"The decades framing the turn of the twentieth century constituted a period of progressive optimism, of increasing faith in science and technology, and of character-building education—vividly illustrated in the founding of Christian Science, for example, and in the Latter-day Saint magazine, the Improvement Era.
"In keeping with the times, it is not surprising that former professor of chemistry and university president John A. Widtsoe was called to the LDS Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1921. An inheritor and promoter of "reasonable" religion, his popular book, Joseph Smith as Scientist, and his influential LDS Melchizedek priesthood manual (later released as a book), Rational Theology, underscored his and other Mormon leaders' positivist assumptions about the world-that science was good, that Mormonism would be proven true, and, drawing from Herbert Spencer's application of evolution to ethics, that society would be perfected.
"Like Widtsoe's secular books (published nationally and internationally by Macmillan, Webb, and J. Wiley & Sons), Rational Theology would enjoy multiple printings domestically and several foreign translations. Although his other church writings (Evidences and Reconciliations, The Gospel in the Service of Man, Guide Posts to Happiness: The Right to Personal Satisfaction, and others) proved to be influential, none so thoroughly summarized his embrace of science and Mormonism as Rational Theology." (From back cover.)
Table of Contents
Foreword by Dale C. LeCheminant
FUNDAMENTALS AND PRE-EXISTENT STATE.
Chapter 1. The Meaning of Theology:
Man in the Universe—A Man's Religion—Theology Defined—The Gospel—The Purpose of this Book.
Chapter 2. How Knowledge is Gained:
The Senses—The Sixth Sense—Transmitted Knowledge—The Use of the Reason—The Foundation of Rational Theology.
Chapter 3. Eternalism:
All Knowledge, the Basis—Eternal Matter—Universal Matter, Indestructible—Eternal Energy— Universal Intelligence—Eternal Intelligence—The Eternal Relationship—An Eternal Plan; Eternalism.
Chapter 4. The Will of Man:
The Primeval Condition—The Intelligence of Man—The Will of Man—Value of the Will.
Chapter 5. The Great Law:
Increasing Complexity of the Universe—Man and the Great Law—The Law of Development.
Chapter 6. God and Man:
Why God is God—Many Gods—Why Man is Man—God's Help to Man—Man's Help to God—God's Attributes.
Chapter 7. Man Is That He May Have Joy:
Consciousness and the Universe—The Primeval Condition—The First Estate—The Second Estate—The Third Estate—Everlasting Joy.
Chapter 8. Man's Free Agency:
In the Beginning—The Council in Heaven—The Need of a Savior—Man's Part in the Great Plan—Free Agency.
Chapter 9. The Great Plan:
Forgetfulness—Subject to Earth Conditions—Laws to be Obeyed—An Organization—All to Accept the Plan—The Meaning of the Earth Plan.
THE BEGINNING OF THE EARTH WORK.
Chapter 10. The Coming of Man:
Making of the Earth—The Builders—The Coming of Man—The "Fall"—The First Blessing—The Garden of Eden—A Wise Beginning.
Chapter 11. The Course of the Gospel on Earth:
Adam Hears the Gospel—The First Dispensation—The First Apostasy—Later Dispensation of the Meridian of Time—The Great Apostasy—The Restoration—The Vital Facts.
MAN AND GOD.
Chapter 12. The Gods of This Earth:
The Order of Gods—Plurality of Gods—God, the Father—God, the Son—God, the Holy Ghost—Other Beings—Sex Among the Gods.
Chapter 13. Man's Communion with God:
The Will to Ask—By Personal Appearance—By the Visitation of Angels—By the Holy Spirit—The Eternal Record.
Chapter 14. Man Walks with God:
Reading God's Message—Spirit Blindness—Prayer—Active Prayer—The Gift of Understanding—Man Walks with God.
MAN AND THE DEVIL.
Chapter 15. The Kingdom of the Evil One:
Descending Beings—The Devil—Man and the Devil—The Devil Subject to God.
MAN AND THE CHURCH.
Chapter 16. Why a Church?:
Man Helped by God on Earth—The Plan of Salvation for All—Orderliness—Test of Attitude— Authority—The Great Purpose of the Church.
Chapter 17. Conditions of Membership:
Faith—Repentance—Baptism—The Gift of the Holy Ghost—Continued Conformity—Acceptance of Authority.
Chapter 18. The Priesthood in the Church:
Priesthood Defined—Divisions of the Priesthood—The Aaronic Priesthood—The Melchizedek Priesthood—All Hold the Priesthood—The Power of the Priesthood.
Chapter 19. The Organization of the Church:
The General Authorities—The Stakes of Zion—The Wards of the Stakes—The Priesthood in Stakes and Wards—Auxiliary Organizations—All Must Work—The Tenure of Office—An Unpaid Ministry— Appointments in the Priesthood—Common Consent—Bestowal of the Priesthood.
Chapter 20. The Authority of the Priesthood:
The Foundation of Authority—Absolute Authority—Derived Authority—The Authority of Office— Authority and Free Agency—Authority Over Self—The Exercise of Authority—The Unrighteous Exercise of Authority—The Church Authoritative.
Chapter 21. Obedience:
The Restraint of Nature—An Active Condition—The Restraint of Man—The Life of Law— Disobedience—The Church Worth Having.
Chapter 22. A Missionary Church:
A Church with a Purpose—The Hope of Today—Temporal Salvation—The Foreign Mission System—The Home Mission Service—For the Common Good.
Chapter 23. Temple Ordinances:
Educational—Symbolism—Covenants—Blessings—Temple Authority—Possible Repetition.
MAN AND MAN.
Chapter 24. The Brotherhood of Man:
Common Origin—Common Purposes—Common Destiny—Interdependence—Brothers.
Chapter 25. The Equality of Man:
The Pre-existent Effort—The Earth Effort—The Variety of Gifts—The Equality of Opportunity—Unequal Equality—The Test of Equality.
Chapter 26. Mutual Support:
The Duty of the Strong—Co-operation—Education.
Chapter 27. The United Order:
Purpose—Historical—Co-operation—Tithing—Voluntary Offerings—The Common Good.
Chapter 28. Work for the Dead:
All Must Be Saved—Earthly Ordinances—A Work of Love—The Need of Records—The Result.
Chapter 29. Marriage:
Eternity of Sex—The Waiting Spirits—The Meaning of the First Command—The Family—Celestial Marriage—The Sealing Powers.
Chapter 30. The Community:
Community Defined—The Individual in the Community—The Rights of the Community—Training for the Community—The Supremacy of the Community.
MAN AND NATURE.
Chapter 31. Man and Nature:
The Intelligence of Nature—A Living Earth—The Lower Animals—All for the Use of Man—Man's Conquest of Nature—Miracles—Harmony of Man and Nature.
MAN AND HIMSELF.
Chapter 32. The Sound Body:
The Importance of the Body—Food—Exercise—Rest—Stimulants—Moral Purity—The Gospel and the Sound Body.
Chapter 33. Education for the Inner Life:
The Senses—The Reasoning Power—The Feelings—The Spiritual Sense—Symbolism—Education.
Chapter 34. Satisfaction with Daily Work:
Variety of Earthly Tasks—All Work May Be Intelligent—Nothing Temporal—Subjection to Self.
Chapter 35. The Hope of Tomorrow:
Today—Tomorrow—The Resurrection—Our Place in the Hereafter—The Destiny of Man.
Chapter 36. The Law of the Earth:
The Unknown Meaning—The Earth Law—To Love God—To Love a Neighbor as Oneself—The Triumph of Man.
APPENDIX—References to Authorities