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    The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844

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    The refiner's fire: the making of Mormon cosmology, 1644-1844

    Australian Journal of Environmental Education An internationally refereed journal which publishes papers and reports on all aspects of environmental education. Joseph Smith was not perfect, neither was anyone except Christ. Moses murdered a guy, David was an adulterer, etc. This book shows more about the 19th century context and makes some notes about Smith without good sources. It speaks with definite motive, and is a good read at best, but does not tell the entire story. Very insightful and interesting.

    I highly recommend it for historical and theological background on Mormonism. The students were fascinated not only by the subject matter which was wonderful in the way it presented almost unimaginable links of popular thought but also by Brooke's method. This book is a very dense read, but it is a very comprehensive work about Mormonism and its origins.

    Finally, Mormonism makes some sense. I highly recommend it for the person trying to learn about the history and origins of the LDS church. This is the second time I've read his book. I am glad I read it again because the last time I read it was over a decade ago and I had not researched church history as thoroughly at that point as I have now. I've done a whole lot of reading and research since then. I have read through much apocalyptic, mystical and sectarian literature since originally reading this and I am in a much better position now to gauge the merits of this work; and I fully concur with the author as to his overall thesis; i.

    The author begins his investigation with early Protestant sectarianism in order to show the under currents of what would lay the groundwork for Mormon cosmology. I would say that having read much of the sectarian literature from the 16th to the 18th centuries, Mormonism is even more of a departure from Christianity than much of what made up those sects ideologically. None of those sects i.

    Shakers, Ephrata community, Swedenborgians, Philadelphians, Muggletonians etc , as far as I am aware, made God only a human being, made matter eternal and made all people potential gods in the making. This aspect of Mormon thought is such a serious departure from Christianity that nothing that is essentially Christian is really to be found here. These kinds of ideas are present in different forms in polytheistic and pagan thought however.

    Hermeticism is more than a likely candidate for Joseph Smith's initial inspiration and later propagation of these notions. The most likely mediating source in my opinion is Swedenborg. Brooke does note Swedenborg's likely influence, but having read Swedenborg, I would give even more credit to Swedenborg than this author does. Protestant mystics like Boehme and Swedenborg were very much within the tradition of Hermeticism and Cabalism. Like Joseph Smith, Swedenborg also claimed that God was a man; albeit in Swedenborg this is a bit more ambiguous.

    Swedenborg apparently thought that God was a cosmic man in some more allegorical sense; Smith believed that God was a man literally. Almost certainly Smith got this notion from Swedenborg originally. Smith attests to having read Swedenborg and agreeing with much of his thought. I am not aware of Swedenborg ever positing that men would become gods in the sense Smith did. Swedenborg was even more monotheistic than many other sectarians were at the time even going so far as to deny the Trinity. Mormonism is really not monotheistic at all; it is wholly polytheistic.

    There is no one God, only an eternal succession of actual and would-be gods. In this aspect of Mormon thought, no precedent in Christian sectarianism can be found. These kinds of notions are found only in pagan thought. Buddhism and Hinduism are similar, but Hinduism has a supreme God at least in theory. In Buddhism there are many gods, not just one and any enlightened Buddha is a god, for all intents and purposes.

    Mormonism is similar to Buddhism in it's belief in the eternal succession of gods and the eternity of matter. It is very similar to Hinduism in it's ideas regarding polygamy and the role it plays in godhood. Certainly, the sexual aspects of Hindu Kama Sutra does offer an interesting parallel; but in general, paganism always had a very particular reverence for the coital act and this played a huge role in the temple cult another aspect of Mormonism. Undeniably, Smith's known polygamy and the importance he gave to copulation and reproduction finds no precedent in Judaism and Christianity.

    Despite what Mormons may claim, the patriarchal polygamy was not religious in any way. Christ condemned polygamy along with adultery, so by Christ's definition Smith was an adulterer. Of course, really by any definition Smith was an adulterer because he had married women who were already married. It's incredibly odd that the Book Of Mormon condemns polygamy as an abomination, yet Smith practiced it and sanctioned it. In short, Hermeticism seems to have been the initial inspiration given it's theurgic bent, but there are other aspects of Mormonism that are simply pagan modes of religion.