The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 / Edition 1by John L. Brooke
Pub. Date: 05/28/1996
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Mormon religious belief has long been a mystery to outsiders, either dismissed as anomalous to the American religious tradition or extolled as the most genuine creation of the American imagination. The Refiner's Fire presents a new and comprehensive understanding of the roots of Mormon religion, whose theology promises the faithful that they will become "gods"
Mormon religious belief has long been a mystery to outsiders, either dismissed as anomalous to the American religious tradition or extolled as the most genuine creation of the American imagination. The Refiner's Fire presents a new and comprehensive understanding of the roots of Mormon religion, whose theology promises the faithful that they will become "gods" through the restoration of ancient mysteries and regain the divine powers of Adam lost in the fall from Paradise. Professor Brooke contends that the origins of Mormonism lie in the fusion of radical religion with occult ideas, and organizes his book around the two problems of demonstrating the survival of these ideas into the nineteenth century and explaining how they were manifested in Mormon doctrine. In the concluding chapter, the author provides an outline of how Mormonism since the 1850s gradually moved toward traditional Protestant Christianity. As well as religion, the book explores magic, witchcraft, alchemy, Freemasonry, counterfeiting, and state-formation. John L. Brooke is professor of history at Tufts University and the acclaimed author of The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1713-1861 (CUP, 1989), which has won, among other prizes, the Organization of American Historians' Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History and the National Historical Society Book Prize for American History.
- Cambridge University Press
- Publication date:
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- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.91(d)
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; List of maps; Preface; Part I. A Prepared People: 1. Dreams of the primal Adam; 2. The true spiritual seed; 3. Something of our ancestors; Part II. Hermetic Purity and Hermetic Danger: 4. A Urim spiritual; 5. Alchymical experiments; 6. I was born in Sharon; Part III. The Mormon Dispensation: 7. Secret combinations and slippery treasures in the land of Zarahemla; 8. The mysteries defined; 9. Temples, wives, bogus-making and war; 10. The keys to the kingdom; 11. A tangle of strings and the kingdom of God; 12. Let mysteries alone; Appendix: the sectarian and hermetic circumstances of Mormon origins in Vermont and New York; Abbreviations used in notes; Notes; Index.
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As a believing, practicing Latter-day Saint with a deep testimony of my religion, I found this book a breath of fresh air. Mormons believe that God worked throughout centuries preparing the world for the restoration of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ. In purely secular terms, and backed up by an amazing amount of historical data, the author simply chronicles this. He even goes so far as to call the Smiths, Youngs, Kimballs and other first families of the LDS Church, 'a people prepared.' This book is a must for anyone--Mormon or not-- who wants a more indepth understanding of the world in which Joseph Smith and the first generation of Latter-day Saints lived. Sadly, there will be some with no more than a Sunday School Class appreciation of LDS Church history, who will think that this book is 'anti-Mormon,' but it is anything but. True, the author is not a Mormon and does not believe in the literal truth of the Prophet Joseph Smith's claims; but this does not mean that he is 'anti-Mormon.' Far from it. He seems to appreciate, have great respect for, and actually agree with many of the Gospel Truths that Joseph Smith taught. This book STRENGTHENED my testimony of the Gospel, showing that God's spirit has worked throughout the centuries, lifting the world out of the dark ages, bringing it up through the Renaissance and Enlightment to that point in the early 1800's in which there were people willing to accept the doctrines of the Restored Gospel. THIS BOOK IS A MUST FOR EVERY MORMON LIBRARY
This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. You sometimes hear mormon's talk about deep doctrine or the New Jerusalem. This book provides the historical basis of where these ideas came from. Brooks does a good job of proposing his theory about how Mormon's came to be and how the people were prepared. I don't agree with some of his suppositions that he makes towards the end of the book which is why I removed a star. If you want to know the difference between early Mormon fundamentalism and Mormonism of today this book is definitely worth every cent.
Brooke believes he has found the sources of Mormon origins in Gnosticism, Hermetic Philoosphy, 'perfectionism', the radical reformation, English revolutionary sects, popular magic, and divining beliefs. Apparently Smith had a large library and endless time to study and sort out these disconnected fields. He then was able to pick the appropriate items from each and blend them seamlessly together. He then gathered together thousands of followers from America and Europe. These he led through several states through intense persecution. Today over 10,000,000 people regard him as a seer and prophet. And all this came out of the trash bin of intellectal history! If Smith were around today I'd take him to a local junkyard. I'm sure he could put together a luxury sedan from the assorted parts.