Saturday, January 30, 2010

Can we please go back to priesthood manuals from 50 years ago?

Excerpts of Can we please go back to priesthood manuals from 50 years ago? by Doug Gibson , Standard Examiner


I came across the 1960 Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum. It's titled "Apostasy to Restoration," by T. Edgar Lyon. I borrowed the book, eager to compare today's vanilla-brand manuals with one a half-century old.

Reading "Apostasy to Restoration" is like unearthing ancient scripture. Did we actually have lessons like this 50 years ago, that discussed

  • "the Absence of Mysticism in the Apostolic Christianity," or
  • "the Fragments of Papias," or
  • "Irenaues' Concept of the Ultimate Potential of Man," or
  • "Christian Gnosticism," or
  • "The Diocletian Persecution," or
  • "Ambrose the Christian Statesman," or
  • "the Contributions of Monasticism," or
  • "Pope Leo the Great (440-464 A.D.), or
  • "Reformation Trends in Switzerland" …?

Lyon's thesis from the University of Chicago was on early LDS apostle Orson Pratt. He eventually received a doctorate in history from the University of Utah and was president of the Mormon History Association in the 1970s. He died in 1978.

Lyon's book/manual is fascinating. I envy the Melchizedek Priesthood holders who used it in their classes 50 years ago. I look at the current manuals — sans author(s) name(s) — and while I'm OK with what's being taught I wish we could have a re-run of "Apostasy to Restoration." It must have been quite satisfying to learn something new in every lesson.

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