Theological methods

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Mormon theological methodology refers to the way Mormons do theology. Mormonism has not attempted to produce a systematic theology, that is, an attempt to systematize and order the beliefs of the Mormon religion in a coherent and organized manner. Because of Mormonism's strong emphasis on continueing revelation, the religion simply cannot keep up with the everchanging doctrines and quotes from past Mormon leaders. Blake Ostler, a Mormon scholar, states what most LDS will not when he says, "There is no authoritative systematic development of Mormon beliefs. There is no final, once and for all, statement of the truth." (Exploring Mormon Thought, p. 69).

Mormon leaders have appeared very atheological, or in other words, as if they do not care much about their theology. Attempts are often made to argue that Mormons are Christians, despite the large theological chasm that separates the two.

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Denial of theological tension

Mormonism seems to have a problem with tension. There is no doubt that tension is a given within Christian theology. There is a tension between one God and three persons, free will and divine sovereignty, the two natures of Christ, etc. Yet, although tensions do exist, Christians are at peace because these tensions exist within Scripture, for this is the very place where Christian theology is found and weighed. God is a transcendent being, completely "other" than his creation, and yet God is immanent, remaining in close contact with his creation. Mormonism will have nothing to do with this kind of thought.

LDS claim to have solved the great mysteries of theology. The Book of Mormon claims that humanity has free will in an Arminian sense. God does not exist as a Trinity, but according to Joseph Smith's first vision, God is not "God", but is "Gods" (three beings). Mormonism continues to claim that they can answer the hardest theological questions, and because of these answers, they then claim to be the true church who has received additional revelation.

The result is that Mormon theological methods deny the existence of tension. Mormon theology is then required to make sense of the most difficult theological questions and find ways of synthesizing their thought. Serving as another example, one of the most difficult questions for Christians to answer is, "What happens to those who die and have not heard the gospel?" Mormons claim to have the answer, stating that people are given another chance to receive the gospel in the afterlife. It is further claimed that God would be unjust to not allow everyone an equal opportunity, and thus they criticize the Christians lack of solid answers.

Early methodologies

Early Mormonism was very concerned about specifying and working out it's theology. An early attempt was the Lectures on Faith, a set of seven lectures on their doctrine and theology that was first published in 1835 as the "doctrines" portion of the early Doctrine and Covenants. Yet again, most likely because of theological tensions, the LDS religion removed the lectures in 1921. Although still called Doctrine and Covenants, the "doctrine" was removed.

After the publishing of the 1835 Lectures, Mormonism continued to work out its theology, especially through the sermons by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Smith clearly laid out what Heavenly Father was like, also asserting the nature of Jesus and his relationship to Heavenly Father in the Godhead. Furthmore, the eternal nature of humanity was established, and the idea that man can become a god had clearly begun.

Modern methodologies

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See also

External links

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