Theological Foundations: of the Mormon Religion
by STERLING M. MCMURRIN, L. JACKSON NEWELL, INTRODUCTION
Paperback. 220 Pages. / 1-56085-135-X / $14.95
A Philosopher, Sterling M. McMurrin (1914-96) appreciated the similarities between Mormonism and Hellenistic Christianity. For instance, Church Fathers of the fifth century admired Plato, who taught that there is one God, coexistent with such eternal entities as Justice and Love—to which Joseph Smith added Priesthood and Church. Where Augustine modified Plato, Mormonism would tend to side with his critic, the Stoic-leaning Pelagius. In this broad context, what is Mormonism’s contribution to the overall pursuit of life’s fundamental, ontological questions? Herein lies McMurrin’s intent—an invitation to join him on a wide-ranging search for purpose. He finds his church’s synthesis of heresy and orthodoxy to be refreshing and impressive in this light, in its treatment of evil, sin, and free will. Belief in a personal God may run counter to traditional faith, but it is nonetheless emotionally satisfying and accessible to the human imagination.
McMurrin was E. E. Ericksen Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah and U.S. Commissioner of Education under President John F. Kennedy. Of his nine books, Theological Foundations is considered his masterpiece. The present edition includes his earlier essay, “The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology,” with a biographical introduction by Deep Springs College president L. Jackson Newell and a glossary of terms by Dr. McMurrin’s daughter, Trudy McMurrin.
Sterling M. McMurrin was Academic Vice President and dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah, a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and the Union Theological Seminary, and a Ford Fellow in philosophy at Princeton. In addition to being U.S. Commissioner of Education (see above), he served as US Envoy to Iran. He was the author of Education and Freedom; Religion, Reason and Truth; and co-author of Contemporary Philosophy; A History of Philosophy; Matters of Conscience; and Toward Understanding the New Testament. He contributed to The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts and Memories and Reflections.
L. Jackson Newell is the former dean of Liberal Education at the University of Utah. He is the co-author of Creating Distinctiveness, Matters of Conscience, and A Study of Professors; a contributor to Neither White nor Black; Personal Voices; Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience; and The Wilderness of Faith; and is a past coeditor of Dialogue. He has received the CASE Professor of the Year and Joseph Katz Distinguished Leadership in Education awards. Currently he is president of Deep Springs College.