Blog Archives

Exploring Mormon Thought: Sin

July 18, 2012 | 3 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Sin

I’ve struggled with what to write in response to chapter 5 of The Problems of Theism and the Love of God. Why? Because, except when it comes to nit-picky details, I’m in full agreement with Ostler for once. Indeed, I applaud this chapter and am eager to see how he moves forward with it in the next chapters. What to write, then? For fun, I think I’ll just insert here, as a kind of confirmation of what Ostler has to say, my own recent written reflections on Romans 1—a passage he cites on page 162. Here is the passage... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Ethics

June 20, 2012 | 20 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Ethics

Ostler opens chapter 3 of The Problems of Theism and the Love of God by referring to several different individuals’ claim that the ontological commitments of Mormon theology foreclose the possibility of its embracing a defensible moral theory. Ostler then takes as his task in this chapter not only to identify what he takes to be Mormonism’s moral theory but also to argue for the possibility of such a moral theory to be fully robust despite its rootedness in a non-traditional theism. Much of the chapter is tied up in the details of an ongoing exchange between himself and... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Love

May 23, 2012 | 3 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Love

I’m more than happy to be turning from the divine attributes to the question of divine love. I wasn’t particularly concerned about whether God possesses the several “omni’s” before beginning this project, and, for all I’ve learned along the path laid out by Ostler’s first volume, I’m no more concerned now than I was before. Of course, I think in the end that Ostler himself would have to say that he shares my sentiments in this regard—at least to some degree. His project as he describes it in the prefaces to the several volumes of Exploring Mormon Thought is... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Christ

May 2, 2012 | 13 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Christ

I haven’t any real idea who or what or how—or even when!—Jesus Christ was. And is. And will be. As odd as I’m sure it sounds, I’m not terribly interested in changing that situation. I suspect that, in large part, my ignorance and feeling of content concerning that ignorance are more a side effect than anything else, a side effect of the Pauline commitments that were created, nurtured, and cemented in me through my obsessive work on the Book of Mormon. The Christ to whom I have declared undying fidelity, of whom I consistently testify, concerning whom I couldn’t... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: God As Limit?

April 11, 2012 | 36 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: God As Limit?

It seems hard to deny that some kind of structure, however fragile or unstable, organizes human experience. And it seems hard to deny that a major aspect—if not the determining characteristic—of the structure of experience is time. Let’s grant all that for the purposes of this week’s discussion. If we take as paradigmatic the structure of a formal system, it turns out that there are two possibilities when it comes to a structure, as the early twentieth century’s greatest mathematical minds taught us: if a structure is consistent, it is incomplete; if a structure is complete, it is inconsistent.... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Divine Belief

March 28, 2012 | 14 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Divine Belief

We remain, in chapter 9 of The Attributes of God, within Ostler’s larger assessment of the (in)compatibility between exhaustive divine foreknowledge and human free will. I want to do two things in this post. First, I want to focus briefly on Ostler’s claim, on page 280, that the point on which “the debate ultimately turns” is “whether God’s having a belief is relevantly similar to humans having beliefs.” Second, I want to move from an investigation into what Ostler is doing with that gesture to yet another reframing of the question concerning knowledge—a reframing akin in spirit to what... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Agency

March 7, 2012 | 17 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Agency

I will intentionally ignore the larger context in which chapter 7 of The Attributes of God appears—namely, an attempt to nail down the nature, according to the Mormon conception, of divine omniscience. I’ll focus more narrowly on just what Ostler has to say about agency. I think the larger concerns here are important, but we have some weeks yet in which to take up his conclusions. Late in chapter 7, Ostler begins to speak of emergence. I think this is the right term, but not, I think, in the way Ostler uses it. I want to talk about agency... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Analysis and Synthesis

February 22, 2012 | 20 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Analysis and Synthesis

In the fourth chapter of The Attributes of God, Ostler does both a nice bit of analysis and a nice bit of synthesis. Ostler’s Analytic Gesture Through engagements with a handful of potential philosophical pitfalls, Ostler constructs a very nice analytic definition of omnipotence, stated thus on page 116: A is omnipotent at t if A is able unilaterally to bring any logically possible state of affairs SA after t which (i) does not entail that “A does not bring about SA at t,” and (ii) is compossible with all events which preceded t in time in the... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: The Apostasy and Mormon Theology

February 8, 2012 | 58 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Apostasy and Mormon Theology

What role do apostasy narratives play in Mormon theological discourse? Actually, let me ask that question more clearly, since I’m after something pre- rather than de-scriptive: What role should apostasy narratives play in Mormon theological discourse? A long and venerable tradition has given such narratives theological pride of place, but I want to ask whether that tradition has not generally seen Mormon thinkers wandering in theologically unproductive paths. Is there reason to be done, once and for all, with apostasy narratives in our theological work? Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Prefaces

January 25, 2012 | 18 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Prefaces

A close reading of Blake Ostler’s work is timely, and I’m happy to do it alongside of Adam Miller. I’ve left mostly to Adam’s post last week to state what we’re up to and why. I want this week, before we come to the chapter-by-chapter work of this project, to say something about how time has affected Ostler’s project—how the project has changed between 2001 (publication of volume one) and 2008 (publication of volume three). I’ll also have to say a word about how it may change before 2012 is over (publication of volume four). My modus operandi will... Read more »

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