Review: Gospel Principles (revised) Chapters 1-10

July 24, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 10:49 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

For those unaware, The Juvenile Instructor broke the news this morning that the church will be taking a break from Teaching of the Presidents of the Church for at least 2010-2011 to return to basics with the publication of a new edition of the Gospel Principles manual. Finding this out, I acquired a copy, and perused the first 10 chapters. Here are my impressions.

External Presentation:

Visually, the new manual is similar in size and shape, as well as stylistically to the other books in the priesthood manuals series, at least in terms of the front and back cover (in fact, for those of you interested in such things, the mini icon on the new cover, is a little sheep). The spine edge of the book does not follow the formatting of the series, having no icon, a different font, and the type is oddly off center. I am hoping this is due to this being an early printing of the book, and this error is corrected for the final printing, but I honestly have no way of knowing. For now, it leaves me with the impression that the book was hastily put together, as if President Monson made a last minute change in plans to put this volume forward now. (How cool would that be!) That, however, is simply speculation.

Inside Matter:

The book isn’t changed much on the inside, still containing 47 chapters featuring mostly the same content (more on content later, but the chapters are still titled the same, with the exception that chapters 41 and 45 are flipped). Omitted from this edition is the Glossary, the selection of Hymns and copy of the Articles of Faith found in previous editions. This is perhaps due to the fact that the hymns selections were rarely used, the Glossary has been replaced by the more extensive True to the Faith manual, and the Articles of Faith are available in the scriptures.

Format:

The format has changed from the previous edition only slightly from previous editions where there would be:

  • chapter title
  • black and white picture that complements chapter
  • a header
  • a few paragraphs of content
  • discussion questions
  • repeat above formula as many times as needed to end chapter
  • additional scriptures on chapter subject

Now the basic format is:

  • chapter title
  • full color picture that complements chapter
  • a header
  • question this section answers
  • a few paragraphs of content
  • a discussion question
  • repeat as many times as needed to end chapter
  • additional scriptures on chapter subject

One nice break in this format is that many (not all) chapters have a teaching tip at the bottom of the first page of the chapter, dispensing various tips derived from the Teaching No Greater Calling Manual the church put out in 2000. (As an aside, this same manual is also salvaged as the primary source of content for the introduction.) In any case, not much has changed in terms of how the chapters are formatted, except the discussion questions are now broken up into leading questions and ending questions. This will help in a classroom setting where the teacher hasn’t yet looked at the manual and needs a quick way to know what topic he is about to discuss (leading question) and a brief reminder of one thing he can do to improve his teaching.

Content:

I think people are going to be disappointed at how little is different in terms of content. I quickly annotated the differences in the first ten chapters, and there are very few changes. These changes can be broken down into 5 types.

1. Re-organized sentences without a change to meaning. Examples:

  • Was “we could choose” now is “we could exercise our agency to choose”
  • Was “accept or reject the calling.” Now is “accept or reject the opportunity to serve”

2. Scripture additions- These come in two types

  • Added supporting scriptures which were not in the previous edition, like adding Moses 2:26 as a reference to our being made in God’s image.
  • Dropping a statement and replacing it with a quote to get the same meaning, like dropping “[The Holy Ghost] is a spirit that has the form and likeness of man.” And adding “He is a personage of spirit (D&C 130:22)”

3. Bibliographic changes

  • Any references to quotes that are available in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals now reference those manuals.
  • Some statements previously had references on them which no longer appear, notable references to Discourses of Brigham Young, and Mormon Doctrine are now missing. (In fact, for those interested, the book no longer has any citations to Mormon Doctrine at all)

4. Changes by addition- There are very few of these. The three majors examples from the first ten chapters are

  • A reference to gender being a pre-mortal characteristic as an example of not being alike in Heaven
  • A brief paragraph in the chapter on scriptures describing the Joseph Smith Translation.
  • Where the text originally discussed Adam and Eve’s marriage in terms of Eve was Given to Adam because it now uses a more neutral God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage because

5. Changes by omission-These are more numerous, the most notable being:

  • the exorcism of the term Heavenly Parents from the text, replaced by the term Heavenly Father. The term was only used in Chapters 2-5 and Chapter 32 of the book, so while this change sounds large, it really only changed 5-10 references.
  • When discussing prophetic authority, the book no longer references the story of Lorenzo Snow calling the St. George area to repentance for not paying tithing.
  • Where it used to say nothing will help us draw closer to God than prayer in now says prayer will help us draw closer to God.

Even with the above changes I’ve mentioned, it appears that 90% of the book is unchanged. If you already have a copy of this manual, you probably won’t need a new one.

76 Comments »

  1. Thanks for reviewing this, Matt. Glad to hear the Teachings of BRM are not being referenced in this tome. Some interesting omissions.

    Comment by JT — July 24, 2009 @ 11:55 pm

  2. Hello, thank you for this notice. Do you have a link to the original story that broke or where can I find it? Thank you.

    Comment by Dean L. — July 25, 2009 @ 2:12 am

  3. Thanks, Matt.

    lends themselves better to a class room setting where the teacher hasn’t yet looked at the manual and needs a quick way to know what topic he is about to discuss (leading question) and a brief reminder of one thing he can do to improve his teaching.

    The brief reminder ought to be something about not leaving class “preparation” until the “teacher” is actually standing in front of the class speaking. That, and the unintentional transposition represented by God being made in our image were worth the price of adission.

    I’m going to enjoy my extra hour of sleep two Sunday mornings per month.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 25, 2009 @ 4:26 am

  4. Dean,

    That post that was mentioned can be found here.

    Ardis,

    I hope you make it through this trial. My prayers will be will you. ;)

    Comment by Chris H. — July 25, 2009 @ 4:38 am

  5. Hm. Changing “Heavenly Parents” to “Heavenly Father.”

    What next… a rewrite of “What Songs of the Heart”?

    Comment by Coffinberry — July 25, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  6. JT- I thought the omissions were interesting as well. Is the church consciously taking another step away from the Doctrine of Heavenly Mother. Am I as a member supposed to take this change as a visual clue to not discuss her? And am I supposed to realize from this change that there are things that draw us closer to God than prater?

    Dean L.- See Chris H’s link. Sorry about that.

    Ardis- It’s not that bad. I wasn’t clear in my post, but the discussion questions are all new. I actually am hopeful that this new manual will lead toward less use of the manual and more discussion, as questions like “How has prayer helped you draw nearer to Heavenly Father?” are discussed. But I am Young Men’s President, so I will probably never use this manual.

    I any case, maybe you can ask to be in Primary or Young Womens…

    Comment by Matt W. — July 25, 2009 @ 6:47 am

  7. Oh, and I fixed the transposition. Thanks for the catch.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 25, 2009 @ 6:48 am

  8. {sigh} We have no Primary and no YM/YW in our ward, so there’s no escape hatch. It’s going to be two years of 20-somethings teaching a room packed with 80-somethings about the importance of chastity and the need to work hard so they can be financially self-reliant. Oh, the agony …

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 25, 2009 @ 7:08 am

  9. Matt,

    It would be interesting to know the context, at least full sentences, for the Heavenly Parents changes. It’s difficult to guess at the meaning of the change without context. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 25, 2009 @ 7:24 am

  10. Thomas, here is an example, and including the only place where the term heavenly Parents was left in:

    God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. “All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78, 80).

    Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities.

    Now is:

    God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. “All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78, 80).

    Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21). Because we are the spiritual children of our Heavenly Father, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 25, 2009 @ 7:41 am

  11. Nice work, Matt. I think this is actually quite significant. I probably would have preferred a more complete re-write, there is skads here to analyze.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 25, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  12. Matt: Is the church consciously taking another step away from the Doctrine of Heavenly Mother

    I prefer to think it is a step away from the likely spurious idea of viviparous spirit birth as well as its related elder brotherism for Jesus.

    Of course that is not an indication that women are not currently part of the One God (aka the Godhead). It just would mean our spirits have no beginning as JSJ taught.

    the book no longer has any citations to Mormon Doctrine at all

    Rock on.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 25, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  13. Matt, I appreciate this review. I’ve been reviewing the previous manual and so it would seem this is a fortuitous time to examine a revised version.

    Comment by aquinas — July 25, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  14. Thanks for the overview, totally scooped me! I am also looking at the new BOM CES manual. Still some BRM there.

    Comment by BHodges — July 25, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  15. Geoff- I like the elder brotherism in terms of a covenant or adoption family concept.

    Comment by BHodges — July 25, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  16. CES is McConkie’s last bastion.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 25, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  17. Thanks for doing this–I had planned on doing it, and now I don’t have to!

    Comment by Julie M. Smith — July 25, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  18. Does the new manual still conclude with the discouragingly lengthy list of commandments one MUST keep and attributes one MUST acquire in order to be saved in the Celestial Kingdom? (Shades of Miracle of Forgiveness)

    Comment by Seeker — July 25, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  19. Because we are the spiritual children of our Heavenly Father, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities.

    I don’t know if it is a step away from the doctrine of Heavenly Mother, but from just this quote I could see it being related to a fairly common complaint that we need to know more about Heavenly Mother so that women can have their distinct feminine role model. This specific change, at least, makes it sound like there aren’t male and female flavors of exaltation.
    I’d be curious to know how long this overhaul has been in the works. Has it been coming for years or did they start it just more recently?

    Comment by Starfoxy — July 25, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  20. the book no longer has any citations to Mormon Doctrine at all

    Many of the comments see this as a good thing.

    For sake of argument, let’s agree to the implications that Mormon Doctrine was bad, contained false doctrine, etc. Now it’s no longer referenced (good thing), BUT overall the book remains essentially unchanged. If Mormon Doctrine is bad, then not quoting it here is even worse because:

    1) It suggests that all the [false] teachings in it have become so widely accepted that they can be easily referenced elsewhere; i.e., they really have become Mormon doctrine,
    2) or that the editors chose not to cite their sources—in which case they might as well footnote everything with the all-too-common “I heard some GA say this once….”

    FWIW, I’m looking forward to this manual. I taught Gospel Essentials a few years ago and 90% of my class were people seeking refuge from stale discussion in Gospel Doctrine. This stuff doesn’t have to be boring.

    Comment by BrianJ — July 25, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  21. You know, as an adult convert, I dig some of those tweaky things that make us peculiarly Mormon, rather than just Protestant. I don’t want “Heavenly parents” or “brother of Jesus” done away with- they are part of what makes us… Us.

    I AM very happy MD is done away with. I’m sure David O. McKay is too…

    Comment by Tracy M — July 25, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  22. Geoff:

    Regarding Elder Brotherism, one omission from the new manual was the line which said Jesus was literally our Elder Brother, so you are right in that regard.

    But in terms of Vivaporous Spirit Birth, we are still “Literally the sons and daughters of God.”

    I’m just grateful that the “heavenly parents” quote was not excised from the Joseph F. Smith quote, so there will be atleast one statement when which includes it.

    Seeker, just looked at it, and the Exaltation Chapter looks unchanged.

    Starfoxy, I’ve found the idea that Women somehow can’t follow a male role model somewhat insulting.

    BrianJ: Gospel Essentials is my favorite class at church. I don’t think every syllable in Mormon Doctrine was bad and the references didn’t reference anything nefarious. I just think it’s good not to advertise the book in our official publications because of what bad is in it. You can read my simple review of Mormon Doctrine at Deseret Book, here. (Click on reviews, then look for a review from Matt.)

    Tracy: You and me both on both counts.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 25, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  23. Thanks, Matt.

    Tracy, I agree. I rather hope that after we are done with this stage of fretting about how we are seen by others, that we go back to some of the quickly old doctrines. Mostly I hope this because I think that, for the most part, they are true. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 25, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  24. Does any one know when a Spanish Translation will be available?

    Comment by john willis — July 25, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  25. BrianJ: If Mormon Doctrine is bad, then not quoting it here is even worse

    Nah. The problem with quoting Mormon Doctrine is the implication that MD can be completely trusted from cover to cover. The majority of the book is fine in my opinion. The problem is that some of the books is McConkie guessing/speculating. It is sort of like the old “cockroach in the cookie” analogy they used to tell.

    Matt: But in terms of Vivaporous Spirit Birth, we are still “Literally the sons and daughters of God.”

    Being a literal son or daughter does not mean being viviparously birthed. Adopted children are literally sons and daughters of their parents too. (We’ve discussed this before).

    Comment by Geoff J — July 25, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  26. Matt, Geoff: I can see that. It certainly does depend on what parts were cited before, and you’re probably right that they were the “okay” parts.

    Comment by BrianJ — July 25, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  27. Does # 1b mean that we are not “called” of God for all positions now, just given an “opportunity to serve” in some?

    Comment by [nr] — July 25, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  28. I counted 18 citations to Mormon Doctrine in the new CES manual. I do not know how many there were in the preceding version. It appears still to be an authoritative work for CES.

    Comment by DavidH — July 25, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  29. “I prefer to think it is a step away from the likely spurious idea of viviparous spirit birth as well as its related elder brotherism for Jesus.”

    I don’t see that at all. Rather, I see it as a correction to ensure that our divine potential is also related to us being children of God in the adoptive (into the Church) sense as well as the literal which is still mentioned in the newer version of the manual.

    Comment by Brian — July 25, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

  30. In the original post, Matt W. said that the references to Mormon Doctrine have been removed, but he implied that the statements themselves are still there. Do I understand correctly that there are still statements that reflect the content of Mormon Doctrine, but they don’t explicitly state their source?

    Comment by CE — July 25, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  31. CE, you understand correctly.

    Comment by R. Gary — July 25, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

  32. The revised manual doesn’t seem to be online yet.

    Those of us who enjoy tracking the evolution of Mormon teachings might want to download the PDF of the old manual right away, before it disappears.

    I’m looking forward to more posts comparing the two versions!

    Comment by ed — July 25, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

  33. 98% of the stuff in Mormon Doctrine is completely normal (for Mormons) and inoffensive. There is no reason to argue that a purge of its ideas has or hasn’t taken place because many of them aren’t all that distinctive. If the wording is there and it is just unattributed now, that’s just poor form, not a grand anti-McConkie conspiracy.

    Comment by John C. — July 26, 2009 @ 6:11 am

  34. I agree John C., except the references were really not to direct wording from Mo Doc to begin with, it was more of a reference to where the author could read more about the concept, in so far as I could tell, rather than a quote.

    I don’t think there was an Anti McConkie conspiracy. It seems that all references of this type were removed. (See Discourses of BY noted in the post.) If anything, the church made a conscious decision to try and only reference for direct quotes or reference the scriptures.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 26, 2009 @ 7:44 am

  35. “Seeker, just looked at it, and the Exaltation Chapter looks unchanged.”

    Quite to the contrary.

    Comment by Aaron — July 26, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  36. I think people are going to be disappointed at how little is different in terms of content.
    .
    Why? It’s been a sturdy tool in my experience and my two-years-in-the-Church wife has shared it enthusiastically with her friends.

    Comment by manaen — July 26, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  37. Those are some substantial changes if Aaron’s info is accurate. Although why an anti-dude would get a copy before the bulk of the church mystifies me. Perhaps Aaron has a mole…

    Comment by John C. — July 26, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  38. I’ll have to take a closer look when I get home Aaron. In any case it still contains the list of must do’s which was referred to is still there.

    Comment by matt w. — July 26, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

  39. At mrm, “research” is loosely defined.

    Comment by MadChemist — July 26, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  40. MRM is actually spot on here as far as changes, just having gone through myself. I don’t think Aaron needs a mole, as if I can get a copy of the manual here in Texas, I am sure he can get one where ever he is. Aaron, is the text on this spine off center on your copy as well.

    John C. Some of the changes are substantial, and I am sure the MRM will say they are meant to water down our doctrine, or hide something, but the truth of the matter is they are meant to simplify the manual and bring it up to date to what current thinking is, which I think tends toward saying “Have Eternal Increase” without spelling out what we think that may mean, as many members have varying understandings of what that means.

    Still I think one of the most fun things about this manual will be the changes. I’m debating whether I’ll go all the way through and mark all the changes.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 26, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  41. Aaron: did I miss any big changes in the first ten chapters. I didn’t really see anything else I thought had much of a doctrinally significant change.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 26, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  42. Aaron actually made my day by posting that chapter on Exaltation. I was really hoping for some significant changes. I recently participated in a conversation with a member online comparing our differing understandings of exaltation. I noticed that the Gospel Principles manual made an assertion(s) that was never made by Joseph Smith or by the scriptures, and I pointed out the part that I didn’t agree with. I’m glad to see that part was changed in the revised addition. I think this definitely a good thing!

    Comment by Clean Cut — July 26, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  43. My mole is the LDS Distribution center at Temple Square ;-) The new edition has apparently been publicly available since Monday. An employee said the Church was thinking about recycling 20,000 extra copies of the 1997 printing.

    Matt W., I’ll be looking at more of the manual. So far I’ve only combed over the chapter on exaltation.

    Apparently some higher-ups want to feel more comfortable with saying “I don’t know that we teach that”…

    Comment by Aaron — July 26, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

  44. Most of the changes to the exaltation chapter appear to be trivial. There are a couple of significant ones though, and I believe they are changes for the better, in part because the new language is more faithful to what we know from the canon.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 26, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  45. Clean Cut,

    This has nothing to do with our discussion, and everything to do with leaving things that don’t qualify as saving basics out of a manual that is meant to teach saving basics. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 27, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  46. “Apparently some higher-ups want to feel more comfortable with saying “I don’t know that we teach that”…”

    I don’t why they would feel uncomfortable about saying that now, since the doctrines not mentioned here have not been widely taught for many many years. But, if someone were looking at these changes for some kind of repudiation of said doctrines, what was left in speaks volumes as compared to what has been edited out.

    Two things happened in the 80s. The first many folks don’t recall, but there was a change of focus in the Priesthood that emphasized “coming unto Christ.” Shortly thereafter, we had President Benson’s very pointed commentary about our collective neglect of the saving doctrines contained in the Book of Mormon. Since that time, there has been a lacuna open up concerning teaching about the nature of God, which has been filled by a different kind of speculation than what we used to see. But I think this is neither here nor there.

    In my view: leaders of the church clearly saw that we have members who can opine till the cows come home about whether or not Adam had a navel, but are not receiving the spiritual blessings that accompany a firm foundation in the basic doctrines of Christ, and in fact enable true searching into “mysteries” rather than merely opining or speculating on them. I support these changes in the church that emphasize “back to basics”, as the basic saving principles.

    Also, I’m grumpy this morning, so if anything I say has an edge, I apologize in advance. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 27, 2009 @ 7:08 am

  47. No, Thomas, I wasn’t referring to our conversation. I was referring to this: http://richalger.blogspot.com/2009/07/exaltation.html

    Comment by Clean Cut — July 27, 2009 @ 7:53 am

  48. Oh, and I absolutely agree with you (Thomas) that this has “everything to do with leaving things that don’t qualify as saving basics out of a manual that is meant to teach saving basics.” Well said. That’s why I’m quite pleased about this revision. As Mark D said, “the new language is more faithful to what we know from the canon”.

    Comment by Clean Cut — July 27, 2009 @ 8:03 am

  49. CC,

    Good. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 27, 2009 @ 8:06 am

  50. CC,

    By the way, you won’t be surprised to find out I agree with Rich. *smirk* ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 27, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  51. Yeah, somehow I’m not surprised. *grin* (Did you read through the whole strand?)

    Comment by Clean Cut — July 27, 2009 @ 8:50 am

  52. I prefer to think it is a step away from the likely spurious idea of viviparous spirit birth as well as its related elder brotherism for Jesus.

    Somebody will need to tell the Spanish-speaking church, where about 75% of the prayers end with “en el nombre de nuestro hermano mayor . . . “

    Comment by Mark B. — July 27, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  53. I didn’t mean we should not refer to Jesus as our brother Mark. I was more talking about that post from Stapley where Jesus isn’t fully worshiped as God because of taking the elder brother idea too far.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 27, 2009 @ 10:15 am

  54. One might certainly be liable to diminish worship of Heavenly Father as God due to taking the “father” idea too seriously as well. That is the classical point of view, anyway.

    In my opinion, the way to resolve the conundrum is to admit the proposition that divine investiture of authority goes both ways:

    That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake … to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

    Does anyone think that this principle does not apply to exalted beings as well?

    Comment by Mark D. — July 27, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  55. Hey, why all the hate for Mormon Doctrine? So, yeah, it may only be 98% accurate, but that’s still pretty good. For the record, we aren’t supposed to take ANY book by ANY General Authority as canonical by itself. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses ….” I think Elder McConkie gets beat up on a lot just because people choose to disregard the two or three witnesses doctrine.

    Comment by Rick — July 27, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  56. I’m not sure that “hate” is the most accurate description Rick. You may think McConkie gets beat up, but he beat up other people up too. (Unfortunately).

    Comment by Clean Cut — July 27, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  57. Personally, I am looking forward to this. I hope the format (tips, questions, etc) will improve how people teach in the church.

    Comment by Kim Siever — July 27, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  58. For the record, we aren’t supposed to take ANY book by ANY General Authority as canonical by itself.

    To be fair, Rick, the curriculum department doesn’t use just any book as references in their manuals. I don’t think we can compare Mormon Doctrine with other treatises by other general authorities.

    Comment by Kim Siever — July 27, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  59. There are a lot of places where the content of Mormon Doctrine may not be all that objectionable, but where it much more accurately represents McConkie Doctrine than that of the that of the Church.

    In fact that is practically the whole problem with the book. The author misrepresented his own personal opinions as Church doctrine. The effective acquiescence of the then Apostles made it so that in a few years it was hard to tell the difference. Orson Pratt wasn’t so lucky.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 27, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  60. Well said Mark D.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 27, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  61. I would add that in addition to misrepresenting his own personal views as official church positions, he also stated a number of personal views which are considered by a large number of people to be offensive. Most notably his views regarding race and his views regarding the great and abominable church. It is one thing to make mistakes or to take dogmatic doctrinal stands on dubious grounds, but it is another to espouse views that many of us want to repudiate and distance ourselves from. This is where much of the “hate” of Mormon Doctrine comes from in my estimation.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 27, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  62. FWIW, I’m looking forward to this manual. I taught Gospel Essentials a few years ago and 90% of my class were people seeking refuge from stale discussion in Gospel Doctrine. This stuff doesn’t have to be boring.

    +++

    Gospel Principles is where it is at. I’d love a Gospel Doctrine class taught where the assumption was (a) everyone knew the basics and (b) had actually read the scriptures before. Instead it always comes off like a summary of the text for a group that didn’t do the reading. (i.e. like a seminary class)

    Comment by Clark — July 27, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  63. Starfoxy, I’ve found the idea that Women somehow can’t follow a male role model somewhat insulting.

    Agreed, however it seems undeniably true that a lot of people struggle with that. My personal role model has always been Zina Huntington who I consider one of the greatest figures of the restoration. But it doesn’t bother me at all that she’s a woman.

    Comment by Clark — July 27, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  64. the new language is more faithful to what we know from the canon.

    Perhaps sometimes, but in at least one case the new language adds teachings not in the canon. In chapter 2 they added:

    We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females.

    This seems typical to me…teachings come and go, and are only loosely constrained by what is in the canon.

    Comment by interested — July 27, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  65. The statement added recognizes the authority of the proclamation of the First Presidency. I think this is an appropriate statement to “come”.

    All in all, I like the changes I saw outlined clearly in Aaron’s blog and don’t think there was any change in doctrine. I say this because I personally had not adopted any doctrinal interpretation that is disallowed by the editorial revisions. :)

    Comment by A. Davis — July 27, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  66. “We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females.”

    The word “were” here is dicey. “are” is implied by D&C 132:19. No VSB required.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 27, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

  67. Mark D.- I think the issue people take is not VSB, but the “Gender is an eternal characteristic” thing. I am agnostic on that, but I’ve seen it battled on the blogs over and over.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 28, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  68. Agreed. Even the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the cited source of the quote, is present tense. Probably a result of an attempt at editorial minimalism. Nonetheless, current status as spirit children is clear elsewhere.

    PS: Mark D., I am interested in getting in touch with you about your tripartite model of matter. I believe I have some thoughts that will be of interest. I give the admins permission to pass my email along to you.

    [Admin - email has been passed on]

    Comment by A. Davis — July 28, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  69. Whoa! Matt W. makes BCC Sideblog!

    Comment by mondo cool — July 28, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  70. I am looking forward to teaching straight gospel doctrine in Elders Quorum, though I must admit that I was hoping for the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson :-).

    Comment by Tom D — July 28, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

  71. Good analysis, Matt. Here’s a look at a full chapter.

    Comment by BHodges — August 4, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  72. Over the course of the past few months I’ve come to dislike “elder brotherism” as well, but I was surprised to see that some other Mormons have felt the same way. It is of course true that Jesus is our older brother in the sense that the Father created us all, but He’s so much more than that. He’s a member of the Godhead, for heaven’s sake. Of course, it is 2 AM, so I may not be thinking straight…

    Comment by JDD — August 19, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

  73. Wow, there seems to be a lot of relief that the late Elder McConkie is no longer the staff upon which the saints will lean for gospel understanding.

    I’d like to think he’s relieved as well! For years he was the “go-to” guy for gospel questions, kind of like his father in law JFS. I’d also like to think that the scripture committee of the 1970′s was the result of wearied gospel authorities saying, “Can we make the scriptures more accessible to the Church. I’m tired of answering questions that the Saints could easily find themselves from the standard works!”

    Comment by PSJS — September 6, 2009 @ 8:53 am

  74. I actually love McConkie’s writings – especially his conference talks and his NT commentary. (Which really isn’t a commentary in the normal sense of the term but is quite enlightening on many doctrinal points)

    That said clearly lots of members were treating McConkie’s theories and personal views as if they had the authority of scripture. Back in the early 90′s there were lots of people who’d quote McConkie over just reading the scriptures. And many refused to acknowledge that sometimes McConkie was wrong. That was a dangerous situation (and some of McConkie’s comments on blacks and the priesthood were pretty embarrassing). So I think the Brethren went out of their way to try and get the members to lean on the scriptures rather than McConkie.

    Comment by Clark — September 6, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  75. Peggy Stacker talked to me about this today. She’ll have an article in this Saturday’s Tribune. She is really classy.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 30, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

  76. I was looking for a forum online more along the lines of “what were they thinking!” but came across this mutual approbation site.

    Why are adults in the church being subjected to this childish presentation of doctrine. If you grew up in the church you were taught all this simpleton content in Primary (or Junior Sunday School, in my case). “When I was a child I spoke and thought as a child…” Now that I am not, do I want some loyal and dutiful instructor to teach me that “the plants and all living things” were put here by a loving creator to help me and make me feel good?

    OK, I’ll go away now

    Comment by Frank — March 14, 2010 @ 7:42 am

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