About the Interview: In 1979, the first Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible was published. Notably, it included a “Topical Guide with Selected Concordance and Index.” Approximately 100 Church Education System teachers and about the same number of returned missionaries at Brigham Young University assisted in the process of gathering scriptural references for a long list of categories. Subsequently, several committees continued the process of compiling, organizing, and categorizing this large collection of topical verses. This tool was designed as a significant resource to aid church members in a more purposeful, robust study of the scriptures. Though not exhaustive, the Topical Guide provides just under 3,500 categories with reference to over 50,000 verses of scripture across the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Beginning in 2017, President Russell M. Nelson extended challenges to the members of the Church to study Jesus Christ across the Standard Works. He invited them to begin their study by carefully reading everything under “Jesus Christ” in the Topical Guide. By far its largest category, a study of “Jesus Christ,” includes 57 subcategories with more than 2,200 scripture references. President Nelson stated that completing this course of study changed his life, and to all those who would take the same challenge, he promised an increased love for the Savior and God’s laws, a desire to keep the commandments, and power to overcome temptation and danger.
Stephanie Dibb Sorensen teaches as adjunct faculty in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She primarily teaches the Living Prophets class, and while inviting students to heed prophetic counsel, she initiated a personal course of study based on President Nelson’s Topical Guide challenge. By enhancing her study with teachings of living prophets and religious educators, Stephanie created a study guide to help others undertake a similar study experience. The result was Learn of Me, an annotated study workbook of Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide, published by Covenant Communications in October 2019.
President Ezra Taft Benson once testified, “To learn of Christ necessitates the study of the scriptures and the testimonies of those who know him.” The Learn of Me workbook includes the full-verse citation of the listed scripture references across all 57 subtitles, supplemented with quotes from prophets and apostles, general authorities, and gospel scholars. It also includes reflection questions, definitions, suggestions for further study, prompts for family discussion, recommended hymns and videos for each topic, and plenty of space to take notes. Beautiful artwork from James Tissot depicts scenes from the life of Jesus Christ in each chapter. An appendix outlines a chronological course of study through the key events of Christ’s life across the four gospels. These combined resources provide a convenient tool to complete the prophet’s challenge and come unto Christ through the study of all scriptures listed in the Topical Guide and related modern revelation. After the completion of the updated LDS-version of the Standard Works, including the new Topical Guide, Elder Boyd K. Packer made the following prophecy:
“The older generation has been raised without them, but there is another generation growing up. The revelations will be opened to them as to no other in the history of the world. Into their hands now are placed the sticks of Joseph and of Judah. They will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forebears could achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and to defend Him.”
This personal testimony is the goal of the Learn of Me study workbook.
In this episode of the Latter-day Saint Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales and Stephanie Dibb Sorensen discuss the research and writing process that went into Learn of Me, the available resources and variety of approaches to topical gospel study, and the experience of President Nelson’s Christ-focused challenge.
About Our Guest: Stephanie Dibb Sorensen teaches in the department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She has presented at BYU Education Week, RootsTech, Especially for Youth, and BYU Women’s Conference. She lives with her husband Matt, their three children, and a disgruntled cat in the foothills of the Utah mountains. She loves reading, writing, and teaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ. General Conference is her love language.
Stephanie has a fondness for travel, restaurants, milk chocolate, rolling green hills, warm socks, and happy conversation with friends. She believes most problems can be solved with a good nap. When she’s not writing or preparing for teaching or speaking, she can often be found creating chore charts and living according to the dictates of the family calendar.
This podcast is cross-posted with the permission of LDS Perspectives Podcast.