Gospel Principles class?

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Always Thinking
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Gospel Principles class?

Post by Always Thinking » 06 Dec 2017, 17:18

Have any of you ever been? Is it a good place for more nuanced believers? I'm wondering because I finally opened up to a friend in my ward about my struggles with the church (didn't go into detail, just told her how I'd lost my trust in prayer and how it led to me questioning everything else). While I was talking to her, she told me that gospel principles class is a good place for asking difficult questions about principles in the gospel and that she enjoys going there because it's a big discussion and they handle difficult topics too. Apparently according to her I could even bring up troubling parts of church history (generally, I didn't ask her about specific parts of history, idk how many things she knows about church history. I just asked her if I could bring up the troubling parts of church history and she sounded confident that I could). I would love a place where I can bring up stuff that troubles me or voice my own opinions, but I'm afraid that she's over confident in what's allowed and that it'll become super awkward if I bring certain things up. I'm planning on going this weekend and testing the waters a bit with things that aren't super heavy, and just seeing how people handle certain questions or opinions I have. But I'm mainly wondering if any of you have been to gospel principles class and if it was actually a welcoming place or if it wasn't? Did you feel you could talk about things in the class or like you had to hold your tongue?

Roadrunner
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by Roadrunner » 06 Dec 2017, 18:50

You are right - this class is intended for investigators and new members and therefore in theory the teachers would be used to difficult or blunt questions. So while difficult questions may be asked you may not get full answers - depending on the teacher. Full time missionaries or ward missionaries often teach the class so often you will get missionary type answers. Some teachers may be wonderful but others will gloss over difficult topics.

If you’re not satisfied with Gospel Doctine give it a try. I taught Gospel Principles for two years and tried to give thoughtful honest answers.

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dande48
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by dande48 » 06 Dec 2017, 20:54

I've been both as a ward missionary and as a full-time missionary. In my experience, the lessons are VERY simplified. The teachers have, more often than not, tried to turn any difficult questions to either establishing common ground, or invoking the feelings of the Spirit. A couple have attempted to delve into the more deeper parts of doctrine ("Look at these Egyptian hieroglyphs!"), in attempt to impress. But that all depends on the specific teacher.

You might get more empathy, but you won't get better answers. I personally prefer gospel doctrine, because I am able to pull out tidbits that are relevant, and help increase my understanding. I don't think there is a place to ask difficult questions in the Church.
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nibbler
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by nibbler » 07 Dec 2017, 06:38

Short answer: It's a crapshoot.

Long, meandering answer:

I attended gospel principles as a recent convert. I taught and attended the class during my mission. I taught and attended the class several times for the three or four times I was called to be a stake/ward missionary. I taught and attended the class when the church made the gospel principles manual the curriculum for PH/RS on 2nd & 3rd Sundays in 2010 and 2011.

Most of the time that I attended those classes, the teacher (myself included) took the approach of asking very specific questions that funneled the answer/discussion down to one very specific answer. People in the class generally didn't ask questions, the class was presented more as a lecture.

It's teacher roulette, but it sounds like you've got a teacher in your ward that's open to discussion. :thumbup:

Random things:

I have this unfounded feeling that a bona fide investigator would get more of a pass on the types of questions asked than a decades long, active member. As an investigator, maybe I could ask some tough questions that challenged people's comfort zones and people would be more inclined to take the question as being sincere and give sincere answers. As a decades long, active member there might be a tendency by some to believe that I am trying to stir the pot. "He knows, he's just attacking." So I might get defensive answers and a label (or ladle, for stirring the pot you see).

The last time I taught the class was during the 2010 - 2011 run during PH. That assignment came right as I was teetering on the edge of my faith. It turned out to be a really good experience because I was the teacher, I asked the questions (I typically don't ask questions as a participant in classes - I'm weird that way). I took that opportunity to ask some very sincere questions that I had; questions that expressed doubt and uncertainty. I was really surprised by the answers the quorum would give. The answers mostly came from the same half dozen or so people, but they made the class more of a discussion. All I had to do was ask my devil's advocate or "what about..." questions and the crowd filled the time. It was great.

If I were to go back to that class (ugh, I've attended it enough over the years) I think I'd hold my tongue. Why? If I were to ask a tough question to facilitate discussion I'd worry that my peers would see me as attempting to run off the investigators or recently baptized.

There's another reason. I don't really feel I need answers. That's not to say that I believe I have all the answers or that I'm somehow smarter than everyone else, it's just that the classes at church feel designed to arrive at the One True, Approved Answer, and that's something I don't need right now; however I do need more discussion in our lessons... IDK.

Lots of words to say, sounds like you may have a good GP class. I'd certainly test the waters.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Dec 2017, 06:50

Like some others here, I attended the class as an investigator and new member. In those days it was not a year long class, people only went for about 3 months. A a side note I believe the change to a year long class was so that bishops didn't call all the new members into Primary right away because "What better place is there to learn the gospel?" It's also a great way to isolate people from adult interaction at church.

Anyway, I also attended as a missionary and on occasion I have attended when visiting other wards. I agree with what everybody else has said - it's pretty much a crapshoot and heavily dependent on who is teaching and their level of orthodoxy. No surprise they tend to be pretty orthodox, although I have seen exceptions to that and the one we have in our ward is somewhat open/progressive. In general I'd say most "hard questions" would be glossed over, especially if there are real investigators there - but I don't know your ward and your mileage may vary. You could give it a try, it probably won't hurt you.
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AmyJ
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by AmyJ » 07 Dec 2017, 07:41

nibbler wrote:
07 Dec 2017, 06:38
I don't really feel I need answers.
I am not sure that I have all the correct questions, let alone any of the answers. I'm good with that though (mostly).
nibbler wrote:
07 Dec 2017, 06:38
That's not to say that I believe I have all the answers or that I'm somehow smarter than everyone else, it's just that the classes at church feel designed to arrive at the One True, Approved Answer, and that's something I don't need right now; however I do need more discussion in our lessons... IDK.
I don't go to church to get answers - those most people probably do. I used to go to church to get answers.

I go to church to get experiences that act as kindling for my fire of inspiration/revelation. Sometimes I find at church the experience turns out to be a log instead of kindling - and for that I am always grateful. Sometimes I gather a few bits of kindling revelation and go "huh - that might not have been worth it this week".

Growing up knowing I had non-traditional brain wiring taught me that the "One True Approved Answer" was probably not going to be something I got, or if I got the same answer, I was either going to arrive at that answer differently than everyone else and/or describe it differently than everyone else. That was as much a fact as what my car tells me the temperature outside is.

Right now, I have to believe that God does give inspiration to people, and that when I do uplifting things to draw closer to Him, the Holy Ghost will transmit something personal for me to my spirit. If that is not the case, then whatever my spirit pulls from the experience and uses to become a better person works as well.

Roy
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by Roy » 07 Dec 2017, 09:46

I taught Gospel principles several times. I believe that your experience may also depend on the lesson. If the lesson is on something basic like faith then there may be significant room for thoughts and discussions without going near inflammatory areas. For example, I believe that one could say that faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin and that faith is not to have knowledge but to have a belief in the unseen. Sometimes in the church we push people to say I know - yet for the vast majority of us it is faith and hope, not knowledge, that leads our walk with Christ. Those are the types of comments that I believe could happen in most Gospel Principles classes.
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Holy Cow
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by Holy Cow » 07 Dec 2017, 09:47

I can't add much to what has already been said. I agree with all of the previous answers. I started attending GP in 2016, just so I wouldn't have to go to the Book of Mormon lessons in Gospel Doctrine. And I continued going in 2017, to avoid the D&C lessons. About halfway through 2017, I started going back to Gospel Doctrine, because I missed sitting next to my wife. Sunday School is the only piece of the 3-hour block that we can sit together (without kids), so I'd prefer to go sit through a lesson that I hate in GD with my wife by my side, rather than going to a lesson that I halfway enjoy in GP by myself. I'm more comfortable with most of the material in GP (except for the lessons that are specifically about mormon-specific doctrine). But, honestly, I'd rather sit in the hall than attend either class. I go to SS to sit next to my wife, and for no other reason now.
In GP, I was hoping to be able to ask more questions, but never ended up actually doing it. Most of the people in the class were either new members, investigators, or members who had just started coming back to church. I didn't feel comfortable bringing up anything controversial or deep in that environment. I'm fine having my own doubts and questions, but I don't want to be the cause of derailing somebody else if they're perfectly happy.
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Heber13
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Dec 2017, 11:34

dande48 wrote:
06 Dec 2017, 20:54
But that all depends on the specific teacher.
I agree. I taught it for a couple years in my ward and when teaching always took the pulse of the class. When no investigators were there, I found it easy to push the topics and have open discussions. I also would send a sheet around to ask class members to write questions and topics they want to discuss in future classes...and I got responses like addressing the Nov policy, and gender and the plan of salvation and divorce and what happens when good things happen to bad people (and vice versa)...and I enjoyed addressing those topics.

When investigators did come, I'd adjust to be careful, but actually find most of them are open to discussing lots of things, not just canned lessons.

The good thing about Gospel Principles is that it mostly focuses on the simple gospel topics, stuff that makes sense to me. While the topics are basic, we open it up to discussions on lots of questions and topics surrounding the lesson topic. So...there is more leeway, I think. More opinion.

I find it a better class to go to then Gospel Doctrine. I find fewer close-minded hard orthodox thinkers in the class.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Heber13
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Re: Gospel Principles class?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Dec 2017, 11:38

Holy Cow wrote:
07 Dec 2017, 09:47
I'm fine having my own doubts and questions, but I don't want to be the cause of derailing somebody else if they're perfectly happy.
HC...don't you kind of think also that the level of thinking you are at is really hard to address in a 40min class anyway? I'm not sure exactly what are some examples you might have or think of...but it seems to me like things like "Polygamy" or "Printing Press" are of specific detailed church history stuff...those aren't really in the GP class curriculum.

GP is about gospel topics, so it is a bit safer to talk about open gospel things and how we apply things like Celestial Marriage to people in my situation with divorce, or maybe other people who have family members who are homosexual and wonder about eternal families...those discussions can be discussed. Maybe even seer stones can be brought up. But not really deep doctrinal discussions.

I dunno. Some hard topics take lots of reading and framing things in the right way to discuss and we don't really have a setup for that in church...which is a big part of the gap the church has for meeting needs of people, I think. Don't ya think?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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