B. H. Roberts; Stan Larson, Editor; Thom D. Roberts and Leonard J. Arrington, Forewords; Sterling M. McMurrin and Erich Robert Paul, Introductions
The Truth, The Way, The Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology
from the publisher:
Less than ten years before his death in 1933, B. H. Roberts, one of the most influential Mormon writers of the twentieth century, began work on “the most important book that I have yet contributed to the [LDS] Church.” A prolific and respected Mormon apologist, Roberts wanted to consolidate his theological thought into a unified whole and to reconcile science with scripture.
His final manuscript, “The Truth, the Way, the Life,” synthesized doctrine into three sections: the truth about the world and revelation, the way of salvation, and Jesus’ life in shaping Christian character. He submitted his completed work to the LDS First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, which, after a series of heated meetings, rejected it. Roberts’s views on evolution, the age of the earth, the pre-earth existence, and the eternal progression of God were deemed too controversial, so his “masterwork” went unpublished. With the support of the Roberts family, editor Stan Larson has corrected this sixty-year omission from the corpus of Mormon theology.
According to Leonard J. Arrington, former LDS Church Historian, “B. H. Roberts considered ‘The Truth, The Way, The Life’ to be the most important work he had written. While people may differ with him on that judgement, this ambitious treatise . . . shows a great mind grappling with great issues.”
Brigham Henry Roberts, born in England in 1857, was president of the LDS First Quorum of the Seventy and assistant church historian. His numerous historical (A Comprehensive History of the Church; Joseph Smith, The Prophet-Teacher; Life of John Taylor; The Missouri Persections; The Mormon Battalion, Its History and Achievements; Outlines of Ecclesiastical History; The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo; Succession in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and theological works (A New Witness for God; The Mormon Doctrine of Deity: The Roberts-Van der Donckt Discussion; The Seventy’s Course in Theology; Studies of the Book of Mormon; The Truth, The Way, The Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology) which are still considered authoritative, earned him the epithet “defender of the faith.” He died in 1933.
Stan Larson is the curator for the Utah History, Philosophy, and Religion Archives at the Marriott Library, University of Utah. He is the author of Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s Archaeological Search for The Book of Mormon; co-author of Unitarianism in Utah: A Gentile Religion in Salt Lake City, 1891-1991; and editor of A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson, Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884-87, Working the Divine Miracle: The Life of Apostle Henry D. Moyle, and The Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts. Through his own imprint, Freethinker Press, he has recently edited and published Ray R. Channing’s My Continuing Quest: Sociological Perspectives on Mormonism and Marvin and Julia Bertoch’s Modern Echoes from Ancient Hills: Our Greek Heritage.
Thom D. Roberts, a lawyer with the Utah State Attorney General’s Office and a great-grandson of Brigham H. Roberts, is a contributor to The Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts.
Leonard J. Arrington, former Church Historian of the LDS church, is the Lemuel H. Redd Professor Emeritus of Western History and former director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University. He is the author of eleven books, including the award-winning Brigham Young: American Moses and the classic Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900. He is co-author of thirteen works, including The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, Rescue of the 1856 Handcart Companies, and Saints Without Halos: The Human Side of Mormon History; and he has written as many monographs, as well as contributing to such works as Faithful History Essays on Writing Mormon History, The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Past, Personal Voices: A Celebration of Dialogue, and The Truth, The Way, the Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts.
Sterling M. McMurrin was E. E. Ericksen Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and History Emeritus at the University of Utah until his death in 1996. He was formerly a professor of education, academic vice president, and dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah, a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, a Ford Fellow in philosophy at Princeton, U.S. Envoy to Iran, and United States Commissioner of Education. He authored Education and Freedom; The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology and its companion, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion; Religion, Reason and Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion; and Swiss Schools and Ours: Why Theirs Are Better; co-authored Contemporary Philosophy: A Book of Readings; A History of Philosophy; Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion; and Toward Understanding the New Testament; and contributed to The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, Memories and Reflections: The Autobiography of E. E. Ericksen and The Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts.
Erich Robert Paul was a professor at Dickson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, until his death in 1994. He authored The Milky Way Galaxy and Statistical Cosmology, 1890-1924 and Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology, and contributed to The Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts.
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