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