kirk caudleLater this week I’ll have the privilege of guest hosting Mormon Stories. I’ll be talking to Kirk Caudle, Mormon studies scholar and host of the Mormon Book Review Podcast. Until this summer, Kirk was also an adjunct professor of religion at BYU-Idaho.

After a series of run-ins with school administrators regarding his teaching, Caudle resigned not only from his position with the school, but also from the Church.

I’ll be talking to Kirk about his Mormon studies work, the formation of his testimony of the Book of Mormon, his time at BYU-Idaho and the reasons behind his resignation.

Please post your questions for Kirk below!


  1. Brian August 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

    1.) Is it not still possible for a ‘liberal’ LDS to view the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price as scripture, even though one may be aware of both books’ problems (archaeology, historicity, borrowings from 19th C. culture/ & the KJV of the bible, Joseph Smith’s personal ‘flaws,’ etc.)?
    2.) Where do you put Joseph Smith? A ‘pious fraud,’ a ‘fallen prophet,’ a prophet-but-flawed-human-being; or as someone who began as a scam-artist, perhaps repented, then had a desire to lead people to a better form of Christianity?
    2.) Mike Quinn did a brief presentation at Sunstone: WHY AN EXCOMMUNICATED MORMON HISTORIAN URGES YOU TO REMAIN WITH THE LDS CHURCH. I’m wondering if I could send you a copy of this, and have you respond in your podcast to what he says from your vantage point? You can e-mail me at:

  2. Paul August 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I’d love to get your take on “the Spirit of Ricks” and how it informs BYU-Idaho students in particular. As a graduate I’ve always resented the undercurrent of superiority that our student body felt over BYU and their less-restrictive Honor Code. That feeling of somehow being more righteous than BYU came across as insecurity to me.
    I’d also love to hear about your dealings with the university leadership. In attempting to explain what I assume is your sincere and reasonable perspective did you feel like the administration was interested in legitimately understanding and empathizing with your position?
    I ask because during my senior year some classmates and I were denied the opportunity to pitch an advertising campaign that we crafted for a class at a regional competition of other schools. The reason given by Kim B. Clark’s personal assistant (why we met with his assistant is another ridiculous story) was because the client that year was Coca-Cola and the university wanted to “avoid the appearance of evil”. We also found out that by raising our concerns to the administration we had also put our professor’s job in jeopardy. The whole affair was silly, petty and so very typical of my experience at that university.

  3. Carla August 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    In what ways (if any) do you think the progressive vs. traditionalist camps within the LDS church differ from such camps in other churches or religions?

  4. Jenni4jlss August 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    From where you were, do you see your being let go – as a symptom of a systemic problem in the way the church handles the conflicting interests of religion and knowledge? Do you have an idea of how the church can resolve this conflict? Maybe these questions are too simplistic, but I don’t understand how BYU can manage either successfully.

    • Jenni4jlss August 18, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      I see that you weren’t let go, to re-phrase – do you see your run-ins with administrators as a symptom of a problem…..
      In addition – can you elaborate what those run ins were focused on?
      I have a daughter attending BYU Idaho. Her first year is up, and she is returning shortly. Her experience is unique, In that the culture there is actually forcing her to question her faith in this church much more than I, her apostate mother ever could. It is stifling to her, and it is curious to me. I’m paying for this education she is getting, I’m hoping she will end up with a degree and an experience that will benefit her. I will certainly appreciate your insight. Thank you.

  5. Bert Romero August 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    As a Religion instructor you must have known about all the ‘history’ of the church: warts and all. What is now different, i.e., what triggered your decision to withdraw.
    Thank you and good luck.

  6. Kevin August 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    1. The historical incident that triggered your dismissal from BYU-I is the popular story that Brigham Young took on the appearance and characteristics of Joseph Smith during a speech. What is your understanding of the incident?
    2. It makes such a sensational splash in any Gospel Doctrine class. Why should we care if the incident is historically factual or not?
    3. If the incident is not historically factual who would have benefited from its creation?
    4. If the incident is not historically factual why would BYU-I administrative personnel penalize out of a job for calling it into question?
    5. The whole unfortunate incident of your dismissal smells of the myopic madness of Correlation. If the administration of BYU-I feels compelled to enforce the blinders of Correlation how do you see this affecting the credibility of the school?
    6. What do you do for fun?
    7. How has a more nuanced understanding of Mormon history shaped your feelings about Mormonism?
    8. If folks in your world had not acted like insufferable prigs towards you might you have stayed in the Church?
    9. Do you have any suggestions for members of the Church who learn about the messiness of its history, doctrine and practices yet desire to remain in the faith?
    10. If Joseph Smith were to show up on your doorstep inviting you to chat with him, what do you think he would say?
    11. Are you writing a book?
    12. Do you play in a band?

  7. John August 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    You clearly know the Book of Mormon well. What are the 3-5 most persuasive pieces of evidence that the Book of Mormon is actually inspired or that it’s historicity is solid?

  8. Heath August 18, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    For originality in the mormon story interview listen to this podcast first that Kirk did, he already explain why he resigned, I would like the focus for this interview to be a deeper dive into Kirt’s beliefs about the church and what doctrine he rejects and/or accepts with any twists in it. His understanding of the plan of salvation and what happens after death. I would also like to know his of views about ordinances and if they are necessary for eternal salvation. I would also you to ask him what does he feel like his standing with God is now that he has resigned from the Church. I also I am thinking about resigning too because I reject the notion that any of man can stand between me and God, I would like to know his thoughts on that concept. Also ask him about any advice about resigning, the process, telling others and dealing with the judgment from TBMs.

    • Paul M. August 20, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thanks for the link Heath! From this interview it sounds like he believes in the restoration and JS, and that at some point from then until now the church became more of a corporation with leaders that no longer speak with God.

  9. E.E.T. August 19, 2014 at 1:49 am

    I would like you to share your understanding of Joseph Smith’s cultural and religious environment of that time…within his home and the community. It seems to me that there was a very narrow range of cultural experiences that I feel could have contributed to an unbalance in his life.

    It appeared that his world consisted mainly of farming, religion, his knowledge of the scriptures and perhaps some popular books, and playing simple games. Did he miss out on other creative outlets?… experiences such as art, music, science, and the knowledge or interest in the wonderful renaissance that was going on in Europe? It seemed like he wasted a lot of time with some very strange folk culture from that neck of the woods.

    History seems to show that at that time, upstate New York, was pumping out churches, rather than composing music, creating art, or making scientific discoveries. His experience just didn’t seem very balanced.

    There is no question he was very intelligent with a remarkable imagination, but it all seemed to be channeled and expressed in a way that reflected his one dimensional environment, with little or no interest in the arts. Is there any record of him using his creativity in art or music?….any drawings done, any instruments played by him or anyone in his home?

    If by chance, the Book of Mormon was man made, even, the history portions of the Book of Mormon seem one dimensional….preaching and fighting, with lots of New Testament and Old Testament material. What about the amazing culture of ancient America, that existed in regards to art, architecture, and most likely music? Couldn’t the Book of Mormon scribes have left out a few of the “and it came to pass” phrases, to leave more space on the plates for some art sketches, descriptions of the music, perhaps mention of colors? Is the word color and music ever mentioned in the Book of Mormon? After all, if “men are that they might have joy”, then why not share more of what gave people joy back then, besides preaching and fighting. The Book of Mormon, does barely hint at the arts when mentioning that something had “curious workmanship” (I wish he would of went in to more detail) Oh well, no room for more detail than that….had to save room for “and it came to pass.” Perhaps a little humor in the Book of Mormon would have been refreshing, but I did get a kick out of “and it came to pass that they were many times buried by the mountain waves that broke upon them”. I could relate to that from my body surfing days.

    I think these questions and your answers will tie in to some of the previous excellent questions.

    Thank you for the upcoming discussion.

  10. Mark August 19, 2014 at 6:24 am

    The church publically says that it is ok to ask “questions”, yet from my experience my local leaders make it uncomfortable or unacceptable to ask questions. For example, They do not consider people with questions for important positions. They refuse to pass on questions to senior church leaders in any attempt to get answers from higher authorities. They speak disparagingly in council meetings of people in the ward who ask questions. Are there ways the church could improve the atmosphere for questions?

    • E.E.T. August 19, 2014 at 8:09 am

      You ask a very good question. I’ve experienced the same thing, even while serving in a bishopric. Not questioning seems to be a virtue for many LDS. Of course, there are a great many wonderful LDS who do question things, in search for the truth. That is how our church started…with a question. It is great to get an answer, “when your knocking at the door” with an honest and sincere question. There are a lot of questions for believers and religion that deserve an answer, even if the answer is “I don’t know”. Some think, that “the best thing to do with muddy water, is to let it sit”….and it will clear up eventually. Years ago that may have worked, but not today.

      • JR August 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm

        I don’t think the LDS church started with a question. I think it started with the answer Joseph claimed to have received.

        So, my question is did Joseph hear the answer to his question or make up the answer to his question?

  11. Matt Harmer August 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    A simple, yet very personal question: after years of studying the Book of Mormon and years hosting podcasts, interviewing others who have studied the book and pondered its origins, how do you believe the Book of Mormon (i.e., the text that we have now) came to be?

  12. tropical animal August 21, 2014 at 1:15 am

    The rock in the hat with the hat pulled up over his face, without looking at material he was “translating,” seems like a strange way to translate. Was Joseph’s face-in-the-hat technique a dream or trance-induction technique?

    Thank you for daring to think and question in the face of authoritarian intimidation.

    Do you think the GAs will ever see the elephant in the room which is squashing intellectuals and scientists and pushing them out of the church?

  13. Scott August 21, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I would like to know the specifics of the run in you had with BYUi administration

  14. UTManMI August 22, 2014 at 4:47 am

    President Uchtdorf recently spoke at the Church History Symposium. During that talk he lamented the “negative side effects of secrecy or the cliché of faith-promoting rumors.” See last paragraph here:

    That view appears not to have gained traction yet at BYU-I, or hadn’t as of your leaving. Do you see it taking hold anywhere else? Do you have any sense that anyone in the leadership other than President Uchtdorf holds this opinion? I would say yes (how far reaching, I don’t know) given the release of the statements on “difficult issues.” But I assume the answer for you is no, or you wouldn’t have resigned your membership in addition to your professorship.


  15. MC360 August 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I enjoyed his interview in the rational faith podcast part 2.

    I don’t have a question , I just admire him for standing for what he thinks it is the right thing to do.

    I got the impression that he is an honest guy , he isn’t the type of guy who is gonna stay in church if he doesn’t believe in great degree in its teachings.

    Hopefully his interview isn’t about the same old questions that we already heard a bunch of times.

  16. E.E.T. August 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I would like to know your thoughts on the value of scripture and doctrine being “inspired” versus true? It seems these days that this word “inspired” is replacing truth and evidence, when that is the only card left to play.

Comments are closed.