Latter-day Peace Studies presents: Come, Follow Me

Ben Petersen and Shiloh Logan’s long friendship has coalesced around a deeply shared love of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. They’ve spent countless nights together with their families talking about the wonders of hope, love, and peace that come from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  
In these podcasts, we are searching for moments to sit with the Divine. As we contemplate each week’s readings, we look for how we can understand and use the Sermon on the Mount and the atonement of Jesus Christ to more fully understand the greater narratives of the scriptures.

Episode 80: Introduction to the Old Testament
Ben and Christopher begin this year’s LDPS Presents: Come, Follow Me podcast on the Old Testament by introducing themselves and their background for Old Testament studies. They cover where they’re coming from, how they’ll be approaching the Old Testament, and where they’re going with their approach. This wide-ranging discussion deals with many of the questions on the minds of Latter-day Saints approaching the Old Testament such as: What is the Bible, or even scripture, in general, and the Old Testament in particular, and what do we do with them? How does revelation work? Who were the authors and what are the genres of the books that make up the library we call “the Bible” and what was the context and purpose of those authors in writing the texts? Who later chose which books would be included in the Bible and which would be excluded and why? What role did manuscripts and translation play in this process of canonization and continue to play in ongoing reading and interpretation of the Bible? What are apocryphal and pseudepigraphical texts and what do we do with them? What assumptions are made by ancient interpreters of the Bible that were carried forward in Christian history and are still with us today in the Church? How will Christopher and Ben read and interpret the Old Testament applying nonviolent hermeneutics to deal with “the angry violent God of the Old Testament”? How does Ancient-Near-Eastern thought differ from modern Western thought and what does that mean for reading and interpreting the Bible? What are the major themes of the Bible? And finally, what do we do with modern critical Biblical scholarship in faithfully reading the Bible? This is an unusually long episode for LDPS Presents: Come, Follow Me, but it is well worth the listen in coming to terms with the Old Testament before jumping into the reading.Intro/Outro: Sweeper by Blue Dot Sessions
Episode 79: D&C 137 – 138
Ben and Shiloh close out this year’s discussion on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history with guest co-host Christopher Hurtado. It is evident in many places throughout Joseph Smith’s life just how much of an impact the death of his older brother, Alvin, had on the way that Joseph saw the world. Section 137 gives us a lot of things to think about concerning how Joseph saw and experienced what he called were his “visions”. In this section, while in vision, Joseph sees the great things and the great people in the celestial realm, and he even sees his parents there. It is interesting that his parents are still alive on earth while Joseph is having this vision of the celestial kingdom. Yet, it is not even the fact that he sees his parents in this glorious realm prior to their death that seems out of place for Joseph, but it is upon seeing Alvin in the celestial world (without having been baptized on earth) that seems to stop Joseph in his tracks mid-vision. What can this tell us about Joseph and his understanding of family, earth, and heaven? What Section 137 opens the door of understanding to, Section 138 elaborates upon gives greater awareness to what happens beyond the grave. As we close out our discussions on the Doctrine and Covenants, everyone reflects on their favorite episode, moment, or learning experience throughout the last year, and they have some exciting announcements for next year’s Come, Follow Me episodes for Old Testament!
Episode 75: D&C 125-128
Ben and Shiloh talk about the letters from Joseph Smith to the Church while he was in hiding concerning the new and unique doctrine of baptism for the dead. These letters show an increasing complexity in Joseph’s understanding of the “Mormon Cosmology” and in how the Plan of Salvation operates. By the time these letters were written in 1842, Joseph had already started secretly engaging in the practice of plural marriage (showing that he had been thinking of the eternal nature of men and women and of humanity’s eternal relationships) and had participated in the rites of the newly established Freemasonry lodge in Nauvoo (which added a new layer of symbolism, rite, and ritual than was ever presented to him before). Additionally, the pain and trauma of losing his brother Alvin had strongly impacted Joseph throughout his entire life. Before Joseph was able to obtain the gold plates, Alvin died rather suddenly prior to choosing to be baptized into any local church. At his funeral, William Smith (Alvin’s and Joseph’s brother) wrote that the Presbyterian minister who presided over the funeral had “intimated very strongly that he [Alvin] had gone to hell, for Alvin was not a church member”. Years later, after the Kirtland Temple dedication, Joseph received a vision wherein he saw Alvin in the Celestial kingdom, and Joseph wondered how Alvin could be in heaven given that he had never been baptized. Joseph was instructed in the vision that those who had died without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ would have the opportunity of hearing it in the next life. As Joseph would later contemplate over certain passages in the Bible (as shown in Section 128), he mused that “the baptism for the dead” was a “subject [that] seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest.” This is interesting wording and a unique and rare insight into how Joseph received his own divine inspiration. Certainly, we can see that Joseph had used the love and memory of his brother as a mode to find further insight from the divine.