Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday School Lesson: Moroni 8-10

We covered Moroni 8-10 today in Sunday School.

1) We talked at length about why baptizing little children would be called a "solemn mockery". We looked at what "solemn" and "mock" mean - and the difference between a "solemn mockery" and a "comical mockery". We talked about the object of the mockery - meaning what and/or who is being mocked when children are baptized. We talked about the Atonement and how "transgressions" are covered already within it - that only "sins" need repentance. I mentioned James' definition of sin as acting in opposition to what is known - knowing to do good and not doing it, or knowing not to do something and doing it - and how that takes mistakes caused by ignorance out of the realm of sin. We revisited the difference between sins and transgressions. I talked about how I believe we kill Jesus' mortality in a very real way when we picture him as a superhuman child who never cried ("little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes"), "never got vexed when the game went wrong" and "always told the truth" (as a little child). We talked about how requiring baptism of little children denies our 2nd Article of Faith by denying that the Atonement covers the things little children do in ignorance of the law - and how that extends beyond little children to include all people who have lived and died without understanding the law. Thus, baptizing little children denies the very nature of the Atonement (the universal scope of God's grace that redeems innocent transgressors) and reinforces the Protestant notion of a more Calvinistic puppeteer God.

One of the students asked about if a child kills someone, so we talked about that - and I extended it to the people who highjacked the planes and destroyed the WTC towers on 9/11.

It was a really good discussion, and it stretched them more than they were used to being stretched, since I allowed some silence to wait for their input.

2) We skipped Chapter 9, due strictly to the time constraints.

3) We talked for a long time about Moroni 10:3-5, and I told them explicitly that I was disappointed when I learned that the Seminary mastery scripture was shortened to just verses 4 and 5 - and that I believe one of the biggest mistakes missionaries make relative to the Book of Mormon is to use it as a doctrinal proof text and then focus only on verses 4 and 5 as constituting "Moroni's promise" (the phrase one of my students used - and I found out that none of them have heard the phrase used in my childhood, "Moroni's challenge" - which made me happy).

We read just those two verses and listed what people are told to do to gain a witness from the Holy Ghost. The entire list was: pray (with real intent). We then read verse 3 and listed what people are told to do to gain a witness from the Holy Ghost. That list includes: remember (God's mercy) and ponder (God's mercy). I emphasized that very few members and missionaries focus on God's mercy when explaining Moroni's promise, and missing that focus of the verses themselves changes totally the actual nature of the promise - so much so that I believe it no longer is consistent with the actual promise.

We defined "mercy" and talked deeply about God's mercy and why the promise is focused on remembering and pondering it. (that remembering and pondering God's mercy has a direct effect on ones' attitude - the "softness of the heart", so to speak - and puts them in a condition of being open to feeling and accepting emotional / spiritual messages more easily than might be "natural") I shared the example of my father and the "mercy" he extended to my mother when he learned about her schizophrenia after they had been married for about six years. (If you want to read about it, search for "My Niece Died This Morning" on this blog.)

4) We didn't have much time left, so we ended by reading the last five verses in the Book of Mormon and talking very briefly about the main points of Moroni's final testimony.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed teaching what I was able to teach this year. The class lesson format is changing dramatically next month, and I will miss the first two weeks due to starting a Master's Degree program that includes two full days of classes those Sundays, but I am looking forward to seeing how the classes go with the new curriculum. I really am excited about it.

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