Monday, May 08, 2006

1980-81 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, Lesson 6: The Divine Origin of Man

This Melchizedek Priesthood lesson was produced under the First Presidency's sponsorship. Based on the introductory portrait of and message from the First Presidency, it appears also to have been approved for publication directly by the First Presidency as a body.

Therefore, the comments of various Church leaders including President John Taylor, President Joseph Fielding Smith, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie found in this lesson are at least as authoritative as the talk "The Earth and Man" by Elder James E. Talmage, which is quoted in its entirety by William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery in their book, Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2005, pp. 71-94).

This lesson meets two of the three conditions outlined by Evenson and Jeffery, any one of which supposedly qualifies a document to be in their Appendix. (See Mormonism and Evolution, p. 8.)

There are nine images in this post, all taken from the 1980-81 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide.

Title Page
Portrait of 1979 First Presidency, page vi.
First Presidency Message, page vii.
Lesson 6, page 35.
Lesson 6, page 36.
Lesson 6, page 37.
Lesson 6, page 38.
Lesson 6, page 39.
Lesson 6, page 40.


Blogger Christian Y. Cardall said...

Gary, thanks for taking the time to scan and post this interesting material. I think whatever is currently in press is of greatest importance, but still this is interesting.

5/08/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christian, I don't know whether or not you've had a chance to read the book Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements. The book claims to contain "every document ... that meets the criteria for authoritative status." (p. 115.)

In its advertising, the book's publisher makes a similar claim: "This book compiles in full all known authoritative statements (either authored or formally approved for publication) by the Church's highest leaders on the topics of evolution and the origin of human beings." (Greg Kofford Books web site, 04/28/2006.)

According to its Preface, the book's Appendix contains:

-------------------- quote --------------------
"the other relevant documents pertaining to these issues and which were a) produced under the First Presidency's sponsorship, b) statements published by the President of the Church over his signature alone, or c) documents approved for publication directly be the First Presidency as a body." (p. 8.)
------------------ end quote ------------------

These three criteria are summarized in the book's Introduction as "materials having some level of authoritative status, i.e., First Presidency, President of the Church, or published officially by the Church." (p. 3.)

In the book's Afterword, the same three criteria are again reiterated:

-------------------- quote --------------------
"The documents included in this publication were selected according to their authoritative status for expressing the official position of the LDS Church on biological evolution. Every document of which we are aware that meets the criteria for authoritative status is included, irrespective of the position expressed on the subject of evolution. Three categories of authoritative status were identified for inclusion here:

"1. Formal statements by the First Presidency as a body....

"2. Documents authorized for distribution by the First Presidency....

"3. Documents after 1909 from a President of the Church addressing the subject directly in his capacity as President." (pp. 115-116.)
------------------ end quote ------------------

As stated above, the 1980-81 Melchizedek Priesthood Lesson 6 was produced under the First Presidency's sponsorship (see criterion a, p. 8). Based on the introductory portrait of and message from the First Presidency, it appears also to have been approved for publication directly by the First Presidency as a body (see criterion c, p. 8). Therefore, the lesson meets two of the three conditions, any one of which supposedly qualifies a document to be in Mormonism and Evolution's Appendix.

Last month, I posted four additional articles detailing documents that are conspicuously absent from a book that claims to present "in full all known authoritative statements."

1. Harold B. Lee on pre-Adamites,

2. David O. McKay and pre-Adamites,

3. Spencer W. Kimball and the watchmaker analogy, and

4. Joseph F. Smith on Theory and Divine Revelation.

All of these items meet at least one of the three stated criteria and all of them (including President Lee's unpublished letter and President McKay's handwritten note) easily have as much right to be in Mormonism and Evolution's Appendix as do the following Documents which are included:

E. The Talmage journal excerpt (p. 97),

F. The Grant journal excerpt (p. 99), and

L. Letters from the Church Public Relations department not identified by date or addressee (p. 113).

The omissions may have been unintentional. The effect, however, is deceptive and it greatly diminishes the value of the book.

5/08/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...


Thanks for making these pages available.

I'm not sure if I agree that this manual constitutes an official statement. I'm guessing that the note from the First Presidency introduces the whole book, not that particular chapter.

I have the MP study guides 1-4 published in the late 80's - early 90's. They each have an introductory letter from the First Presidency, but I wouldn't construe that to mean that the First Presidency specifically endorses every single line. It seems more likely to me that the content was written and approved by the regular correlation process, and the First Presidency provided a message of exhortation for each one.

In other words, I don't think I would view this particular manual as more official or authoritative than any other manual published by the Church. It should certainly be on the radar screen, but for the purposes of your argument concerning Evenson and Jeffery's book, I think there is a difference between this and the Joseph Fielding Smith priesthood manual since he actually wrote the contents.

It's also worth noting that the particular inference this manual makes about Luke 3:38 seems to be absent from Church materials since then, as I've discussed before.

5/09/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Concerning this manual, Bergera and Priddis in Brigham Young University: A House of Faith write (p. 434 note 72):


Hoyt W. Brewster, Manger, Adult Curriculum, Curriculum Planning and Development, wrote in response to criticisms of the priesthood manual that the lessons had been "fully approved by the correlation committee of the church; that is not to say that a future correlation committee might not desire changes in [their] content."

--end quote--

5/09/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Let me revise what I said above. I think it would be difficult to justify including "Earth and Man" while excluding this material.

5/10/2006 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared said, "the particular inference this manual makes about Luke 3:38 seems to be absent from Church materials since then."

That's not completely true. The Topical Guide in the LDS edition of the Bible makes the same inference in its entry for "Man, Physical Creation of."

5/10/2006 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, maybe if you contact the authors they'd include these sources or else clarify their criteria in a future edition.

5/10/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christian, My response to your first comment above was fairly long and identified several documents that seem to meet the stated criteria but were left out of Mormonism and Evolution for whatever reason. The tone of your most recent comment suggests that you might agree with me thus far. Is that true?

As you can see, my book review of Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements, has already involved several posts. But the review is not yet complete.

Next, I'll be reviewing Mormonism and Evolution's Appendix Document A, "First Presidency Instructions to the Priesthood: 'Origin of Man,' 1910." This document, I feel, does not belong in the book.

Thanks for your input,

5/10/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, I do basically agree that the things you point out seem to meet their criteria. I suspect they might try to refine their criteria to exclude lesson manuals, but I'd be curious to see their response.

One disagreement I have with their criteria is that I don't think anything not published by the Church---including statements by a President of the Church---should be considered authoritative.

5/11/2006 08:48:00 AM  

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