences don’t seem to have a similar backlash evident.

        I also wanted to tell you how disturbed I became to my very core about the way you were treated during your working for the church… Then the description of the events of day of the bombings, where the meeting was still set with the GA! I am still cringing from the realizations about the lack of discernment and the deliberate efforts on the part of the GA’s.

        The lack of discernment all the way back throughout all the church history… The lack of congruence among the leadership with such a claim as who they say is at the head!

        Thanks again Brent, no wonder you have had the experience you have shared with your faith about God.

  16. Janna August 22, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Please, God, let this podcast inspire someone to produce a talk show called, “Hot-tubbing with Mark Hoffman”! Or at least, “Let’s Take this Puppy Down.”

    John in wonderfully rare form in this one…I love it!

    • Janna August 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      …hope my comment wasn’t insensitive! This was an important, affecting interview. Honestly, incredible work.

  17. Chad August 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    I found this podcast to be very fascinating. Hearing Brent break down the Hoffman timeline and story was amazing. I thought you were very well spoken Brent. And great questions John.

  18. JT August 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you Brandt for sharing your experiences. Thank you as well for your research, especially your work on New Approaches to the Book of Mormon.  Those mind-opening essays impacted my life in positive and powerful ways. I am so grateful I stumbled across them – along with D. Michael Quinn’s books –  wow… now 20 years ago. My life has been enriched by the inquiries those books catalyzed.

    I also appreciate your parting words.  Indeed, the trivial matters that many theists assert as claiming the attention of God (even as “hell” is meanwhile breaking loose)  is absurd – evidently too absurd for many to even grasp.  I’ve struggled to understand the human mind in this regard. Perhaps it has something to do with the frightening and daunting implications of this inconvenient truth.  God-belief has also been attributed partly to our brain’s evolved hyper-tendency to perceive agency where none exists.  Some suggest that energy-conservation constraints favored our thoughts sliding along low-resistance neural ruts that include simple feel-good narratives.  Daniel Kahneman speaks in terms of efficient “Thinking Fast” biases that unconsciously deploy the WYSIATI (What-You-See-Is-All-There-Is) heuristic, which has proved itself sufficiently “satisficing” for selection.

    Whatever the reasons, thanks again for your research that revealed there was MTSTWIS  (More-To-See-Than-What-I-Saw).  Now, alas, I’m left to figure out why I don’t personally do more to address the real-life “hell” that is meanwhile breaking loose in the world, now that I understand also that no gods exist to help us.  As an atheist I am not without my own inconvenient truths.

  19. Dave Sigmon August 24, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Thank you Brent and John. Brent, are you still working on a Book of Abraham book?

    • Brent Metcalfe August 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Dave, I’ve planned on publishing a book for years; but I’ve decided to publish a series of articles first that the book will build upon. See the next John Whitmer Historical Association Journal for one of my essays.

  20. KC August 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Ive followed Mormon stories for several years now and listed to most of the episodes and this interview with Brent Metcalfe is in my top 5 MS podcasts. Ive always felt like “crises of faith” didn’t quite describe my journey but Brent gave me the phrase that perfectly describes my experience. As someone told him, “You didnt have a crisis of faith but a Failure of Faith”. My faith failed me and that led to crisis.
    Thanks Brent for your sincerity, honesty and pleasant demeanor in which you talk about these things.

  21. Joe Geisner August 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    My good friend Matt Christensen digitized the 7th East Press and was kind enough to allow Signature Books to make it available on their incredible digital library. The 7th East Press is one of the great university newspapers; truly the stars aligned when this group got together.

    • D. Kim Croft August 26, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

      I just discovered this on my own – I bought every single issue of the 7th East Press, and was so disappointed that I missed picking up the final “April Fools” issue which appeared around campus after the edict banning it from being sold on campus.

      The 7th East Press was a gem. Yeah for Signature Books, Matt Christensen, and the internet!!!!!

  22. Carl Bair August 25, 2014 at 9:11 am - Reply

    This was an awesome interview. I appreciate the details of Brent’s experience. A question for Brent, What are your thoughts on your research of the book of Abraham?

    • Brent Metcalfe August 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Carl, in parts 3 & 4 of the interview, I’ll discuss the BoAbr and some of the challenges that believing scholars face in analyzing its ideational and textual origins.

  23. Maddy August 25, 2014 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Thanks Brent for sharing your story with us–and to John for bringing it to us. Is there going to be a part 3? I would love to hear more about what unfolded after Hoffman, including how you came to be excommunicated, if you care to share that.

    I have one teensy-tiny criticism about John’s sensitivity when someone questioned why Brent did not pursue an advanced degree. I think we ought to be okay with these questions, and not automatically defensive. It is important that we be critical thinkers and examine the sources providing information, in the same way we would want to know the credentials of someone dispensing medical advice, car repair advice etc. Where we should push back is, if someone solely discredits someone without examples of where their information is wrong or flawed ie simply attacking the messenger instead of the message. I thought Brent’s response to this question very touching and informative and don’t see that his research should be discredited. Thanks again Brent!

  24. Ryan August 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    This was interesting all around. What was most poignant to me was Brent’s description of his “failure of faith”. This was very similar to my experience. It didn’t have anything to do with church history or anything you would read in something like “the CES letter”, but was instead a realization and acceptance that “it’s not me, it’s the church” followed by a complete collapse of everything. My epiphany also came suddenly, while driving, followed by a massive emotional experience. It was so amazing to hear another person explain nearly my identical experience.

  25. Andrew Lavin August 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the interview – both of you. My curiosity was piqued by something Brent briefly alluded to. When discussing some of the details surrounding the Book of Abraham, he mentioned the “Tale of Onidas and Kitumen.” I have never heard of that before and cannot find anything about it. Anyone know what that is and where I can find out more?

    • Brent Metcalfe August 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Andrew, Joseph Smith dictated the story of princess Katumin and her regal father Onitas to his scribes Oliver Cowdery and William W. Phelps, who recorded the tale in two small notebooks. The triplet Egyptian Alphabet manuscripts and the bound Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language also elaborate the Katumin narrative. All of these documents are available on the Joseph Smith Papers Project website.

  26. Dave Fife August 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Great interview. This has to be one of my top 10 favorite Mormonstories podcasts. Brent did a marvelous job of creating a context by which these events took place. I was a newly returned missionary at BYU when all of this took place. I remember how the church/BYU was trying to treat this as a non-issue. I remember being troubled by the lack of divine discernment that the brethren have/had. Certainly the reality, was different than the accepted narrative.

    I like Steve Christensen’s view on excommunication. I’ve always wondered why the most ardently orthodox and pious seem to have the least faith in the divinity and omnipotence of the Lord’s plan. Why are they so adamant about excommunicating someone who has a different opinion than they do? If God will ultimately judge us all, why are mere mortals judging mortals, with the illusion of acting for God? If the Prophet can’t see Hoffman as a fraud, why should anyone assume their Bishop/Stake president has any more ability in terms of divinely inspired discernment?

    I especially connected with his comments on ADD. I have never heard of the description that it’s like talking to someone in the airport on their cell phone, with all the background noise. I have been thinking nonstop about that analogy, because it is so illustrative of the disorder. What has Brent done to mitigate his ADD?
    Thank you John and Brent

  27. Charlie August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Will part 3 go up any time soon?

    I’m was left kind of hot but dry after hoping to hear about his drama with the church and its leaders….any chance of allowing closure for me here?

    • John Dehlin August 26, 2014 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Yes! Coming! We had some technical difficulties. :( Will re-record hopefully soon!

      • Charlie August 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm - Reply

        Oops “high and dry”

        Hope you record part3 soon

        • Brent Metcalfe August 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply

          John and I recorded an additional four hours (till 1 AM). Unfortunately, much of the middle portion of the interview was lost due to technical issues that were only discovered after we completed the interview. We hope to rerecord sometime next week.

          • Andrew Cook August 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm

            Ack! Did John take the tapes home to show his wife? It’s probably best to start over when these things happen, rather than just continuing where you left off. Also, make sure your second recording matches the first.

  28. Tyler Rowley August 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this very interesting presentation.

    John, you asked for information about any of the Christensens. I served a mission with the missionary mentioned by Brent. We were both “greenies” at the same time. I heard he had left the church soon after returning home. About a year or so ago when I finally left the church I looked him up to get advice and catch up on old times.
    Shortly after returning home and leaving the church he was very active in Sunstone and various things of that nature, but has since moved on with his life and seems very happy with a small family of his own running a small restaurant he and his older brother own together.
    I hope to move on some day as well.

  29. Brian Donnelly August 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm - Reply


    Three or four episodes were mentioned by John. Will there be more?

    • John Dehlin August 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Yes! As soon as we can! So sorry for the delay!!!!

      • Brian Donnelly August 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

        Thank you. You are a fine person.

  30. Calvin Nickell August 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    That was fascinating, thank you. I am waiting patiently for part 3. After returning from Iraq after the 2nd deployment as a citizen soldier, I had the same epiphany as Brent; I learned that we are really on our own, there is no God. My examples are numerous and heart breaking.

    We have to learn to get along and improve our conditions wherever we are and it is a much more difficult task because of all the varied belief systems prevalent in the world. Is it paramount to understand all of these religious histories and come to terms with them or, Brant – for people like you and me, would it be better to turn our talents toward uncovering and deciphering Gobekli Tepe, a stone temple complex built 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age in Turkey, built by the Watchers of the Book of Enoch and the Anunnaki gods of Sumerian tradition?

    Pardon me for not commenting on LDS church history, but to be honest I’ve read it or heard it all and have moved on. The time has come to really dig in and discover our true human beginnings without religious bias.

  31. Brent Metcalfe September 1, 2014 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Don’t know who the “nuts” are that Church Security referred to, but Jerald Tanner probably expressed the most legitimate concerns. Not everyone who doubted the authenticity of Hofmann’s forgeries did so for valid and sound reasons.

    • Doubting Thomas September 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Brent did Jerald make an official overture to church leadership regarding Hofmann being a fraud?

      • Brent Metcalfe September 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm - Reply

        Good clarification, Doubting Thomas (if that is your real name), :) I have no reason to believe that Jerald Tanner attempted official contact, so I’m not sure who Darrick is referring to or what the method of communication entailed. Jerald articulated his concerns in one of his ministry’s publications.

        • Doubting Thomas September 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

          Roger that. Thanks for the clarification. I’m sure there is a very good possibility that COB personnel would have been more suspect of Jerald, and any information he offered, than Hofmann.

  32. imaperfectrn September 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    J. Patterson / J. Dehlin,

    Is there going to be a part 3? I’ve heard there might. If so, what will be the subject? Please let us know.

    • Brent Metcalfe September 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Two more parts (3 & 4) to come. Broad topics include my excommunication plus BoMor and BoAbr research.

      • Doubting Thomas September 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm - Reply

        So glad Brent. This is one of my all-time favorites. Serious insight and analysis of the religion I’m trying to fit into my new, authentic life.

        Your story helps.

        • Brent Metcalfe September 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm - Reply

          John and I are just trying to align our schedules, so expect parts 3 & 4 soon.

          I’m glad you found some of my remarks useful and thanks for the kind comments.

  33. Dave September 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    I’m not sure who made this comment, (I think that it was on another thread),But it went something like this…Based upon the brethern’s actions regarding the Salamander letter…

    “The LDS leadership thought that Mark Hofmann was telling the truth and that Joseph Smith was the fraud”

    I think that it speaks volumes about their powers of discernment and what they truly think about Joseph Smith. In secret, behind closed doors, who were they really betting on?

  34. Rose September 5, 2014 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Brent, thank you so much for doing this interview! I just finished listening to part one and I loved it! It was so, so interesting. Also, I appreciate you bringing up ADD. I struggled in school with learning how to read for years and this resulted in me developing crippling anxiety any time I was aced to read in public. I could read fine in private but the social damage was done and anxiety overwhelmed me every time. I went to BYU and graduated with honors but I did everything I could to get out of reading or to read beforehand what I could be asked to read out loud. It was awful— so stressful. I remember one time a BYU professor handed me a long quote to read out loud to the class when I walked in and I almost had the first major public panic attack of my life. I just looked down at the paper and I felt this wave of total anxiety come over me and then all of a sudden it was like my brain stopped working and it felt like I was looking at a different language. I was pronouncing words instead of just reading them. After that day I moved to the back of the class and felt like the only straight A student retard at BYU. It would have helped me a lot to know I was not alone. Thank you so much for being so open and honest that particular issue. Also, the rest of your experience is so totally mind-blowing-interesting. I can’t wait to listen to the second half! This is one of the best MS interviews I have heard so far. Thanks!

  35. Jake D September 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    I’m hoping parts 3 & 4 come out soon!

  36. Rose September 6, 2014 at 6:21 am - Reply

    The second half was fascinating… thank you, thank you, thank you for this podcast!

  37. Anne September 7, 2014 at 4:31 am - Reply


    this was fascinating, and I haven’t got to part 2 yet! Interested to hear about your mission, did you serve in Wandsworth at all? The name sounds so familiar (I was a Wandsworth baptism as a teenager in ’77).

    • Brent Metcalfe September 8, 2014 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Hi Anne,

      It’s likely that our paths could have crossed. During my ’77–’79 mission I served in two London areas, living first in Kilburn Park and later in Wimbledon.

  38. Edward September 21, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Definitely one of my top 10 favorite stories on here. Thanks, John and Brent!

  39. […] author and editor of numerous articles and two Signature Books’ titles, was interviewed by John Dehlin for the Mormon Stories podcast recently. The lengthy, five-part series covers Metcalfe’s childhood in Mormonism, his mission, his time […]

  40. Pat April 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    It’s very sunny in London today – and I’ve listened too all eleven hours of this interview.
    The gift of your ADHD shines.
    You’ve used it well Brent.
    And you are an example.
    Thank you.

    • Brent Metcalfe May 23, 2018 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind, Pat.

  41. David Wilson January 23, 2019 at 9:56 am - Reply

    I discovered New Approaches to the Book of Mormon back in 2002-03. This book was way above my reading level at the time and I wonder if that may be the biggest hurdle in reaching standard Mormons about the book and it’s challenges.

  42. Lex de Bruijn June 24, 2019 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Hi Brent, Thank you for your insights and open heart.
    I have question on the Book of Abraham. At one point John asks you if you think JS was putting together a scam or if you believe that he believed it himself. You are hesitant to answer – no evil speaking on what you can’t say right ;).
    On my mission in England I met a older, wise non LDS woman very knowledgeable on esoteric and metaphysics teachings. LDS was newly brought to her by a missionary before me. She was very impressed with the level of esoteric teachings in the D&C and Pearl of Great price. She also noted that after JS none of the preceding Church leaders really got what he was trying to do/teach in this realm.
    In Gnosticism Abraham is not even a real person, the story represents the triumph of spirit over matter and is loaded with ‘hidden’ symbolic meaning.
    So my question is, what if the effort for the book of Abraham was an attempt by JS and his close friends to deliver an esoteric masterpiece. What if we are all chasing literal meanings of words such as translation, ages and names while in effect they are meant to have symbolic meaning and by this to explain esoteric principles to insiders. Would that fit the time frame the book is given in? Would a hypothesis like that hold any water?

    @John, thank you for all the hours you put in. I love the podcasts.
    I have heard metaphysics mentioned in one of the interviews (I think it was the one on post declaration polygamy). But are there any podcasts that go deeper in to Gnostics, esoteric teachings, metaphysics, etc.

    Sorry for my language, I’m not a native English speaker and there is a limit to what I can express in English…

    • Lex de Bruijn July 28, 2020 at 6:46 am - Reply

      Hi, was wondering if Brent is still available to respond to my train of thought above?
      Or if you have any thoughts on this John?

      • Brent Metcalfe August 5, 2020 at 11:09 am - Reply

        Lex, the recommendation by Andrew is a good resource.

        I’m not sure why I would have been hesitant to answer the question during the interview since I’ve addressed it numerous times—I’ll have to go back and listen. Simply put, I think JS’s BoAbr project is an example of JS’s *sincerity*, not his fraudulence. Let me be equally clear that I don’t believe that the BoAbr is an authentic translation of the papyri he possessed.

        On the term “translation,” JS promoted his ancient texts as translations in the traditional sense. He was enthusiastic about scholars allegedly validating his translations through secular methods (e.g., Charles Anthon on the BoMor characters and Michael Chandler’s anonymous scholars on the BoAbr papyri).

    • Andrew Lavin July 28, 2020 at 8:29 am - Reply

      Lex, you might be interested in the work of Lance Owens. Lance is a Gnostic priest and has written and spoken extensively on the Gnostic and esoteric flavor of Joseph Smith’s writings.

  43. Thomas Hamilton June 7, 2020 at 7:51 am - Reply

    Fantastic interviews. Brent’s work is groundbreaking and reliably fascinating.

    That said, I have to wonder what planet he’s living on when he says that Catholicism has been reinvigorated in the post Vatican II era. I have to assume he’s simply speaking on the basis of snippets of information here and there without context, because this is clearly untrue. Priestly and monastic vocations have dropped through the floor, sexual abuse has skyrocketed (it’s not just that it was always happening but was exposed recently, it is pretty clear that sex abuse itself has gone way up post Vatican II), church attendance is way down, retention rates among youth have plummeted- one could go on. Every metric you can imagine points to the same conclusion: from Paul VI forward, Catholicism has gone into deep crisis. It is better thought of by non-Catholics (generally), but this has not translated into conversions or retention of cradle Catholics. Regardless of what one takes to be the truth of things, the evidence is not in favor of liberal religiosity as a recipe for church growth- those churches and communities which move away from their traditional truth claims tend to atrophy relatively speedily.

    • John Dehlin June 7, 2020 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Agreed. Amen.

    • Brent Metcalfe August 5, 2020 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Thomas, I can assure you I’m living on the same planet you are. :)

      My application of Vatican II was specifically intended for the work of Catholic biblical scholars, not Catholicism in toto. Until Vatican II, many scholars felt hamstrung by the church’s dogma on the Bible and related theological issues. Post-Vatican II a renaissance of sorts occurred in scriptural exegesis (for example, scholars no longer felt compelled to affirm the priority of Matthew and they began reassessing the synoptic gospels and John more critically). This unleashed a veritable deluge of Catholic contributions to modern biblical scholarship.

      If I applied Vatican II to the full breadth of Catholicism, I clearly misspoke (I’m not even sure why I would make such a sweeping claim, so I am a tad mystified).

      • Thomas Hamilton June 10, 2021 at 6:07 pm - Reply

        Thanks for the clarification, Brent. That makes more sense. Ultimately, I’d say (and I don’t know that you’d fundamentally disagree here) that it’s impossible to separate traditions like Catholicism or Mormonism from their fundamental and unique truth claims. If Catholicism were ultimately true, for example, then in the final accounting its dogmatic claims would not be hamstringing- they would serve as a clarifying lens through which to analyze historical questions, a lens which helps the believing scholar from wasting his time investigating a false path. Once the Catholic scholar feels freed from the ostensible constraints of Catholic theology, it is questionable to what degree his scholarship is distinctively Catholic in the first place.

        That’s not necessarily a problem, of course. And I’m speaking as a believer- in the very traditional sense- in the Christian interpretation of the world. But I feel that sometimes secular scholars, perhaps in an effort to be diplomatic, perhaps for other reasons, underestimate and understate the inevitability of open conflict with a religious tradition they study. In other words, if it is an intrinsic aspect of a tradition to make historical claims or assertions about the underlying nature of the world, the falsification of those claims essentially undermines the character of that tradition. And if Christianity/Mormonism is *false*, then we’re being done a tremendous service in this falsification. None of this means that believing scholars and secular scholars have to treat each other poorly or that we cannot respect (even in the midst of serious disagreement) each other’s work.

        Again, I’m not sure that you would disagree with any of this. Thanks again for your contribution to Mormon Studies and particularly for your diplomatic engagement with your critics.

  44. Lissa Christiansen-Baker March 6, 2021 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I just saw the Netflix Documentary last night. It was fascinating and enlightening to see the “underbelly” of ongoings between church leaders and members. “Do as I say and not as I do.” This was something I surmised most of my adult life. After all, we are human! There are so many parallels between the happenings in my LDS life and Brent’s, (although nothing to such depth and notoriety) I was drawn to find more information about his life, while he was in the church and out. This is what led me here! I devoutly attended BYU in the mid 70’s. Life seemed euphoric until I was excommunicated from the church because I questioned and I researched. I totally empathize with Brent, and all those who were condemned for their questions and knowledge seeking behavior. Aren’t we to try to gain understanding about life and spirituality? Funny how I was taught at BYU “The Glory of God is Intelligence” I find comfort in knowing I am not alone. Brent’s words deepened my own thoughts on God, spiritually and humanity. Life changing! Thank you Brent…you are certainly one of the true “Saturday’s Warriors” Thank you I am glad I came across your website!

  45. SE March 10, 2021 at 11:03 am - Reply

    In Episode 497, Brent Metcalfe shares an interesting fact that when Steve Christensen was called to be a Bishop that he told his Stake President that he would never excommunicate a member of his ward and if that was a problem that he wouldn’t accept the calling. I heard this in contrast to the snippet of Steve Christensen’s wife on a news show asking about what Steve Christensen was threatening Mark Hofmann with if he didn’t produce the McClellin collection where she stated something along the lines of “He was going to go to the police and have him arrested. He was going to have him thrown out of the church. He was basically threatening his entire existence.” (paraphrased and likely not the actual quote from Murder Among the Mormons, Netflix documentary).

    If you ever get the chance to talk with Steve Christensen’s wife and/or Brent Metcalfe again, I would like to hear you explore this dichotomy with them as they are polar opposites.

  46. David Wilson March 19, 2021 at 9:43 am - Reply

    This podcast inspired me to read the book “Mormon Murders”. What an amazing story that Brent was a participant. Now that the new Netflix documentary “Murder Among the Mormons” has come out, it also validates the important witness that Brent was in this event. But this podcast is filled with way more than you will get in the book or documentary. What an amazing life Brent! Thank you for sharing it with me.

  47. Tamara Dextre November 9, 2023 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Late comment: I was so moved by Brent’s account of his ADD/ADHD. I went undiagnosed well into my 40ies and it affected my self esteem. He is obviously a brilliant man yet to hear him share his experience which parallels mine was very validating. My husband and those who know me see me as high functioning and intelligent yet I struggle with focus and other day to day activities. Yet a read incessantly, I have high level achievements, and respected by my peers. But I struggle through traditional means of education.

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