Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New BYU and CES religious education curriculum

In a letter dated October 24th 2014 BYU’s College of Religious Education has accepted a new religious education curriculum. The official letter can be found here. Approval has been given to replace the old curriculum of courses as we know them, focused on the books of scripture (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) with four new “thematic” classes.

1. Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel: A study of the Savior and His roles in Heavenly Father’s plan as taught across all the standard works

2. Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon: A study of the teachings and doctrine of the Book of Mormon with emphasis on the Savior’s ministry

3. Foundations of the Restoration: A study of the key revelations, doctrine, people, and events of the Restoration

4. The Eternal Family: A study of the central role of the family in the plan of salvation as taught in the scriptures and the words of modem prophets

The older scripture-based classes will be phased out over the next few years. Apparently this curriculum will also be initiated in all BYU campuses, and throughout CES. Some sources say the faculty of Ancient Scripture initially voted 33 to 1 against this proposal.

I find this new curriculum shocking, but at the same time not surprising. There is already a sharp decline in scripture use and study in the Church. It's being slowly replaced by conference talks and other church approved manuals etc... This new change appears to be speeding up existing trends already under way.  Much of it leading scripture study in the LDS Church being nothing more than completely decontextualized proof-texting. Proof-texting: The practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition.  So in essence, taking what we want students to conclude, and then back tracking with selected doctrines and quotes to support the desired conclusion.

A trend happening is to use isolated scripture citations to prove what the speaker wants to say. Not what the scriptures themselves were communicating. By choosing themes it inevitably mingles philosophies with scripture.  It actually invites and promotes it.  And you can altogether let lots of scriptures go permanently unread.  This, in my view, is how you show absolute ingratitude for the scriptures, and create a body of members who does not understand them, nor study them as God gave them. It creates Gospel illiterates.  Dependent children who depend on the institution to tell them everything.  The above letter indicated that the current set of scripture based courses will continue to be offered as "elective" classes.  I guess scripture courses did have their demotion coming since "the words of the living prophet are more important to us than the standard works" (14 fundamentals of following the prophet, General Conference Oct 2010).   

The letter so very clearly stated:  "One of the things that makes BYU a unique university in all the world is a board of trustees comprised of prophets seers and revelators and inspired leaders of the church.  We need to trust that inspiration and honor their sacred responsibility."

Shocking, but not surprising if you actually read the scriptures they are now letting slip even further away.  Vain and foolish to rely on the arm of the flesh, that sandy foundation is being used as support for de-emphasizing the scriptures God gave.  Do not let signs like this pass you by.  Do not miss that men are replacing God as the guide, and those men are disregarding scripture in favor of themes which support those men's teachings.

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