The Department of Religious Education is offering the “Lectures on Faith” as a special topics class Fall Semester 2013.
The class was first offered during Winter Semester 2012, when the religious education professors were asked to present ideas for special topics classes.
“There are other proposals in the pipeline that have been submitted by other faculty, but there weren’t enough of them far enough along to launch them [in fall semester],” said Leonard Petersen, who teaches the “Lectures on Faith” class. “So they asked me to teach ‘Lectures on Faith’ one more time to give some of the other courses they’re developing a chance to get to speed and maybe launch in the winter.”
Petersen said he proposed the idea for the class to the department because he has studied the history of the Church in Kirtland, especially the School of the Prophets where the lectures were originally taught.
“In a certain way, we can reconvene the School of the Prophets, and students taking this class will study the same material that was under study in the School of the Prophets during the Kirtland era,” Petersen said.
Bruce Satterfield, a BYU-Idaho religion teacher who wrote a dissertation on the School of the Prophets, said the lectures were originally included at the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants; however, they were later removed because they did not contain revelations from the Lord as the Doctrine and Covenants did.
“They [Church leaders] never intended to diminish the use of this [‘Lectures on Faith’],” Satterfield said. “But it did diminish. These have always been an important part of the study of every member of the Church.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1915-1985), in a devotional he gave at BYU in 1984, listed “Lectures on Faith” as one of five key documents in the Church, second in importance only to the scriptures.
“We should be aware that there are approved and inspired writings that are not in the Standard Works,” McConkie said. “These writings also are true and should be used along with the scriptures themselves in learning and teaching the gospel.”
Petersen said “Lectures on Faith” has been very important in his life.
“‘Lectures on Faith’ has had a more powerful effect on me personally than any other book, save the Book of Mormon only. And I’m not alone in that. The Brethren are intimately acquainted with it. The members of the Church until 1921 would have been as familiar with it as they were with the Doctrine and Covenants,” Petersen said.
Petersen said that the “Lectures on Faith” course will be a serious class and that students should want to understand what was taught in the School of Prophets and want to deepen their understanding and their faith.
“Be prepared for some deep discussion,” Satterfield said. “It [the class] starts out simple, but gets pulled deeper and deeper. The Lectures on Faith tell us that faith is more than an abstract idea. It’s a concrete force that exists, that we get access to, through God.”
Interested students can register for FDREL 390R-01.