Mormonism and the Nature of God

A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915

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About the Book

Until around the latter part of the 20th century, Mormonism has been presented in scholarly reconstructions as a religion that has not changed significantly from its beginnings, whose presently-held beliefs existed as a central core of doctrine at the church’s founding in 1830.
The author argues, instead, that the development of Mormonism has been primarily due to external events, popular, cultural, philosophical, religious and scientific, and that these influences have led to the emergence of several streams of thought that are actually in opposition to the early beliefs of the church. Mormonism can be seen as a reflection of the development of American society and culture from the early 1800s to the present. The major aim of this work is to establish a proper chronology for the development of Mormon thought, specifically in its concept of the nature of God.

About the Author(s)

Kurt Widmer is an instructor at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta. He is also the editor of North American Religion: The Journal of the Centre for the Study of North American Religion. He lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Kurt Widmer
Foreword by Irving Hexham
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2000]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7402-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1345-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Foreword by Irving Hexham      1

INTRODUCTION: MORMONISM YESTERDAY AND TODAY      3

1. YE MOUNTAINS ROLL DOWN YOUR THUNDER

Mormonism from Monotheism to Cosmic Henotheism      14

2. OUT OF THE GROUND A VOICE SPEAKS

The Book of Mormon in Its Nineteenth-Century Religious Context      23

3. KNOWING THE ONLY TRUE GOD

The Revelations of Moses, the Joseph Smith Translation, and the Rewriting of Genesis      42

4. AMONG THE SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS IN OHIO

Teachings from the Lectures of Faith      57

5. IN THE GRAND COUNCIL OF THE GODS

Redacting the Writings of Abraham      70

6. IF ANY MAN LACK WISDOM

The First Vision and the Mormon Quest for Legitimization      91

7. AND YE SHALL BE GODS

Placing the King Follett Discourse in Its Historical Perspective      108

8. ADAM OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD

Doctrinal Development During the Early Utah Period      127

9. UNITY FROM DIVERSITY

Apostle James E. Talmage and the Birth of Mormonism      143

Notes      161

Bibliography      191

Index      203

Book Reviews & Awards

“the first book-length treatment of the subject…ample documentation…well-researched and well-documented…definitive”—The Journal of Mormom History.