Life’s thesis: the perspective of Adam Miller, a Latter-day Saint theologian

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Adam Miller is a professor of philosophy, writer and theologian. His work in Latter-day Saint theology is found in a number of writings, including eight books. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Griffith)

The story of Adam Miller’s life can be captured in what he considers “the thesis” — bringing God to the center of everything. 

Adam Miller, a philosophy professor at Collin College in McKinney, Texas and Latter-day Saint theologian, weaved this story into eight books and numerous interviews and articles. He invites readers into a life where God is everywhere, where their desire for closeness with Him is answered with an invitation to look for Him in every moment. 

The theological influence that became a foundational part of Miller’s career was born from a question and from a relationship, according to Miller.  

“I want to know God: first person, firsthand. I want to know how to be changed from the inside out … to know how to be converted. I want to know how to be emptied of fear and filled with love,” Miller said.

Adam Miller comments on the practical questions he asks about God and each generation’s responsibility. Miller is a professor of philosophy, writer and theologian. (Mckenna Schmidt)

Austin Farnsworth, a BYU freshman, said he is passionate about theology and especially about Miller’s work. Farnsworth said Miller is offering a new framework for understanding Latter-day Saint beliefs. 

Farnsworth is acquainted with the breadth of Miller’s work but said a favorite is Miller’s well-known book, Letters to a Young Mormon.” In a series of letters intended for his children, Miller reflects with radical transparency on topics such as the Sabbath day, agency and chastity. 

Miller’s ideas leave people feeling their lives are changed, according to Maxwell Institute associate director Rosalynde Welch. 

As his colleague and friend, Welch said she found a “fellow traveler” in Miller, feeling deeply seen in her own faith through experiences with his work. He gave her a new understanding of herself, God and “the cosmos,” she said.

She said Miller’s work invites a feeling that life is not “something we need to get beyond, but something that we need to embrace and look at a little more closely with spiritual eyes.”

The feeling described by Welch is part of what Miller called “the thesis,” to surrender to our innate yearning for God and bring Him to the center of our lives.

“It’s about loving and caring all the way through, regardless of how things go. That’s the only thing that can save us. And that’s the only place where we will find God anyway,” Miller said. 

Adam Miller comments on “the thesis.” Miller is a professor of philosophy, writer and theologian. (Mckenna Schmidt)

BYU professor and theologian Joseph Spencer is a friend and close colleague of Miller. They partner on the Latter-day Saint Theology Seminar and, according to Spencer, have their fingerprints all over each other’s work.

“His intelligence is incomparable and frustratingly impressive,” Spencer said of Miller.

Spencer has a unique insight on the “how” behind Miller’s writing, and emphasized just how hard he works.

“He has patience with words, and he will recast the sentence 500 times to make sure it … cuts to the quick,” Spencer said.

Spencer commented on ways in which Miller finds stillness in order to connect with God. He said Miller is influenced by the Buddhist tradition, practices meditation and has even participated in silence retreats. 

Together Spencer and Miller practice “forced slowness” in their work as they dive deep into a few verses of scripture in order to unpack truth and understand theology and God in a new way.

“The key to connecting with God is the kind of willingness to surrender to the truth, that kind of willingness to surrender to reality, regardless of whether or not truth and reality were what I thought I wanted them to be,” Miller said.

Adam Miller comments on the implications of each human being’s yearning for God. Miller is a professor of philosophy, writer and theologian. (Mckenna Schmidt)
“Original Grace” is Adam Miller’s newest book. In it, Miller offers a new perspective on God’s grace and divine love. (Photo courtesy of Adam Miller)

This journey to know God is fraught with mistakes and imperfection and requires grace, according to Miller, as emphasized in his newest book, “Original Grace.”

“Original Grace” explores God’s offer of grace through the lens of his late father’s life. In his book, Miller offers this thought on the often-unruly nature of this journey of life, this journey back to God.

“The good news is not that perfect people can be saved. The good news is that people can be saved. The good news, if we’re willing, is grace,” he said. 

“Original Grace” is a reminder that God offers not what is deserved, but what is needed, because of His pure divine love. 

The focus on love and this close, covenant relationship with God is how Welch would define Miller’s life, commenting on how his foundational relationships with God and others are the foundation of his ideas. 

“It’s the question of looking for God in whatever you’re doing. And for me, I was glad to be able to (write) … I was glad that it was a place where God could show Himself,” Miller said. 

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