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In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Richard Lyman Bushman, the "patriarch of Mormon history" discussed his relation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the years, and his experience in writing Church History.
As a former agnostic, Bushman struggled with the idea of God and whether or not there was "enough evidence to believe in a God." Even though Bushman has stayed a strong member of the Church and has grown his Testimony around the Book of Mormon and the Savior, he still has "continual questions."
When asked about what he felt about the Church changing throughout the years he said the following:
I subsume this category into what I call cosmopolitanism, which is one of the most powerful influences in the church right now. By cosmopolitanism, I mean that we’re suddenly able to see ourselves as others see us and we can picture ourselves as one religion among a number of religions and a number of viewpoints.
We can see how Mormonism looks from a global view. And as soon as we do that, then the way we treat women becomes problematic in terms of the way the educated world in general is looking upon women and race and LGBTQ issues and so on. We have to find ways of couching our message so that it makes sense to the world at large. At the same time, we need to hold onto our roots in a parochial way. I mean that in a positive sense.
In terms how members should experience and learn from this change, Bushman responded:
Of course it’s going to change. The question is: What is doctrine and what is practice? What are the essentials we have to hold onto at all costs? We speak as if essential doctrines are clearly defined and that they will never change, but we can never say what they truly are. We say we believe God and faith are the basis of a good life, but it is always going to be remolded and reshaped.
We just have to live with that. In the end, it can be very therapeutic and strengthening if you have to think through what you really believe, what you could stand up for, what you would speak about at the United Nations or to a group of the Harvard faculty. Then you’ve got something you could really hold onto. If your faith is only good in Salt Lake City, but it doesn’t work in London, then you don’t really have a viable faith.