Tuesday, January 5, 2010
A Responsible Critique (and Brief History) of the Gospel Principles Manual
We had our first lesson from the revised Gospel Principles Manual last Sunday. I was overjoyed that we actually had a lesson rather than focusing the "first Sunday" Elders Quorum hour yet again on Home Teaching. I loved the chance to think about the material and the way it was presented in the manual. But while I am pleased with the new formatting, I have generally felt a little underwhelmed at the lack of significant revision.
One exception could be the concluding chapter on Exaltation. I was greatly pleased when I saw that a couple of personally troublesome quotes were removed from that chapter. There were some statements which had greatly bothered me because I felt strongly that assertions were made which were unsupportable and which may not even be true at all. I was pleased to see them disappear in the new version. Despite my occasional underwhelming feelings with the way the manual presents the gospel, I felt these revisions were a step in the right direction.
Now lest anyone think that the Gospel Principles manual was intended to be the "end all" or the "one true and living" official presentation of the gospel, I recommend aquinas' post: Gospel Principles Manual: A Brief History. It shares some insight into who wrote it, its original purpose, and its original intended audience.
He also provides an excellent and responsible critique of the first chapter in the manual here: Gospel Principles Lesson 01: Our Heavenly Father. While I hadn't personally thought of some of the points he brings up, they are most definitely worth considering. I highly recommend the post as a great place to discuss the manual and for faithful but critical thinking.