Most gospel matters can be separated into one of the following areas:
a.basic celestial principles,
c.nuts & bolts,
d.interesting errata; and,
In teaching gospel principles it is generally appropriate to touch on how the principle fits into at least three of the five areas.
II. BASIC CELESTIAL PRINCIPLES
There are three basic celestial principles. They are:
All wide or eternal perspective commandments and directives from our Heavenly Father fall into one of those three broad areas.
Everything we are to do or to be can be circumscribed by those three principles.
The great commandment, to Love the Lord our God with all our Heart, Mind, and Strength and our Neighbor like our self readily adjusts to a command that (a) we love (b) with everything (c) God .
III. MATERIAL CONCERNS
The gospel also addresses the direct material concerns that members have. Its advice is always the same.
a.God knows what He is doing,
b.What God is doing is for your good,
c.Everything will work out fairly (or better) in the end; and,
d.(sometimes) Here is how or why.
The Word of Wisdom is a good example. It starts with the principle of "be obedient to this" and "there is a good reason to be obedient" It then tells you what to do (the "nuts and bolts" part of the gospel), and finishes with promises that God will make things work better if you obey.
The major purpose of the Gospel's addressing material concerns is to strengthen or enable our faith and belief to aid us in obeying.
Until our faith is completely swept up in knowledge, we will need the material focus and understanding to strengthen our faith.
IV. NUTS & BOLTS
The nuts and bolts of the gospel come in two areas.
a.General, broad spectrum commandments or rules: "do/don't do this." Pay tithing, don't commit murder, etc.
b."How to" instructions. The basic "how to put this celestial principle into practice in a small part of your daily life." E.g. how to love your children by spending weekly private time with each child. E.g. how to care for those you home teach.
Of the first area, the Ten Commandments are the best example that most people are familiar with. The commandments provide an iron rod or guideline that can be followed when understanding, vision or faith are absent. Like traffic rules, merely following the specific instructions will keep one out of a great deal of serious trouble.
Probably the best example in the second area of a "nuts & bolts" application is the teacher development class. In addition, most Elders Quorum Lessons contain attempts to direct the sharing of basic practical information.
Many, many (and often rather silly) non-canon programs appear in both areas as people command others not to eat white bread or chocolate, to pray only while kneeling or to attend expensive seminars where the true secrets of child raising will be revealed.
V. INTERESTING ERRATA
Many of the so-called mysteries of the kingdom are really just interesting errata.
From an eternal perspective, we are like people who are learning how to live in a house. Most mysteries are like the details of how bricks are made. Interesting, but not really important to most people.
A surprising amount of what most people spend their time on could be considered (barely) interesting errata. While some of it is useful for specific problems or situations, most of it is better suited to intellectual exercise and enjoyment.
Errata should not be confused with religion. This essay does not quantify or qualify the various types of errata. Sometimes errata is important.
Esthetics include the following:
a.the proper or pleasing way to perform ordinances,
b.fitting or pleasing and uplifting patterns (arts, crafts, etc.),
c.proper personal development (e.g. cleanliness, etc.); and,
d.culture and manners.
I would note that esthetics can be very important. Not only are proper ordinances pleasing in form and function, improperly performed ones are not binding and are of no real worth.
The song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, as may be other forms of art.
Proper and pleasing personal development is necessary for social life and makes it more rewarding. One does not have an abundant life without esthetics.
Finally, matters of manners and culture, like traffic rules, are necessary to allow churches and religions to function (though cultural matters are not doctrine, they can be essential to allowing doctrines to be lived or taught).
A proper esthetic, combined with proper ethics, an "ethesis" so to speak, is extremely important.
Also important is recognizing what is esthetic and what is eternal doctrine and that sometimes, through the principle of obedience, a particular esthetic action may be both.
The purpose of this essay is to draw attention to the broad range that each gospel principle covers. Tying gospel teaching of elements into basic celestial principles, material concerns, nuts & bolts, interesting errata; and, esthetics helps to place each element in context and to increase general understanding.
As a rule of thumb, whenever a lesson is taught, the lesson should tie the teaching into two to four levels of gospel understanding.
This improves doctrinal understanding, allows for increased association of related gospel principles and reminds each of us to think clearly, increasing the light and truth, the intelligence, available to all.
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