“The Great Grand Executor”: The Development of the Holy Spirit in the Thought of Orson and Parley Pratt
This is my paper I presented following the BYU Summer Seminar on the Pratt Brothers with Terry Givens and Matt Grow.
Throughout the writings of the brothers Parley and Orson Pratt, the conception of the Holy Spirit plays a central, though widely evolving, role in their theological writings. More than merely reciting scriptures and the teachings of Joseph Smith, the Pratts utilized their own insights, reasoning, and creativity as they elucidated on Mormon theology and tried to synchronize Mormonism's radical new beliefs and existing scripture into a cohesive and systematic whole. In doing so they both influenced and were influenced by the teachings of Joseph Smith and each other, and while the brothers may have been distanced by geography and personal estrangement, it is clear from their writings that they shared an admiration for each others work as they depended on and built off from the other. While at first the emphasis on the Holy Spirit lies in its mere existence and renewed life in the practices of the Mormons, the role of the Spirit changes as the growing conception of the eternal materiality of spirit shifts their thought from the importance of the mere existence and influence of the Holy Spirit to a focus on its ontological makeup and central role in Mormonisms new cosmology, finding its extreme in Orson's understanding of the Holy Spirit as the “Great God” or “Great Grand Executor” of the universe.
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