There are 5 thoughts on “Untangling Scripture from the Philosophies of Men”.

    • My reply to:
      Ashby D Boyle on January 10, 2016 at 1:13 pm said:
      Methinks you may be too easily impressed.
      MY REPLY:
      Your comment implies that I should be impressed with some other religion or philosophy. Do you know of any other religion or philosophy that provides the profound, detailed, and comprehensive answers to the following 4 questions that The Church of Jesus Christ provides?
      1) Where did we come from?
      2) Why are we here?
      3) Where are we going?
      4) What is the nature of the godhead?
      In other words, what other religion or philosophy should I be more impressed with – as your comment implies?

  1. Thank you for your long and thoughtful question. To some degree it all depends on definitions. “Systematic theology” usually entails the usual “ologies” found in philosophy, like ontology, epistemology, teleology and of course metaphysics. We rely on revelation rather than philosophy, traditionally. Systematic theology on the other hand starts from a philosophical base. For example, Aquinas further developed Neoplatonic philosophy with it’s notion of “substance” into a metaphysics which still is the basis of much of Catholic theology. We have nothing corresponding to that, by design. We base everything on direct revelation. What you have posted really are a list of beliefs obtained by revelation and so would not be “systematic theology” in most definitions. I did a quick google search on “Mormon systematic theology” – with the quotes- and found many scholarly articles from Mormons on why we have no systematic theology.

    • Thank you for clarifying the definition of “systematic theology.” I fully agree with you that our LDS beliefs are based on revelation and not on the philosophies of men. Under the world’s definition of “systematic theology” as you have described it, “systematic theologies” consists of the philosophies of men. Thus under that definition I fully agree that Mormonism is not a “systematic theology.”
      If the average person read that Mormonism is not a systematic theology, however, that person might not know the world’s definition of systematic theology – and thus could wrongly infer that Mormonism does not have a system of religious beliefs but has only random revelations. We should clarify that Mormonism consists of a highly systematic set of religious beliefs based on revelation, and not just a random set of revelations. This clarification would include the following: the fact that our LDS set of religious beliefs are based on revelation and not on the philosophies of men, does not preclude there being a marvelous system and plan in which the spirit children of God may progress through various stages to godhood, to perfection.

  2. I majored in English and minored in philosophy in both my B.A. and M.A. degrees at BYU. Generally I enjoyed the article. There are a few clarifications needed, however. The article says Mormonism has no “systematic theology.” Perhaps, I don’t understand the author’s meaning of the phrase “systematic theology,” for I think that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (of which I’m a member) has the BEST, MOST COMPREHENSIVE, AND DETAILED “systematic theology” of all: thorough, detailed answers to philosophy’s most pressing questions:
    1) Where did we come from?
    2) Why are we here?
    3) Where are we going?
    4) What is the nature of the godhead?
    For example, D & C 76 provides the most detailed and systematic answer to the question “Where are we going?” that can be found in any religion or philosophy.
    The “systematic theology” of Mormonism may NOT seem systematic because – rather than taking hundreds and even thousands and even tens of thousands of pages to explain (as non-LDS authors and philosophers often do) – you can put the basic LDS “systematic theology” on the back of a business card: e.g. the 13 Articles of Faith.
    When I studied English authors and the world’s philosophers, I of course found some great ideas taught by them. What impressed me, however, was that these great ideas would be only a small part of the Gospel’s glorious answers to the above 4 questions (e.g. where did we come from), would be only a small part of the glorious, panoramic view provided by Joseph Smith.
    For example, the great British poet William Wordsworth in his poem “Ode to Immortality” refers to our having a premortality. This is a great observation that has been quoted by General Authorities. But this great truth is but a small part of the answers to the above 4 questions, is but a small part of the glorious, panoramic view provided by Joseph Smith.
    Like the author, I also like Kant and William James. Kant’s and James’ valuable insights, however (like those of every other decent philosopher and author I know) are only a small part of the answers to the above 4 questions, are only small part of the glorious, panoramic view provided by Joseph Smith.
    The article – although generally faith-promoting – has the philosophers’ weakness of generally being long winded. This weakness will cause the article (like most philosophers’ works) to go unread by the masses and even many students of religion.
    My study of philosophy provided me with an even greater appreciation of Joseph Smith because only he and other prophets provide such a magnificent “systematic theology.” Actually it’s my appreciation of Joseph Smith that enables me to evaluate which philosophies of men are of value. I’m glad that I studied philosophy but not because of what it taught me, but because of how I could defend the Gospel better when confronted with opposing philosophies.

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