Do Mormons believe in Universals? (McMurrin reading part 3)

January 5, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:39 pm   Category: McMurrin Reading,Theology

In this installment of my reading club for Sterling McMurrin’s 1965 book The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion I’ll cover pages 13-18. By doing so I am only 18 months behind Clark and Dave who did the same thing in the summer of ’04.

On Universals and Particulars

In my last post I noted that McMurrin places the Mormon concept of reality firmly in the ever-moving becoming camp (as opposed to the static, timeless being camp). In the next section of the book he asks whether there is place in Mormonism for “anything that is genuinely stable and unchanging”. His answer is yes. But he notes that the unchanging absolutes in Mormonism are principles or ideas. For instance, he suggests that the moral will of God or his divine purpose is considered absolute in Mormonism. He also mentions that in Mormonism natural laws “are at least stable if not absolute”. (more…)

McMurrin Mormon Theology Reading 2: The Nature of Reality — Being vs. Becoming

January 4, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 5:30 pm   Category: McMurrin Reading,Theology

In this second post of this reading club I will cover pages 11-13 in Sterling McMurrin’s 1965 book The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion. (The original plan was to cover pages 11-18 like Clark did in his reading club but the post got too long.) I think this series might be helpful to lay the groundwork for the philosophical terms that become required as we discuss Mormon theology here at the Thang. I’m hoping I can refer back to this series of posts when discussing theology in the future. But beyond that, I think these subjects are interesting and worthy of discussing in their own right as well. (more…)

Mormon Humanism

March 29, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 11:03 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

Sterling McMurrin said in his classic little Mormon theology book that the the Mormon view of reality has a “humanistic quality unusual in theistic philosophy”. Humanism and Theism do indeed seem to be unusual companions — especially in recent centuries. But in the early days of the the humanism movement it was not so unusual to combine the two.

The Atonement as Theodicy

September 12, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 8:29 pm   Category: Atonement & Soteriology

This post was an experiment in whether concentrating on the issues in my previous post would enable me to better put forth a discussion of the atonement. Your input and thoughts are greatly appreciated.

First to give context, I recently read a blog post about a “Reductio ad Hitlerum” film put on by BBC regarding the problem of Evil [1]. At the same time, I was listening to the Book of Job on my commute to work, slowly working my way through the Old Testament for the first time. As I dealt with these two items simultaneously, it renewed my interest in the way the church has dealt with the problem of suffering and evil. It is my opinion that the Church uses its particular theological tenants regarding the Atonement and the way things are as our own theodicy, and that this theodicy is strong.

Now perhaps theodicy is the wrong word, some may argue, but here I am taking theodicy to simply mean a defense of God’s goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil [2]. And again, perhaps atonement is the wrong word, as this can sometimes be construed to mean everything between the act in Gethsemane and the entirety of the Plan of Salvation. [3] For my purposes here I am going to initially begin by framing the problem in the whole of the plan and hopefully drill down to examine the event in Gethsemane in context of that plan.

Mormonism and the Problem of Evil (Or, Fun with Theodicies)

January 13, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 12:13 am   Category: Theology

The problem of evil is always a popular topic in the bloggernacle. And why not? It’s a very perplexing and theologically important issue. (See recent discussions on the subject here, here, and here.)

For those of you not familiar with “the problem of evil” it is basically the problem of reconciling the existence of evils and sufferings of all kinds in the world with the claim that there is an all powerful and all loving God watching over the world. Here are some examples of the problem:

Example A1

Mike and Joe are walking through the jungle. Joe falls in some quicksand and slowly starts to sink. Mike sees all this happening, has power to save Joe, and even hears Joe plead for assistance. But Mike chooses to ignore Joe and lets him die.

– We would say Mike is wicked/immoral for refusing to lift a finger to help Joe.

Example A2

Joe is walking through the jungle. Joe falls in some quicksand and slowly starts to sink. God sees all this happening, has power to save Joe, and even hears Joe plead for assistance. But God chooses to ignore Joe and lets him die.

– Why shouldn’t we also say God is wicked/immoral for refusing to lift a finger to help Joe (as we don’t hesitate to do with Mike)?

Evolution and “No Death Before the Fall” working together

August 21, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:59 am   Category: Before Abraham

The point of this post is not to give opportunity to arguing whether evolution or no death before the fall (NDBF)is correct. It is not to look at whether S. McMurrin and H. Eyring Sr. or J. Fielding Smith and B. Packer more accurately state the official position of the Church. If you have perspectives along those lines, table them, because those sorts of comments will be deleted here, even if you do have a fancy ™ on the end of your name.

The attempt here is to take the two positions, or for the sake of this post, assume BOTH are true. Then we can look at possible ways that both can work together.

Taking Thang Requests — Where’s Your Head At?

June 29, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:07 am   Category: The Thang

Well things have slowed down here at the Thang a bit this month. For the first 28 days of June we only managed to come up with 5 posts between the two of us. It might be a slow down due to the blog muse avoiding the heat of the Arizona summer or that we are simply experiencing a little blog burnout. Whatever the case — the Thang has hit a slow patch.

It’s not like I don’t have plans… Here are some of the posts I hope to get around to: (more…)

A shout out to all y’all Mormon Pelagians

April 17, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 12:59 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,McMurrin Reading,Ostler Reading,Theology

Sterling McMurrin was on to something when he said:

Indeed, since Mormonism is essentially Pelagian in its theology, exhibiting, as already has been pointed out, a quite remarkable similarity to the Pelagian doctrines of the fourth and fifth centuries, it is subject to the same criticism an condemnation from orthodoxy that made Pelagianism the most celebrated heresy in Christian history. But Mormonism outdoes its fifth-century cousin by its denial of the orthodox doctrine of creation, and it thereby produces a basic problem for its own theology in its relation to Christian orthodoxy, the problem of why the doctrine of the salvation of man should involve the traditional pattern of atonement through Christ. (Theological Foundations, pg. 82)


The problem with beginningless human spirits

February 5, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:13 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

Several months ago I wrote a post titled “Are we eternal or is it just our parts that are eternal?” (Also see follow up posts here and here.) The basic question had to do with the nature of our Intelligences/spirits/souls. There are many in the church who believe that human spirits are simple and irreducible and beginningless. In other words, they assume that each of our spirits have existed as they are now forever. I like to call this the “whole cloth” model of spirits. This idea comes from an understandable reading of both modern scriptures and of sermons from late in the life of Joseph Smith (like the King Follet discourse). But others in the church have read the same sources and concluded that our spirits are actually made up of particles of intelligence that cleave unto each other and that while those particles are beginningless and irreducible, the new whole that is us has a beginning. This idea, often called “spiritual atomism” was first championed in the church by apostle Orson Pratt. (more…)

The Theology of Orson Pratt in Orson Scott Card’s Enderverse

December 27, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 12:52 pm   Category: Theology

I don’t read a lot of fiction. It’s not that I don’t like reading good fiction – more that I have trouble stopping. When I get a book I really like I have trouble sleeping or concentrating until I finish it. For that reason, I tend to read my fiction on vacations and holidays. Last Christmas I was inspired by a post by Kaimi to get a copy of Enders Game. I loved it and powered through it in a day or two. Last week I decided to try the sequel, Speaker For the Dead, and couldn’t put it down either (causing me to drop out of a few hot blog debates here and elsewhere…). If anything, I think Speaker For the Dead might be even better than Ender’s Game. I’m on to the third in the series now, Xenocide. I’m about half way through and it is not shaping up to be as good as the first two books, but it does give me some good fodder for a blog post. As it turns out, the universe Ender and friends live in is apparently built on the theology and metaphysics (ideas about the nature of reality) of 19th century Mormon apostle Orson Pratt. (more…)

The Destruction of the Soul

December 18, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 7:05 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

One of the things that remain a mystery to the world is the nature of the soul. I have already written a couple of posts on this subject, the first was called “Are we eternal or is it just our parts that are eternal?” and the second was my recent post on the Sterling McMurrin book. McMurrin put it pretty well when he said the question was one of what our spirits are made of – are they necessary or contingent; are they made up of irreducible parts or are they “simple”, irreducible, and indestructible themselves. When he wrote his book in 1965, McMurrin felt that the parts model was dominant in Mormonism. (more…)

The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion – The Nature of Reality (Part 1)

November 29, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 10:25 pm   Category: McMurrin Reading,Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

I am finally getting around to reading Sterling McMurrin’s 1965 book called “The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion“. Clark already sponsored a reading club for this book about 18 months ago so in this post I will pick up on that long-dead discussion and follow Clark’s outline. Both Clark and Dave started by posting on the topics covered in the first eleven pages. (more…)