Why do some new religious movements succeed while others fail? Why are notions of deification—the belief that humans progress toward divinity—found in both early Christian history and in early Mormon history? Did the opposition experienced by Joseph Smith and his followers have lasting effects? In past decades, sociologists were left to answer the first question while theologians and historians addressed the second and third, respectively. In this lecture, Dr. Adam Powell argues that all three questions are very much interrelated. Borrowing from identity theory and the sociology of knowledge, Powell suggests ways that the social context of the nineteenth century influenced the religious thoughts of early Mormons.
About Adam Powell
Adam Powell is Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Theology & Religion at Durham University (UK) where he was a recipient of the Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise. Prior to Durham, Dr. Powell was Assistant Professor and Director of the MA in Religious Studies at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina. He has published on topics ranging from patristic theology to the history of sociology and from Mormonism to identity theory. He is also the author of Hans Mol and the Sociology of Religion as well as Irenaeus, Joseph Smith, and God-Making Heresy.
The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)