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The Kfd: Official Doctrine Or Theological Speculation


Droopy

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The following is an exact reproduction of a post I recently put up at mormonapologetics.org. One might easily conceive of the responses one would most likely receive from exmos and non-member anti-Mormons there, but my intent here is to obtain some feedback from from faithful, practicing Latter Day Saints on this matter. This issue, for some reason, seems always to provoke mixed reactions from the active LDS community, and I'm interested in what the general leanings in this forum might be.

I've long accepted the ideas presented below (including the teaching that God the Father had a Father, who had a Father, and so on). Indeed, I've accepted what I consider to be their deep profundity and implications since I was quite young. Its only in the last, probably ten years, since I discovered the Internet LDS community, that I've run across actual resistance to the concept among active, committed LDS.

What say ye?

Much discussion has ensued here, and in other LDS forums, regarding the teachings of the KFD and the nature of God within the context of his origins vis-a-vis his status as a god and the process through which he became such. The question has revolved around the nature of "official" LDS doctrine and the status of that which is taught in the KFD as doctrine (and this is, let it be made clear, independent of whether or not the doctrines taught are to be, or can be considered by faithful LDS, true).

Now, there are well understood and delineated means by which members of the Church may distinguish official doctrine from non-official doctrine (which may, in the larger scheme of things, be nonetheless true, or pointing to further, not yet fully revealed truths), theological speculation, or the personal opinions of General Authorities. One is, of course, anything published by the Church, including, not only the Standard Works of the Church, but its official publications intended for religious instruction in our meetings and personal studies. This would comprise Sunday School manuals, Gospel doctrine manuals, Priesthood manuals, Institute of Religion study manuals, First Presidency messages, Conference talks, and official declarations and proclamations.

While the literal Fatherhood of God thread died in the CK, something new has yet been added. In perusing chapter 2 in this year's Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual for Priesthood and Relief Society study, I came upon, on page 40 of the manual, the following:

God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make Himself visible,â??I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in formâ??like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another. â?¦

This direct quotation from the KFD with respect to the concept of God the Father having once been a mortal like ourselves, having undergone a mortal experience, and by obedience to the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, having been deified, would seem, once and for all, to have put an end to any further speculation or ambiguity regarding the status of this idea (as man is, God once was; as God is, man may become) as settled, foundational doctrine.

This would also mean that critics of the concept from within the Church, such as Blake Ostler, well meaning and serious as his critiques have been, need no longer exercise themselves philosophically over the idea, even though the philosophical and theological implications of the doctrine remain staggering.

Does this settle the issue? Who agrees that the issue, as far as the "official' nature of the concept, is now settled for believing LDS, and who does not agree? Why?

I follow this with a quotation from a follow-up post, quoting Joseph from History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 473-479

I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that express purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the Elders for fifteen years.

...Our text says "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." The Apostles have discovered that there were Gods above, for Paul says God was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. My object was to preach the scriptures, and preach the doctrine they contain, there being a God above, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am bold to declare I have taught all the strong doctrines publicly, and always teach stronger doctrines in public than in private.

...If Abraham reasoned thusâ??If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.

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I like the KFD and it's perspective on eternal principles. There's quite a bit to think about.

I think that in recent decades, the Church has tried to retrench and focus more on certain core principles in preparation for things that are coming up. As we've moved into the 21st century, there's been more emphasis on preparation and putting one's personal house in order. The early Church - with Joseph at the head - was exploring new territory and doctrine, and there was quite a bit of very interesting speculation that went on before the Church started to mature as an organization, with better defined goals and missions.

Whether it's official or not is, in my mind, irrelevant. Most of what I'm going to learn from an eternal knowledge standpoint is going to be through my own study. I think that's the way it's meant to be. I have access to quite a bit of material, and with the Church focused on certain core missions, I don't think that it considers it essential to define what's official and what is not, when it comes to doctrinal principles outside of the core principles pertaining to personal salvation.

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This direct quotation from the KFD with respect to the concept of God the Father having once been a mortal like ourselves, having undergone a mortal experience, and by obedience to the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, having been deified, would seem, once and for all, to have put an end to any further speculation or ambiguity regarding the status of this idea (as man is, God once was; as God is, man may become) as settled, foundational doctrine.

This would also mean that critics of the concept from within the Church, such as Blake Ostler, well meaning and serious as his critiques have been, need no longer exercise themselves philosophically over the idea, even though the philosophical and theological implications of the doctrine remain staggering.

Does this settle the issue?

Yes. Being officially published settles the issue. This doctrine is published officially elsewhere, such as in Gospel Principles ch 47 and not using the KFD as a source. One is now left to decide whether or not they accept official LDS doctrine on the matter.

In addition (as I recall) the entire KFD is published officially in a series of Ensign articles though it can be argued that the presentation is historical and not doctrinal.

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I guess I'll be the odd man here.

I like the doctrines taught in the KFD, and I find them inspiring and comforting. In fact, I even believe them to an extent.

But I disagree that those doctrines constitute "official" LDS doctrine, especially in regards to the doctrine of God once having dwelt on an "Earth" as a mortal. I am not disagreeing with the doctrine, just the assertion that it constitutes "official" LDS doctrines. It isn't clearly taught in the Standard Works, though many argue there are hints of it.

I can imagine that if a member of the Church refused to believe in the Atonement, the pre-existence, eternal marriage, the degrees of Heaven, resurrection, or priesthood authority that individual would not be eligible for Temple worship, and could not recieve a temple recommend. However, if an individual refused to believe that God the Father himself has a father, and once dwelt as a mortal on an "Earth," that would not be grounds for being refused a temple recommend.

The doctrine certainly is not emphasized nearly to the degree that others are, and clearly is not taught with as much gusto or confidence in the church. I agree with Pres. Hinckley when he reported that it is a doctrine that we just don't know very much about. How can a doctrine that the Prophet of the world doesn't know very much about be considered official binding LDS doctrine? Joseph's words are reproduced in certain church manuals, but almost never interpreted or expounded on in the manual. They are left for the reader to wrestle with, to try and make sense of it.

That is why I disagree with the belief that all of the doctrines in the KFD are official and binding LDS doctrines. We certainly don't require it of anyone who serves in the kingdom.

Let the flogging begin!

Sargon

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I guess I'll be the odd man here.

I like the doctrines taught in the KFD, and I find them inspiring and comforting. In fact, I even believe them to an extent.

But I disagree that those doctrines constitute "official" LDS doctrine, especially in regards to the doctrine of God once having dwelt on an "Earth" as a mortal. I am not disagreeing with the doctrine, just the assertion that it constitutes "official" LDS doctrines. It isn't clearly taught in the Standard Works, though many argue there are hints of it.

I can imagine that if a member of the Church refused to believe in the Atonement, the pre-existence, eternal marriage, the degrees of Heaven, resurrection, or priesthood authority that individual would not be eligible for Temple worship, and could not recieve a temple recommend. However, if an individual refused to believe that God the Father himself has a father, and once dwelt as a mortal on an "Earth," that would not be grounds for being refused a temple recommend.

The doctrine certainly is not emphasized nearly to the degree that others are, and clearly is not taught with as much gusto or confidence in the church. I agree with Pres. Hinckley when he reported that it is a doctrine that we just don't know very much about. How can a doctrine that the Prophet of the world doesn't know very much about be considered official binding LDS doctrine? Joseph's words are reproduced in certain church manuals, but almost never interpreted or expounded on in the manual. They are left for the reader to wrestle with, to try and make sense of it.

That is why I disagree with the belief that all of the doctrines in the KFD are official and binding LDS doctrines. We certainly don't require it of anyone who serves in the kingdom.

Let the flogging begin!

Sargon

I'll be the first flogger! :P First this topic has been discussed to death, but let me say that the King Follett Discourse while not in the Standard Works IS DOCTRINAL and is OFFICIAL DOCTRINE! It is an undisputed fact that the Church teaches (hence a doctrine) that God the Eternal Father is a glorified and perfected man. As evidence I will point to the following:
(â??Chapter 47: Exaltation,â? Gospel Principles, 301)"What happens when we have endured to the end in faithful discipleship to Christ? The Lord has said, â??If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of Godâ? (D&C 14:7). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, â??If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fulness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect dayâ? (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: â??When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospelâ??you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the graveâ? (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348).

This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: â??It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. â?¦ He was once a man like us; â?¦ God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself didâ? (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345â??46).

Our Heavenly Father knows our trials, our weaknesses, and our sins. He has compassion and mercy on us. He wants us to succeed even as he did.

Imagine what joy each of us will have when we return to our Heavenly Father if we can say: â??Father, I did what you wanted me to do. I have been faithful and have kept your commandments. I am happy to be home again.â? Then we will hear him say, â??Well done; â?¦ thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lordâ? (Matthew 25:23)."

This is what we teach in Sunday School Classes for new members and investigators. Granted we do not know a lot about our Heavenly Father's mortal existence (whether He was a "Christ" or if he was just another spirit offspring of His Heavenly Father) but we do know that He had a mortal existence. That is clearly explained in the Gospel Principles Manual as indicated in the bold part in the above quote, more than mere hints. So since it is taught in the Church as doctrine, I must conclude that it is doctrine (That God was once a man and dwelt on an earth and that we can become as He is now.)
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But I disagree that those doctrines constitute "official" LDS doctrine, especially in regards to the doctrine of God once having dwelt on an "Earth" as a mortal. I am not disagreeing with the doctrine, just the assertion that it constitutes "official" LDS doctrines.

Why would the Church teach a doctrine that is not official?

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Doctrine is basically anything that is taught, and the King Follet discourse (KFD) was taught by an official of our Church... the highest official of our Church at that time... who had the authority to speak for God and his Church.

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Doctrine is basically anything that is taught, and the King Follet discourse (KFD) was taught by an official of our Church... the highest official of our Church at that time... who had the authority to speak for God and his Church.

But since the FP and Qo12 have equal authority (D&C 107), it takes the approval of both bodies to establish doctrine as illustrated in the link on my siggy.

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I'll be the first flogger! :P First this topic has been discussed to death, but let me say that the King Follett Discourse while not in the Standard Works IS DOCTRINAL and is OFFICIAL DOCTRINE! It is an undisputed fact that the Church teaches (hence a doctrine) that God the Eternal Father is a glorified and perfected man. As evidence I will point to the following:This is what we teach in Sunday School Classes for new members and investigators.

President Hinkley's comments on LKL would like to have a word with you.

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President Hinkley's comments on LKL would like to have a word with you.

At worst, it's an isolated statement (see the link in my siggy). More likely, Hinkley, a mortal man, struggled a little to formulate a milk before meat answer. Notice that his answer developed into not emphasizing the doctrine which happens to be the case. It's found in a few places within the official publications of the Church which certainly doesn't lessen it at all as a critical doctrine. But the vast majority of our lessons are on the various aspects of faith in and obedience to Christ.

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But since the FP and Qo12 have equal authority (D&C 107), it takes the approval of both bodies to establish doctrine as illustraed in the link on my siggy.

No, that is not how it works.

... although that it what is normally done to establish what is to be considered "canon".

Our Lord has given the keys of his kingdom to one man on this Earth, as well as the authority to use all of them, and that one man is the President of our Church.

President Monson now has those keys, and the authority to use all of them... all by himself... even though he (President Monson) has also appointed 2 counselors to help him with God's work.

The President of our Church is as Moses was, who had God's full authority to regulate God's kingdom on Earth. All the rest of us are simply helping him, at best, with the inspiration of our Lord to help all of us.

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I'll be the first flogger! :P First this topic has been discussed to death, but let me say that the King Follett Discourse while not in the Standard Works IS DOCTRINAL and is OFFICIAL DOCTRINE! It is an undisputed fact that the Church teaches (hence a doctrine) that God the Eternal Father is a glorified and perfected man. As evidence I will point to the following:

I don't dispute that our doctrine of God's human nature is an "official" doctrine. That is very clearly taught in the Standard Works.

I clearly stated that I don't believe that ALL of the doctrines in the KFD are official. This implies that some are, while others are not:

That is why I disagree with the belief that all of the doctrines in the KFD are official and binding LDS doctrines.

My post dwelt specifically on point of the KFD teachings, the mortality of God the Father.

In regards to the chapter on Exaltation in the Gospel Principles manual, I agreed that it does teach the subject. However, no commentary or expansion is made on the topic. The quote could be interpreted a variety of ways.

Why would the Church teach a doctrine that is not official?

I suppose we ought to define our terms. It could just be that we all agree, but are talking past one another. By official, I mean anything that is obligatory for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to accept in order to be in good standing with the Church.

If we could find precedent for the disciplining of an individual who could not accept this teaching, then it might seem more official to me. But, as it stands, I am not aware that this belief is regarded as necessary for an individual to obtain a TR, or any calling in the Church. I am not aware that if an individual teaches something contrary to this in SS that that individual would be disciplined. It certainly is not equal to say, refusing to accept baptism for the dead.

The reasons for my not accepting this as "official" doctrine were given in my last post. If you would like to address those, feel free.

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Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four â??standard worksâ? of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
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But since the FP and Qo12 have equal authority (D&C 107), it takes the approval of both bodies to establish doctrine as illustrated in the link on my siggy.
No, that is not how it works.

... although that it what is normally done to establish what is to be considered "canon".

That is exactly how it works. Notice the official pronouncement of the Church deals with doctrine, not canon.

Our Lord has given the keys of his kingdom to one man on this Earth, as well as the authority to use all of them, and that one man is the President of our Church.

President Monson now has those keys, and the authority to use all of them... all by himself... even though he (President Monson) has also appointed 2 counselors to help him with God's work.

The President of our Church is as Moses was, who had God's full authority to regulate God's kingdom on Earth. All the rest of us are simply helping him, at best, with the inspiration of our Lord to help all of us.

So how does that change what the Church said about establishing doctrine? Do you disagree with D&C 107:24?

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Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four â??standard worksâ? of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

That is true, in the sense that "a Church leader" can refer to any leader in the Church, but when the President of our Church is "teaching" something that "teaching" is doctrine and it is being "taught" by the highest official of our Church.. therefore, it is official doctrine... and that "teaching" should be considered official doctrine just as much if not more so than anything Moses taught, or anything Peter, James and John taught, or anything the apostle Paul taught, or anything Joseph Smith taught, or anything all of the prophets of our Lord taught, individually.

In other words, that's as good as it gets, and God expects us to accept the "teachings" of his authorized servants as if they have come from God's own mouth.

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That is true, in the sense that "a Church leader" can refer to any leader in the Church, but when the President of our Church is "teaching" something that "teaching" is doctrine and it is being "taught" by the highest official of our Church.. therefore, it is official doctrine... and that "teaching" should be considered official doctrine just as much if not more so than anything Moses had to say, or anything Peter, James and John had to say, or anything the apostle Paul had to say, or anything Joseph Smith had to say, or anything all of the prophets of our Lord had to say, individually.

Incorrect. There is a reason why the Church says..."Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church."

In other words, that's as good as it gets, and God expects us to accept the "teachings" of his authorized servants as if they have come from God's own mouth.

And as you can see, the Lord has established the method whereby you can know what the Church considers to have come from God's own mouth and you yourself have quoted it here in this thread. Such is officially published by the Church and is the prime indentifier, the other being presentation as mentioned in the second paragraph.

Do you disagree with D&C 107:24?

No. I simply disagree with how you are interpreting it.

My interpretation is exactly the same as the Church's....

"With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine...."

Notice also the unanimity required in D&C 107:27.

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At worst, it's an isolated statement (see the link in my siggy). More likely, Hinkley, a mortal man, struggled a little to formulate a milk before meat answer. Notice that his answer developed into not emphasizing the doctrine which happens to be the case. It's found in a few places within the official publications of the Church which certainly doesn't lessen it at all as a critical doctrine. But the vast majority of our lessons are on the various aspects of faith in and obedience to Christ.

I say President Hinkley may have been content to let the idea remain a mystery.

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Incorrect. There is a reason why the Church says...

"Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church."

And as you can see, the Lord has established the method whereby you can know what the Church considers to have come from God's own mouth and you yourself have quoted it here in this thread. Such is officially published by the Church and is the prime indentifier, the other being presentation as mentioned in the second paragraph.

I believe I understand what you are saying, BCSPace, and I still disagree with your interpretations.

... just as I disagree with many other people who I believe are not interpreting things correctly.

I really don't want to get contentious about it, though.

I just wanted you to know that I heard what you said.

I hope you have a good day. :P

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I say President Hinkley may have been content to let the idea remain a mystery.

Sure. Milk before meat.

I believe I understand what you are saying, BCSPace, and I still disagree with your interpretations.

... just as I disagree with many other people who I believe are not interpreting things correctly.

I really don't want to get contentious about it, though.

I just wanted you to know that I heard what you said.

I hope you have a good day.

That's fine. There is no ill will or malice on my part. I'm just trying to get you to establish where your opinion comes from. It's part of my desire to test my opinions against all adversity so as to make them more iron-clad. If I see the need to change or modify my opinion, I will.

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Sure. Milk before meat.

Disagree BC.

I think "We don't teach that. We don't know that much about it. I understand the philosophy behind it" accurately reflects Pres. Hinkley's actual beliefs on the topic.

I believe it was a completely honest, genuine answer.

I don't think he's hiding some great secret.

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