Modern Revelation! Sunday School Bonanza!

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sundayschooldandcsmallModern Revelation to Latter-day Prophets

  • The then-controversial correlation program
  • Church curriculum
  • Official Declaration 2 – Extension of the priesthood to all
  • Expansion of the Quorums of the Seventy
  • Patricia Auxier is a genius!
  • Teacher’s manual
  • Student manual

 

Transcript below:
[Geoff]

Everybody, we thank you for joining us
for Sunday School Bonanza. It’s brought to you by those of us at This Week in Mormons at thisweekinmormons.com. Shoot us an email if you would: contact@thisweekinmormons.com.

And if you enjoy this, by the way – if I could shamelessly plug more stuff that I do – join us for our Gospel Study Sesh, which is our email gospel study group with which we had rousing success through the latter part this year. You can go to thisweekinmormons.com, sign up for the mailing list, check the little box over in the left sidebar – you’re golden. Then you get to be a part of the fun.

So that being, uh, as I said before the things that I said,
Patricia Auxier is here and she’s on the edge of her seat – her own words.

[Patricia]
Yes, I am on the edge of my seat.

[Geoff]
Look at the effervescence that exudes from her being. She is so pumped to be here. Sometimes I honestly can’t tell if Patricia doesn’t like me. I really don’t know.

[Patricia]
[laughs]

[Geoff]
I honestly can’t tell.

So Lesson 42 is the one we’re hitting here: “Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets.” I love this lesson cuz it’s very much bringing everything up to our day. Most of what we talk about in this lesson honestly takes place past 1950 up until now, so, and I think the great thing I learned from that is that revelation happens today. It is not something that is restricted just to the sections the Doctrine and Covenants, et cetera et cetera. It’s not just a Restoration-era practice.

There’s a great quote here from John A. Widtsoe. Someone asked him – he was in a discussion with a group of stake officers – and they said, “Hey Brother Widtsoe, how long has it been since the Church received revelation – churchwide revelation.

Then Brother Widtsoe rubbed his chin – and I believe he had a wonderful goatee – rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said in
reply, “Probably since last Thursday.”

What trump card to play! It’s like, “That’s right stake leaders. I’m in the Twelve and I know what’s up.” Last Thursday. This is what happened.

So let’s talk about a bit of this today, leading off with, eh, Church correlation. Now before I get to that I wanna read Doctrine and Covenants Section 1, verses 37 and 38. Let’s look for the key point here to take home.

[Patricia]
OK, let’s look for it.

[Geoff]
It says, “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

“What I the LORD spoken I’ve spoken, and I excuse not myself. And though the heavens and the earth pass away,my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled. Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

Patricia what’s the key takeaway from that?

[Patricia]
Well you know, Section 1 is actually one of those sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that was published out of order. It wasn’t actually given first, but the Lord chose the section to be the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants.

And so I think it’s important to highlight that He’s talking about, yeah, specifically, search these commandments in the Doctrine and Covenants

But I think it goes further and just says, “You know, this isn’t all you’re gonna receive. Whether it’s by my own voice or by
the voice of my servants, it is the same. We have an open canon of scripture and you’ll continue to receive truth and knowledge from God.”

[Geoff]
Exactly.

And so one other interesting things that was the result of this truth and knowledge – what was called the “correlation
program” of the church. Now the point of this, of course, was really just to sort of rein in a lot of stuff. The church had grown a lot, but stuff wasn’t centralized so you found a lot of local units, stakes, people prepared their own curriculum, their own fliers; things were not centralized. And for better or worse, we’ve correlated stuff today and what that really means in the sense is it’s – well I’ll read three things –

Maintains the purity of doctrine.

We emphasize the importance of the family and the home

You place all the work in the church under priesthood direction

Establish proper relationships among the organizations of the church so that we actually have sort of a hierarchy, an organizational tree, an org chart.

Achieving unity and order in the church.

And ensuring the simplicity of church programs and materials which, I imagine, that’s a huge one.

[Patricia]
Right

[Geoff]
One of the problems they faced during this time was that oftentimes units would publish things that were quotes from General Authorities or other leaders that did not actually support hte Church’s official positions on certain issues. A lot of that is what sort of drove this correlation desire.

And that’s why we have today everything comes out from Salt Lake. Another big benefit, though, is you can travel anywhere in the world in pretty much hit within the same couple of lessons for
Sunday School. You wopn’t always have the same sacrament
meeting topics, but you’ll have the same general ideas; the same things are happening around the Church.

And that is a unifying thing, I think for the saints. You know, like we say the Church is the same everywhere you go. That is a result of the correlation program.

[Patricia]
Now the lesson does point out that even though we did go through this correlation effort and the hierarchies of the Church leadership was established, we’re still not saves, necessarily, as a Church organization, but we’re saved as families; and that the family should be the central place for gospel teaching and leadership.

So even though these auxiliaries and quorums and programs or activities are part of the Church, they’re there really to strengthen and support the family. Which is, of course, why they
established Family Home Evening, and why we should put family home evening as a priority in our homes to make sure that the correlation of the Church effort is really there to supplement our work that happens in families.

[Geoff]
Exactly. I mean nothing works without the family. The family is at the core of everything. The Church is just sort of the frosting; it’s supposed to be the support apparatus. It’s not supposed to be the main foundation of everything.

Isn’t it amazing that Family Home Evening did not exist until, I believe, the President McKay era?

[Patricia]
Yeah

[Geoff]
What’d people do before that?

[Patricia]
Well, I mean…

[Geoff}
Just hung out? Talked about the stock market crash? What’d you do? The war?

[Patricia]
Well I think probably that might have been more of a preparation for time now, where I think back then you had more time in the home and things were more centered on the home. So I think it’s great that we started it then, because now, where there are so many activities to pull us away from the home – practices and, um…

[Geoff]
And just societal pressure and custom and everything, as well.

[Patricia]
So I think it’s good that we established a pattern that we are going to spend time.

[Geoff]

And it’s very interesting you said that, because back in the day – not to over simplify – but, you know, it was kind of a “Leave it to Beaver” society in many ways in the family life. So it’s interesting today because many people will say that the Church is very 1950s, sort of in our cultural mindset. That’s because it came from an era when we could rely more on families, and I like that. We try to carry that forward today because it was a good thing. We don’t want to lose that.

Another simple thing here – the operation of Church auxiliaries. I alluded to it a little bit more before. But, um, yeah, everything had gotten a little bit in disarray, and these organizations became very complex. I mean, could you imagine if you had an autonomous Young Men’s program today, just running around, running amok, doing what it wants, no direction from Salt Lake?

So of course it was important to bring all of that to ensure the purity of the doctrine and that everything was being taught appropriately.

Of interesting note, though – we don’t talk about this – many auxiliaries pushed back agains this correlation effort. It was somewhat controversial even amongst the Brethren. Back in the 50s when they were attempting to do this, there were many who did not favor it, actually. I believe a big pusher of it was Harold B. Lee, but Hugh B. Brown, for example, was not a big fan of it. A lot of people thought it overly centralized stuff and took autonomy away.

It’s kind of funny, we see it’s like the same federal/states’ rights issues, right? It’s interesting. But I think we’ve done well with it and we definitely see the benefits of it today. Everything is clean, much better now.

[Patricia]
Yeah. Something else that has happened in the 70s was the preparation of Church publications in terms of, um, that’s, you know, we had a lot of publications going around. We had “The Improvement Era.” We had publications from the Relief Society and the priesthood and the “Millennial Star” and all these things, so…

[Geoff]
“The Instructor” – I’ve never even heard of that.

[Patricia]
I have never even heard of that one.

[Geoff]
Yeah, it was one of them.

[Patricia]
Um, but during the 70s they centralized everything into the “New Era” and the “Ensign” and, um, the lesson manuals and Church magazines, and all these things were supposed to center the Church doctrine and make it so these doctrines and everything that was published by the Church and in the Church’s name was actually a reflection of the Church doctrines.

So everything that is published in the Church’s name has to go through correlation. And that means, you know, being seen by the Brethren.

[Geoff]
Exactly. Everything goes through them.

Then, Home Teaching! Amazing that that also did not exist before then, and I think we’ve always had a good fraternal mindset. We have a good zeitgeist within the Church of always trying to take care of one another and really look out for each other; but it the correlation era that Home Teaching became an official practice.

I have a deep and abiding passion and love for the home teaching program. I’ve had great experiences with it where some people have just said, “Hey, I haven’t had home teachers for years. Thank you for calling me.”

No one’s perfect with it. I am certainly not Mr. 100% all the time, but it was great value. I just… It’s something I appreciate – both being visited and having the opportunity to serve other people. It’s not just “Go share a message once a month and ‘Well, call is if you need something.'”

You know, it’s just, KNOW people. Look out for them. And, ideally, you’re supposed to use that to report to your Elders quorum president, who then can report to the bishop if there are issues that need to be addressed; families that are in trouble and need help. That’s the whole point of being a home teacher. You know, we’re sort of the boots on the grounds for a bishop to really see how the ward is doing on a daily basis.

[Patricia]
Right. And it’s just another way, uh, um, of organizing the work and organizing the people so that we can help each other effectively.

Another example of continuing revelation is the revelation from 1978 in which the priesthood was extended to every worthy male member of the Church.

And this revelation is really important in my family, especially because my parents; when my parents got married my dad was not a member of the Church and he investigated for a long time. And when this revelation was received through President Spencer W. Kimball it really softened my dad’s heart and really provided the preciptating action for him to join the Church.

[Geoff]
That’s awesome. I didn’t know that. Yeah, I can’t even add to that. It’s obviously one of the most landmark things that we’ve had happen in the past fifty or sixty years in the Church. I mean, that’s why it’s Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Speaking of, many of us keep wondering when the Proclamation on the Family will become Official Declaration 3. I just see it happening.

[Patricia]
Yeah, I do, too, as well.

[Geoff]
Uh, sliding into that, into publication of scriptures – that was another big thing that happened because of revelation. In 1979 after a lot of work and direction, the Church published a Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. This was a huge deal! Before that, we used the King James Version, and that’s still what we have, but, of course, this edition of the Bible has special study aids, it has footnotes, it has the Bible Dictionary, the Topical Guide, the maps, all that stuff that you’ve seen and that many of you who listen to this podcast have remember for your entire lives, myself included. The only scriptures I know is what we have in the quad. That’s what’s always been there.

So think about how radical it was that they were able to get this great, annotized version of the Bible.

In 1981, the Church published a new edition of the triple combination, which had expanded footnotes and, of course, greater footnotes in relation to the Bible, really bringing everything together.

So we did not have the quad itself until 1981. And that is remarkable. That is so, so valuable to the Latter-day Saints. Especially, I love being able to read the Old Testament and look in the footnotes and see something that references the book of Mosiah somewhere; how it’s all, you know, stick of Judah, stick of Joseph, all coming together.

One thing the lesson doesn’t mention that you might just want to be aware of – just a couple of years ago the Church finally finished a lengthy translation and annotation program for the scriptures in Spanish. We had a triple combination for a long time but they did not a have a Church-published version of the Bible. Now Spanish-speaking Saints have the exact same benefits and opportunities as English-speaking ones in terms of the full breadth of the footnoted, translated, put-together scriptures, which is super cool. I just think it’s great.

[Patricia]
Yeah, and um, you know Geoff, you alluded to the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim being united. So, you know, the publication of these scriptures is the fulfillment of prophecy. And Elder Packer, um, said of this:

“The stick or record of Judah – the Old Testament and the New Testament – and the stick of the record of Ephraim – the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ – are now woven together in such a way that as you pour over one you are drawn to the other. As you learn from one, you’re enlightened by the other. They are, indeed, one in our hands.”

So it’s a great blessing that we can study from the words of the gospel throughout the centuries together in one centralized publication.

[Geoff]
Yeah, we’re pretty dang lucky. Honestly, if you want to think about things to be grateful for in these latter days, it’s that we have these wonderfully put-together sets of scriptures that can help us a ton.

Now Patricia, before we go I have a question for you. How many Quorums of the Seventy are there today?

[Patricia]
There are, you know, I’m trying to find where it says this in the lesson!

[Geoff]
This is just a straight up question!

[Patricia]
Ha ha! I know! There are five!

[Geoff]
You are correct, madame! Now what happened in 1975-

How many quorums were there before 1975?

[Patricia]
Let’s say one.

[Geoff]
Sort of. It was actually just the Presidency of the Seventy, like we have today.

[Patricia]
Oh, haha!

[Geoff]
It was seven guys. That’s it. That was the whole Seventy back then. In ’75 they organized the First Quorum of the Seventy. In 1989, further expansion came when they organized the Second Quorum of the Seventy. We know by scriptures, of course, you know we talk about seventy times seven, so presumably, we could have seven quorums with seventy people each.

If you look today at the First and Second quorums, neither of them have seventy each. In fact, the Second Quorum is sort of depleted to all-time lows right now. There’s, like, five of them in there for some reason.

Now on top of that, you references five before, right?

[Patricia]
Yeah.

[Geoff]
So there’s five today. That was because for a very long time we had things that were called Area Authorities in the Church. They were just guys you just kind of oversaw an area, but they weren’t Seventies. They just kind of worked in tandem with them.

And it was in 1997 that President Hinckley reorganized things and reorganized the Area Authorities as Area Authority Seventies. And that’s when they organized the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy.

The big difference here: they’re not General Authorities. They still maintain their day jobs. This is a calling like any other calling you would have if you’re not a General Authority. And so they carry on like that. It’s an interesting way of doing things. That’s why when you get the Ensign after Conference you don’t see pictures of the Area Authority Seventies ’cause they’re not General Authorities.

But if you wonder why sometimes President Uchtdorf gets up there and reads a very long list of people who are released and them called, most of those are Area Authority Seventies. But they do need to be called in General Conference. They’re not called in a stake conference or anything like that. So, it’s pretty cool. Further organization. Further helping.

[Patricia]
Yeah, and President Hinckley said,

“With these respective quorums in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size, with an organization of Area Presidencies and the Area Authority Seventies chosen and working across the world according to need. Now the Lord is watching over His kingdom. He is inspiring its leadership to care for its ever-growing membership.”

[Geoff]
Yeah, and I love the way it’s broken down, even at the level of the Twelve. Not every member of the Twelve, but most of them, have a broad regional authority. Within that you have Area Presidencies, which are typically Seventies. And then within that you have, you know, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy. All breaking stuff down and looking after people. Then stakes, districts, wards. People. Units. The home teacher. It all goes down, right? My wife is looking at me and I can’t tell what she thinks. So difficult for me.

[Patricia]
I think she is a fan.

[Geoff]
I hope so! Anyway, Patricia, we’re so glad you were here.

[Patricia]
Thanks for having me!

[Geoff]
I believe Patricia is finishing out the year on this one, too, folks, so send her your love for the great job she has done with the Doctrine and Covenants manual [claps]

[Patricia]
Yay!

[Geoff]
I appreciate it. She’s been great. Lesson 42, everybody – this is “Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets,” brought to you by Sunday School Bonanza. We’re your homies over there are This Week in Mormons.

[Patricia]
Dis week in Momunz!

[Geoff]
This Week in Mormons, yo! Alright, so we’ll see you later.