In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow Givens shows that despite Mormonism s origins in a biblical culture strongly influenced by nineteenth century Restorationist thought, which advocated a return to the Christianity of the early Church, the new movement diverges radically from the Christianity of the creeds Mormonism proposes its own cosmology and metaphysics, in which human identity is rooted in a premortal world as eternal as God Mormons view mortal life as an enlightening ascent rather than a catastrophic fall, and reject traditional Christian concepts of human depravity and destiny Popular fascination with Mormonism s social innovations, such as polygamy and communalism, and its supernatural and esoteric elements angels, gold plates, seer stones, a New World Garden of Eden, and sacred undergarments have long overshadowed the fact that it is the most enduring and even thriving product of the nineteenth century s religious upheavals and innovations Wrestling the Angel traces the essential contours of Mormon thought from the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the contemporary LDS church, illuminating both the seminal influence of the founding generation of Mormon thinkers and the significant developments in the church over almostyears The most comprehensive account of the development of Mormon thought ever written, Wrestling the Angel will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Mormon faith A beautiful in depth study of Mormon doctrine in context of Christianity as a whole Givens organizes the work first by topic e.g salvation, original sin, polygamy and then a historical development of that doctrine It oftentimes doesn t start with Joseph Smith s conception either, but much farther back to Augustine, Clement, Luther, and other figures throughout Christian history Joseph Smith claimed to restore doctrines, so it s vital to see what he was restoring Particularly fascinating con A beautiful in depth study of Mormon doctrine in context of Christianity as a whole Givens organizes the work first by topic e.g salvation, original sin, polygamy and then a historical development of that doctrine It oftentimes doesn t start with Joseph Smith s conception either, but much farther back to Augustine, Clement, Luther, and other figures throughout Christian history Joseph Smith claimed to restore doctrines, so it s vital to see what he was restoring Particularly fascinating concepts I found were 1 the highly scientific bent of early Mormon leaders ultimately trying to remove the boundaries between secular and religious knowledge, 2 the often under emphasized Mormon doctrine of a universal salvation we usually make very clear that celestial is the best, but still big deal , 3 Mormonism as a unique answer to Calvinist doctrine of predestination, and 5 how the doctrine of predestination was so abhorrent to early Church fathers like Augustine because it implied a likeness to God.Additionally, the book deals with some difficult topics that aren t often brought up in Church, the Adam God theory for instance and polygamy as well Some of his frameworks are also a little difficult to get used to, because they aren t used in Church either He paints Joseph Smith as a great spiritual leader, but one who didn t receive every revelation perfectly at first He had to use trial and error to work out some doctrines A unique concept, but one that I likeandSecond, we like to think that the restored gospel has remained unchanged since its conception, but it definitely has Recent talks in general conference have made this concept widely accepted though that the Restoration is still continuing today Highly recommend it In this ambitious book, Terryl Givens explores the foundations of Mormon theology It s a selective overview, Givens said he confined himself to ideas that have come to be generally accepted by most contemporary Mormons, but he also traces a few dead ends like the Adam God teaching of Brigham Young He situated LDS thought within it s surrounding environment as well as on a trajectory spanning back from ancient religion, through Greek thought and the later Reformation Givens isarticulate In this ambitious book, Terryl Givens explores the foundations of Mormon theology It s a selective overview, Givens said he confined himself to ideas that have come to be generally accepted by most contemporary Mormons, but he also traces a few dead ends like the Adam God teaching of Brigham Young He situated LDS thought within it s surrounding environment as well as on a trajectory spanning back from ancient religion, through Greek thought and the later Reformation Givens isarticulate and systematic than most contemporary Mormons, so Mormons themselves will be surprised at a number of Givens s conclusions One of the most important take aways Mormons might get here is the idea that Mormon thought has not been static, immutable, or comprehensive and that a number of options are available within the orthodox realm Non Mormons may get a somewhat skewed view of LDS belief compared to what they might learn in an everyday LDS church meeting This is because underlying what is presented as an investigation of Mormon thought is much of Givens s own worked out theology This is especially apparent in the section on salvation where Givens outlines his somewhat novel atonement theory In short This book may be better understood as being itself a partial work of LDS theology Givens provides so much to think about here, Wrestling the Angel is an exciting contribution to contemporary Mormon studies This is an exceptional exposition of mormon theology It places the development of theological ideas in the the proper social cultural context,as well as the context in the Christian theology This book is a must read for those wanting to better understand the theological underpinnings of the LDS church As a lifelong member of the LDS church it was eyeopening to understand better how LDS theology fits and does not fit into current Christian Theology If you have ever wondered why many Christian This is an exceptional exposition of mormon theology It places the development of theological ideas in the the proper social cultural context,as well as the context in the Christian theology This book is a must read for those wanting to better understand the theological underpinnings of the LDS church As a lifelong member of the LDS church it was eyeopening to understand better how LDS theology fits and does not fit into current Christian Theology If you have ever wondered why many Christian faiths do not consider Mormons to be Christian, this book will answer that question It is somewhat of a comparative theology Absolutely fantastic I wish I could find the equivalent to this book for all religions It is an inside look at what an expert thinks their own religion s philosophical and theological ontological foundations consist of I m an outsider looking in and this book told me what they believe and why they believe what they do The historical context that surrounds their beliefs and the defense going back to Paul, or Augustine or other early church fathers even considered slightly heretical by some Pelagius and Origen T I wish I could find the equivalent to this book for all religions It is an inside look at what an expert thinks their own religion s philosophical and theological ontological foundations consist of I m an outsider looking in and this book told me what they believe and why they believe what they do The historical context that surrounds their beliefs and the defense going back to Paul, or Augustine or other early church fathers even considered slightly heretical by some Pelagius and Origen The author was sensitive to criticism for the church being accused of Pelagiansism but most Romantics were Pelagians for a reason William Blake I think it s safe to call him a Romantic was mentioned surprisingly many times within this book Spinoza was too I had not realized the connections to them and the Mormon Church The Universalist and Unitarian seemed to pop up frequently The author said that Universalist believe that God is too good to damn humans and the Unitarians believe humans are too good to be damned Overall, the Mormons tend toward that way of thinking too There are a whole lot of areas where the Mormons seem to disagree with most other religions and this book does an excellent job of explaining what the Mormon s believe in and why Mormon s don t have the trinity, all is material albeit tiny material as Blake would say , preexistence of souls, after death we become God like, marriage in heaven and with family, and just as many other interesting things Now, I can understand what the Mormons believe in their own terms.The author said something about gender is binary and that our preexistence can change that but in the afterlife our roles will be well defined The author also latter said that most experts think gender is a social construct I have no idea why he would say that I would say that most experts think people are born gay, or straight, or bi, or transgender, or in other words that God made us who we are in his own image The author mentioned that the Boy Scouts are the exemplars for structure with in well formed communities The author couldn t mention that the Mormons have divested themselves from association with the Boy Scouts of America since the Mormons instituted that policy after this book was published because the BSA now allow gays to be troop leaders Also, the author did not tell me why the Mormons have been actively opposed to equality in marriage and were so vigorously in support of California s Proposition 8 hate which was against equality in marriage I guess I really don t care how great a religion s ontological foundational beliefs are, if they discriminate against somebody because they are born that way I can reject it prima facie To me, it would be equivalent to saying if someone was manic depressive, or schizophrenic, or autistic, or had curly hair they just don t deserve equality and don t deserve God s love or the full unconditional support of the Church I understand the author was explaining his religion on his own terms and did an excellent job at that I just felt he owed me a clear explanation on how he can justify inequality based on how God created us in his own image