Sunday, February 07, 2010

Discussing the Flood in Sunday School

My experience today in Sunday School confirms the accuracy of this statement about the Flood:

"What have LDS prophets and apostles taught about the Flood? To date, all seem to have accepted Noah as an historical personage [and] uniformly there seems to be a tacit assumption that [the Flood] was universal. Usually it is treated as a miracle to be accepted without further analysis." (Duane Jeffery, Sunstone, October 2004, 36; emphasis added.)

My own Sunday School teacher affirmed a universal Flood.

One class member brought up the idea that the Flood was earth's baptism by immersion (incidentally, this idea is found in the Church's Guide to the Scriptures). The only response was from another class member who mentioned earth's impending baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost.

Gen. 7:21-23 about the destruction of "all flesh" was read aloud and the only question was whether anyone knows how many people died.

Most of the lesson time was used discussing how we can live worthily today and avoid the evils of our own world.

Fortunate indeed are those millions of Latter-day Saints who were taught faithfully today about the Flood from the scriptures and from the manual.


Blogger Steven Montgomery said...

Kudo's to you and your Gospel Doctrine class. Not everyone has been poisoned by so-called "higher criticism."

2/07/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the flood one of those things we are to take literally -- 100 percent -- like we take the creation account literally? What does authority say?

2/08/2010 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

The LDS Church teaches that "during Noah's time the earth was completely covered with water." But you don't have to believe that. I think you can read Genesis chapter 7 literally or you can read it figuratively. You can take it however you want. What you cannot do is tell people that the LDS Church says it was a local flood because the Church doesn't say that.

2/08/2010 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...


IMHO, the reason no one in your SS class challenged it is because people in the know have largely voted with their feet. The few who remain for other reasons don’t want to rock the boat. While still active, I often skip SS just to avoid the nonsense that passes for teaching. Moreover, I would be utterly embarrassed for my non-LDS friends to hear we teach a universal flood occurred against a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

2/08/2010 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger NoCoolName_Tom said...

I glad I teach Senior Primary. The lesson in the manual doesn't cover the "baptism of the earth" or any other doctrines like it (we can cover the rainbow and covenants a bit, but it's just an optional side point). The lesson recommends that we read the account from Genesis itself and provides almost no summary or exegesis of the verses suggested. The entire point is about following the counsel of the living Prophet.

As such, I am free to teach this lesson complete with qualifiers such as "according to the author of Genesis", "well, that's what the Bible says", and "as far as it is translated correctly". I won't tell them it was a global flood just like I won't tell them it was a local flood. All I am supposed to tell them is that those who survived the flood did so because the Lord had a Prophet to follow. If asked about the extent of the flood, I feel I am free to address that many faithful members of the Church feel that it was localized, but that Church leadership supports a global flood.

I find it interesting that for the Primary, where basic doctrinal concepts are supposed to be taught, any theological importance of a global flood is certainly being minimized for the youth.

2/09/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger cinepro said...

Hi Gary,

You might be interested in this poll at the MADB discussion board:


It's a survey of what people are hearing about the flood in their Gospel Doctrine classes.

2/12/2010 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

cinepro claims that the majority (16) of those who responded to his poll said "the actual scope of the flood was never specifically mentioned outside the implications of the lesson manual."

My copy of the manual says "Because of the people’s wickedness, the Lord declares that he will destroy all flesh from the earth," and "All people and creatures that are not on the ark die."

Question for cinepro: The manual says the Lord "will destroy all flesh from the earth." If these words weren't crystal clear, the manual would clarify. The ordinary meaning of these words is what the manual intends to communicate and the word "all" is an adjective that describes scope.

2/13/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Aaron B said...

Gary, you'll perhaps be displeased to know that as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward, I don't have to push figurative or allegorical interpretations of Genesis on my students; There are several members of the class that do that of their own accord, leaving me free to suggest that there's a "Big Tent" of interpretive possibilities in Mormonism.

But you'll be pleased to know that the week of the lesson on the Flood, I was called away to present in Sunbeams, and so was unable to promote my heresies that week. :)

2/20/2010 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Carson N said...

I think Steve EM is right. I've been voting with my feet lately. Sunday School is far from being an open forum. Those who disagree get implicit or explicit invitations to leave. What you're left with is an echo chamber. An echo chamber produces echos, and that should not surprise anyone.

2/21/2010 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Steve EM, NoCoolName_Tom, Aaron B and Carson N,

It's completely okay with me that you don't agree with the Sunday School manual.

The manuals are not scripture. Most of them contain things that will be changed with the next revision and most invite your input. But send your comments to the address given as opposed to criticizing the manual in class.

If you are a Sunday School teacher and you believe something in the manual is wrong, focus on another part of the lesson or get a substitute. Your Sunday School calling isn’t a soap box.

Remember, right or wrong, Church manuals contain what the First Presidency and the Twelve have approved. According to its copyright page, for example, the current Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual received "English approval: 1/01".

The teacher's responsibility is to present the intended meaning, not point out that the manual might be wrong. Specifically, if the manual says (which it does) "Because of the people’s wickedness, the Lord declares that he will destroy all flesh from the earth," that is what should be taught. If the manual says (and it does) "All people and creatures that are not on the ark die," that is what should be taught.

2/21/2010 10:40:00 PM  

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