Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


D. Morgan Davis


history, perspective, revelations, faith, popular culture


The perspective of history can be sobering, even humbling. Not so recently, two men from the same faith tradition but different perspectives joined in a debate about whether and how a man whom they both acknowledged as a prophet could have seen what he said he saw and be who he claimed to be. As it unfolded, their discussion touched upon many aspects of what it means to have faith in such a person and in his revelations. The role of reason in relation to revelation, the relevance of history to faith, and the connection of language to perception were all explored. The power of poetry and other idioms of popular culture in establishing the credibility of one’s chosen narrative were on display. Their debate was not an isolated event; it was just one of many in an ongoing phenomenon of cultural and spiritual contestation and negotiation. And although the two men in this case lived eleven hundred years ago, that same process of debate that they engaged in is still under way in our own times and is very much a part of our cultural climate today.