In this episode of the Maxwell Institute Podcast, physician and historian Samuel M. Brown discusses his book, In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). As the book’s jacket describes, “The world of early Mormonism was besieged by death—infant mortality, violence, and disease were rampant. A prolonged battle with typhoid fever, punctuated by painful surgeries including a threatened leg amputation, and the sudden loss of his beloved brother Alvin cast a long shadow over Smith’s own life. Smith embraced and was deeply influenced by the culture of ‘holy dying’—with its emphasis on deathbed salvation, melodramatic bereavement, and belief in the Providential nature of untimely death—that sought to cope with the widespread mortality of the period.”
Brown explores how anticipation of death impacted the theological climate of early Mormonism. He also discusses his recent BYU Studies article, “Believing Adoption.” Through his historical research, Brown came to believe that in Joseph Smith’s theology, humans become the children of God through premortal adoption as opposed to being created in some sort of spirit-birth process. Brown reflects on reconciling his academic endeavors with his personal beliefs. You can download the article for two bucks here.
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