If you go into LDS.org and type the following name into the search engine “Brian C. Passantino”, the top reference will take you to an article in the history section of the site, titled “Ask Us: Top Five Questions about Doctrine and Covenants Publishing”
Brian Passantino is one of the co-authors of the article.
He is one of the credible historians that the LDS Church commissioned to help answer questions about the Doctrine and Covenants.
In LinkedIn he states his official title as “Church History Consultant at Church History Library“.
Recently a friend of mine in Boise Idaho brought something to my attention that is quite interesting. It is the dissertation written by Brian Passantino in 2020 for his Master of Arts Degree in History at Utah State University.
The “Major Professor” that approved the thesis is Patrick Mason, Ph.D. who is an LDS apologist who recently spoke at a stake fireside in Logan Utah about how to deal with a faith crisis.
The reason I find the dissertation interesting is because in it Passantino reveals a remarkable epiphany that he had while doing his research.
Here is the comment I got from my friend in Boise, along with a quote from Passantino in his dissertation:
Section 132??…he demonstrated that Pratt felt constrained by the canon of scripture and sought to align his doctrinal beliefs within its confines.
“My research takes this a step further and shows that Pratt’s anxiety about squaring his beliefs with scripture may have influenced him to canonize scripture that helped lend credence to his non-canonical beliefs.”
This is really quite interesting given the fact that some of the “revelations” that were added to the Doctrine and Covenants by Orson Pratt, (under the direction of Brigham Young) were clearly meant to discredit and retire foundational doctrines and promote heretical ones.
It is interesting that some of the additional revelations that Pratt added were simply “Items of Instruction given by Joseph Smith” during the Nauvoo period that Joseph Smith had not felt inspired to includ in the canon of revelation prior to his death.
For instance, section 130 states that both the Father and the Son have a body of flesh and bones. This is a blatant contradiction to the Lectures on Faith which had been sustained by the church as the “doctrine” portion of the “Doctrine and Covenants“.
Section 131 redefines the term “everlasting covenant” as a marriage covenant (presumably polygamous) rather than baptism.
And section 132 a revelation, the exact origins of which cannot really be documented with clarity and the original is nowhere to be found, is absolutely riddled with false doctrines and the bastardizing of long established scriptural definitions.
Years ago I deconstructed section 132 and showed countless problems with it. I will not reiterate all of the problems in this post. You can read the article here.
There is one huge problem with section 132 that I neglected to address in my analysis. It has to do with the definition of “Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost“. Again, section 132 redefines the term to be something different than originally intended.
In my opinion, the definition given in section 132 has nothing in common with the originating term given by Christ in the New Testament. I may elaborate on that topic in a future blog post or newsletter.
Anyway, major kudos to Brian C. Passantino for having the courage to point out the obvious in his dissertation and kudos to the LDS church for elevating the stature of brother Passantino as an LDS historian rather than holding a disciplinary court on him.
Perhaps this is all part of the Church’s new goal of being more transparent.
Nevertheless, it would be fascinating to see if the observations he shared in his dissertation would have made it through the final cut if he had submitted it at BYU instead of Utah State University.