Apostasy's Ancestors : Anti-Arian and Anti-Mormon Discourse in the Struggle for Christianity
Standing Apart : Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy
Oxford University Press
“The implicit faith people have in labels is a remarkable thing, and never has the power of a label been so exploited as that of the Lord’s holy name,” wrote the eminent Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley. Indeed, the history of Christianity, especially from the fourth century forward, may be understood to some extent as a series of struggles for orthodoxy among competing versions of Christianity in which labels played an important part.
In the wake of Nibley’s search for the origins of a true church, contemporary Mormon scholars could benefit from a historical approach informed by theoretical notions of text and textuality in both ancient and modern Christianity...As a demonstration of the usefulness of this methodology to such an understanding, this chapter will consider the functions of antiheretical language in both an ancient and a modern context. Ambrose of Milan’s employment of anti-Arian discourse in the fourth century will provide an ancient demonstration of how the categories of orthodoxy and heresy historically have been created in the service of social and political agendas. In light of this understanding, the anti-Mormon language of the Reverend Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas during the 2012 presidential campaign will be examined. [From the article]