For links to other parts of this series, see this chart.
Apparently enough questions – complaints, even – had reached the Priesthood Committee about the content of these lessons that in March 1918 the following Notice was issued: The positions taken in the lessons are those of the writer, do not necessarily reflect church doctrine, and “are not authoritative, nor the acceptance or study of them in any way binding.” They were an outline of current problems presented for the quorums to discuss their solution “as it is found in the revelations of the Lord.”
Keepa readers should keep this in mind and not attribute Dr. Tanner’s personal political and social views as necessarily being doctrinal, nor even representative of the thought of other Mormons of the period – some of whom apparently objected strongly enough to these discussions that an alternate course of study (the Doctrine and Covenants) was suggested.
PROBLEMS OF THE AGE
Dealing with Religious, Social and Economic Questions and Their Solution.
A Study for the Quorums and Classes of the Melchizedek Priesthood. 1917-1918.
By Dr. Joseph M. Tanner
To the Instructors and Members of the Melchizedek Priesthood Classes:
Salt Lake City, Utah, March 30, 1918.
Dear Brethren: – Having received information that some of the articles … on Problems of the Age have provoked unprofitable discussion, and having learned, upon investigation, that the purposes of the articles have not been understood, and by some have been misconstrued, we deem it advisable to offer the following suggestions:
In the first place, it should be distinctly stated that the essays are not intended to convey the doctrines of the Church. They are what the title purports them to be, viz., a presentation of some of the problems confront the world today. The ideas conveyed regarding the nature of these problems are those of the writer, and are not authoritative, nor the acceptance or study of them in any way binding.
The purpose of having the Priesthood classes read them was to have the members consider the solution of these questions as it is found in the revelations of the Lord, as contained in the standard books of the Church.
If there be classes which object to studying the subjects set forth in these lessons, we suggest that instead of the essays the Doctrine and Covenants be made the text book.
The truth to be emphasized is that obedience to the Gospel with strict conformity to the requirements and regulations of the Church of Christ is the solution of the difficulties and problems now vexing the nations. So, in considering these essays, in classes that use them, the problem should be merely stated and the time then occupied in considering its solution in the light of the revealed word. Let no construction or any statement be given in class that will create discord, or in the least degree be antagonistic to the principles of the gospel or to the spirit of patriotism cherished by every true American, and especially by the Latter-day Saints.
Sincerely your brethren,
The General Committee on Courses of Study for the Priesthood.
Rudger Clawson, Chairman.
David A. Smith, Secretary.