It’s been reported on social media that this year’s Doctrinal Mastery seminary teacher’s materials have been modified. In the chapter concerning Prophets and Revelation, a previous section about distinctions between eternal law and matters of church administration (including the priesthood ban) was deleted. Another section about the revelatory process for the November 5th policy was also removed.
The Prophets and Revelation section was previously called out by some in the blogging community (see here and here) for encouraging seminary students to consider the priesthood ban divinely inspired, albeit a matter of temporary church administration rather than eternal law. The 2013 Race and the Priesthood essay refrained from stating whether or not the ban was based on revelation. Many saw the new Doctrinal Mastery materials as a concerning departure from the careful neutrality of the 2013 essay.
Deleted portions include both Segments 5 and 6, previously on pages 33-36, as well as Exercise 3, previously on pages 38-39.
Segment 5 covered the difference between “Eternal laws” (which do not change), and “Laws of priesthood administration and Church management” (which may change). In describing eternal laws, the manual said,
Explain that some laws the Lord reveals are eternal, such as those associated with the plan of salvation. These laws do not change. However, the Lord may at times emphasize certain laws because of social changes and the needs of His Church or the world.
Concerning the second category,
Point out that there are also laws in the Church that may change as directed by the Lord through His prophets. These include laws that direct the priesthood administration of the gospel and ordinances and relate to the organization and management of the Lord’s Church and His people. Some of these laws may also be referred to as Church policies or practices. As prophets and apostles seek the Lord’s inspiration and counsel together, they may make adjustments to these laws according to the Lord’s will.
At the end of the segment was a worksheet where students were instructed to classify seven items as either “Eternal Law” or “Laws of priesthood administration and Church management.” The priesthood ban was included as one of these items, and was supposed to be placed in the second category as a temporary administrative policy directed by the Lord.
Segment 6 was based on a quote from the January 2016 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, President Russell M. Nelson’s “Becoming True Millennials.” The discussion centered around the revelatory process President Nelson described concerning the November 5th policy.
Exercise 3 asked the students to consider how they might respond to a scenario involving a family member expressing his opinion that, “given enough social pressure, the Church’s current position regarding a social issue will change in the future to be more in line with society’s position.” The family member gives as evidence the church’s history with plural marriage and the priesthood ban. The manual listed several resources to help students develop a response, including Gospel Topics essays and a Mormon Newsroom piece about Elder Dallin H. Oaks.