The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

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bridget_night
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The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by bridget_night » 12 Aug 2009, 09:30

Have you all heard about this: http://latterdaymainstreet.com/?p=741#more-741 And what are your thoughts. Bridget




The New Gospel Principles
via Main Street Plaza by Jonathan on 8/12/09



I have mixed feelings.

The LDS church has published an updated edition of Gospel Principles (already available for purchase). Sunday school teachers use this manual to teach new church members and anyone thinking about becoming a member. For the next two years, the church will also use this manual to teach the other adult members during the last hour of Sunday services instead of another installment in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series.

A number of changes have been made to the manual since it was last published in 1997. Among changes made for clarity, the church has also made changes that eliminate or significantly downplay a number of doctrines:

Faithful members will become “a god”.
God was not always a god.
God became a god the same way members of the LDS church can become gods.
Jesus Christ is our eldest spiritual brother.
Satan is also our brother. That makes Jesus and Satan brothers.
We are the children of “heavenly parents” (i.e. we have a Mother in Heaven).
Adam and Eve are the “parents of the human race”. They are now simply called “our first parents”.
The church in Jesus’ time had the same organization as the current LDS church.
The organization of the church in Joseph Smith’s time was completed within “several years”. Instead, the manual says that the church is still developing.
Faithful members must be obedient to all of the commandments in order to gain Exaltation..
I applaud some of those changes. One gives enough wiggle room that members can stop ignoring the evidence that humans evolved from apes. Another may help ameliorate the plague of perfectionism among Mormons. Others open the door to the admission that the church has changed over the years.

And hey, the new cover is an improvement.

At the same time, I’m sad to see the leaders of the LDS church continue to distance themselves from some of the doctrines that I cherished most as a member of their faith. These doctrines gave me hope and made Mormonism interesting. Without them, Mormonism becomes just another shade of Protestantism. yawn

Some will say that this doesn’t represent a change in doctrine, that the church is only simplifying things for new members. I would be tempted to accept that except for a couple of things. First, this is being used to teach all adult members, not just the new ones. If the intention was to ease new members’ learning curve, then why dumb doctrines down for everyone?

Second, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find those doctrines in any official publications. It would be an enlightening exercise to research the last official publication that explicitly mentioned, for example, that faithful LDS members would become gods and goddesses. Even the temple ceremony doesn’t present that doctrine. I’m not sure how anyone learns that doctrine anymore except by word of mouth.

More and more, the Mormonism that I grew up with is becoming an oral tradition expunged from the written record. That makes me a little sad, strangely enough.

[Crossposted at Green Oasis.]








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HiJolly
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by HiJolly » 12 Aug 2009, 10:22

bridget_night wrote:Have you all heard about this: http://latterdaymainstreet.com/?p=741#more-741 And what are your thoughts. Bridget

Geeze!! I haven't talked with Jonathan in ages! Thanks for posting this, I popped over to Green Oasis to see how he's doing. ...and couldn't keep myself from making a post on the Second Annointing --- I love the guy. I first bumped into him at Mormon Mystic, a couple of years ago.

Like Jonathan, I'm ambivilent about the changes, and I do like it that we're going to cover that material in priesthood/R.S. The truth that Joseph revealed is written down, in part, and that written part will remain. The rest is available to us just as it was to Joe. We just need to seek it out.

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Aug 2009, 10:54

Honestly, I'm not seeing a distancing with regard to the things that I believe can be described as "hard-core" doctrine.

The manual still uses the term "heavenly parents", for example - and the idea of becoming gods is still there explicitly. The second and third items on the list are things I don't consider to be established doctrines, as there never has been apostolic agreement on them. The description of Adam and Eve really doesn't change anything on the practical level, but I like the new wording. The next two about the organization I believe totally - and I think they are a better explanation of the actual core doctrines. The exaltation one always has included a strong emphasis on faith and repentance and forgiveness, so the overall message from the manual isn't as stark as that sentence makes it sound.

That's my initial reaction, anyway.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Poppyseed
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Poppyseed » 12 Aug 2009, 11:53

Well, I teach this class so you have my ears perked.

Ok. So the church updates its manuals all the time. I don't see anything wrong with this. Sometimes I see changes as "it's about time!" and other times I long for the older ways. (My father felt that way when they undated the mission disscussions. He hated that old contrived version of the 60's. And now, I might comment the missionaries have more freedom that ever to discuss a variety of topics according to the needs of the investigator. Wish we had that when I was serving.)

Is the church distancing? I think that is the first question. Or is the church just getting wiser about putting doctrines that we don't understand fully into the manuals? I see the "doctrines" (i use that word lightly) of God was once a man and the becoming Gods thing is definitely a unique and (to some) awesome part of our gospel understanding. But at the same time, not much has been revealed about these topics and most of what is printed is, imho, intelligent speculation. Some want to go to the mattresses over these ideas, but I don't God clarifying or expanding on what He is already said. So we are left to question.....which isn't bad at all. It just means I think we do need to draw the line in terms of what we put in a Gospel Essentials manual. Knowing there is mother in heaven or the origin of the Gods ISN'T a gospel essential. The Atonment on the other hand is. So. I am comfortable.

So what is the church to do? They set the standard that the teachers should only teach what is approved by the first presidency. This is a good thing considering what "Mormon Doctrine" did for us in the 80's. I don't think this is any act of covering or dodging these ideas. I think they just want people who study them to be spiritually ready to tackle them. I know the church gets criticized for constantly changing. "This isn't the church it started out being!" (fist on the table) But if we believe in revelation.....and if we believe that Jesus is nudging this ship in the direction it needs to go, then why wouldn't it look different as the years go by? I mean the core isn't changing.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Bruce in Montana » 12 Aug 2009, 12:50

I hesitate to comment since I have not seen the manual. I would respectfully submit, however, that if we start downplaying or ignoring clear teachings like the following:,

I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us.... (“King Follett Discourse,” Journal of Discourses 6:3-4, also in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-346, and History of the Church, vol. 6, 305-307)

...that we are chopping at the root of the restoration. Throwing the essence of the King Follett Discourse out the window in the name of progress may be going a bit far IMHO.

Things may progress...sure....but progressing does not mean disputing. In fact, Joseph Smith was IMHO clear about things in the future disputing his teachings:

“If any man preach any other gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed;”
“How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? by his contradicting a former revelation.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 366 & 214)

I could be mistaken...
My opinion only...
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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Tom Haws
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Tom Haws » 12 Aug 2009, 13:02

I agree in a sense with Bruce. Traditions are changed by small and subtle means.

For example, it's unheard of to pray in sacrament meeting for peace (that our soldiers and police officers may return home without shedding any blood), even though certainly the scriptures do teach of peace and endless forbearance. Likewise, small changes like these could lead to a church where it's taboo to say in Sacrament meeting, "My father in heaven wants me to become like him."

But as long as we have our hymns, "O My Father", "I Am A Child of God" ,etc., I doubt the traditional taboo will arise. Hmm. A thread about the effect of hymnbook revisions on the belief and doctrine culture might be interesting. What might be the effect if such as "Up Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion" (scandalous), "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (militant), and "If You Could Hie To Kolob" (Kolob?), were "disappeared" (my fantasy)?
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Bruce in Montana » 12 Aug 2009, 13:40

If we are to believe Joseph Smith when he tells us, "It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God....", then if we dispute what he taught regarding the character of God.....I submit, with respect to Poppyseed, that the core is indeed changed. The character of God, as brought forth to us by Joseph Smith is absolutely a Gospel Essential.

Allow me to use an exageration to make a point...
Where does this stop? Should we just chunk the BoM, the Bible, the PoGP, the Journal of Discourses, etc. because we don't want to be guilty of carrying on any false traditions? If we believe that "a live prophet trumps a dead prophet", should we just toss all former teachings out and have Thomas Monson write the gospel? Could he write us something that would "fit in" with secular reasoning and that we wouldn't feel like we were a peculiar people for believing?
And what happens when he passes away?...Do we toss the Book of Thomas Monson and have the new church-appointed president write another?
I know I'm being crude, and that's not my intent, but I'm just trying to make a point and understand where this is supposed to end....or does it? ....Does the gospel just need to change everytime secular reasoning comes in dispute with it?

My unsolicited opinion only...
Disregard at will.....
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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Tom Haws
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Tom Haws » 12 Aug 2009, 14:28

Bruce, I almost think what you are saying boils down to this question: "What does the restoration of the gospel mean to you? Do you believe in the Restoration of the Gospel in these the Latter Days? Do you believe in the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?" Don't stone me for what I'm about to say (no, not you, Bruce, just any lurkers).

Is atonement an accomplished fact? Or is it happening now, every day, all over the world?
Is restoration an accomplished fact? Or is it happening now, every day, all over the world?
What about revelation?
What about scripture?
What about prophecy and seership?

Are they all yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Or are they all just yesterday, or just tomorrow, or just not today?
Are they are here and everywhere? Or are they just here, or just there, or any place but there?
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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HiJolly
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by HiJolly » 12 Aug 2009, 14:53

Tom Haws wrote:Bruce, I almost think what you are saying boils down to this question: "What does the restoration of the gospel mean to you? Do you believe in the Restoration of the Gospel in these the Latter Days? Do you believe in the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?" Don't stone me for what I'm about to say (no, not you, Bruce, just any lurkers).

Is atonement an accomplished fact? Or is it happening now, every day, all over the world?
Is restoration an accomplished fact? Or is it happening now, every day, all over the world?
What about revelation?
What about scripture?
What about prophecy and seership?

Are they all yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Or are they all just yesterday, or just tomorrow, or just not today?
Are they are here and everywhere? Or are they just here, or just there, or any place but there?
Ummm, that tastes good to me!

Thanks, Tom!

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: The New Gospel Pinciples Manual

Post by Bruce in Montana » 12 Aug 2009, 15:33

Good points Tom...I'll try...let's see:

Is atonement an accomplished fact?
IMHO the atonement was accomplished from Gethsemane to Calvary. No further atonement is necessary. "It is finished".

Is restoration an accomplished fact?
If we're talking apples and apples here and identifying the restoration as restoring the priesthood (the authority to act in God's name) to the Earth after the great apostacy, then yes. Now I realize that the current mindset of most Church members is that the Church being restored is what is important and the priesthood restoration is some sort of appendage of that or that the priesthood can't exist without the Church. Fundamentalists would argue and offer as proof the priesthood being restored to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey when no church existed. If the Church hadn't been organized, the priesthood would still be alive and well IMHO.

What about revelation?
That's always the fundamentalist question. We haven't seen any "thus saith the Lord" revelations in a long while. What happened. Charles Penrose admitted to writing OD #1 and the leadership said that they got together and prayed about OD#2 and "felt the spirit".

What about scripture?
Excellent point. The sealed portion of the BoM comes to mind. I'm afraid though that when the people can't/won't live up to the scripture they have been given, the Lord is not going to get in a hurry to reveal more.

What about prophecy and seership?
Exactly. What happened to current prophecy? Where are the angelic visitations and visions? What happened that seership would be reduced to "feeling the spirit"? It sounds suspiciously like the heavens are shut for some reason....maybe it's just me.

All good points and great food for thought.

And Tom....I'm the "odd duck" here in this pond. If anyone needs to duck stones, it's probably me. :lol:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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