Many Mormons, and probably most non-Mormons, have failed to grasp the wide latitude of possible beliefs which can be tolerated within the tradition of Mormon thought. Although many view Mormon thought as restrictive, it is in fact more inclusive than exclusive, more thought-provoking than thought-binding.
For instance, an individual member's beliefs may range from an absolutist view to a traditionally heretical, finitist view of God and man and still remain well within the bounds of traditional Mormon expressions of faith—a latitude far beyond the tolerance of Protestantism or Catholicism. The Church's reluctance to clarify its theology on an official level has left it up to individual members to think through and work out their own understanding of and relationship to God. In short, the burden of a consistent theology and vibrant relationship with God in Mormonism is not a corporate responsibility; indeed it cannot be. Rather, it is an individual burden that reflects the unique relationship of God with each member. And each member must be willing to face the implications of his or her beliefs.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Wide Latitude of Possible Beliefs In Mormonism
Last night I finished reading an excellent article by Blake Ostler entitled: "The Idea of Pre-existence in the Development of Mormon Thought". It's a fascinating glance at how varied the ideas have been within Mormonism concerning the nature of spirits. (Another excellent and enlightening article on this topic is "The Development of the Doctrine of Preexistence, 1830–1844" by Charles R. Harrell). Whether people realize it or not, there is a richness and diversity within Mormon thought. I've been a Mormon all my life and I feel like I'm only now beginning to scratch the surface. I like how Blake Ostler put it at the end of his article: