Toward a New Mormon Understanding of Apostasy
This chapter explores the potential in Mormon scripture and theology for a reformulation of the confessional narrative of the Great Apostasy: one that both remains true to the fundamental tenet of apostasy and appreciates the nuanced complexity of the historical record. Noting that LDS theology is heavily, and often unwittingly, reliant on theological formulations and institutions that emerged before Joseph Smith, it contends that Mormons should take a much longer view of providential history than their standard narrative permits. It models this new approach by looking at the historical development of the doctrine of Christ’s Atonement, showing that Mormons believe in doctrines that predate Joseph Smith by several centuries. From a providential viewpoint, examples like this may demonstrate for Mormons the persistence of God’s inspiration through centuries once considered dark and apostate.
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