Muggles, Mormons and Theology

“Mainstream” Protestantism during Joseph Smith’s lifetime was locked in important controversies over things like the nature and extent of freewill, grace, perfectionism, slavery and the like.

But drop groups like the Mormons or Shakers into the discussion and those other disagreements paled.
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Is Mormon Theology Pessimistic?

Is Mormon Theology pessimistic? Short answer: Yes.
Generally speaking, Mormons are pretty thoroughly Arminian in their outlook and as a missionary, I was occasionally questioned with some astonishment about my lack of complete salvation-assurance by certain Protestants. But some were on our side of things:
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Joseph Smith’s Sermon of February 5, 1840

A recent broadcast from lds radio featured Ron Barney and Jeff Cannon of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, on Joseph Smith’s visit to Washington, D.C. in late 1839, early 1840.[1] While no diary was kept during the journey, there were letters sent from Washington by Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee, and an account of meeting(s) with President Martin Van Buren survive in the memoirs of Illinois democrat John Reynolds who introduced Smith and Higbee to Van Buren. Van Buren, the epitome of political savvy at the time, held a states rights view of US politics and excused himself from intervention in the Mormon question on that basis. As Reynolds put it, Joseph left Washington a “red hot Whig.” While Joseph was in the East, he did take the opportunity to deliver several sermons to both Latter-day Saint congregations and to other interested parties.
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Spirit

Mormon pronouncements on the meaning of “spirit” (I’m thinking of statements like D&C 131:7) are interesting, but for the most part seem to be jousting at thin air these days. Latter-day Saints are mostly ignorant (in my limited experience) of the issues that make the tone of this passage seem just a little combative.
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James Adams, a Remarkable Mormon, and the Subject of a Remarkable Sermon. Part 1. Introduction.

[Crossposted from By Common Consent]

Joseph Smith was an intensely loyal family man and that attachment was mirrored in Church structure. Family members played important roles in the LDS hierarchy. His father was a member of the Church presidency for a period and also served as the first “patriarch.”[1] His brothers held prominent Church offices. He continued to mourn the loss of older brother Alvin, 20 years later. His wife led the women of the Church in the formal women’s organization, the Nauvoo Female Relief Society.[2]
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Joseph Smith’s Dispensational Transition: Elias to Elijah to Messiah

[A prerequisite to understanding this post is a solid reading of its base text here.]

In Joseph Smith’s “first” King Follett discourse (March 10, 1844) he codifies a bit of Mormonism that had been fluttering around its edges from the beginning: the transition from beginning the movement to fleshing it out. There are many ways this plays out between 1820 and 1844. As Pete Crawley astutely observed: Read more of this post

Joseph Smith’s “David Doctrine” and King Follett I.

As a preacher, Joseph Smith could be adventurous in his interpretations of scripture. In many cases, these interpretations have been impressed on the spiritual engrams of Mormonism.

But in his “first” King Follett funeral sermon Joseph does a very curious thing: he exchanges homiletic objects.
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