Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology

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The Masterwork of B. H. ROBERTS

Stan Larson, editor
Forewords by Leonard J. Arrington and Thom D. Roberts
Introductions by Sterling M. McMurrin and Erich Robert Paul
Paperback / 800 pages / 1-56085-077-9 / $25.95

An Elementary Treatise on TheologyLess 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the pre-earth existence, and the eternal progression of God were deemed too controversial, so his “masterwork” went unpublished.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.”

Stan LarsonStan 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; co-author of Unitarianism in Utah; and editor of A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger ClawsonPrisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson, and Working the Divine Miracle: The Life of Apostle Henry D. Moyle“. Through his own imprint, Freethinker Press, he has edited and published Ray R. Channing’s My Continuing Quest and Marvin and Julia Bertoch’s Modern Echoes from Ancient Hills.

Leonard J. ArringtonLeonard J. Arrington was the LDS Church Historian and Lemuel H. Redd Professor of Western History at Brigham Young University. He wrote the award-winning Brigham Young: American Moses and the classic Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, and co-authored such works as 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. He contributed to Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Past, and Personal Voices: A Celebration of Dialogue. Leonard died in 1999.

Sterling M. McMurrinSterling M. McMurrin was Academic Vice President and dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah, a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and the Union Theological Seminary, and a Ford Fellow in philosophy at Princeton. In addition to being U.S. Commissioner of Education (see above), he served as US Envoy to Iran. He was the author of Education and Freedom; Religion, Reason and Truth; and co-author of Contemporary Philosophy; A History of Philosophy; Matters of Conscience; and Toward Understanding the New Testament. He contributed to The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts and Memories and Reflections.

Thom D. Roberts is a lawyer with the Utah State Attorney General’s Office and a great-grandson of Brigham 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.