Posts filed under ‘Joseph Smith’
CROSS-POSTED TO MORMONMATTERS.ORG 5/29/10. JOIN THE DISCUSSION THERE!
Distinctly Mormon doctrines relating the physical appearance of humanity to God’s own “preferred” form grew gradually in early Restoration history rather than springing forth full form. Although there are references in the Book of Mormon (the earliest recorded of Joseph Smith’s prophetic writings) to the Brother of Jared seeing the “finger” and then the full vision of Christ, even the earliest published accounts of the First Vision do not feature descriptions of two personages appearing as does the “official” version eventually recorded several years after formation of the church. This doesn’t mean that later descriptions were contradictory to the first version; it does suggest that certain features of the encounter took on greater significance in light of subsequent experience.
The emphasis on the “physicality of God” even in the spiritual realm grew in concert with notions of the Eternal Family and its role and function in achieving and living in Celestial Glory. The elaboration of this theology is natural as the early church leadership began to push, at first secretly, new forms of marriage and family life, but it was not an inevitable evolution of the theology of the 1830 Restoration. For example, no one in the Community of Christ expects that the afterlife is about progressing to populate new worlds with our own spiritual offspring, as Heavenly Father populated our own world. In one denomination, it is THE Heavenly Father; in the other it is Heavenly Father, with the seldom spoken inference that there may be Heavenly Mother lurking in the theology as well.
Really. You have.
In fact, you’ve written this post before. And I’ve commented before on your witty style and clever application of science to theological thought.
That’s the implication of work by cosmologists like Max Tegmark. And although much of the science with theological implications is uncontroversial among scientists, I don’t know that many people in Mormonism are aware of it, or have considered its implications for particular Mormon belief systems. I think it’s time we did, because it may give an entirely new take to what are simultaneously some of the most troubling and the most attractive aspects of the Mormon religious tradition.
The Community of Christ is reconsidering its identity as it struggles with its early history. But historians and theologians are not the only disciplines with relevance to that debate and can not decide solely the “rules of evidence” on which conclusions will be drawn. The world has absolutely no need for another Protestant denomination.