I was born and raised in an active Latter-day Saint family and from a very young age was fascinated with history, genealogy, and religion. At a young age I, like most children my age, wondered about my place in the world, how I was impacted by people, and, in turn, how I impacted others.
When I was a teenager I studied Mormon history and doctrine. I also studied about other Christian denominations, as well as other faiths like Judaism, Islam, and some eastern religions. While my studies were certainly not in-depth at that age, I began to form my own worldview and understanding of the simple questions regarding why I’m here, where I came from, and where I will go after death. I found that for me, Mormon doctrine made the most sense. It was logical and explicable.
While I vaguely remember one or two significant faith-promoting events when I was young, my early testimony came, in large part, from my studies and thought process. While I was in my teens I was convinced of the truthfulness of the church because, to me, it made the most sense. As a missionary serving in Belgium and France, my tender seeds of faith and understanding were reconfirmed and enlarged over and over.
Since that time, I have tried to immerse myself in different aspects of Mormon history. Much of my research has reflected my same early fascination with how people have acted and been acted upon in their everyday lives as a result of their beliefs. I have gained an immense appreciation for early Latter-day Saints, the common members as well as the leaders.
People have asked me if I’m still a believer after studying so much LDS church history. I can answer with a resounding yes. My studies have strengthened rather than tested my faith. First and foremost when approaching church history, as well as any type of history involving human beings, I acknowledge that none but the Savior lived a perfect life. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies that shape our actions. Therefore, even prophets of God have made mistakes, some more serious than others. That’s fine. As I like to say, “The Church is true – in spite of its members.”
Nevertheless, in the course of my research and writing, I have witnessed the growth of early members, some of whom eventually became church leaders. I have appreciated learning about the refining process of people of faith and devotion and how they, in turn, have served and strengthened others. Exploring these little things in church history, even the problematic parts of church history, has been a learning and strengthening process in my continued search for truth and understanding. And for that, I thank God.
Craig L. Foster grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley. After his graduation from high school in 1978, he served a mission to Belgium and France, 1978-1980. He attended Brigham Young University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and also a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree.
Since 1991, Craig has worked at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, where he assists in genealogical research and writing for dignitaries including John D. Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Sean Hannity, Charlton Heston, Larry King, Henry Kissinger, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd, Jehan Sadat, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, and Oprah Winfrey.
Craig has participated at scholarly conferences throughout the United States, as well as other countries, including Canada, England, Denmark, and Ireland. He is the author of numerous articles in such scholarly journals as BYU Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, FARMS Review, Journal of the West, Journal of Mormon History, Louisiana History, Mormon Historical Studies, and Utah Historical Quarterly. He has also written essays for the Encyclopedia of the American West and the Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History.
Craig is the author of two books: Penny Tracts and Polemics: A Critical Analysis of Anti-Mormon Pamphleteering in Great Britain, 1837-1860 (2002) and A Different God? Mitt Romney, the Religious Right, and the Mormon Question (2008). He co-authored, with Newell G. Bringhurst, The Mormon Quest for the Presidency (2008), and he co-edited, also with Newell G. Bringhurst, The Persistence of Polygamy: A Mormon Anthology (forthcoming in Fall 2010).
Craig is married to the former Suzanne Long. They are the parents of three children: Robert, Shannon, and Senia.
Posted February 2010