Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis

Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis
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Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis
Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis
Author Terryl L. Givens
Oxford University Press, 2017

Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis

Reviewer Mark A. Wrathall

Feeding the Flock is a landmark study of the history of the practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Professor Terryl L. Givens’s aim in the book is to answer the question “What did Joseph Smith and his successors understand the purpose of the church to be, and how did the resultant structure and forms of practice evolve over time?” (x). As the compound form of this question makes clear, and as Givens reminds the reader repeatedly throughout the book, his project involves attending to the way that theological and practical aspects of the Church inform and affect each other—although in point of fact he tends to focus mostly on the way that theological doctrines inform and shape the practices, not the other way around. So Givens not only explains what Latter-day Saints believe but also shows how the practices of the Church developed over time in such a way as to sustain a form of life that expresses those beliefs. This is a monumental and ambitious task on its own. But Givens further enriches his account by setting his practico-theological account of the Church in a comparative context, drawing out affinities and contrasts between the Church and other forms of religious life (primarily Christian and Jewish).