8th Annual Truman G. Madsen Lecture on Eternal Man
Thursday, December 3
Varsity Theatre, Wilkinson Student Center
The lecture is free and reservations are not required.
Talk to most BYU alumni who graduated between 1957 and 1994, and you will find that they share the same sentiment about Professor Truman G. Madsen as that expressed by former President of Brigham Young University Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
"He was a wonder in the classroom and students clamored to get in [his] class."
The reason? Madsen tackled difficult but important philosophical questions like the nature of man. In an effort to continue that work, the Wheatley Institution at BYU will host its 8th annual Truman G. Madsen Lecture on Eternal Man on Thursday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m., in the Varsity Theatre on the BYU campus. The lecture is free and reservations are not required.
"Truman's work really exemplifies our goals and aspirations," says Dr. Richard Williams, Wheatley Institution director. "At the Wheatley Institution, we want to take on the important questions of our culture and our society and important questions of our academic disciplines, and answer them in the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
A philosopher, essayist, teacher, biographer and founding senior fellow of the Wheatley Institution, Madsen held the Richard L. Evans Chair in Religious Studies for over 20 years and also served as the director of the BYU Jerusalem Center.
Filmmaker at BYU Broadcasting and former student of Professor Madsen Sterling Van Wagenen said Madsen was very influential in philosophical discourse.
"The world of philosophical discourse sort of settled in hundreds of years ago with the notion that there were questions but no final answers," said Van Wagenen. "And here comes Truman and he frames those great philosophical questions about the nature of man, the nature of evil and suffering. And Truman is just bold enough to say,you know what, there are answers to those questions and here are the answers and then he begins quoting Joseph Smith."
This year's lecture entitled, "Joseph Smith and the Recovery of 'Eternal Man'" will be delivered Robert L. Millet, emeritus professor Religious Education at BYU.
"I'm not sure that we will ever have another Truman Madsen," said Millet. "His mission in life has been such that we will never raise up anyone that will do quite what he did."
Of his own work Madsen once said, "I have been able through the [Richard L. Evans] chair to invite scholars from all around the world - what I call bringing them to the fire instead of sending out embers."
In the spirit of bringing people to the fire, the Wheatley Institution routinely invites scholars from around the country to come and warm themselves by the BYU fire in addition to sharing their own knowledge and wisdom with the BYU community. The Truman G. Madsen Lecture on Eternal Man has been particularly noteworthy, bringing lecturers such as James Charlesworth, the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary; Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of AJC; Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion; and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Richmond.
Millet said his lecture will focus on how the definition of the nature of man changed during the 19th century.
"Nineteenth century Protestant America witnessed the spread of religious fervor, the fires of revivalism, and religious seekers who yearned for a return to Primitive Christianity," said Millet. "This was the world in which Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, boldly proclaimed that Christianity had gone off course and that the God of heaven had called and appointed him to effect the divine corrective. At the heart and core of that restoration was the revelation or re-revelation of the nature of God and, of necessity, the nature of man. This represented a significant paradigm shift, an alternate and elevated worldview that would eventually, in the words of Joseph Smith, revolutionize the whole world."