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bluebell

Do the doctrines of God change?

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Posted (edited)

This may be similar to how many say that yes, church teachings have changed, but not church doctrines.

But I don’t know.  

Did Christ’s teachings change over his lifetime?  They were so simple and beautiful.

I think of the change about the blacks holding the priesthood.  Was that ban ever from God?  Or was its origin man and man had to fix it?  God didn’t change.

I guess I believe that man’s ability to hear, interpret and understand changes, but God’s teachings don’t.  

I will have to think more about it though!

 

Edited by JulieM
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@bluebell

As far as God’s doctrines changing, it depends, typically on definitions, but semantics aside, I think once we consider what doesn’t change, such as His existence, His attributes, our existence and divine attributes, the distances (from the concept of “the greater star” to the Fall) and The Bridge between us, and Christ’s great and last infinite and eternal sacrifice, doctrines (as in teachings) become in relation to what He is as policies are to doctrine.

Revelation and ongoing revelation are not always about doctrine. But contradictions (rather, seeming contradictions since they will not oppose those kinds of things which I listed above that do not change) are only in the eyes of the beholder. But yes, the Lord can certainly tell us to go one way and then another. He can also reward us, as He did the brother of Jared, for doing the unexpected.

I believe that policy by nature and definition must change, in the spirit of “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them.” Otherwise we are not becoming like Him in those areas that do not change.

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15 minutes ago, rpn said:

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that we don't collectively understand what God wants for His people correctly all the time.    I don't think His doctrine changes, but I can see how mortals could misunderstand it or misapply it, or misstate it, or misvalue it or even mis-order it.    And certainly what is necessary for us to learn what we need to learn or become what we need to become may be different at different times.

So you fall into the camp where anytime there is a contradiction between two prophets (such as the contradiction between Pres. Hinckley's embracing of the term Mormon and Pres. Nelson's eschewing of it) it means that one of the prophets was wrong and the other right?  (just trying to make sure I understand what you are saying).

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What is taught to man may change.  (Law of Moses for instance).

God's eternal truths (true doctrine) cannot and does not.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

So you fall into the camp where anytime there is a contradiction between two prophets (such as the contradiction between Pres. Hinckley's embracing of the term Mormon and Pres. Nelson's eschewing of it) it means that one of the prophets was wrong and the other right?  (just trying to make sure I understand what you are saying).

I think it depends on which prophet is closer to the Second Coming... :)  I think timing (and conditionality and expediency) has a lot to do with what the Lord requires of us as a people, and conveys that through the Prophet.

Edited by CV75

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15 minutes ago, JulieM said:

This may be similar to how many say that yes, church teachings have changed, but not church doctrines.

But I don’t know.  

Did Christ’s teachings change over his lifetime?  They were so simple and beautiful.

I think of the change about the blacks holding the priesthood.  Was that ban ever from God?  Or was its origin man and man had to fix it?  God didn’t change.

I guess I believe that man’s ability to hear, interpret and understand changes, but God’s teachings don’t.  

I will have to think more about it though!

 

That's a good question.  I think the answer depends on a person's belief about the OT.  The God of the OT was Christ, and that means that it was Christ who gave the Israelites the Law of Moses.  So, His Sermon on the Mount can be seen as a big change from His previous teachings about an 'eye for an eye' and all that.

If we are talking only about His mortal ministry, His interaction with the gentile woman might count?  Remember when she came to Him pleading that He heal her daughter and He refused, saying that He was not meant to bless the gentiles but only the Israelites.  Then she pointed out that even family pets benefit from the children's crumbs (going with His analogy of her being a dog and the children of Israel family) and He changed what He was going to do and healed her daughter. 

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5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

So you fall into the camp where anytime there is a contradiction between two prophets (such as the contradiction between Pres. Hinckley's embracing of the term Mormon and Pres. Nelson's eschewing of it) it means that one of the prophets was wrong and the other right?  (just trying to make sure I understand what you are saying).

I think sometimes it’s just two humans with different opinions.  That’s all.

Maybe God is indifferent about using the words Mormon or Mormons?

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5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

So you fall into the camp where anytime there is a contradiction between two prophets (such as the contradiction between Pres. Hinckley's embracing of the term Mormon and Pres. Nelson's eschewing of it) it means that one of the prophets was wrong and the other right?  (just trying to make sure I understand what you are saying).

Yes, unless both were wrong and God has a different opinion.

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Just now, JLHPROF said:

What is taught to man may change.  (Law of Moses for instance).

God's eternal truths (true doctrine) cannot and does not.

Can you justify that belief?  What are God's eternal truths?  Does He outline them for us anywhere?

 I want to hear your arguments and evidences that support that idea.  Not so I can debate with you but so I can understand why you believe it and not just that you believe.

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1 minute ago, JulieM said:

I think sometimes it’s just two humans with different opinions.  That’s all.

Maybe God is indifferent about using the words Mormon or Mormons?

Could be.  But when you have both humans claiming divine revelation on the subject, it makes it difficult to rest on 'two humans with different opinions.'   I think that's why this subject causes so much angst.  If God really is indifferent while His prophets teaching that He's very much NOT, then the issue balloons to something much bigger than a nickname.

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4 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Yes, unless both were wrong and God has a different opinion.

So you are an absolutist (as far as the blog uses the word), correct?  (I don't want to assume anything).

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3 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Could be.  But when you have both humans claiming divine revelation on the subject, it makes it difficult to rest on 'two humans with different opinions.'   I think that's why this subject causes so much angst.  If God really is indifferent while His prophets teaching that He's very much NOT, then the issue balloons to something much bigger than a nickname.

I agree.  But that’s where all of us being human and having human emotions and strong opinions (even different Prophets) play a role, I think.

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33 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Did Christ’s teachings change over his lifetime?  They were so simple and beautiful.

Love your neighbour vs. you must hate and leave behind family and all that you love if you love God?

I bring peace to you vs I have not come to bring peace but a sword...

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25 minutes ago, bluebell said:

So you fall into the camp where anytime there is a contradiction between two prophets (such as the contradiction between Pres. Hinckley's embracing of the term Mormon and Pres. Nelson's eschewing of it) it means that one of the prophets was wrong and the other right?  (just trying to make sure I understand what you are saying).

No.  I don't think the use of Mormon is doctrinal.

And there could be other reasons for change than one is wrong and one is right.   Sometimes things change.   Sometimes things matter to one population to get right and hasn't to other populations.

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8 minutes ago, Calm said:

Love your neighbour vs. you must hate and leave behind family and all that you love if you love God?

I bring peace to you vs I have not come to bring peace but a sword...

Well, I definitely think it was man who complicated the teachings and made a religion out of them.

That’s not necessarily bad of course, but what if we’d just kept it as simple as His core teachings?

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Posted (edited)

There are a few things that never change, or are so stable within a view or experience of eternity, that for all practical purposes they never change.

One: I am ( . . . here now) (=~love)

Two: self-determination, agency (=~freedom).

In other words--Being (love) and the agency of that Being (freedom-ish, or rather self-determination; freedom here not being a matter of options)

Everything else may change in the particulars as long as the particulars remain an expression of the marriage/paradox of the love/freedom.  What the particulars are that express those absolutely change with time, place, and point of view.

I also like speaking of harmlessness (Ahimsa), to not harm others and to not allow yourself to be harmed and to not harm yourself.  But this is not unchangeable, because we are free to do otherwise; but harmlessness is also a way to say the preservation of Being and the agency of that Being, so in that sense it is unchangeable.

God is just an English word/syllable.  It represents something larger than the word.  It represents the reality of Being and Creation.  Our Heavenly Father and Jesus show us the way to live in that reality of Being without harm, so that joy may be had.  But they didn't invent it, and they've said as much.  As two (+) Beings, their ideas and teachings may very well change, although I am sure they are well past the situation of not knowing what is going on with mortal progression and so can reliably be trusted to show us the way in a way that is more or less unchanging (or not).  The changes are then changes we need to make, not changes of what is and who they are.  They are working with noobs.

The will of God is NOT the same behavior in all points of view, but rather the whisper/guidance of what will maintain integrity (no self harm) and harmlessness in any given situation, which will change.  The highest law that is possible to be lived in that situation (given the capacity of the mortal, etc) will be the guidance--not necessarily the highest law to be found in all the universe.  We can't do the universe calculus if we haven't even learned our universe add and subtract.

Edited by Maidservant
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13 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Well, I definitely think it was man who complicated the teachings and made a religion out of them.

That’s not necessarily bad of course, but what if we’d just kept it as simple as His core teachings?

Then every post here would necessarily be about how better to love God and our neighbor.  I’m definitely up for that.

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¨line upon line¨ would seem to assume that previous teachings are not inconsistent with new teachings (or else the inconsistency between the two lines stacked on each other results in a poor foundation and eventual collapse).  Also if the previous line is simply provisional (until the next line) then it would be more accurate to say ¨line over line¨ as in overwriting (or replacing). In other words, line upon line does not simply indicate progression through time but that a structure is being built, truth upon truth.  If the previous truth is not true or only temporarily ¨true¨ then the former lines supporting the current line would not be sound and the claim to line upon line being a good thing is suspect.  Obviously other interpretations could be made of this phrase and its use in the LDS Church, but the question just becomes which interpretation best fits the actual use.

Also the writers do qualify that not all truths revealed by God are provisional and thus that some are always true.  But the question becomes which teachings would those be.  It would seem likely that the best place to find unchanging truths would be in that which does not change.  For non-LDS Christians, this is God´s being and character.  For LDS it could be claimed that God does not change - but it would be too easily argued against, given LDS cosmology. So what in LDS teachings never changes - the elemental foundation of all being in matter/intelligences seems a likely candidate.  While matter can be changed in form or organization and while intelligences develop into spirit children, humans, and post 2nd estate beings of some sort, the foundation of the particles seems to be the only thing that does not change.  However, it would seem that even intelligence would have to change at a foundational level in order to be ¨glorified¨, so that would seem to only leave matter as the only thing (at its most basic existence) that does not change in LDS teaching and thus could have permanent teachings taught about it.

However, I think it is unlikely that LDS would claim that the truth of the Atonement of Jesus Christ changes.  However, the vehicle or related truths and the requirements for its actuation in any particular persons life could change.  And the question becomes if everything around the Atonement can change - what, when, who, and how it becomes effective and to what extent - then it seems, initially at least, to effectively mean the LDS Atonement can also change.  So we´re back to just matter.  But that would seem to indicate that almost every single teaching of the LDS Church can be changed by continuing revelation (at best).

It still seems that many, if not most (although certainly not all), LDS would not agree or be happy with this conclusion.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Well, I definitely think it was man who complicated the teachings and made a religion out of them.

That’s not necessarily bad of course, but what if we’d just kept it as simple as His core teachings?

You mean ignore the stuff we are taught he said that we don't see as aligning with what we believe are his core teachings?  I am not sure what you mean.  

According to scripture Jesus said all those things I stated when he was alive.  The amount of detail provided with the hate family seems to rate it as an important teaching.  The I bring a sword, not peace was said in his last days by him according to scripture. I don't feel comfortable ignoring what someone felt as important enough to take the time to teach when he knew there wasn't much time yet.

Now we can pick and choose which teachings we think Jesus actually taught and label others as put in there by men, but if the main measure is how we feel about it, doesn't that run the risk of creating Jesus in our own ideals rather than paying attention to what he taught?

------

I personally don't see them as contradictions when I place them in my big picture of how I understand things, but if taken in isolation I see the above comments by Jesus as very contradictory.

I think we need to put any doctrine in a big picture context.  If it easily fits with slight adjustment, I don't get concerned (apply concerns about being able to repent to a timeline where repentance may occur up to the moment of final judgment/choice, for example, resolves some scriptural contradictions).  Others I don't see how it fits without knowing additional conditions (what happens to having to learn and be tested if those who die before 8 all go to the CK without reference to personality or choices? for it to be fair as currently structured, imo, we would need to know they all had received enough learning opportunities in premortality and they weren't going to change...which puts God into a micromanaging spot to preserve agency which seems to also negate agency for me) , but I don't worry about it as something that impacts me and mine in a potentially negative way.  If there are shortcuts to bliss, as long as me and mine have a chance at the long way, I am okay with that.  Others I have prayed about and have been confirmed I will know in time, be at peace now.

Everything does come down to "do you trust God" in either the short or long run, imo.  Very unsatisfying if you want to know more details of what you are committing to when it can bring division in your life, no doubt.  (Easy one is a widow wondering about sealings for herself and her children and the men she marries and loves.) I haven't been in that situation myself (worry about choices impacting eternal destiny) outside of my choice of marriage partner, so I have been lucky, I guess.  In the one ongoing case, I was blessed with a revelation that told me it was right for my daughter to take her own path, I did not need to fear for her.  

Though it is hell at times to see her suffering, I have that as a hope.  I figure my choices may have led to greater physical hardship unknowingly (certain supplements I took when pregnant that were seen as harmless, I wonder if they threw off her neurchemical development leading to her greater depression and anxiety), but I am assured her spiritual destination will be the one she wants and I figure I can live with that.

I know there can be unnecessary pain when a parent wants for their child what they want, not what the child wants. I have tried to form my hopes and dreams for my children around wanting their hopes and dreams to come true.  It is only right for me to determine what should be hoped and dreams for myself.  If I want that choice to be fully mine, then I need to give my loved ones the same respect.

Edited by Calm
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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Calm said:

You mean ignore the stuff we are taught he said that we don't see as aligning with what we believe are his core teachings?  I am not sure what you mean.  

 

I was talking to a very good man I worked with. He does not believe in organized religion, but knows I’m a Mormon and we talk about church sometimes.

I asked him why he didn’t belong to any religion and he told me that he believed this would be a wonderful, peaceful world if everyone just lived the two great laws of Christ.  He added that to him organized religions are just men creating laws in God’s name and then using those same laws to exclude and judge each other because of how they fail to fully live these manmade laws.

What if we get back to God and he tells us we should have just kept it simple like Christ did?  Love each other and afterwards come back to His love and forever be with those we love?

I do think about that and just wonder sometimes.

Edited by JulieM
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20 minutes ago, Joshua Valentine said:

¨line upon line¨ would seem to assume that previous teachings are not inconsistent with new teachings (or else the inconsistency between the two lines stacked on each other results in a poor foundation and eventual collapse).  Also if the previous line is simply provisional (until the next line) then it would be more accurate to say ¨line over line¨ as in overwriting (or replacing). In other words, line upon line does not simply indicate progression through time but that a structure is being built, truth upon truth.  If the previous truth is not true or only temporarily ¨true¨ then the former lines supporting the current line would not be sound and the claim to line upon line being a good thing is suspect.  Obviously other interpretations could be made of this phrase and its use in the LDS Church, but the question just becomes which interpretation best fits the actual use.

Also the writers do qualify that not all truths revealed by God are provisional and thus that some are always true.  But the question becomes which teachings would those be.  It would seem likely that the best place to find unchanging truths would be in that which does not change.  For non-LDS Christians, this is God´s being and character.  For LDS it could be claimed that God does not change - but it would be too easily argued against, given LDS cosmology. So what in LDS teachings never changes - the elemental foundation of all being in matter/intelligences seems a likely candidate.  While matter can be changed in form or organization and while intelligences develop into spirit children, humans, and post 2nd estate beings of some sort, the foundation of the particles seems to be the only thing that does not change.  However, it would seem that even intelligence would have to change at a foundational level in order to be ¨glorified¨, so that would seem to only leave matter as the only thing (at its most basic existence) that does not change in LDS teaching and thus could have permanent teachings taught about it.

However, I think it is unlikely that LDS would claim that the truth of the Atonement of Jesus Christ changes.  However, the vehicle or related truths and the requirements for its actuation in any particular persons life could change.  And the question becomes if everything around the Atonement can change - what, when, who, and how it becomes effective and to what extent - then it seems, initially at least, to effectively mean the LDS Atonement can also change.  So we´re back to just matter.  But that would seem to indicate that almost every single teaching of the LDS Church can be changed by continuing revelation (at best).

It still seems that many, if not most (although certainly not all), LDS would not agree or be happy with this conclusion.

You mention “line upon line” as a principle. Latter Day Saints often quote this without knowing the origin.

Isaiah 28:10

I read the scripture with a different context than I normally hear it [partially] quoted.  The writing around that verse (context) is condemning the beliefs and practices of the “Drunkards of Ephraim.”  I read the verse as condemning the pattern of revelation (line upon line) that those people were using.

I’m certainly the LAST person you want to trust regarding interpretation of scripture. But, I urge you to take a look if you haven’t already and decide for yourself whether Isaiah believes their pattern of receiving revelation is how God wants to give us revelation.

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The disciples, convinced that blindness must be a punishment from God, asked Jesus who the sinner was, the man who had been blind since birth, or his parents.  Jesus corrected the notion that someone must have done something wrong, saying the man’s blindness wasn’t the result of sin, but that the man was blind so that the glory of God might be made manifest.

I suggest we might receive the same answer if we asked “who was wrong” about what prophets have said about how we refer to the Church.  Jesus might well tell us no prophet was wrong and all their teachings were given for the same purpose...that the glory of God might be made manifest.

Speaking from experience, parents of children with physical and/or mental disabilities find joy and are changed for the better when their focus changes from why would God let this happen to, how might the glory of God be made manifest by this experience.

Similarly, I suggest we will find clarity and purpose in prophetic teachings when we change our focus from trying to parse prophetic wording to living in harmony with the teachings of living prophets and praying that we may understand how, in doing so, the glory of God might be made manifest.

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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Thoughts?  Are the authors right?  Does our belief in on-going revelation mean that contradictions in past and present teachings don't matter?  Here is what they say specifically about such contradictions:

I don't know that they don't matter but they are an inevitable consequence of seeing through a glass darkly.

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

And what about the ever-popular Doctrine vs. Policy debate?  Does that focus actually do more harm than good by perpetuating the idea that doctrine can never change while policy can?  The authors state:

The problem in that debate is that people tend to not define terms or explain how to distinguish between the two. The topic is filled with equivocation. A helpful distinction is that policy is when a leader uses their wisdom to fulfill a directive given by God. Doctrine is more clear and stable revelations. However since revelations always have a degree of ambiguity and vagueness we should be cautious. Typically we leave open more ambiguous teachings or revelations and tend to call doctrine just the clearer ones. Since this is a matter of degree new revelation can always overturn past understanding. That is in anything there's a degree of uncertainty and fallibilism. 

However the term doctrine is also used to refer to either significant church teachings or simply things that are taught in the manuals. The problem is that the latter tends to reflect a lot that can't be tied clearly to unambiguous revelations. The former often are traditions but which may rest on mistakes (such as now appears to be the case with the priesthood ban). Those obviously can be clarified or corrected with further revelation.

Since members place such importance on revelation the community is by nature conservative in the small c sense of the term. That is they consider a large burden of proof before a teaching is overturned - typically the apostles agreeing upon the change. When some oppose a teaching they tend to react negatively. That's understandable since the underlying issue is that burden of proof. This is true even when some turn out to be correct. 

But both policy and doctrine can change. It's just policy typically is easier to change and is taken as less significant.

The key issue is that some truths are eternal and some aren't. To use one of Joseph Smith's examples the revelation for Noah to build an ark doesn't mean we should. However in addition to this some truths - particularly commandments - are a bit unclear or uncertain. That's why continuing revelation is so important so we're not trapped by a text that may itself bear corruptions or errors. 

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