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The Pearl of Greatest PriceMormonism's Most Controversial Scripture$
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Terryl Givens and Brian Hauglid

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190603861

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190603861.001.0001

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“Not to Be Trammeled”

“Not to Be Trammeled”

To Creed or Not to Creed

(p.241) 4 “Not to Be Trammeled”
The Pearl of Greatest Price

Terryl Givens

Brian M. Hauglid

Oxford University Press

Christian creeds go back to the first Christian centuries. Catholics produced creeds largely to establish the lines demarcating orthodoxy and heresy. Protestants at first were hostile to creeds and often invoked the Bible as the lone and sufficient creed for Christians. Joseph Smith’s hostility to creeds was common, especially among other restorationists. Eventually virtually all Protestants realized that without a creed, boundary maintenance was impossible. Early missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found it necessary to summarize and define the uniqueness of their message—effectively creating the first creeds. Joseph Smith, explicitly hostile to creeds as too circumscribing of belief, found himself forced by the same imperative to articulate his own summation of Mormon teachings. His Thirteen Articles of Faith are, however, wholly inadequate as a creed, since they omit many of the most core doctrines of the church. They are best understood, in Rodney Stark’s formula, as establishing an optimum tension with competing religious faiths—not too radical and not too familiar.

Keywords:   creeds, creedalism, Articles of Faith, Rodney Stark, Joseph Smith, Orson Pratt, Oliver Cowdery

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