Abstract

Since the late 1960s RLDS "liberals" have argued that the Book of Mormon should not be read as an authentic ancient history. This novel reading of the Book of Mormon has been part of a sustained effort by the RLDS hierarchy to make the Reorganization conform more closely with Protestant liberal approaches to the Bible. I demonstrate that the RLDS hierarchy has encouraged changes in the way the Book of Mormon is read by RLDS intellectuals. I then examine the arguments of Roger Launius, currently the foremost RLDS historian, who has recently insisted that the Book of Mormon ought to be read as "inspiring" frontier fiction. I also describe and criticize his claim that any concern with the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon is not serious historical scholarship, which he wants focused on issues currently fashionable among secularized historians.

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