Editors note: BYU professor Robert Millet discusses being a public figure in LDS culture, his latest book "Coming to Know Christ" and an upcoming project in an excerpt of his interview on "The Good Word" podcast.
Robert L. Millet is an Abraham O. Smoot University professor and professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. Since joining the faculty in 1983, he has served as chair of the department of ancient scripture, dean of religious education and Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding. He is the author or editor of more than 60 books and 160 articles and book chapters dealing mostly with the doctrine and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its relationship to other faiths. He and his wife Shauna have six children and reside in Orem.
Q: Due to your prominent positions at BYU, and with a substantial catalog of written works, would you say that you are fairly well known in LDS culture and religion? Would you say that you are “famous”?
Millet: Never, probably because our culture militates against such a thing. One of the things that probably has allowed a number of people to know who I am, more than anything, would be BYU-TV. That is, the scripture roundtables that were done with various books of scripture over a 15- to 20-year period.
Q: With your latest book, "Coming to Know Christ" (Deseret Book, $18.99), I searched and searched, and I was not able to find a negative review. That either means you have paid a lot of people to be your friends online, or it seems to be widely accepted by those who have read it. In any case, what is the premise behind "Coming to Know Christ"?
Millet: I have always been fascinated with the Savior's words “You never knew me.” I didn't want to get to the other side and have the Lord say something like that to me. I pored over that subject. There was a Sperry Symposium, and I chose that particular phrase and did a presentation on that. A lot of my books grow out of talks I have given.
Q: As a scholar, you are generally expected to be the expert on the subjects you are researching and writing; with that being said, do you feel that you are an expert on coming to know Christ?
Millet: Certainly not (chuckles). I am a disciple. I wrote the book as much to push myself to become a more kind, a more pure and a more caring person. I have come face-to-face with flaws in my character that need correcting. So no, I would not say I am an expert on that. I certainly consider myself someone who is drawn to the topic.
Q: Do you have a book in your repertoire that you consider to be your magnum opus? Or is that book still to be written?
Millet: What I am planning to do, if I have enough energy and strength to do it — and I hope to start it in the month of May — (is that) I really want to do a doctrinal commentary on the epistles of Paul. That may be the last large project I undertake before I pass on to the next life and learn that I shouldn't have written so much or should have helped people more.
Nick Galieti is a writer, documentarian, freelance record producer and sound engineer. He is the host of a bi-weekly podcast for LDS writers, The Good Word.