"The Spiritual Concept of Form and Function as One": Structure, Doctrine, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | BYU Studies

"The Spiritual Concept of Form and Function as One": Structure, Doctrine, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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"The Spiritual Concept of Form and Function as One": Structure, Doctrine, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Author Cheryl B. Preston

Cheryl B. Preston describes how the structure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints interacts with its theological substance. Likening Church substance and structure to the design theories of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Preston observes that unity is realized when form and function work in harmony. Form does not follow function, but goes hand in hand; thriving in a faith community occurs when the doctrine (function) of the Church is in alliance with the administrative structures (form) of the Church.

By means of this paradigm, Preston approaches various questions arising from an exploration of Church form and function: What is the LDS canon? Who are the Church's lawmakers? Does the Church have official theologians and interpreters? When approaching such questions about canon, law, and theology, Preston was impressed by how effectively the structure and substance of the Church fosters particular spiritual objectives. For Preston, the interaction of vertical and horizontal elements are key; a community of believers achieve spiritual unity only when the vertical authoritative structures and the more horizontally aligned spiritual gifts are in complementary convergence. As Preston quotes Wright, the "spiritual and material are naturally of each other."