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Monday, May 10, 2004

How universalist is Mormon theology?

The LDS bloggers at Times and Seasons ponder the question. (Interesting trivia: Joseph Smith's grandfather was a Universalist!) My two cents: The Mormon doctrine of damnation tends overwhelmingly in the universalist direction, since almost everybody receives a "glorified" state after death and there are strong indications of universalism in some of the early Mormon texts. Getting yourself thoroughly and technically damned is pretty hard. But, paradoxically, Mormons also tend to treat what they call "exaltation" — the super-salvation available only to the temple-going faithful, and which looks rather like deification — in the same way that the Puritans and other Calvinists treated "salvation." From a theological point of view, all the rest of us are going to some part or another of heaven, but because the Mormons are going to a much higher heaven, our heaven is going to be a relative hell.

The psychology of Mormon practice is another thing, however. One of the marvels of theology is that a universalist doctrine of salvation can effectively relapse into the psychology of Puritanism, as it has in orthodox Mormonism with its emphasis on right behavior.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 10 May 2004 at 5:34 PM

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3 comments:

Rob:

May 11, 2004 04:56 PM | Permalink for this comment

While some Mormons might think that anything but the "Celestial" heaven is a relative hell, others of us doubt this and believe that everyone will go to the heaven where they are most comfortable and fulfilled. No eternal hellfires...just whatever type of heaven you are most comfortable with. Different heavenly strokes for different folks. These are described in the LDS scriptures: Doctrine & Covenants 76.

Philocrites:

May 11, 2004 05:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

Right. That's why Mormon theology is universalist, even though the in-group, out-group fixation of Mormon culture sets up something very much like a saved-damned dichotomy in Mormon psychology. The way the belief that "family is forever" plays out — at least within my own large extended Mormon family — is that any deviation from orthodoxy or activity in the LDS Church generates all the anxiety and grief the "saved" would feel about a soul condemned to hell, even though the ultimate destinations for the non-Mormons really are supposed to very nice places.

Eric:

September 24, 2005 02:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

I find it fascinating how much intellectualizing is done by proponents and detractors alike of not only the LDS faith, but also every organized Christian religion. In one form or another every Christian religion has a revisionist history, skeletons in the closet, and misspoken words by authorities. Those that do not believe this are fools, or fanatic...both of which cannot be reasoned with.
The purpose of religion is not to devide us, but to unify us. This unity, once achieved, gives us the power to act and create a better existance for all of us. Christian and Non alike. You may ask the question "How can we (different churches) be fundamentally unified, when our doctrines are fundamentally divided or flawed?". While I have my own answer on this one, I will leave this for the discussion board to figure out. I am an active LDS-er, return missionary from the Colorado Denver North Mission, and very into LDS history and doctrine.



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