How are Mormon Beliefs Established?
Related Posts: Mormons and Caffeinated Soft drinks; The Word of Wisdom; Why I blog; Creation ex nihilo; Faith, Certainty, and Doubt; The First Vision; Are Mormons Brainwashed?
Summary: In my previous post (Are Mormons Brainwashed?) I pointed out that Mormonism is not driven by systematic theology. I use the term in a very narrow sense. I take it to mean a precisely defined, unified system usually involving philosophical methods and authoritative sources like scripture. Consequently, if one element is changed, or expressed differently, then the other elements must be altered to maintain consistency. The theologian’s job is to iron out the inconsistencies that arise.
This level of precision is behind most religious schisms. At some point someone interpreted the bible differently and concluded the existing tradition was flawed. To a Mormon many of the differences seem trivial, but to those involved, the very truth, and ultimately salvation, is at stake. So they form a new church claiming it is more correct.
Mormonism did not come about through doctrinal schism. Our tradition goes back to the First Vision (The First Vision); our doctrines are based on revelations given to the prophets. And we accept this. There are no professional theologians in the Mormon tradition who work out inconsistencies, define terms, and make the belief system uniform. The famous book by Bruce R. McConkie is title Mormon Doctrine, not Mormon Theology.