Sunday, July 29, 2007

LDS Seminary and the unfallen creation of all things

The image below is from the Old Testament Student Study Guide (English approval October 2002, p. 12).  This manual is used every four years by another 200,000 seminary students.  (Click on the image to open it larger in a new window.)

Three stages in Adam's existence

Notice it says all things were created physically in an "unfallen condition."  Then, when Adam and Eve fell, all things became mortal or "natural," meaning subject to death.

In other words, the creation was paradisiacal.  There was no mortality.  Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.


Blogger Dave said...

Just another example of what is wrong with CES.

7/29/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I'm not saying CES is perfect.  But the above is not an "example of what is wrong with CES."  It is what today's prophets and apostles teach and CES is merely following the Lord's instructions (see D&C 52:9 and 36).

7/29/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Sam B. said...

CES is overly-literalistic and dogmatic; although seminary may use the diagram, it offers an interpretation of scripture that is, frankly, short on the details and long on the spiritual significance. Your (and CES's) interpretation is a viable understanding of scripture, but far from the only (and probably far from the best) interpretation.

8/01/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

In a faculty meeting with the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at BYU, Elder Eyring was asked about the apparent conflict between science and religion. He responded "Sometimes our seminary teachers are more certain of things than the prophet."

8/01/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Nick said...

My seminary teacher once tried to teach us that 1 BC was much earlier than say, 2000 BC. It took me a few minutes to explain to her that before Christ you count the years backwards. From then on I didn't have too much confidence of what came out of my seminary teachers.

8/01/2007 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The universe is a big place--so big, in fact, that one would think God wasn't very expiditious in his work--perhaps even down right wasteful. But there it is: a bunch of gas out there banging around--and how much of it amounts to life? Only the tiniest percentage.

If God is going to do things in a big, protracted way, then why cannot the long process of evolution fit into the ever overlapping and merging theological and scientific cosmic schemes?


8/01/2007 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Sam B.:  CES doesn't fabricate and publish its own interpretation of scripture.  The seminary manuals are based on apostolic teachings.

Mike:  How does your comment relate to this post?  Are you suggesting Elder Eyring meant the seminary manuals are wrong?

Dr. Nick:  Please explain how the actions of seminary teachers invalidate the manuals.  Do home teachers invalidate First Presidency messages?

Jack:  Some things have been revealed "and what has been made known it is our duty to receive and retain."  (Ensign, Feb. 2002, p. 30.)  Scientific theory doesn't supercede revealed knowledge.

8/02/2007 04:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Nick said...

The first Presidency does not write the CES manuals. They probably sign off on them, but they don't write them, and if they sat down and read them thoroughly and had to come to a unanimous decision, many of the things in there would not make it. In reality they are written by committee. Nice try though.

8/02/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger JayFlow22 said...

Dr. Nick,
I believe the point he was trying to make was that the mistaken CES Teacher you had doesn't invalidate the CES material anymore than a poor Home Teacher would invalidate the First Presidency message...
...Not that the Presidency does the CES manuals.
Nice try though.

8/02/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


JayFlow22:  Thanks for the clarification.


Additional clarification for Dr. Nick.

Question:  Should that which is written in Church publications and lesson manuals be taken as official doctrine?

Answer: (by Elder Dean L. Larsen of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Managing Director of Curriculum Resources)

"Church publications fall into four general categories:  (1) materials related to the curriculum, such as lesson manuals, teachers supplements, and student materials; (2) magazines; (3) administrative documents, such as handbooks, leadership training materials, organizational guidelines and bulletins, etc.; and (4) missionary discussions, tracts, and support materials.  All of the materials within these four categories are prepared under the direction of some officially recognized Church agency, and they are reviewed and cleared by the Church Correlation Review committees before they are published and issued to the Church....

"While the content of the approved Church publications identified above does not claim the same endorsement that the standard works receive, nonetheless they are prepared with great care and are carefully screened before they are published.  Writers of curriculum materials must be cleared by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.  Their product is reviewed closely by the heads of the organizations that are responsible for their implementation.  Correlation Review committees check carefully for doctrinal accuracy and for harmony with established Church policies and procedures....

"Correlation Review ... Committee members are called as a result of their expertise in such areas as Church doctrine, Church history, and Church administration, and serve three different age groups: adult, youth, and children.

"Much care is exercised to make certain that the official publications of the Church carry messages that are sound in doctrine and fully in harmony with currently approved policies and procedures."  (Ensign, Aug. 1977, 38.)


Dr. Nick:  Yes, seminary students are taught from manuals written by committees, committees that are appropriately called and supervised by the heads of the Church.  Although comments about the manuals aren't solicited from seminary students, I'm guessing the committee would be happy to hear from you:

Curriculum Development
Room 2420
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3220

Email:  cur-development @ ldschurch.org


8/02/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Sam B. said...

Yes, the seminary manuals are based on apostolic teachings. They're also based on scriptural teachings. But neither the scriptures nor the teachings of the apostles are self-interpreting; my argument is that CES seems unwilling to accept that there are other interpretive regimes, and, guided by the Spirit, a faithful Saint could come to a conclusion different from that contained in the CES manual. You clearly agree; I disagree. I recognize that your reading is viable, if problematic. I also recognize that my reading is problematic. My question is, do you (and CES) recognize my reading (e.g., that evolution happened, that we descended from a non-human ancestor, that the Genesis explanation is metaphorical, and that God created us) as a viable reading? If so, our conversation may be fruitful; if not, it does neither of us any favors.

8/03/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't dispute the basic doctrine that God created all things. You're right that revelation must have the last word, but let's not forget that, as Elder Oaks has said, reason should have the first word. Let's not say that something is not happening when it is. And if it (evolution) is happening, then rather than throw God out with the bathwater, let's allow reason to inform us as to new ways of considering his methods.


8/03/2007 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Sam B:  I agree.  Your reading of scripture is viable.  Evolution is easily compatible with a metaphorical Creation.  But there is no Church publication where any of the last six Church presidents and thirty one apostles interprets Genesis metaphorically.  In that context, I'm okay with whatever you want to believe about evolution.

Jack:  Your point of view is as legitimate as mine.  It's just not what the LDS Church teaches.

8/04/2007 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...there is no Church publication where any of the last six Church presidents and thirty one apostles interprets Genesis metaphorically."

Gary, clearly, there is acceptance of some level of metaphorical interpretation. Even in the scriptures themselves a "day" in one account is a "time" in another. Plus, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any general authority who actually believes that Eve was formed from a rib. And further more (for those of us who are old enough to remember), there was a time when--in a more esoteric setting--it was made absolutely clear that certain aspects of the creation were figurative.


8/04/2007 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jack:  There is no Church publication where any of the last six Church presidents and thirty one apostles interprets Genesis in such a way as to allow that humans descended from a non-human ancestor, etc.  Please don't twist the meaning of my response to Sam B's comment.

8/04/2007 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Jack:  We aren't talking about whether there is "any" metaphor in Genesis.

The question is whether the view that evolution happened and we descended from a non-human ancestor is a viable view.  While a metaphorical interpretation of Genesis can easily be made compitable with that view, there is no Church publication where any of the last six Church presidents and thirty one apostles supports that metaphorical interpretation.

Arguing against "any metaphorical interpretation" of Genesis is a straw man argument.  Don't misrepresent my words and then pretend to refute me.  If you would like to send me an email, we can further discuss my editing of your comment.

8/05/2007 02:55:00 AM  

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