For Zion

For Zion Joe Spencer makes me see things in my Mormon religious tradition that were hidden in plain sight No one else I have read can do that quite like him. I thoroughly enjoyed this book My rating is not due to knowing the author personally and having immense respect for him , and it is in spite of my being an atheist who does not put a lot of stock in the idea of divine inspiration I genuinely think this is an engaging, challenging, insightful book, and like other theological works I really enjoy, it presents ideas and analysis which stimulate the mind, enrich our understanding, and provoke us to action, no matter what worldview we hold, all without sacrificing the particularity of the theological commitments which inform the work Wisdom is most apparent to me when an understanding has universal reach AND particular application, and in this way, I think this book is full of wisdom.I would quibble with a couple of moments, in particular, the attempt to present hope as objectless yet with content While this is not an incoherent possibility, it s not clear to me that Spencer really does identify an objectless hope, and further, it s not clear that objectless content escapes the conundrums that it is supposed to So I would want to thinkabout the indeterminate and provisional nature of the content of hope in different terms Nonetheless, the motivations for this move are well presented and in need of consideration. What Is Hope What Is Zion And What Does It Mean To Hope For Zion In This Insightful Book, Joseph Spencer Explores These Questions Through The Scriptures Of Two Continents Separated By Nearly Two Millennia In The First Half, Spencer Engages In A Rich Study Of Paul S Letter To The Roman To Better Understand How The Apostle Understood Hope And What It Means To Have It In The Second Half Of The Book, Spencer Jumps To The Early Years Of The Restoration And The Various Revelations On Consecration To Understand How Latter Day Saints Are Expected To Strive For Zion Between These Halves Is An Interlude Examining The Hoped For Zion That Both Thrived In The Book Of Mormon And Was Hoped To Be Established Again Spencer s mind is brilliant, and his work here on the theology of hope extends an invitation to participate in a consecrated christian life that is difficult to refuse so don t His readings are sharp, creative, and illuminating Not to be missed. A lovely, sweet, heartfelt theological work on hope Starting with Paul, moving to Abraham and Sarah, Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith s law of consecration The link to consecration is not obvious, but the link is strong The work of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben helps provide the intellectual heft I hadn t heard of him before, but he s on my radar now.At root, Spencer calls on us to live our lives in the world but also on a sacred plane That was Paul s agenda not to flee the world but to consecrate it Joseph Smith s too.Theology I always have to take in doses, but I felt connected with Spencer s agenda I especially loved his storytelling of scriptural authorship Paul trying to legitimate his vision after the Corinthians licentiousness damaged his credibility Or Mormon trying to tell his story through his abridged record Or Joseph Smith establishing and then revising what is now Section 42, in light of real world obstacles This helped me understand how scripture is revealed, often unfolded in time, and often in conversation with local conditions, trying to realize God s vision even when it seems impossible. I really did love this book and wanted to give it five stars The message is a very important one The law of consecration is one that the Saints aren t called on to live in some future day, but covenant to live it right now In fact, as Joe Spencer argues, consecration is our only hope in working for the establishment of Zion I agreed with almost all of his conclusions, and if I had not gotten so bogged down in some of the philosophical discussions in the first half of the book, I would give a five star rating for sure I wish I could give half star ratings because this book is a solid 4.5 stars.This book is not all philosophical theological either I really enjoyed all of the historical content on early Christianity and the development of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants related to consecration I would recommend this book to anyone with the caveat that those not well versed in philosophy may find a few sections in the first half of the book hard to get through Trust me, your perseverance through those difficult sections in the first half will be abundantly rewarded in the second half of the book. I found Spencer s first chapters about Pauline hope hard to understand Whether that is the fault of the author of my own, I don t know Spencer spends a lot of time setting up the idea of hope to connect it to the law of consecration Once the book goes through its intermission and makes that transition to focusing on consecration, the previous chapters start to makesense and as the dots are connected, I was able to really enjoy this book I love the ideas put forth in this book, even if they may not be delivered in the most concise way The law of consecration is something I need to takeseriously. Joseph Spencer has turned out yet another 5 star work on Mormon scripture This book is gorgeous The writing gets a little thick and overtly philosophical in the first few chapters, but it s worth pushing through to watch Spencer lay out the law of consecration in the second half of the book.This book, besides being informative and intellectually stimulating, was also spiritually transformative It has me convinced that hope is the theological virtue least understood and discussed among Latter day Saints, but also the virtue that we most desperately need.I ll be rereading this book over and over again Simply spectacular. In this book Joseph Spencer analyzes the law of consecration through a close and detailed reading of selections from Paul s letter to the Romans and Joseph Smith s revelation now canonized as section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants The first few chapters especially bear the marks of Spencer s academic training contemporarty French philosophy I struggled through the early chapters to get past some of the jargon and I suspect at least a few other readers will become frustrated with what seem like arcane arguments I think beginners will have to read these early chapters slowly and repeatedly in order to grasp what s going on I know I will That said, perhaps most useful in these early sections is the way Spencer challenges long standing individualist interpretations of Paul s teachings Salvation is a communal endeavor in Paul s world, as in Joseph Smith s, which Spencer outlines using some of the best Pauline scholarship on offer today This book really picks up steam and hits its stride when Spencer turns his attention to Joseph Smith s revelations concerning the law of consecration Spencer closely analyzes changes Smith made to the revelations, grounding his theological readings in the messy historical circumstances that gave rise to them Above all, Spencer is challenging the common LDS perception that the law of consecration has somehow been put on hold, that the law of tithing is a temporary fill in, and that we are simply waiting for some future day when Mormons will again undertake to radically reform the economic behavior of Mormons themselves and then the world.Of course, when it comes to actual concrete applications of living the law of consecration in the present, since it has never actually gone away, Spencer has much less to say Which means the hardest work remains to be done Hopefully, this book will provokethought and discussion on these matters. There is no LDS author who does a tighter reading of scripture than Joseph Spencer, and Spencer shows how much can be pulled and utilized in such very few passages of scripture However,than just a fascinating and philosophically rich exegesis of scripture, Spencer reminds me of the hope that I too often lack and calls us all out to have faith in the power of hope.

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  • Paperback
  • 188 pages
  • For Zion
  • Joseph M. Spencer
  • English
  • 16 June 2017
  • 9781589585683

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