Articles/Essays – Volume 03, No. 4

Among the Mormons: A Survey of Current Literature

With all thy getting get understanding. 

Proverbs 4:7 

When Fate destines one to ruin, it begins by blinding the eyes of his understanding. 

James Fraser 

Are Mormons Christians? The official name of the Church includes the words “Jesus Christ” within it, and we consider Him our Savior. Our scriptures include the Bible, and, as Anthony Hoekema suggests, “Many people have the impression that the Mormon teachings are not basically different from those of historic Christianity.” Yet Dr. Hoekema has decided that “The Christ of Mormonism is not the Christ of Scripture.” The good doctor came to this conclusion by asking—and himself answering—the following ten questions: 

  1. Is the Bible the final source of authority for Mormonism?
  2. Does Mormonism teach the spirituality of God? 
  3. Does Mormonism believe in one God? 
  4. Does Mormonism teach that men may become gods? 
  5. Does Mormonism accept the fall of man? 
  6. Does Mormonism teach equal opportunity for all races? 
  7. Does Mormonism teach the unique incarnation of Christ?
  8. Does Mormonism teach the vicarious atonement of Christ?
  9. Does Mormonism teach the biblical view of the way of salvation?
  10. Does Mormonism teach that all men will be saved? 

“On each of these ten questions the teaching of the Mormon church,” says Dr. Hoekema, “is contrary to Scripture. Although there is much in Mor monism that we may admire—the tremendous welfare program, the ability to get members involved in the work of the church, the willingness to sacrifice—we cannot classify Mormon teachings with those of historic Christianity. The Christ of Mormonism is not the Christ of Scripture.” 

Regardless of the degree of Christianity others may thus assign to Mor monism, there is a general agreement on the role Mormons have played and are playing in American history. In his thoughtful article “The Mormons as a Theme in Western Historical Writing,” Rodman W. Paul explores this role and the oft-expressed complaint that courses in western history devote too much attention to “cowboys and Indians.” Likewise, historical writing about the West, according to Paul, “deals only with surface appearances” and is limited to narrative and simple description of isolated dramatic episodes rather than having as its purpose “to seek to achieve by analysis and interpretation fundamental explanations” and “meaningful patterns.” 

Dr. Paul’s answer to this problem is “to take up, one by one, some of the major topics in western history and subject them to a reflective examination.” Because of Mormonism’s “obvious importance, its provocative char acter, and the difficulty inherent in any serious study of it,” Mormonism is a prime candidate for reflective examination. Notwithstanding the influence of Mormonism in the Rocky Mountain West and elsewhere before the western exodus, it has taken a long time to accumulate the respectable body of first rate scholarly writing about the Mormons necessary for analysis and interpretation. According to Dr. Paul, some of this neglect can be attributed to the failure of scholars “to recognize that Mormonism was no longer seriously controversial, in a political sense, and thus was a fit subject for research.” 

Another deterrent to adequate Mormon historiography is the inability of interested scholars to obtain access to the Church Archives, for reasons which are familiar to Mormon historians. Dr. Paul suggests these reasons are, if not invalid, at best more deleterious to church history than protective. Nevertheless, Dr. Paul agrees with other critics who lay the blame for shortcomings in the area of Mormon history on “too much emotion, too much description and too little interpretation,” rather than on failure to obtain access to the archives. The same criticism is made of western historical writing generally. 

The failure of the historian to explore Mormon history has not resulted in a complete knowledge gap, for, as Dr. Paul points out, “social scientists have rushed in where historians have only hesitantly trod.” Dr. Paul explores some of the ideas of the social scientists and the contributions they have made to an understanding of Mormon society. He concludes his exposition on a somber note by agreeing with Wallace Turner (The Mormon Establishment) that present-day Mormon society is incapable of adjusting to the changes of modern life. 

In view of Dr. Paul’s statement regarding access to the Church Archives and similar comments previously made in Dialogue, an article, “The Church Historian’s Office,” in the October issue of The Improvement Era is of more than passing interest. Without comment, herewith are selected excerpts from that article: 

Q. Is the CHO designed to be used by members of the Church?

A. Our first responsibility is to obtain Church records so that they can be preserved. Our second responsibility is to make the records available for use and to service the needs of members of the Church. 

Q. Are nonmembers free to use the facilities of the CHO? 

A. Yes. We make no distinction between members and nonmembers as far as the use of the library-archives is concerned. 

Q. How do you respond to the image of suppression of materials that in the past has been identified with research at CHO? 

A. Certainly some researchers have been displeased because we have not made some of the records as freely available as they would like. But many archives have problems in these areas. For example, certain original documents have to be restricted in usage because of their inherent value, age, or condition. 

Some of these original records have been microfilmed and can be seen on microfilm, but others have not yet been micro- filmed. So far we have done little microfilming of original documents and letters, and comparatively few diaries. As time and budget allow, we will microfilm many of these in order that researchers may read them. We have an additional problem with journals. Years ago, journals were filed with the understanding with the donors that they would be made available only to descendants of the writer. We try to avoid such agreements now, but are bound by past agreements. However, we hope that in time families will release many of the journals for research. Also, we have a ruling that those persons who are writing or who have written to discredit the Church are denied access to our facilities. 

Q. Are there types of records that are not available to any researcher?

A. Yes—minutes of stake presidency, high council, and bishopric meetings, high council trials, or bishops’ trials. These and similar records involve personal status of individuals that we feel re- searchers have no right to read. Our view is shared by others, even in business and industry. Many companies do not open their confidential board of director minutes to researchers. One can under- stand the reasons for such a policy.

Q. How extensively should CHO records be used? 

A. A record is of no use if it isn’t used. Historical records are beneficial to all people, and the doctrinal records are a blessing to all mankind. 

As in previous issues “Among the Mormons” is primarily concerned with as complete a listing as possible of the current literature on the subjects “Mor mons and Mormonism.” The listing is divided into three categories, i.e., books, theses and dissertations, and periodicals, and reported in successive issues of Dialogue. The following bibliography is concerned with periodical articles that appeared in print primarily during the twelve months preceding November, 1968. 


Alexander, Thomas G. “The Powell Irrigation Survey and the People of the Mountain West.” Journal of the West, VII (January, 1968), 48.

Alexander, Thomas G., and James B. Allen, eds. “The Mormons in the Mountain West; A Selected Bibliography.” Arizona and the West, IX (Winter, 1967), 365-84.

Anderson, J. “There Is More Than Sand and Sagebrush Here. Utah Civic Ballet.” Dance Magazine, XXXXI (August, 1967), 42-45. 

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. “Reuben Miller, Recorder of Oliver Cowdery’s Re-affirmations.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 277-93.

Andrus, Reed. “The Impact of Federal Legislation on Mental Programing in Utah,” American Journal of Public Health, LVII (1967), 1214-20.

Arrington, Leonard J., and Jon Haupt. “Intolerable Zion: The Image of Mormonism in Nineteenth Century American Literature.” The Western Humanities Review, XXII (Summer, 1968), 243-60. 

Ashliman, D. L. “Mormonism and the Germans: An Annotated Bibliography, 1848-1966.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Autumn, 1967), 73-94.

Athay, R. Grant. “Worlds Without Number: The Astronomy of Enoch, Abra- ham, and Moses.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 255-69.

Balk, Alfred. “God Is Rich.” Harper’s, October, 1967, pp. 69-73. Mention of Mormon Church business holdings. 

Benson, Ezra Taft. “The Proper Role of Government.” Agricultural Engineering, IL (August, 1968), 453, 469-71.

——————— “The Proper Role of Government, A Declaration of Principles.” Vital Speeches of the Day, XXXIV (June 15, 1968), 514-20.

Bergsma, Donald J. “Utah’s Early Settlers.” Utah Architect, Winter-Spring, 1968, p. 20.

Boner, Hamilton. “Carl Smith, Hard Riding Mormon.” The Pony Express, XXXIV (December, 1967), 3-5. A Mormon bicycle racer. 

Brown, D. Alexander. “Jim Bridger.” American History Illustrated, III (July, 1968), 4.

Campbell, Eugene E. “Authority Conflicts in the Mormon Battalion.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 127-42.

Carlson, Martin E. “William E. Smythe: Irrigation Crusader.” Journal of the West, VII (January, 1968), 41. 

Christensen, Harold T. “The New Morality: Research Bases for Decision in Today’s World.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Autumn, 1967), 23-35.

Clark, James R. “Joseph Smith and the Lebolo Egyptian Papyri.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 195-203. 

Conis, J. N. “A Phonetic Alphabet for English, from Theory to Practice,” Madison College—Studies and Research, XXVI (March, 1968), 89-97. The Deseret Alphabet.

Cooper, Jed Arthur. “Brigham Young—Educator.” Peabody Journal of Edu cation, XXXXV (March, 1968), 296-98.

Cracroft, Richard H. “Liverpool, 1856: Nathaniel Hawthorne Meets Orson Pratt.” Brigham. Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 270-72.

Cumming, John. “The Mormon Era in Detroit.” Detroit Historical Society Bulletin, XXIV (March, 1968), 4. 

DePillis, Mario S. “The Social Sources of Mormonism.” Church History, XXXVII (March, 1968), 50-79.

Dunn, Richard J. “Dickens and the Mormons.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 325-34. 

Eyre, David W. “The Flop That Flipped: The Polynesian Center’s Four Years Old and Thriving.” Honolulu: A Topical Tropical Magazine, II (October, 1967), 27.

Glaser, Lynn. “The Mormons’ Anti-bank.” Numismatic News, January 1, 1968, p. 6. The Kirtland Safety Society.

Godfrey, Kenneth W. “The Road to Carthage Led West.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 204-15. 

Hansen, Klaus J. “Joseph Smith and the Political Kingdom of God.” The American West, V (September, 1968), 20-24. 

Harrington, Elizabeth. “Polosi Mine.” Nevada; Highways and Parks, Summer, 1968, pp. 32-4. Mine southwest of Las Vegas where Church colonists settled in what they thought was southern Utah. 

Harrington, Virginia S. “Mysterious Staffordshire and the Mormons?” Antiques, LXXXXIII (February, 1968), 238-39. Findings of English Stafford- shire and the wares of the 19th century in rubble at rear of site of Brigham Young’s home, Nauvoo, 111. 

Harris, James R. “Eternal Progression and the Foreknowledge of God.” Brig ham Young University Studies, VIII (Autumn, 1967), 37-46.

Harrison, Fred. “The Mud Prison-Problems of Pluralism,” The West; True Stories of the Old West, September, 1968, p. 22. 

Hess, Stephen, and David S. Broder. “George Romney: Mormonism Made Him What He Is: The Michigan Missionary.” Progressive, 31 (October, 1967), 20-26 and November, 1967, 34-39. Hoekema,

Anthony A. “Ten Questions To Ask the Mormons.” Christianity Today, January 19, 1968, pp. 378-82. 

“Inside Romney.” Newsweek, December 25, 1967, pp. 18-19. James, Rhett S. “Brigham Young—Chief Washakia Indian Farm Negotiations, 1854-1857.” Annals of Wyoming, XXXIX (October, 1967), 245-56.

Jennings, Warren A. “The Army of Israel Marches Into Missouri.” Missouri Historical Review, LXII (Winter, 1968), 107. Zion’s Camp in Missouri.

“Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, Photographs.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 179-94. 

Larson, Kenneth. “UFO’s and Some Surprising Date Patterns.” Flying Saucers, (October, 1968), 11. Compares some dates in the history of Joseph Smith and the Church with dates of sightings of UFO’s. 

Lee, Lawrence B. “The Mormons Come to Canada, 1887-1902.” Pacific North west Quarterly, LIX (January, 1968), 11-22.

Lynes, Russel. “John Held’s Made World.” Harper’s, November, 1967, pp. 24-36. Held was born in Salt Lake City in 1889 and from the time he was sixteen drew sports and political cartoons for the Salt Lake Tribune. He attended “Westside” High School with Harold Ross, the founder of The New Yorker, and took drawing lessons from Mahonri Young.

Madsen, Truman G. “Can God Be Pictured?” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 113-25. 

“Michigan’s Moderate.” Economist, CCXIX (June 18, 1966).

Moley, Raymond. “Romney the Incredible.” Newsweek, December 11, 1967, p. 116.

“Mormon Settlements in Graham County.” Arizona Highways, XXXXIV (Sep- tember, 1968), 38-39.

Nibley, Hugh. “Getting Ready To Begin.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 245-54. On the recently discovered papyri.

—————— “The Mormon View of the Book of Mormon.” Concilium, An International Review of Theology, 1 (December, 1967), 82. 

——————— “Prolegomena to Any Study of the Book of Abraham.” Brig ham Young University Studies, VIII (Winter, 1968), 171-78.

“The 1980 Problem.” Search Magazine, No. 78 (March, 1968), 45-6. Joseph Smith and George Romney introduced as part of the presidential problem in 1980. 

Olson, J. A. “Proselytism, Immigration and Settlement of Foreign Converts to the Mormon Culture of Zion.” Journal of the West, VI (April, 1967), 189-204.

Paul, Rodman W. “The Mormons as a Theme in Western Historical Writing.” The Journal of American History, LIV (December, 1967), 511-23.

Poulsen, Ezra. “The Mormons’ Mountain of Records.” Empire Magazine section of Denver Post, November 19, 1967, pp. 14-18. Genealogical Society vault.

Riddle, Chauncey C. “Symbols and Salvation.” Brigham Young University Studies, VIII (Spring, 1968), 311-24. “This article is an attempt to set in orderly perspective certain elements of the process of obtaining exaltation.”

“Romney On Crime, Unions, Inflation.” U. S. News and World Report, February 12, 1968, pp. 48-53.

Rundell, Walter. “Southern History from Local Sources; A Survey of Graduate History Training.” The Journal of Southern History, XXXIV (May, 1968), 218-19. Use of genealogy in the Mormon Church.

Rusho, W. L. “Living History at Lee’s Ferry.” Journal of the West, VII (January, 1968), 64.

Slaughter, J. L. “Critiquer: The Role of Music in the Mormon Church, School and Life.” Council for Research in Music Education Bulletin, VIII (Fall, 1966), 88-90. 

Sorensen, Cloyd, Jr. “Sam Brannan; Empire Builder.” The High Country, No. 5 (Summer, 1968), 12-13. 

Taber, Ronald W. “Vardis Fisher and the ‘Idaho Guide.'” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, LIX (April, 1968), 68-76. 

Thompson, Dennis L. “Religion and the Idaho Constitution.” Pacific North west Quarterly, LVIII (October, 1967), 169-78. The polygamy sections of the constitution. 

Van Kempen, Gustaaf F. Brest. “The State of City Planning and Architecture in Utah.” Utah Architect, Winter-Spring, 1968, p. 17. 

Whalen, William J. “The Mormons.” The Word, January, 1968. The Word is edited and published by the Divine Word Missionaries, Roscommon, Ireland.

“What Do Mormons Really Believe?” Power for Living, XXV (May 7, 1967), 2-8.

Williams, J. D. “The Separation of Church and State in Mormon Theory and Practice.” Journal of Church and State, IX (Spring, 1967), 238-62. Re- vised from its original publication in Dialogue, I (Summer, 1966), 30-54.

Young, Karl. “Brief Sanctuary: The Mormon Colonies of Northern Mexico.” American West, IV (May, 1967), 4-11.