Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Not to Teach Any Different Doctrine: Examining the Doctrines of the Early Latter-day Saints Movement and the Church Fathers

Class

Article

College

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Mentor

Norm Jones

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Explanations of the nature of humanity, God, and the purpose of life have direct influence on the lives of the adherents of a religious tradition. In the third century, Origen of Alexandria proposed doctrines of preexistence, subordinationism, and theosis, which were largely dismissed in the early Church. Some sixteen hundred years later, members of the upstart Latter-day Saints movement, such as Orson Pratt, would maintain strikingly similar positions about the nature of the soul, the godhead, and the final cause of humanity. These concepts represent essential aspects of the worldviews of these traditions; so why and how do they arise in different times and contexts? Both Origen and Pratt expounded the idea that each human soul existed before its mortal birth, and that during this time, it acted with free will. The two men also argue that, within the godhead, the person of the Son is not coequal with the Father. Finally, both men argue that the ultimate goal of human existence is to become like God, through a process of learning and purification. This study argues that there is no need for a direct connection between these two thinkers. Rather, these common ideas appear throughout Christian history due to common themes found in scripture and to constant problems of the human condition, with which all religious thinkers must contend. Additionally, these doctrines serve functional purposes, such as the legitimizing concept of the preexistent soul, which are useful for these traditions to maintain. Furthermore, the opinions expressed by Origen and Pratt are, in some ways, demonstrably distinct. In studying how these ideas differ, underlying values of ancient Christians and early Mormons can be discussed. These include the underlying concept of material-naturalism in Mormonism, and the importance of reason and knowledge within some forms of Christianity.

Location

Room 421

Start Date

4-12-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

4-12-2018 4:15 PM

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Apr 12th, 3:00 PM Apr 12th, 4:15 PM

Not to Teach Any Different Doctrine: Examining the Doctrines of the Early Latter-day Saints Movement and the Church Fathers

Room 421

Explanations of the nature of humanity, God, and the purpose of life have direct influence on the lives of the adherents of a religious tradition. In the third century, Origen of Alexandria proposed doctrines of preexistence, subordinationism, and theosis, which were largely dismissed in the early Church. Some sixteen hundred years later, members of the upstart Latter-day Saints movement, such as Orson Pratt, would maintain strikingly similar positions about the nature of the soul, the godhead, and the final cause of humanity. These concepts represent essential aspects of the worldviews of these traditions; so why and how do they arise in different times and contexts? Both Origen and Pratt expounded the idea that each human soul existed before its mortal birth, and that during this time, it acted with free will. The two men also argue that, within the godhead, the person of the Son is not coequal with the Father. Finally, both men argue that the ultimate goal of human existence is to become like God, through a process of learning and purification. This study argues that there is no need for a direct connection between these two thinkers. Rather, these common ideas appear throughout Christian history due to common themes found in scripture and to constant problems of the human condition, with which all religious thinkers must contend. Additionally, these doctrines serve functional purposes, such as the legitimizing concept of the preexistent soul, which are useful for these traditions to maintain. Furthermore, the opinions expressed by Origen and Pratt are, in some ways, demonstrably distinct. In studying how these ideas differ, underlying values of ancient Christians and early Mormons can be discussed. These include the underlying concept of material-naturalism in Mormonism, and the importance of reason and knowledge within some forms of Christianity.