“Come, Follow Me” is a terrible resource

I've been working on updating my blog, and spending so much time going back over my series on New Testament Seminary Scripture Mastery, the Scripture Mastery removed from the Old Testament, and my initial attempts at illustrating the deep and fundamental problems with Callister's “Blueprint of Christ's Church” book made me wonder: there have been some major changes to the LDS Sunday and Seminary schedules, is there any change in teaching materials for this change? And it turns out there is.

And it's terrible.

No, wait, hear me out! The older manuals spent time detailing exactly what the teacher should go over. It spelled out what scriptural passages to cover, offered possible questions that could be asked to the class, and offered many explanatory sections to help the teacher present the scriptural texts with at least some historical context. They were restrictive and constraining, and, as I've detailed in my explorations linked above, they often presented outdated or even incorrect information. That's all admittedly pretty bad, so why do I think the new ones are worse?

Because while they have (thankfully) gotten rid of the specified verses that should be read (which produced a patchwork of biblical literacy for most Mormons featuring large gaping holes), they have totally removed nearly all of the historical context. The entire aim is now to merely play the old “Apply This To Yourself” game with Every. Single. Passage.

This is the game that goes, “I don't really understand this, but the general gist makes sense to me. And it reminds me of that time in my life when I [fill in the blank], so I guess it's about that.” It's both a recipe for producing a wonderful connection with the Biblical text as well as a recipe for producing terrifyingly incorrect assumptions of the meaning of a two-thousand-year-old library. (There is nothing in what Jesus said that is about whether or not you should ghost someone on social media who has upset you.)

It's one thing to be incorrect about a book, but it's another to be incorrect about a book and also feel divinely justified in your incorrect assumptions. And because so much is centered around group discussions, this will only help to perpetuate all of the old culturally-upheld misinterpretations commonly assumed by Mormons about the Christian New Testament and Hebrew Bible.

The good ship Zion may no longer be driven by a constraining current, but now it's taking on water and instead of a captain everyone gets to put their hand on the wheel together. And once you realize that the same Bible has been used throughout history to defend slavery, defend segregation, and defend killing witches, homosexuals, and transvestites you begin to see that any system that reinforces only what the general community believes without enforcing anything better can easily result in real danger for those who do not belong to the community.

Hyperbole? Maybe. But if you were looking for the “Come, Follow Me,” resources to actually teach you anything about the Christian New Testament you'll continue looking in vain. And that's a shame.

#Mormon #SundaySchool #AcademicBiblical