Church History Symposium–Program

The jointly sponsored symposium at Brigham Young University, Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World has now published the program for the event. The details are found here: http://rsc.byu.edu/symposia/churchhistory.  A number of speakers are well-known in Mormon Studies.  

Elizabeth Ann Whitney (1800-1882)

I’m on vacation for a few days, but I can’t resist sharing this note.

At boap.org many of you know we keep a collection of autobiographies and journals of people connected in some way (as contemporaries) to Joseph Smith. At the present time, we have only a short selection from Elizabeth Whitney, wife of Newel K. Whitney. The Whitney’s were among the early converts to Mormonism in Kirtland, Ohio. Elizabeth left a rather extensive reminiscence of her years in Mormonism and we are going to include it in the collection as we (I mostly now) get time to put it there. But to start with, I wanted to give you some flavor of the Woman. Below I insert her very touching opening salvo in her “Women’s Exponent” series in 1878. Take note of her final paragraph. I give you Elizabeth Ann Whitney.
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A Review Post: Joseph Smith and Catholicism

Nearly a year ago, I put this post up about Joseph Smith and Catholicism. It still gets reads all the time apparently. The subject of church design came up in the post including the history of Protestants and the Latin cross in America (see note 1). This and a few other issues in the post were fun, especially Joseph Smith’s noting a relation between Mormonism and Catholicism. You may enjoy some of the comments too.

Joseph Smith and Catholicism

Albert Brisbane – Joseph Smith and Eschatology

This post has been sitting around for a while, has something to do with Joseph Smith’s sermons, and in particular funeral sermons, because it poses some questions on the idea of community and eschatology, and I don’t have time to work on it more right now, so here it is.

Mormon communal adventures of the 19th century played out against a range of American civil experimentation. A major difference was the underlying eschatology of Mormonism.

Joseph Smith pushed (via revelations like Doctrine and Covenants 42) the idea of community into the lives of early Mormons, but he also pushed it into the afterlife (an early version of this is D&C 78:6 – later versions were based on sealing). Echoing Swedenborg (by coincidence rather than intent it seems) he infused doctrine with community and family. Read more of this post

Nathan Baldwin and Unknown Joseph Smith Sermons

Nathan Bennett Baldwin was born in Grenville, “Upper Canada” in 1812. He joined the Church of Christ (later The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) April 28, 1833. He journeyed with “Zions Camp.” Baldwin was selected as a member of the first quorum of Seventy (Feb. 25, 1835). He received the Nauvoo endowment Jan. 3, 1846. Nathan Baldwin came west as a pioneer and eventually settled in southern Utah.
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More Stuff on Boap.org – Doctrine and Covenants Studies

This is late for the LDS Sunday school’s Doctrine and Covenants-church history study, but it may be helpful if you’re are interested in textual study of the D&C: how revelation text has evolved, the identity of persons mentioned in the revelations and some other historical issues involving the revelations (like evolution of priesthood concepts), publication info, and besides that, it is free. If you go to boap.org and scroll down the page a bit you will see an “annotated history of the church” link. clicking on that link will lead you a page of links to the first 25 or so chapters of volume one of the B. H. Roberts edited seven volume history of the LDS church. Admittedly, this isn’t very much of the text, but it took a considerable amount of work just to do this much.
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Joseph Smith and Catholicism

During Joseph Smith’s youth it is unlikely that he knew many or perhaps any, Catholics. The New England area was home to few Catholics in 1805, and they were an unappreciated minority. But during the first half of the 19th century, America began to experience a boom in Catholic population. This growth can be seen in the number of Catholic houses of worship following the war of 1812. Edwin Gaustad (Historical Atlas of Religion in America) provides some figures: in 1820 there were 124 such structures in the US, a comparatively tiny number even in church-poor America. By 1850, the number had grown to 1,221. Ten years later there were 2,550. From 1820-1860, this was nearly a 2000% increase in Catholic buildings, a doubling in the final decade. For comparison, Methodist houses of worship — the fastest growing Protestant denomination of the period — increased by about 600%. Congregational buildings increased by about 100%, representing the slowest growth rate among major Protestant groups (this is a little remarkable because the Congregational church was “established” in New England– i.e., had state support–for many years. The constitutional provision did not apply to the states). Immigrants were responsible for much of this growth and this was particularly true in terms of Irish immigration (in regard to Catholic growth).
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Resurrection and What’s *that* in Your Veins?

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reads (15:50) “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” That together with other statements in the same chapter suggest one of many clear differences in the resurrected body and the mortal body. Combining this with the account of the gospels and the resurrected Jesus, visible, touchable, etc. (“not a spirit”) led, essentially from the beginnings of post-apostolic Christianity, to lots of explosive argument about the nature of a resurrected body. Those arguments are still on the side-burner today, and they formed a prominent place in the religion of Joseph Smith’s era. Read more of this post

Ramblings about Stones, Expectations and Faith

We (sane?) humans have a well-known tendency to systematize our thought-environs. We desire to not only have reality match expectation, but many of us desire that our sincere beliefs not be paradoxical and furthermore have no gaping rational holes. Perhaps such tendencies, assuming they exist, arise from the paradigms of science or perhaps from an inherent desire to have things make sense—to have deductive logic connect the pieces. Do these tendencies motivate us to make and hold to seemingly rational conclusions about faith (theology?), even when empirical evidence “proves” they don’t match reality? When logician Kurt Godel was asked if (based on a cosmology which includes time-travel ) one could go back in time and kill their own great-grand parents, he replied that this would create a paradox, and so could not happen because “logic is powerful.” Read more of this post

Ontological Revelation

Paul Tillich drew a distinction between “ontological” reason and “technical” reason. Not being too picky here about what he meant, I’ve been wondering if one can make a distinction in revelation, particularly I’m thinking of Joseph Smith’s revelations and “near revelations.”[1]
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Free will and foreknowledge

Joseph Smith (JS) seemed comfortable postulating both that mankind generally, with exceptions, have free choice (at least internal moral choice) and that God has perfect foreknowledge. Although perhaps the latter can be (and has been) debated in some sense. Of course there are more complex shades of meaning here. Read more of this post

Boap.org Blogs!

Welcome to the boap.org blog.  We’re using it for now to post things about the new book:

The Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith: A Critical Edition.  That’s the tentative title but will undoubtedly be changed at some point.

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