Policy vs. Revelation: Teachers


I don’t know if I mentioned it but I will be compiling all of these Policy vs. Revelation entries into a binder which I will present to my bishop. I will also make it into a book which will be free online. It will also be for sale at a price to cover printing.

Also if I’m wrong in some of my analysis please feel free to correct me or provide additional insight. I can only discuss what I’ve seen and additional perspectives will be helpful.

My format will be as follows in this entry. Except in cases where the references are too long then they will be after the Comparison and Conclusion. If it is something that is long and referenced often I will put it in an appendix. Anyway on with the post.

 

TEACHERS

Modern Church Policy claims to follow the duties of a teacher given in the Doctrine and Covenants. Modern Church Policy also includes additional non-scriptural duties.

In actual practice the duties of a teacher do not follow the duties given in scripture.

Revelations Modern Policies and Statements
D&C 20:53-60
D&C 20:64, 65
D&C 20:81, 84
D&C 38:40
D&C 42:12
D&C 42:70
D&C 84:30
D&C 84:111
Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: 8.1.1, 20.4.2

Modern Policies and Statements

Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: 8.1.1
Worthy brethren may be ordained teachers when they are at least 14 years old. A teacher has all the responsibilities of a deacon. He also has the following responsibilities:

He prepares the sacrament (see 20.4.2).

He is to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53). One way he does this by serving as a home teacher.

He is to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (D&C 20:54). This responsibility includes being a peacemaker and being an example of moral integrity and uprightness.

He is to “see that the church meet together often, and also see that all members do their duty” (D&C 20:55).

He assists the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a teacher.

Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: 8.1.1
Teachers, priests, and Melchizedek Priesthood holders may prepare the sacrament. Before the meeting, those who prepare the sacrament ensure that bread trays with unbroken bread, water trays with cups filled with fresh water, and table cloths are in place/ After the meeting, these brethren clear away the trays and tablecloths.

Revelations of God

Doctrine and Covenants 20:53-60, 64, 65, 81, 84
53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;
54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;
55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.
56 And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest–
57 And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires.
58 But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands;
59 They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.
60 Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.

64 Each priest, teacher, or deacon, who is ordained by a priest, may take a certificate from him at the time, which certificate, when presented to an elder, shall entitle him to a license, which shall authorize him to perform the duties of his calling, or he may receive it from a conference.
65 No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church;

81 It shall be the duty of the several churches, composing the church of Christ, to send one or more of their teachers to attend the several conferences held by the elders of the church,
84 All members removing from the church where they reside, if going to a church where they are not known, may take a letter certifying that they are regular members and in good standing, which certificate may be signed by any elder or priest if the member receiving the letter is personally acquainted with the elder or priest, or it may be signed by the teachers or deacons of the church.

Doctrine and Covenants 38:40
40 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and also member, go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.

Doctrine and Covenants 42:12, 70
12 And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.
70 The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:30, 111
30 And again, the offices of teacher and deacon are necessary appendages belonging to the lesser priesthood, which priesthood was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons.
111 And behold, the high priests should travel, and also the elders, and also the lesser priests; but the deacons and teachers should be appointed to watch over the church, to be standing ministers unto the church.

Comparison

The CHI says that brethren may become teachers at the age of fourteen. Yet not where in the Doctrine and Covenants is this requirement given. Instead the Word of God says that a teacher is to be “ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him.” This means that depending on what Spiritual Gifts a brother possesses he will be ordained to the office of Elder, Priest, Teacher, or Deacon. There is no lineal progression, deacon to teacher, teacher to priest, priest to elder. Thus the modern practice of an age progression within the Aaronic Priesthood is not in line with the Word of God.

The CHI states that a teacher may help prepare the sacrament. Yet, the Doctrine and Covenants states that a teacher is not to administer in the Sacrament. Teachers aiding in the sacrament is not in line with the Word of God.

The CHI agrees with the Doctrine and Covenants that the teachers are to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them”. In practice teachers rarely perform this function. It is true that teachers may serve as home teachers(see Home Teaching). However in cases of real problems it is far more likely that the problems will be handled by adults. Teachers rarely fulfill this duty to any real extent, this is also because of the association of the Aaronic Priesthood with the Youth Program.

The CHI also agrees with the Doctrine and Covenants that the teachers are to, “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking”. However like the previous statement any real problems in the church are handled by adult. Contrast this to the early days of the Church when adult teachers would investigate and solve problems of church members. The CHI says teachers can fulfill this duty by “being a peacemaker and being an example of moral integrity and uprightness.” So instead of actually fulfilling these duties a teacher can fell they are fulfilling them simply by being and example. But the actual fulfillment of these duties involves getting out, communicating with people, and solving problems.

The CHI also agrees with the Doctrine and Covenants that the teachers are to, “see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.” Yet, in my experience in the Church I have never seen a teacher do this. Even in cases where a teacher may assist in Home Teaching, the teacher usually gives a message. In practice teachers should be asking questions not sharing a first presidency message(for more information see Home Teaching). They should be asking questions like:

Are you trying to live your religion?
Do you pray in your family?
Do you teach your family the principles of the gospel?
Do you ask a blessing on your food?
Are you trying to live in peace and harmony with all your family?
Do you teach your children to obey their parents? Do you try to teach them to pray?
Etc.

Teachers in the church today do not fulfill their scripturally appointed duties.

The CHI also states that a teacher is to “[assist] the bishopric in other ways consistent with the office of a teacher.” This seems like a blanket statement to catch any and all other duties the Bishop may see fit to assign a teacher. For example opening and closing chapel doors during the sacrament. Yet there is no scriptural precedent for this

The scriptures list several more duties and obligations of teachers that are not being fulfilled today. A teacher is to take the lead in all meetings when a elder or priest is not present. Because modern priests and elders are not traveling(see Priests, Elders) it is rare that a teacher will have to take the lead of a meeting.

The teachers are to be assisted by deacons. Again, however, since teachers rarely fulfil their duties the deacons likewise rarely help them.

Teachers are also to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.” Since teachers are fourteen year old they rarely participate in any of these activities. Some may consider sharing the gospel with friends as inviting all to come unto Christ. While that may be part of those duties it is not the fulness.

A teacher who is ordained by a priest, is to receive a certificate from the priest. He is then to present the certificate to an elder. The elder will then give him a license which authorizes him to perform his duties. The teacher can also receive this license from a conference of the church. This does not happen in the Church today.

The elders are to have a conference once every three months. During these conferences one or more teachers from each church is to be sent to the conference. This teacher is to carry with him a list of names of the members who have joined with, or been expelled from, the church since the previous conference. To my knowledge teachers do not perform this function.

Teachers are also to sign letters for members who are moving from place to another. Since these letters are no longer used, teachers no longer perform this function.

Teachers are also commanded to go and prepare to accomplish the things which the Lord has commanded. Since the teachers are not fulfilling their scripturally appointed duties how can they fulfill this command?

Teachers are to actually teach the principles of the gospel. Teachers in the church today. While retaining the name, do not teach.

Teachers are to have stewardships.

The teachers are not to travel but are to be standing ministers to the church.

Conclusion
It is clear that teachers in the Church today do not fulfill their scripturally assigned duties. Rather they fulfill duties that have been assigned to them by tradition and cultural, such as preparing the sacrament and “guarding” the doors to the sacrament hall.

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11 Responses to Policy vs. Revelation: Teachers

  1. John Ellis says:

    Have you talked to your Bishop about this?

  2. zo-ma-rah says:

    Not yet. I’m going to create a binder with a bunch of concerns: Priests blessing sacrament with elders present, Plural Marriage, Tithing, Consecration, literal gathering of Zion, etc. After I get all of the major concerns covered I’ll give him the binder. maybe I’ll do a more summarized version and give it to him. Then in an interview I can bring the more in-depth version.

  3. Calimom says:

    I’d like to be a fly on the wall of your Bishop’s office that day too! I’ve known others who have taken their concerns to their bishops. Every one of them could tell about the same story: They received little if any satisfaction because the Bishop was paralized by either never hearing about such things or worry about “sullying” himself with such apostate ideas. They were usually sent to higher ups who still didn’t have any information to help them, other than warnings about the dangers of worrying about such things. Some were ex’ed for publishing and sharing such materials. I’m sure you are prepared to face whatever comes from this and I admire your willingness to make the effort and stand on your convictions. I will probably agree with much of what you write – until the polygamy chapter, of coarse :)!!! (Don’t forget to add more on how the sacrament is given alltogether!)

    One of my favorite authors posits that the frustration we “seekers” experience from the church not being what it is supposed to be serves a grand purpose – to lead us to Christ and becoming one with him as he is one with God; to learning who/what we truly are. That everything is symbolicly teaching us how to do this. (This has helped my frustration levels but increased my sorrow for those who don’t even notice that all is not well in ZION!!!)

  4. zo-ma-rah says:

    Maybe I can sneak an audio recorder in. Hahaha

  5. Ooh! That was a great topic! Thank you for providing so much research and such an astute analysis.

    Once again you’ve stolen my thunder, Zomarah, as I was myself planning to discuss the disconnect between what the Aaronic priesthood is supposed to be, and the ridiculous parody it has become in modern times. I love your last line about how they fulfill their duties today by guarding the doors of the Sacrament hall. Hoooeee!

    I was particularly impressed to learn from you that priesthood office was assigned according to one’s particular GIFTS. That so makes sense that this would be the way the Lord would have it. Really, all in all, a very good read. As you know I’ve been quite busy since the death of my grandson, so I’ve seen some of your posts arrive in my mailbox that I haven’t yet gotten to. Glad I didn’t miss this one.

    And Calimom, I really liked your comment you passed on about how “the frustration we “seekers” experience from the church not being what it is supposed to be serves a grand purpose – to lead us to Christ.” That certainly rings true. Back when I was simply an ordinary member buying the pablum dished out to me, I had nothing like the relationship with Christ that I have today as a result of seeking for further truth.

    Man, I’ve missed you people.

  6. MurphyJayd says:

    I love browsing your website because you can constantly bring us new and cool things, I feel that I must at least say thanks for your hard work.

    – Henry

  7. Aaron L says:

    As I’m sure you, there are numerous quasi doctrinal policies in the church just like the ones you describe. Lets face it – at the end of the day the scriptures mean whatever the current church leadership think they mean. I don’t know why we bother studying the scriptures at all other than to learn about how things were originally intended to be.

  8. Rob says:

    So when we went down to a sealing in the SLC Temple (June 2011), my wife and I determined we were gonna ask the temple presidency some questions we had. I figured, the temple presidency in the SLC temple ‘ought to know their stuff pretty well. I’ve asked temple presidents questions before and the two that I have spoken to were awesome. They knew their stuff and were really warm and open. One was the Santiago, Chile temple and the other was the Mount Timpanogas (I think).

    At the SLC the second counselor was the only one available.

    Not word for word, but pretty close:

    me- My wife have a few questions that we hoped you could help us out with. In the temple recommend interview, we are asked if we are living the covenants we made in the temple. The fifth covenant in the endowment is the law of consecration. We don’t live the law of consecration. So we are not living or keeping that covenant.

    2nd Counselor -well the wording is live it when asked, which we aren’t currently asked to live.

    me- well it says in the scriptures when the law began…but where does it say it was ended?

    2nd – i’m not a historian, I couldn’t tell you. (that frustrated me b/c there are only 5 covenants in the endowment. he should know those very well, come on).

    me- so if it’s not in the scriptures and I don’t live it, I’m not living my covenants.

    2nd- we’ll you’d have to ask an historian.

    Super lame. His attitude wasn’t rude or mean but just like that isn’t a big deal, don’t worry about it. I was already frustrated with people chosen in the church. This really got my wife on board. Where do they get these people? And they are the ones leading. Wow.

    Then I asked him about tithing and I wish I understood it better then but his answer was that I should ask my bishop.

  9. zo-ma-rah says:

    Yeah it seems nobody really cares if you are following what is in the scriptures just so long as you are following whatever convenient cultural standards are present at the time.

  10. Rob says:

    Zo-
    So at a stake conference yesterday, Richard Edgley, one of the presiding bishops spoke. At one point he talked about the importance of pure doctrine. He warned that we need to be careful and gave the example of a ward where they had sisters passing the sacrament. Some guy in the ward came up and told the bishop that the priesthood was the one to do it.

    Ya, that probably doesn’t work if passing is part of administering…but if passing is administering then he should have addressed the greater problem. How many congregrations have sisters passing? Not many. How many have the Aaronic priesthood passing when Elders are present? Most. If he was concerned about that, then he would have pulled out the scriptures and would have read what you have talked about regarding Elder’s administering when present.

    I started daydreaming that I was called up to stand up with him at the pulpit tell everyone what I thought. It would have been awesome.

    I don’t expect the GA’s to be perfect or even impressive. My beef is that they I rarely hear anyone talk about anything urgent, essential or powerful.

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