Adam J. PowellIrenaeus, Joseph Smith and God-Making Heresy

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015

by Franklin Rausch on January 22, 2016

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At first glance, second-century bishop Irenaeus of Lyon and Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints don't seem to have much in common. After all, Irenaeus saw himself as defending orthodoxy against innovation, that is, the historical continuity of the church, while Joseph Smith understood himself as restoring that which had been lost. However, as Dr. Adam Powell shows in his fascinating study, Irenaeus, Joseph Smith God-Making Heresy (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2015), they and their communities shared a great deal. Deftly combining theology and the social sciences, particularly ideas about heresy and the sociology of knowledge, Powell shows how Irenaeus and Smith managed the existential and physical threats to their communities by developing ideas of deification, which while different in that Irenaeus saw God as ontologically different from human beings and Smith did not, held out a similar present and future hope for their beleaguered communities.

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