Line upon [or reading between the] line in the development of Mormon theology

Part 4 of my series, “Intellectual disability in Mormon thought…”

Pastoral with Injured Fool, by Brian Kershisnik

Jim Faulconer has depicted Mormonism as “atheological,” meaning that Mormonism lacks the sort of systematic theology found in other traditions, especially Catholicism. He writes that Mormonism privileges praxis over doxy, but I’m not convinced these two elements can be so neatly separated. Belief and practices are intertwined; they inform each other in ways I doubt any researcher can fully untangle. Still, perhaps Faulconer is right to say that, with a few exceptions (the Lectures on Faith, for example), Mormon belief and practice has often been created according to pressing concerns and needs, and is thus not formulated in a systematic manner. Pieces of theology would crop up not only in revealed scripture, but also in table conversations, in a red brick store, in council meetings, in sermons lost to time, in missionary journeys.

This non-systematic development of Mormon thought leads to interesting contradictions. Joseph’s theological project was incomplete at the time of his death, and the “chaos of materials prepared by” the prophet, to borrow a phrase from Parley P. Pratt, have proven fertile ground in which subsequent church leaders and members have harvested a variety of fruits.[1] Joseph’s scriptures and sermons have been employed in a piecemeal fashion to answer questions he didn’t apparently ask. This is especially true in regards to intellectual disability. [Read more...]

Review: Molly C. Haslam, “A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability”

Title: A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability: Human Being As Mutuality and Response
Author: Molly C. Haslam
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Genre: Theology
Year: 2012
Pages: 134
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-0-8232-3941-2
Price: $24.00

Here’s another (perhaps over-long) review. For the benefit of people wrapped up in the holiday season and not able to spend much time on a blog post, here’s a little synopsis of the review:

SYNOPSIS: Theologian/physical therapist Molly Haslam claims that Christian theology is problematically biased in its typical definition of “human being” according to attributes such as agency, rationality, and intelligence. Christian anthropologies thus marginalize people with profound intellectual disabilities. She describes several recent attempts to account for the disabled in Christian theology. She finds them inadequate because they still seem to privilege the rational self. She seeks to construct a theology which explains how people with severe intellectual disabilities can be seen as being created in the image of God. Her account is excellent despite a few internal contradictions, and it has interesting implications for how a Mormon theology of intellectual disability might look. Above all, it very fruitfully invites you, good reader, to think about what it means to be human.

Now for the full review.

Chan was born with cerebral palsy. [Read more...]


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