Returning to Mormon Stories, Dr. Greg Prince delves into the life and legacy of Leonard Arrington—considered by many to be the foremost twentieth-century historian of Mormonism. This interview follows closely the abstract of the book:

“Leonard Arrington’s career was not without controversy. Gregory Prince takes an in-depth look at this respected historian and, in telling Arrington’s story, gives readers insight into the workings of the LDS Church in the late twentieth century. In 1972, during a major reorganization of the LDS Church, Arrington was asked to serve as the official church historian, thereby becoming the first—and thus far the only—professional historian to hold that title. He immediately set out to professionalize the entire Church History Division and open its extensive archives to scholarly researching. While the output of and from that division moved Mormon studies to a new level, the shift of historiography from faith promotion ecclesiastical, to scholarly and professional research and analysis was unacceptable to a handful of powerful senior apostles. In 1980 the History Division was disassembled and moved to Brigham Young University. That led to a shift in the professionalization of the Church History Division and Archives and in Arrington’s career but not to a loss of his broad influence.”

(Immediately after this interview, we interviewed Greg again at a live event in Salt Lake City.  You may find that interview here.)

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Part 1: Greg discusses why he chose to write this book and describes how Leonard Arrington became LDS Church Historian

Part 2: Greg discusses significant events that occurred during Leonard Arrington’s administration

Part 3: Greg describes the legacy of Leonard Arrington and shares his thoughts on where the LDS Church presently stands in its presentation of church history

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Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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8 Comments

  1. RIO March 26, 2018 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Good grief! Lie to the people now, so they will accept the truth later? Good luck with that.

  2. Isaac Mathews March 26, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Part 1: Brilliant interview. Thank you Dr. John Dehlin AND Dr. Gregory Prince. Wow… I can simply say wow…. Part 2: This part 2 hits on big issues! Thanks Dr. Dehlin and Dr. Prince for an honest, open, authentic, and relevant discussion. Every Mormon should understand these issues – no matter what they agree or disagree with, these topics discussed are some of the main issues that the LDS Church needs to provide further clarification and transparency. Part 3: Man, the LDS Church has a LOT of work to do in cleaning this mess up! But seriously, The LDS leaders – especially the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, obviously – NEED to provide real answers which face the issues directly, clearly, and HONESTLY. “Do what is right, let the consequence follow…” Right?

  3. JJ March 26, 2018 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    And, of course, there’s an irrelevant comment or 2 about Trump and politics. Man, I guess we just have to scratch that itch when we feel it.

  4. beth March 27, 2018 at 2:48 am - Reply

    Thank you for this interview, it was very interesting, the brethren certainly need to more honest and transparent about the book of Mormon and its truthfulness or lack of and the book of Abraham, lets hope for more openness and transparency for the future.

  5. Drew March 27, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

    It’s kinda crazy to hear Dr. Prince mention at 48:35 in part 3 how “we teach young children at an early age to believe in the Santa Clause myth because it benefits them, and helps them feel safe and secure in a scary and dangerous world. Then we grow up and out of it once we’re old enough to deal with real life, but it helped us so much when we were young that we allow our children to believe it when they’re coming up.” So my thought at that point was, “Yeah…but they grow OUT OF IT.” So, Regardless of the truthfulness of the church, is it OK to believe in it and it’s watered down history and lies if it helps us while we’re weak, and then when we’re strong enough to face the real world leave it altogether like we do with the Santa Clause myth? Because that’s not what we’re taught about the church. I was never taught that the church serves us..and our lives..and we can pick and choose what we want ala carte and leave some things out altogether if they’re not helping us…after all..it’s all myth anyway. That would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. If anything it’s the other way around, WE are the useful idiots who serve the church. It’s not a useful set of beliefs we have that make our lives easier to deal with, if anything the LONG list of crap we MUST do in order to get back to be with our creator makes our lives more difficult and we’d gladly blow them off. We are not in the drivers seat like his version. He has seen behind the green curtain, TBMS have not. And if it’s ok to believe in myths..which is another word for a lie…. will any myth that makes you feel warm and fuzzy do if it helps you deal with the world? How about unicorns and skittles?

    I dunno, this is basically is the same as saying weak people believe in God, strong people don’t, and the end goal, the way you know you have arrived is when you leave the church altogether and abandon any belief in God. I dunno…maybe that is the truth. But I was stunned. I’ve never heard it said quite this way before.

    I appreciate Dr. Prince’s thoughts, but saying that believing in myth is ok if it helps you doesn’t float with me. Not only that, but it’s NOT NEARLY the same as believing in something because it’s the TRUTH…..ya know…a FIXED POINT…in an almighty unshakable GOD who demands that you dress this way and walk this way and pay this much and know how to rock paper scissors through the veil and all that if you want to go to the good place. I mean this church totally molds you and your life a certain way, and you go along with this LONG drawn out dance that you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway…and WHY?… so you can get BACK to be with God in heaven. That’s one hell of a motivator…and the only reason you could EVER come up with that would cause people to do and pledge so much of their lives and income for. That’s a LOT different than someone who says…”Mormonism isn’t true in reality..but I believe in it because of what it does for my life”. WHAAA?? There are a WHOLE LOT of people who would live TOTALLY different lives if they didn’t believe in God, or the churches truth claims. How many people are painted into corners because of the churches truth claims? And if the church isn’t true…let it BURN!! Let’s have a bridge club! Why go through all of the trouble? FOR MYTH? Well if that’s all we’re looking for to make our lives easier, how about we believe in the myth that ACTUALLY makes our lives easier? Maybe one that says it’s ok to sleep in and all day on Sunday..and God loves you as long as you love other people …male or female…and He doesn’t care if you pay 10%…or nothing at all…as love is the whole of the law.
    I’m sorry, but I don’t want to have a religion radically control my life by extorting 10% of my income, demanding I walk in step to their demands and directions, and I risk my eternal soul and any possibility of returning to the greatest source of love and light there is if I don’t. Then finally after you’ve exhausted yourself on this long en devour, you’re simply told…well…it’s all bull%*$…but it’s benefiting you. I don’t think so. But maybe I expect the truth to be….well..truth. Maybe I’m just a 1+1=2 kinda guy.

    I guess things would be different if we all came at religion the way Dr Prince talks about it where we’re the ones in power, but that’s not how Mormonism is to most of the people I know. They’re doing all they can to follow the letter of the law to get back to heavenly father period. I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t believe in the historicity of the BOM…or any of the claims and knows the history who can chalk it up and say…”meh…but it helps me…and I am it’s master…not the other way around”. You show me that person and I’ll show you an Ex-mo…..or one in the making who hasn’t accepted their final outcome. Or…a walking contradiction.

    Love your podcasts John,..and would be honored to meet you some day.

  6. Catherine August 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    very good thank you

  7. Quanah Parker October 12, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    By and large I enjoy listening to Greg Prince. However, he talks about looking at the “data points” and let the story tell itself. Unfortunately, Mr. Prince doesn’t acknowledge his own biases and the fact that his biases tell the story as he sees the data points. Like many “scientists “ Greg believes he can be objective inspite of his own skin. Greg, you can’t jump out of your own skin. Your liberal biases are apparent and diminish your credibility. I’m not a fan of Trump, but he is not the only politician who “cherry picks” a story/ narrative. Remember the false, cherry picked Benghazi story (Obama/Clinton)?

    John, I listened to your podcast early in my faith crisis about 10 years ago. Your podcast were comforting and healing. Sadly, I’ve stopped listening to 90% of your podcast because you only care about facts when they relate to the church. Some of the social topics you discuss don’t reference the facts that oppose your discussion (i.e. white privileged, equal pay for women, black lives matter, etc..).

    In addition, you mention your “research” as it is as pure as snow. You know as well as anyone, surveys are the worst form of “research “ because they don’t tell the behaviors behind the survey. Do people actually do what they say in surveys.

    John I wish you well and I hope the church will eventually apologizes to you for how they have treated you.

  8. EB May 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    So to be clear: American Millennials who remain in the LDS Church won’t be there because it’s true but because it serves other wants and needs. And that’s different from its founder just how?

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