In certain instances, Pratt may have taken doctrines taught by the Prophet and proceeded to teach or expand upon them. In other instances, Pratt may have shared his thoughts with Joseph, “who later embraced them and confirmed them.”
One example relates to the doctrine of theosis that teaches men and women can become like God. Joseph taught this principle in his famous King Follett Sermon, and yet “you find that in Parley’s writings several years before you find it in Joseph’s writings.”
While it is sometimes difficult to pin down the precise origin of various doctrines, “it certainly seems that Parley very much influenced the development of early Mormon theology.”
What were Pratt’s most influential books?
Pratt was a prolific writer. Aside from Joseph and Brigham Young, Pratt was “the most influential figure in shaping early Mormon history, culture, and theology.” He viewed writing as a way to preach the gospel and published 31 books and pamphlets.
Two books in particular “attained near-canonical status, remained among the most widely read Mormon works for several decades after his death, and continue to shape the contours of Mormon theology:” “Voice of Warning” (1837) and “Key to the Science of Theology” (1855).
“Voice of Warning” was a phenomenally successful missionary tool, second in printed works only to the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.
“Key to the Science of Theology” is considered to be Pratt’s magnum opus and “ambitiously (reaches) beyond first principles to attempt a comprehensive cosmology and ontology.”
While each of his books and pamphlets were important in their own way, these two books are thought to be the most influential of Pratt’s writings.
Kurt Manwaring is pursuing a graduate degree in public administration at the University of Utah. He is a consultant with Manwaring Consulting, LLC and maintains a personal blog at www.kurtsperspective.blogspot.com.
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