Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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The Idea of Pre-Existence in the Development of Mormon Thought
THE IDEA OF PRE-EXISTENCE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORMON THOUGHT Blake Ostler The Mormon Belief that the individual spirit of man existed in the presence of God before the creation of the world is unique in modern Christianity. Mormons have rejected the Creator/creature dichotomy of Patristic theology and its logical correlaries, creatio ex nihilo and the idea of God as a single, infinite Absolute. Mormons consider man one of the given entities of the universe, the necessary, self-existing offspring of God and therefore of the same ultimate nature as God—uncreate and capable of eternal progression. Man, as necessary being, could not not exist; his primal self is not created and cannot be. Nevertheless, the history of the idea of pre-existence in Mormon thought is one of varying interpretation, of refinement and controversy. The controversy stems largely from the inherent tension in a finitistic theology from an earlier period of absolutist preconceptions. Nowhere is this tension more evident in Mormonism than in its doctrine of pre-existence. Absolutist Preconceptions: 1830—1835. The doctrine encountered by the earliest Mormon converts was not a significant departure from the Catholic/Protestant view of the day which stressed the Creator/creature dichotomy and a single, infinite and absolute God. The doctrine of pre-existence of souls had not been a part of Christian thought since 543 A.D. when that doctrine was declared "anathema" by a Blake Ostler has a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in philosophy from Brigham Young University and is beginning graduate study in law and philosophy at the University of Utah. 59