Feast upon the Word Blog

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RS / MP Lesson 5: “The Creation” (Gospel Principles Manual) –JF

Posted by Jim F. on March 7, 2010

Robert C and I both decided to post on this lesson. We take very different approaches to it, so I don’t think having both up is a problem.

Some suggested steps for teaching this lesson:

  • Assume that the members of the class have read the lesson. Even if they haven’t, your lesson will be better for you having made that assumption.
  • Prayerfully decide what aspect of our understanding of the creation the class would benefit from studying, and use that as the focal point of your lesson.
  • Prepare by reading and studying about that focal point—if you will need them to help you keep track of where you are (I certainly do) prepare brief notes on things you wish to emphasize. Write down the scriptural references you wish to read together or bookmark them in your scriptures so they can be found easily. Do not write out the entire lesson.
  • Begin class with a question about the focal point you have chosen. Try to make that question a thought question rather than a yes-or-no question or a question to which everyone already has a pat answer.
  • Be willing to wait quietly for people to begin responding to your question. Don’t yield to the temptation to jump in and answer it for the class. Doing that will encourage them not to talk.
  • Allow the class discussion to dictate the direction of the lesson. Your job is to listen to the Spirit and guide that discussion, prodding it in the directions you’ve been impressed to go and keeping it on topic. Your job is not to lecture. Sometimes keeping the lesson on topic will require that you explicitly say something like, “We’re moving away from the lesson topic. Let’s get back to it by thinking about . . . .” At that point, ask one of the questions you have prepared for discussion.
  • An effective way to introduce a question is to have someone in class read a relevant scripture aloud and then to ask a question about something said in that scripture. (Most of your questions should probably be about scriptures.)
  • Keep an eye on the clock (there is seldom an excuse for going over the given time), and when you have about 5 minutes left, sum up the class discussion and bear an appropriate testimony.
  • As you teach remember that your calling is not to teach new doctrine. There’s little if any of that here, and it is a mistake to think that the only way to teach what people are already familiar with is to teach them something arcane or mysterious, something supposedly deep. Instead, the goal of the teacher should be to try help people think about the creation anew, in new way, as if they were learning it for the first time.

The Sunday School manual for Old Testament lesson 3 may be helpful in thinking about how to prepare this lesson, as may also the Feast Upon the Word post for that lesson and the comments on it.

The materials that follow are to help you think about what you might use as a focal point and how you might develop it. They are materials to use as you study for teaching the lesson, not a lesson plan.

If you count the temple instruction, we have four accounts of creation, each slightly different than the others. Why do you think the Lord would give us four different versions of the same scriptural story?

In some instances, the differences between those four versions are significant. What do you make of the fact that the story is told in different ways? Why didn’t the Prophet reconcile all of the accounts into one account?

Moses 3:4-7 tells us that everything was created spiritually before it was created physically. (In fact, on one reading the creation described in Moses 2 and Genesis 1 was not the physical creation.) Why is it important for us to understand that there was a spiritual creation of all things as well as a physical creation?

If the creation of Moses 2 and Genesis 1 is the spiritual rather than the physical creation, why does scripture spend so much more time describing the spiritual creation than it spends describing the physical?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 tells us that the spirit and the body are our soul: as a soul we are both spiritual and physical. What does that suggest about the creation as a whole?

Why is this story central to our experience in the temple? Does the use of the creation story in the temple tell us anything about how we should understand what happens to us as we participate in temple rites? (These are not questions about the temple experience itself. You will have to be careful not to allow the discussion to go in that direction. They are questions about how the creation story is so important to the highest ordinance we have.)

Why was there a creation at all? What do the scriptures tell us is the purpose of the creation? Do the stories of creation help us understand our reason for being? How? Do they help us understand our relations to one another? How? Do they help us understand our relations to the rest of creation? How? Given what we are taught in these accounts, what should be our attitude toward physical things, from the dust of the earth to our friends and children and those whom we don’t yet know?

Doctrine and Covenants 76:24 is the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon “that by [Jesus Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

When we say that our world was created by Jesus Christ, what do we mean? (See Abraham 3:24-26.) Why is it important for us to know that he was its Creator?

When we say that the world was created through Jesus Christ, what do we mean? Why is that important for us to know?

Most of the time when we use the phrase “created of” we mean “made out of,” but that cannot be what it means here. Sometimes it means “made for” as when we say “the mental image we have created of it.” That also seems not to be what this scripture means. So when we say that the world was created of him, what do we mean?

In D&C 76:24, Joseph’s and Sidney’s testimony links our being “begotten sons and daughters unto God” with the creation of the world by the Lord: “by him . . . the inhabitants [of the world] are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

Why does this say we are “begotten . . . unto God” rather than “begotten of him”?

How does Jesus Christ make us the children of God if we are already his spiritual children?

Why is what the Savior does referred to as begetting? He begets us as sons and daughters to God—what does that mean?

Moses 2:26-27 has a more expansive view of the creation of human beings than we find in Genesis.

Why does Moses specify that God spoke to the Only Begotten when he proposed creating human beings?

Why does the verse in Moses describe the Only Begotten as the one who “was with me from the beginning”? What does that phrase tell us about the Savior? Does it tell us anything about his relationship to us?

Does what we read in D&C 76:24 have any relevance to understanding why Christ is referred to as “mine Only Begotten”?

Why does it matter to us that our bodies have the same form as God’s? In what other ways are we also in his image?

What does it mean to say that male and female are both created in the image of God?

D&C 59:17-21 tells us that everything has been given to us for our benefit and use.

Should we think of “benefit and use” (verse 18) as a pleonastic pair, in other words as saying the same thing twice, or are benefit and use different from each other (or perhaps overlapping)?

Why does the Lord say that the things he has created are “both to please the eye and to gladden the heart” and that they are given “to enliven the soul”? Does those differ from being made for our use?

What does it mean to use the things the Lord has given with judgment? Is there any connection between the fact that they are a gift and that we must exercise judgment in using them?

What would it mean to use the gifts God has given in the creation “by extortion” (verse 20)?

Is there a connection between the topic of verse 20 (using creation with judgment rather than by extortion) and the topic of verse 21 (confessing his hand in all things and being obedient)?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “extortion” as the practice of wresting something from another by force or undue exercise of authority. What does “extortion” mean in the context of this scripture?

9 Responses to “RS / MP Lesson 5: “The Creation” (Gospel Principles Manual) –JF”

  1. Ryan said

    I’m curious about the word “begotten”. From what I can understand… It’s used a couple different ways, depending on the subtext it is used in. How can I distinguish or explain the differences if needed when I give this talk on Sunday?

    Jesus is the only “begotten” like it is stated in Moses 1:6, “And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth”


    D&C 76:24 it states, “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

    What say ye???

  2. Jim F. said

    I can’t think of any meaning of the word but “procreated.” Obviously in many scriptural uses the word is used metaphorically, but I assume that the metaphor is essential to the meaning: to be begotten is to be brought into being.

  3. KirkCaudle said

    First off, I could have guessed that Jim wrote this lesson even if I had the name covered up at the top. He takes his own advice well, “Be willing to wait quietly for people to begin responding to your question. Don’t yield to the temptation to jump in and answer it.” :)

    Secondly, Ryan, CS Lewis gives an interesting definition of “begotten” in Mere Christianity. I do not have the book in front of me at the moment because I am not at home. However, I will try to quote a few lines from him on the subject that you mind find helpful.

  4. kirkcaudle said

    Ok Ryan, I finally got around to posting this. Sorry it took so long!

    This is taken from Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (chapter 23). Here he attempts to explain how Christ was “begotten, not created.” He does this by explaining what he sees as the difference:

    “We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set-or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set : say, a statue. If he is a clever enough carver he may make a statue which is very like a man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.

    Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God.”

    Therefore, in order to be like God you cannot just be created by Him, but rather begotten by him. Being begotten causes us to be born again. Thus:

    “We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”

    • Ryan said


      I’ve been pondering over this, as Jesus being the “ONLY begotten” of Heavenly Father. It goes along the lines of what you said in the beginning of your response to me.

      Since Jesus was conceived in a miraculous fashion by Mary becoming pregnant before she married Joseph. Joseph technically isn’t the biological father of Jesus, but Heavenly Father is. Therefore, Jesus is Heavenly Father’s “only begotten”.

  5. kirkcaudle said

    And then as we become “born again” or “begotten” by The Father we at some point end up as he is. Pretty cool, eh? :)

  6. Robert C. said

    Ryan, there’s a brief note at the wiki for John 3:16 on this that you might find interesting.

    Also, I think Hebrews 11:17 is very interesting in that it refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten” son (in the KJV, alluding to “thine only son Isaac” in the KJV of Gen 22:2). This is very interesting, I think, because the Genesis account makes it very clear that Isaac had a brother, viz. Ishmael. So, if we are to take this verse in Hebrews seriously, it seems we should understand Christ as the Only Begotten in a similar sense that does not rule out—at least in any absolute, literal sense—the possibility of brothers and/or sisters.

    I wonder the extent to which we should think about Christ as the Only Begotten in a covenantal sense rather than a literal/physical sense. A few weeks ago I tried to work through some scriptural passages that talk about our relation to God in terms of sons and daughters, and I was rather struck by the frequency that we read about this relation only as a conditional relation. This is why I’m interested in the possibility of reading “Only Begotten” in terms of the unique covenantal relation between the Father and the Son—a relation which is typologically prefigures the relation each of us can have with God, but a relation which in some significant sense (which I don’t feel I understand very well…) is unique to Christ (either because Christ was first, or because of Christ’s unique atonal suffering, or some other reason altogether…?).

    • Ryan said

      “I wonder the extent to which we should think about Christ as the Only Begotten in a covenantal sense rather than a literal/physical sense.”

      I have a feeling it’s gotta be more towards a covenantal sense. Because… If it’s a “literal/physical sense”, then these father(s) of these “begotten” sons/daughters are playing favorites over other siblings(which is common in the Old Testament AND EVEN in today’s terms).

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