Thursday, March 26, 2009

Discussion Forum: Getting the Word Through Joseph Smith

So, I am having a really busy week at work, and have not had much time to think about a post for this week's lesson. I am hoping you all will help out. The lesson focuses on what we have obtained from the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Some of the obvious things include:

1. A knowledge of the nature of God and the Godhead
2. An understanding of personal revelation
3. The Book of Mormon, and other modern scripture
4. The Inspired Version of Bible
5. A more complete understanding of the creation and the fall
6. The Plan of Salvation, with all that entails
7. The Priesthood
8. Temples

Not a bad list. But, what would you focus on? What other things do you think we in our dispensation know or understand because of the Joseph Smith? How would you elicit meaningful discussion of his role? As a teacher, what do you think our objective should be with this lesson?
And, this is Gospel Doctrine Underground, so I have to ask: Like all of us, Joseph was a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses. What do you think of Joseph Smith as the Lord's conduit? What were his greatest gifts? What were his greatest challenges/stumbling blocks? And do you talk about those during the lesson? How?

I look forward to your comments.


  1. Glad I ran across your site. I'm swamped at work and have just started looking at the lesson. I have to admit that nothing is leaping out at me. However, I'm thinking about picking out several of the topics from the chart on p. 74 and discussing what Joseph added to our knowldege, rather than focusing on the different books of scripture. Any thoughts on that approach, especially given an older conservative class that already frowns on my ventures off topic.

  2. Anonymous: I like that approach, and think it could lead to some interesting discussions. One thing I have considered is focusing on 2 or 3 of the topics, rather than trying to do a comprehensive list. I think the story of Section 76, for example, is very interesting. We have a fair amount of detail about how it was received, how it was published, and the reaction of the saints. It was pretty controversial in the early Church, since it described salvation for all (or almost all). Not everyone was comfortable with that, and Brigham Young said many left the Church over it. Of course, you would want to be careful not to preempt the lesson of Section 76, which is still coming!

    I think the understanding we have through Joseph Smith regarding the priesthood is also fertile ground for discussion. “Priesthood” was a pretty significant doctrinal departure from most of the religious movements of Joseph Smith's day, and the idea informs much of our beliefs and doctrines, from family, to Church government, to the temple.

    Good luck with the lesson. We would all be interested to hear your thoughts as they develop.

  3. I'm not a teacher, but you touched on one of the great things I love about Joseph Smith: he was imperfect, and yet the Lord really used him. Gives the rest of us hope that if we just say yes, the Lord will overlook our human idiocies and really do some good out there.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. I particularly like the Section 76 thoughts. I was actually thinking of highlighting some of the truths about Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and the philosophy and meaning of life revealed through the Prophet Joseph. Each of those topics will allow reference to all of the books of modern scripture, provide stark contrasts with other religious ideals (both historically and currently), and provide fertile ground for discussion without overmuch controversy. As I mentioned originally, I'm teaching a very large class of middle age and retired people. They really have problems when I challenge long-held ideas or force them to think about the basis for their beliefs.

    That being said, I now envision starting my discussion with a discussion of the role of a prophet, including some of the quotations indicating that the Prophet is not always in full prophetic mode.

    Should be fun.

  5. Anonymous commenters: I like the role of prohet angle. We have such a tendency to transform prophets into perfect people. It is just harder to do with a real person whom we know something about! It makes persecution of the ancient prophets more understandable. Their neighbors and contemporaries knew thier foibles, which made it easy to disregard or resent them. And yet, they were prophets who taught us great things.


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