Last week, I was chatting with the institute teacher, and he handed me a 500-page book called Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen, and said it would increase my testimony tenfold. (My wife thinks I should be offended.) I’ve never read Madsen before, and I was curious. I’ve gotten through the first ‘classic,’ ‘Eternal Man,’ and skimmed some of the other chapters.
My general impression? I don’t read theology or serious philosophy, although I recognize his summaries of major world philosophies as being familiar-sounding; as a result, my response is not about accuracy or how it fits into the context of other such writing.
It’s clear he has a strong faith in the restored gospel. I see these essays as being well-developed testimonies by a well-read, thoughtful, generous man. But they seem a bit light. He seems to set up some very interesting questions, but doesn’t pursue them or attack them with the rigour I expected given his scholarly credentials. In ‘Christ and the Inner Life,’ I expected him to go in deeper. He seems to stay on the safe side — a sort of Nibley-light.
Mind you, this is not an attack on Madsen — I like what I’ve read, and I can see his goodness shining through.
Am I missing something? I plan to keep reading, so is there something I’m failing to appreciate? Is the problem that his insights have filtered down over the years so much that they are now just part of the vernacular of seminary teachers and mission presidents? Who was his intended audience, and who should read Truman G. Madsen today?