For the first time in 30 years, students at Brigham Young University will have new courses to study as they pursue their religious education. The changes will also affect Institute classes as well.
The religion courses required by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates the university, are being changed to what is called a cornerstone curriculum.
The new offerings includes the following
Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel
This course will use all of the Standard Works to aid in the study of the Savior and His role in Heavenly Father’s plan
Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon:
This course will focus on the Book of Mormon, emphasizing the Savior’s ministry
Foundations of the Restoration:
Students will learn about key revelations, people, doctrines, and events of the Restoration
The Eternal Family:
Students will study the central role of the family in God’s plan through use of the scriptures and teachings of modern day prophets
“In fall 2015, the Church will begin using new curriculum required for graduation at Church universities and institute of religions,” said Jessica Moody, spokeswoman for the LDS Church. “These core courses will help students study gospel themes and doctrine across all Latter-day Saint scripture and modern-day prophets.
“With these changes, we hope all will better understand the teachings of Christ and how to apply it in their own lives. We also encourage students to further their studies by taking current scripture-specific classes as electives.”
There have been some criticisms of the change.
Professor William Hamblin of the BYU College of Religious Education wrote in his blog that he is against the change.
“Personally, I find this new curriculum appalling,” he wrote. “It will result in the further decay of scriptural literacy — already a significant problem among the Saints. Scripture study in the Church has now become nothing more than completely decontextualized proof-texting.
“There is, practically speaking, no further institutional support by the Church for the actual study of scripture — as opposed to Church doctrine, devotion and daily application.”
He posted a clarification, however.
“My concern is that such thematic classes should supplement and complement, rather than replace rigorous text-based, contextual courses on scripture. There is room for many types of courses in religious education, but the core focus should be to teach the students how to understand the scriptures.”
That being said, the vast majority of the reaction to this announcement has been overwhelmingly positive.
A letter that was sent by the Religious Education Administrative Council proposed the cornerstone curriculum to the Board of Trustees—which Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oaks are both members of. The letter to BYU faculty explained the Board’s reaction to the proposal, saying:
The Board ‘enthusiastically endorsed’ the proposal of the four cornerstone courses. Many of the Board expressed their sentiment that this was an inspired proposal whose time had come and that it would greatly bless the students in the Church Education System. It will also be interesting to see if Sunday School lessons will eventually follow suit as well.
Leave us your thoughts? Do you think it’s a good idea or not? We’ll post your comments in an upcoming post on this topic.