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Apologia Report
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>tracki ng spi r i tual tr ends i n the 21st centur y

VOL UME 19: 17 ( 1,200) / MAY 27, 2014
In this issue:
the seventeenth-century ideal of
biblical perspicuity resulted in biblical
obscurity today
MORMONISM - Joseph Smith’s
“scandalously anthropomorphic God”
YOGA - observing “the fagrant
misdescriptions and spurious
representations of traditional sources
that proliferate in contemporary yoga”
Publisher: Apologia • www.apologia.org
Contact: ar.feedback(at)apologia.org
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Pueblo, CO 81008
Phone: (719) 225-3467
Editor: Rich Poll
Contributing Editor: Paul Carden
Copyright ©2014 by Apologia. All rights
Apologia (the biblical Greek word for
“defense”) is a nonproft organization dedi-
cated to the proclamation and defense of the
gospel of Jesus Christ. Apologia’s mission is to
equip the body of Christ for spiritual discern-
ment by providing timely, accurate religious
research information within the feld of
Christian apologetics and to advance apolo-
getics in Christian missions.
Apologia Report surveys widely to identify
the most valuable resources for its readers
as they encounter competing worldviews.
Since 1997, AR has been published roughly
44 times each year via e-mail.
The archiving of Apologia Report (in whole or
in part) is permitted for the private use of its
subscribers alone. This data fle is the sole prop-
erty of Apologia. It may not be used without
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enhancement of any other product. In cita-
tions, please give the following source credit:
“Copyright ©2014, Apologia (apologia.org)”
PLEASE NOTE: Our ofce will be closed
for the week. Te next issue of AR is sched-
uled for the week beginning June 8th.
Keith D. Stanglin (Associate Professor of
History and Historical Teology at Austin
Graduate School of Teology) has given us
an ironic look into the past with “Te Rise
and Fall of Biblical Perspicuity: Remon-
strants and the Transition toward Modern
Exegesis.” Te abstract explains: “Te pur-
pose of this article is to examine the bibli-
cal exegesis of two seventeenth-century
Dutch Remonstrant theologians, Simon
Episcopius (1583–1643) and Étienne de
Courcelles (1586–1659). Teir hermeneu-
tic was characterized by an emphasis on the
perspicuity, or clarity, of scripture through
the use of reason, combined with the mar-
ginalization of spiritual meanings in favor
of the literal-grammatical sense alone. In
both of these emphases, they went beyond
their theological forebear, Jacob Arminius
(1559–1609), and adumbrated the methods
of later Enlightenment thinkers. Te stress
on perspicuity and authorial intention led
to increasing fascination with text criticism,
linguistic analysis, and historical contex-
tualization, highly rarefed disciplines that
became prerequisites for correct, scholarly
biblical interpretation. Tis development
also pushed the question of biblical fal-
libility closer to the center of the doctrine
of scripture. As a consequence of the philo-
logical, scientifc study of the Bible, biblical
interpretation was relegated to the feld of
scholarship and doctrinal formulation to
the church. Te original ideal of biblical
perspicuity resulted in biblical obscurity.”
Church History, 83:1 - 2014, pp38-59.
In Heaven As It Is On Earth: Joseph Smith
and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death,
by Samuel Morris Brown
— David J.
Howlett (Skidmore College) bestows what
must be among the highest of possible
endorsements in his review, saying Brown
“provides the most original and insightful
reinterpretation of Joseph Smith and early
Mormonism to emerge in the last twenty
years. Rather than retread familiar routes,
Brown contextualizes early Mormonism
within what he calls the nineteenth-century
culture of ‘holy dying’ and explains Smith’s
seemingly fragmented theology and sacra-
ments through this illuminating prism.”
His conclusion is even stronger. “Very few
professionally trained Mormon studies
scholars could duplicate or surpass the level
of insight and historical contextualization
evidenced in [this] work. ... Without exag-
geration, In Heaven As It Is On Earth is now
essential reading for any scholar seeking to
understand early Mormonism.”
Brown’s approach is described this way:
“By the time of Smith’s death, the Mormon
prophet ‘had revealed a polyvalent family
system [polygamy and ritual adoption], a
utopian communitarianism grounded in
mystical traditions about Enoch, a temple
liturgy that taught his followers how to
negotiate the aferlife and promised them
postmortal divinity, and a scandalously
anthropomorphic God whom all humans
could call Father.’ All of these seemingly
disparate theological innovations found
coherence in Smith’s attempts to address
the problems posed by the culture of holy
dying – how one could be reassured of her
eternal destiny, how one could know that
earthly connections endured, and how one
prepared for her own death and hoped for
assumption of immortality.”
Of all this, one aspect stands out for us
in Brown’s discussion of Smith’s “heav-
enly family” construct. “Humans were
simply Gods in embryonic form, lower on
the chain than the God of this world who
had also once been human. Tis, accord-
ing to Brown, was a stunningly literalized
imitatio Christi, not a merger into Christ’s
metaphorical body, but a ‘merger into the
[literal] family of Christ.’” Church History,
83:1 - 2014, pp234-236.
“‘A Petrifcation of One’s Own Humanity’?
Nonattachment and Ethics in Yoga Tradi-
(continued on next page)
YOGA (continued)
identifying “the fagrant misdescriptions
and spurious representations of traditional
sources that proliferate in contemporary
yoga,” Burly purrs: “we should not overlook
the ebullient mixture – of spiritual and other
cultural forms – that is evolving through
reinterpretive reception of yoga’s ideologi-
cally bountiful past.” [What was that about
ethics? - RP] Journal of Religion, 94:2 - 2014,
SOURCES: Monographs
1 - In Heaven As It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith
tions,” by Mikel Burley — observes that since
the mid-20th century, “the uses of the terms
yoga and yogi (or yogin) – and hence the con-
cepts that these terms express – have been
radically transformed. Yoga is now widely
perceived as contributing to ‘a full accep-
tance of earthly life’ rather than opposing it.
Far from being an ascetic discipline promot-
ing withdrawal from the world and intimate
human relationships, yoga is now regarded as
‘a preventive, personal self-care activity at the
social and interpersonal levels.’ ...
“Tis article will explore the concept of
nonattachment as it occurs in yoga tradi-
tions, raising the question of how, in view
of the central place that this ethico-religious
stricture has had, modern yoga practitio-
ners can, and do, relate to those traditions.”
Perhaps not wanting to come across as
too negative, Burley appears to apply a bit
of damage control in his conclusion. Afer
and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death,
by Samuel Morris Brown (Oxford Univ Prs,
January 2012, hardcover, 408 pages)
SOURCES: Periodicals
2 - Church History (American Society of
Church History),
3 - Journal of Religion (Univ. of Chicago
Divinity School), <www.journals.uchicago.
VOL UME 19: 17 ( 1,200) / MAY 27, 2014
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