Attention LDS Faithful: Your Doctrine has been Revised

January 10th, 2010
Micah McAllister

Introduction
This year, LDS faithful will be returning to the basics, or core beliefs and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints through studying the Gospel Principles manual. This instruction manual has been employed in the Gospel Principles Sunday school class that is primarily attended by new converts to review and teach all that the Gospel has to offer. For 2009, this manual has been revised and includes removing all references to apostle Bruce R. McConkie's book, "Mormon Doctrine". These have been replaced with references to "Teachings of Presidents of the Church" manuals used over the past decade in Relief Society and Priesthood classes. According to church spokeswoman Kim Farah, this is "because it is available in 28 languages, while Mormon Doctrine is only available in a few" (SLC Tribune, Dec. 31, 2009). Also omitted or replaced are references to deceased apostle John A. Widstoe's book, "Discourses of Brigham Young", a 743 page compilation of discourses taken from the "Journal of Discourses" which contained all available discourses of Brigham Young and other early General Authorities. Despite these changes, the revised edition is 90% the same, according to business analyst Matthew Witten (SLC Tribune, Dec. 31, 2009). Witten also says that "the changes are not a big deal."

Below you will find a comparative review of some of the more significant and potentially doctrine changing revisions to allow you to make your own deductions on whether the changes are a "big deal" or not. While reviewing this post, please pull out your 2009 edition of Gospel Principles and if available, the 1997 edition (or earlier), so as to see the changes with your own eyes and not rely on this post alone. You will first find a list of the gospel topics that were revised, followed by a comparative review of each. Differences between the two editions will be marked as either underlined text for additions, or strikethrough text for deletions. All comparisons are the 1997 to 2009 edition of Gospel Principles.

Gospel Topics potentially changed by this latest revision
--- The Plurality of Gods
--- Heavenly Parents (mother)
--- Eldest brother Jesus
--- Attributes of the Holy Ghost
--- Becoming a God

Comparative Review of Topics
--- The Plurality of Gods
Excerpts from Chapter 1: "Our Father In Heaven"
From pages 9 and 5 from the 1997 and 2009 editions respectively:
God is the one Supreme and Absolute Being in whom we believe and whom we worship. He is the Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things (see Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 18–23) "the Great Parent of the universe," and He "looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 39)...
From pages 9 and 6 respectively:
Because we are made in His image (see Moses 2:26; 6:9), we know that God has a body that looks our bodies are like ours His body.
All good things come from God. Everything that He does is to help His children become like Him—a god.
---Heavenly Parents and Eldest brother Jesus
Excerpts from Chapter 2: "Our Heavenly Family"
From pages 11 and 9 respectively:
Every person who was ever born on earth was is our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual spirit children of our heavenly parents God, we have inherited the potential to develop their His divine qualities. If we choose to do so Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfect, just as they are like our Heavenly Father and receive a fulness of joy...
From pages 13 and 10 respectively:
We were not all alike in heaven. We know, for example, that we were given sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females (see "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). We possessed different talents and abilities, and we were called to do different things on earth. (See Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 51.) We can learn more about our talents and callings "eternal possibilities" when we receive our patriarchal blessings (see Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye Thomas S. Monson, in Holy Places, p. 117). Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 66).
Our heavenly parents provided us with a celestial home more glorious and beautiful than any place on earth. We were happy there. Yet they Heavenly Father knew we could not progress beyond a certain point unless we left them Him for a time. They He wanted us to develop the godlike qualities that they have He has. To do this, we needed to leave our celestial premortal home to be tested and to gain experience. We needed to choose good over evil. Our spirits needed to be clothed with physical bodies. We would need to leave our physical bodies at death and reunite with them in the Resurrection. Then we would receive immortal bodies like those that of our heavenly parents Heavenly Father. If we passed our tests, we would receive the fulness of joy that our heavenly parents have Heavenly Father has received. (See D&C 93:30-34.)...
Excerpt from Chapter 3: "Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Leader and Savior"
From pages 17 and 13 respectively:
We understood that we would have to leave our heavenly home for a time. We would not live in the presence of our heavenly parents Heavenly Father...
Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was called Jehovah, said, "Here am I, send me" (Abraham 3:27; see also Moses 4:1-4)...
---Attributes of the Holy Ghost
Excerpts from Chapter 7: "The Holy Ghost"
From pages 37 and 32 respectively:
The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (see 1 John 5:7; D&C 20:28). He is a spirit that has the form and likeness of a man "personage of Spirit" (D&C 130:22)...
---Becoming a God
Excerpts from Chapter 47: Exaltation
From pages 301 and 275 respectively:
Jesus taught, "In my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2)... If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father to live with our Heavenly Father in eternal families. Exaltation is the great­est gift that Heavenly Father can give His children (see D&C 14:7)...
From pages 302 and 277 respectively:
3. They will have be united eternally with their righteous family mem­bers with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family eternal increase...
Make your Deductions
Before reading on, take a few moments to ponder on each of the revisions noted above. Do these look like changes that merely simplify doctrine so as to be more easily comprehended? Could these changes have deeper ramifications including the possibility of cleaning up embarrassing doctrines that are unpopular or less mainstream? What other questions do these changes bring up? Knowing that this is just the most recent revision of gospel principles, does it leave you wondering what previous revisions may have revised, cleaned up, or omitted? Is the deletion of references to "Mormon Doctrine" and "Discourses of Brigham Young" only to make referenced material more accessible, or is it to prevent members from finding unmentionable, little known and embarrassing doctrine that is no longer taught? Only you can decide what makes sense to you. All of the above changes can be personally verified by comparing these two official Gospel Principles manuals.

Final Thoughts
When ever any publication goes through a revision, it presents the opportunity for several types of changes including but not limited to the following: Spelling and grammatical errors are corrected; sentences that weren't very clear may be reworded; new information that was previously unknown, unprepared or unavailable may be added; and some points may be altered or removed all together. It is this last item that may bring up the most questions: "some points may be altered or removed all together". Reviewing the revisions above, these are the points modified or removed that are potentially significant to long held Gospel Principles:

-- Heavenly Father may now be the Supreme and Absolute God instead of "one" God among many (his siblings, parents and relatives who also reached God status).
-- The idea of a Heavenly Mother has been removed due to "heavenly parents" being replaced by either "Heavenly Father" or "God".
-- Jesus may no longer be regarded as our oldest brother or even our brother.
-- The Holy Ghost may no longer be a being that is in the form of a human man but is just a lesser defined "personage of Spirit".
-- You may no longer actually become a God, but just return to His presence with your worthy family members.

As is familiar to LDS missionaries and return missionaries, the gospel is generally taught in a "milk before meat" approach. Without first knowing and gaining a testimony of the rather benign first principles and ordinances of the gospel, it is highly unlikely that deeper gospel principles or ordinances will be believed or accepted. However, if long held "deep" doctrines or principles are continually removed from each revision of lesson manuals and/or are no longer taught, does that make them no longer accepted principles of the gospel? Does that relegate them to being gospel myths, deniable outright to the media and investigators? Is this revision practice a deceitful concealment of embarrassing or non mainstream "meat" principles? If you find these questions troubling, do as the General Authorities advise and allow yourself to seek answers, even if from unofficial or unapproved publications. Let the spirit help you recognize the answers from within. What you find through your own free inquiry, may surprise you. There are 3 things that can't long be hidden: The sun, the moon, and the truth. However, only an inquisitive and open mind is likely to recognize the latter.

Additional Resources:
You can find links to both editions here (HTML and PDF): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_Principles
Additional revisions to these and other chapters are reviewed here but may not represent a complete list of all changes: http://www.mrm.org/gospel-principles
Discourses of Brigham Young
Journal of Discourses

Views: 5757

Comment by MikeUtah on January 10, 2010 at 4:11pm
Please share and distribute freely.
Comment by Katrina on January 10, 2010 at 4:34pm
Seems to fit right in with Hinkley saying that "He doesn't know they teach that" referring to the possibility of man becoming a God.. . .
Comment by Gilgal Garden on January 10, 2010 at 4:40pm
Well, if I can't be a god anymore, I don't want to be Mormon! That's the only reason I was in that damn cult! :)
Comment by Becky Marks on January 10, 2010 at 4:58pm
This is so sad. I'm still dealing with having everything I've held to and believed my whole life (i'm 35) being pulled out from under me. I still have a little of the, "what if it really is true" in the back of my mind, so every time I see things like this, it takes another little piece of me. it's so hard to totally rebuild your belief system. What parts of the doctrine do I still believe (i.e. are the Father and the Son two separate beings, or are they actually one?), and what parts do I not believe (i.e. that God cares what kind of underwear we wear). I did believe we have a heavenly mother because it only made sense, and i thought it gives us women some sense of identity and potential. So I have to go back through everything and reanalyze everything. So thanks for this. It helps.
Comment by Susan G. Emmett on January 10, 2010 at 5:24pm
This was very interesting. I think it's quite obvious what points of doctrine they are trying to remove (they hope permanently -- and that no one will notice!!). Do you have any plans to go through the whole manual eventually? I really hope you do. I think it would become a "standard works" for exmos.
Comment by Lori Crandall on January 10, 2010 at 5:24pm
Whoa, thank you for this. This is really traumatic to see my childhood and youth unraveling before my eyes. Everything I was ever taught was a lie, and I never thought in my wildest dreams that the would actually renig on the most basic doctrine that we were all taught in seminary. What a horrible waste of time the church and seminary was as a teen. It pains me to think of what I could have been doing with that time instead. I would have joined ROTC. While I'm happy to be rid of this dogma, I'm sad for my loss of precious time.
Comment by Jonas Clausen on January 10, 2010 at 5:50pm
Mormonism Lite, for the new generation. It's a good thing that active Mormons aren't overly concerned about truth, integrity, or reason, or they'd be having a faith crisis right now.
Comment by Wade A. Williams on January 10, 2010 at 7:51pm
"The gospel" is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Accept when it might make them look bad, or cause conflict, or cause unneeded attention, or help them retain members, or..........ect ect
Comment by MikeUtah on January 10, 2010 at 8:53pm
If you want to review the 2009 edition it is available here: http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8865-1-4828-2,00.html

The 1997 edition doesn't appear to be available online any longer (I know, big surprise).
Comment by MikeUtah on January 10, 2010 at 8:58pm
ETA: You can find links to both version here (HTML and PDF): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_Principles

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