Gospel Doctrine Lesson #2: Behold, I Am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Notes, commentary, and questions for LDS Sunday School teachers using the ‘Doctrine & Covenants and Church History’ manual.

Unlike the first installment for the 2013 Gospel Doctrine lessons (WVS’s Lesson 1), week two finds us already going slightly off the rails (that didn’t happen in anyone’s ward last week, did it?!) and skipping about chronologically. Instead of discussing a specific verse, we find Lesson Two instead lightly and somewhat gracefully flying over the text in a search for how the entirety of Doctrine & Covenants* testifies of Christ.

“Finally, the testimony that is given of Jesus Christ— his divinity, his majesty, his perfection, his love, and his redeeming power— makes this book of great value to the human family and of more worth than the riches of the whole earth.”[1]

I’m not an historian, and I don’t even play one on this blog (though I’m surrounded)- so it’s seemly and certainly not coincidental that I nabbed the lesson in which not much (natch, any) history is addressed. There are others far, far better schooled than I, from whom we shall later drink deeply. What I can do is agree with the strongly voiced sentiment that the Doctrine & Covenants pretty much testifies everywhere of Jesus Christ. What we find in these pages at the back of our Standard Works is more than just a testimony. Throughout the 138 sections, we frequently find the voice of the Savior himself, and while we don’t ink his words in red, it’s very plain to listen and hear.

The suggested lesson in the manual has the obligatory object lesson, suggesting we bring in a branch from a tree to illustrate how a branch cut off from its roots cannot survive. If you want to haul a limb from the Chestnut in the front yard, knock yourself out, but if we scroll down a little, there are far less sap-laden ways to open discussion.

In the Standard Works, we have ancient texts in the old and new Testaments, in the Books of Moses, Abraham and in the Book of Mormon— all of which, if you are Christian, witness of Jesus. Doctrine & Covenants is the scripture that is truly modern. We have God speaking to men (and women— hello Emma, go forth, gather some music and make a joyful noise!) who are modern, who are not lost to history, and who are telling us that He is still here:

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the atestimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.
24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. [2]

This is pretty freaking amazing. As a convert, one of the things that drew me into this church (when so many others were so much easier, required so much less of me, and so didn’t stir my feminist angst) was the immediacy of the testimony and bodied relationship with Christ. What we have in the Doctrine & Covenants the actual embodiment of our claim to have an open canon, to have continuing, ongoing revelation, in the name of Christ. While it may be far between those revelations these days, the option—the hope— is always and ever present.  There will be more. The heavens are still open. I cannot think of anything that testifies more firmly to me, personally, of the Savior than that: Hope.

[Note: The Gospel Doctrine posts for this year will be archived for your convenience here. A bunch of history and religion hot shots will be contributing. Feel free to use them for your own lesson prep, or for anti-boredom purposes. Best wishes from the BCC team.]

* Rumor is, we are suggested to refer to the book by it’s full name, Doctrine & Covenants, and not D&C, however lds.org still uses the abbreviation in its footnotes, so make of that what you will.

[1] Doctrine & Covenants, Explanatory Introduction, bottom of paragraph eight.

[2] Doctrine & Covenants 76:22–24.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Thank you, Tracy, this will be helpful to me in my own preparation.

  2. Thanks for this, Tracy.

  3. Thanks for this Tracy, a Christ who still speaks is an incredibly important part of our faith. Moreover, that Mormonism embodies that voice (that is, this voice is not merely a heavenly utterance but a spoken word) implies a relationship between both the speaker and the hearer. In that sense, the ‘Doctrine and Covenants’ invites and, perhaps even asserts, a particular relationship with Jesus.

  4. J. Stapley says:

    I think it is an interesting exorcize to look at Jesus through the successive revelations and texts in the D&C. Thanks for kicking off another reading.

  5. I just read Ben’s piece and then yours. Good thoughts Tracy. Though I too struggle (I’ll try to avoid saying detest) the topical divisions and this lesson loses any sense of chronology, I think that section 19 is the perfect opportunity not only to talk about the voice of Christ speaking, but what a covenant relationship looks like. I think thinking of Martin Harris and the loss of the 116 pages and his subsequent struggles within the context of that relationship can be a beautiful thing once we get over judging Martin Harris.

  6. thanks for this wonderful post, i think Jesus Christ permeate LDS Scriptures in ways that not many of us fully comprehend it – lesson #2 clearly shows that.
    my special thanks goes to everyone at BCC for coming up with this series – it’ll surely make me a better Gospel Doctrine teacher this year.

  7. I remember a gospel doctrine teacher several years ago over and over exclaiming “first person! Christ is speaking here in first person!”

  8. As per the asterisk, D&C is a painful surgical procedure known as dilation & curettage, and is done on women who have had miscarriages. Out of respect to myself and others who have undergone them numerous times in failed attempts to have children, trust me that it’s not fun to see written on the board. Flashbacks to the hospital. I know a lady who stopped coming to church over it. It may seem silly to those who have not had this challenge, but believe me when I say it isn’t silly.

    All that being said, I’m someone who likes to abbreviate many things myself, so I refer to it in writing as Doc & Cov

  9. Thanks KC. Not having experienced that procedure myself (but my young daughter Mother of 4) has endured 7 of them.
    WE MUST ALL BE SENSITIVE TO THE HURT AND LOSS AND PAIN OF OTHERS. Thank you for suggesting Doc. & Cov.

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