Maxwell Institute

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Adam Powell’s MI Guest Lecture is now available to watch online: “Crisis Converted: Opposition, Salvation, and Elasticity in Early Mormonism.


Why do some new religious movements succeed while others fail? Why are notions of deification—the belief that humans progress toward divinity—found in both early Christian history and in early Mormon history? Did the opposition experienced by Joseph Smith and his followers have lasting effects? In past decades, sociologists were left to answer the first question while theologians and historians addressed the second and third, respectively. In this lecture, Dr. Adam Powell argues that all three questions are very much interrelated. Borrowing from identity theory and the sociology of knowledge, Powell suggests ways that the social context of the nineteenth century influenced the religious thoughts of early Mormons.

About Adam Powell

Adam Powell is Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Theology & Religion at Durham University (UK) where he was a recipient of the Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise. Prior to Durham, Dr. Powell was Assistant Professor and Director of the MA in Religious Studies at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.  He has published on topics ranging from patristic theology to the history of sociology and from Mormonism to identity theory. He is also the author of Hans Mol and the Sociology of Religion as well as Irenaeus, Joseph Smith, and God-Making Heresy.

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