Early National Systems: Millennial Hope, II. William Miller.

Joseph Smith seems wedged in the creases of nineteenth-century Protestant worldviews in any number of ways. From Election to Scripture, to Millennial aspiration, he separated, combined, and “synergized” a vibrant world that respected a deep tie between science, such as it was, and a fractured system of religious beliefs that overlay a diverse and growing marketplace of ideas and economies. Smith interacted, mostly at a distance, with the lights of his day and one of those was William Miller. Shaken from a Deistic picture of God’s interaction with the world by what he, as a eighteen-year-old captain in the war of 1812, saw as divine intervention, Miller began a religious journey of devotion and disappointment. That journey turned out to be a microcosm that portended the larger society’s gradual descent from optimism to a grudging acceptance of lesser purpose.
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“Neo — Anything That Has A Beginning Will Have An Ending” — Mr. Smith (Summer Review)

While browsing the Millennial Star I came across this thing from an amateur missionary-philosopher. This is 1882 and shows how far theological drift had come from Joseph Smith among the rank and file. I think you might have heard parts of this in a mid-20th century general conference address. It demonstrates a bit of “lived theology” if you will. Anyway, I liked it for that and some other reasons — see the title. Enjoy. And Think: The Matrix.

Man is a noble being; created in the image of his Maker, endowed with faculties divine, eternal. He is born to live for ever. Not limited with his present knowledge, not shackled by surrounding circumstances, not bound to earth by the laws that govern inanimate matter.

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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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James Edward Talmage. Superman.

[Cross-posted at By Common Consent.]

James E. Talmage, a name that lives in legend among LDS missionaries for the last 60 years, was British born and converted to Mormonism in 1873. Talmage was a talented scholar from childhood. After emigrating to the US he ended up finishing four years at Lehigh in one year and went on to Johns Hopkins in 1883. Ph.D. at Illinois Weslayan even though he wasn’t in residence. At home in Provo, he was a city councilman and then judge. (Some of his court cases are a crackup.)
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Summer Review: Is Reality Consistent With First Order Predicate Calculus?

The whole of science is based on answering yes to that question. But what about religion? At least from Augustine to Aquinas, people hoped the answer was yes. Of course they wouldn’t have used the same terminology.
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Preaching, Rhetoric and Mormons

[Cross posted at BCC.]

With the recent conference, many Church members saw what has become the pinnacle of Mormon Preaching: The General Conference Address. But is it really representative of the Mormon sermon? I say no. In my paltry experience, Mormon preaching is much more like classical Methodist homily than the considered rationalist stuff you might get from an Anglican pulpit. General Conference preaching is very carefully scripted. No off the reservation speculation, no fire and brimstone to speak of, no getting lost in the rhetorical moment allowed, much. (I think Church presidents have their leeway and there is descent evidence for that.)
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“Apply the subject to the cases of such as are convinced of the truth of Christianity but do not heartily embrace it, and openly espouse its cause”

Within the little village of Palmyra, New York, at the corner of Main Street and Canandaigua Road stand four churches. Read more of this post