Faith in Doubt
Noted Mormon historian gives 19th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Lecture
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 23:09
A historian offered a more liberal view of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sept. 19 at the 19th-annual Leonard J. Arrington lecture.
Gregory Prince’s lecture was titled “Faith and Doubt as Partners in Mormon History” in reference to the first lecture by LDS historian Leonard J. Arrington in 1995, “Faith and Intellect as Partners in Mormon History.” Drawing from Arrington’s life, Prince discussed the role doubt plays in advancing both scholarly research and faith.
“Faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin,” Prince said. “The interplay between the two is essential to a complete religious life, and scholars are uniquely qualified to leverage the inherent value of doubt.”
Historical research began as a hobby for Prince, who has a doctorate in pathology. He published two books and is working on the third, a biography of Arrington, who died in 1999.
During his lecture, Prince discussed the two controversial pieces Arrington published in his life, “Great Basin Kingdom” and “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom.”
“Great Basin Kingdom” researched the economic activities of Mormon settlers in the West. In particular, the book covers the sugar factory, the iron struggles and the Las Vegas lead mines, all of which resulted in failure.
“Of these and other failed economic ventures of the church, he gave a brutally candid analysis,” Prince said.
Arrington suggested these enterprises would have succeeded if there had been better leadership from the church. The book was received with mixed reviews from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body in the church, Prince said.
Likewise, Arrington’s “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom” caused controversy and was banned from being published for a year after it came out. The article refers to the temperance wave — a movement of abstaining from drinking alcohol — going through the United States in the 1820s and 1830s as another source for the principles in the Word of Wisdom, Prince said.