Correcting in Gospel Doctrine class

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Natalie B over at BCC recently posted about a dilemma she had in her Gospel Doctrine class.

Last Sunday, I had the lesson that spoke about Thomas Marsh and his apostasy. Being an informed reader of BCC, when the subject came up I whipped out my iphone, reviewed John Hamer?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s excellent post on Thomas Marsh, and then proceeded to explain to the class that the story told in the manual was in fact incorrect. The moment the words came out of my mouth, I regretted them. I had put the teacher in a bad spot.?Ǭ† But, still, I KNEW the manual was dead wrong, and I felt I would be an accomplice in perpetuating slander if I didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t speak up.

My personal preference is to not bother with the stories in the manual. I teach the D&C curriculum no different from the others: I teach gospel principles using scriptures; I don’t treat the curriculum as if it were for a church history class.

Besides, many of the class members are more than twice my age, and have probably heard these stories tonnes of times. I find personal experiences shared by class members is much more valued.

As a result, I don’t have situations like Natalie brings up. That being said, what do you do when the manual is wrong (or, at least, as in this case, out of context)?

12 thoughts on “Correcting in Gospel Doctrine class

  1. tonnes

    See, this is why nobody follows your blog anymore. They can’t penetrate the Canadian!

  2. Interesting but how do you know that John Hamer’s post is correct.

  3. Annon: You seem to be suggesting that some information on the internet may be less than accurate?

    When I taught GD I never used the manual once. I just started in versus one of the book we were studying and then just progressed through as the year went on. With the D&C I just taught them in chronological order. Not everyone liked the loose format but I sure did; and as the teacher my vote counted more.

  4. I like the format of the D&C manual. It has specific principles for each lesson and uses various D&C section to discuss those principles.

    I’m not sure I would like a chronological format; that would seem to promote more of a church history lesson, from which I try to shy away.

  5. That is absolutely true, but I find that outside of BYU (and the bloggernacle) that church history is almost never mentioned. I figured doing one run through every couple of decades discussing history and its implications on our theology to be worthwhile. Especially since a large majority of members have a primary level of church history education. But no fear, I was canned after 15 sections or so :-)

    But your original question. Unless really detrimental (and that is a subjective decision), or if I can’t present it in a light hearted manner, or my judgment of the testimonial strength of the person I would be disagreeing with, or the flow of the class would seriously be damaged; I would just keep quiet. My last disagreement was a lesson on the WoW when the teacher stated caffiene was breaking it. But on the same lesson I didn’t mention anything about its status change to requirement (and thus its nonenforcement prior to that change), the non WoW practices pf prior church leaders, or the funny stories within the Prince McKay bio. Because while I find them interesting and/or funny, they would have disrupted the teacher’s lesson and not particularly helpful.

  6. True enough about the church history not being well known among church members. I just wonder whether a class about doctrine of the gospel is the place to disseminate stories from church history.

    I generally don’t speak up if the issue is minor, but I have spoken up from time to time. I can’t remember the last time I did however.

    In our WOW lesson, we didn’t go into detail about what is and isn’t against the WOW, so I avoided the issue you experienced.

  7. Dallin H. Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 78

    I have sometimes observed teachers who gave the designated chapter no more than a casual mention and then presented a lesson and invited discussion on other materials of the teacher’s choice. That is not acceptable. A gospel teacher is not called to choose the subject of the lesson but to teach and discuss what has been specified. Gospel teachers should also be scrupulous to avoid hobby topics, personal speculations, and controversial subjects. The Lord’s revelations and the directions of His servants are clear on this point. We should all be mindful of President Spencer W. Kimball’s great instruction that a gospel teacher is a “guest”:

    “He has been given an authoritative position and a stamp of approval is placed upon him, and those whom he teaches are justified in assuming that, having been chosen and sustained in the proper order, he represents the Church and the things which he teaches are approved by the Church. No matter how brilliant he may be and how many new truths he may think he has found, he has no right to go beyond the program of the Church.”

  8. I agree 100%. A discussion about church history should be an entirely separate course that is focused on. If the purpose of the course is on Gospel Doctrine, then let’s focus on that. All the church history stuff just takes away from the intended focus.

  9. Ok, I did a bit of web research, only using Wikipedia.

    I found George A. Smith tells the story of Marsh that was repeated so much in 1855.

    Could George A. Smith’s story be true. Yes. Why, because he was in the quorum of twelve apostles with Marsh.

    Do we know the story is accurately told. Of course not. But pretty much no historical story is 100% accurate.

    Wik calls the story unsubstantiated, but that does not mean that it is false.

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