Jump to content

How is official church doctrine determined,


StuddleyG

Recommended Posts

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

This is a non-doctrinal statement about Mormon doctrine: Approaching Mormon Doctrine

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

I'm not sure if there is a scriptural definition of "official doctrine." There is clearly examples of authoritative doctrine, as the ones that Christ Himself states in several verses in 3 Nephi 11 (28, 30-32, 35, 39-40) and as we see in Matthew 7: 29("For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.") It is our responsibility to discern and develop a history and familiarity with the doctrinal truths spoken by the Spirit and the Lord's servants, and to apply them so that we truly incorporate them enough to dwell with God.

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

Well I can say anything that is considered scripture is "official doctrine" and we know that the Standard Works which comprise: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price are deemed as such. It has also been stated in our Gospel Principles manual (which is used to teach our new members and investigators class as well as now the PH and RS classes) the following:
(
Link to comment

Wait, wait, wait.

Wait.

Anyone else feel like they just jumped on the Merry-Go-Round? If the President of the Church is the only one who is authorized to make an authoritative statement, and that President makes a doctrine clear, how can anyone poo-poo their teachings and say that they were "just speaking as a man" or "he's entitled to his own opinion"?

The game goes like this: you try to nail down a certain doctrine and quote a President, Prophet, Seer, Revelator making repeated, definitive statements related to that doctrine. Mr. Apologist or Brother-I-don't-want-to-acknowledge-an-uncomfortable-doctrine comes along and insists that that "so-called-doctrine" is really just unimportant fringe teachings that's completely irrelevant for knowing Christ, that you quoted something out of context even though you didn't, that President so-and-so was just speaking as a man, that the Prophet is only a prophet when he's acting as such, that he's entitled to his own opinion, that YOU must have egregious unrepentant sins otherwise the Spirit would instruct you appropriately, that God structured his Gospel that way to separate out the "undesireables", etc. You end up never really knowing whether anything "official" actually exists, but you do know that the apologist on the other side has a multitude of ways to dismiss, obfuscate, disavow, spar for time, etc. -- all for the purpose of preventing those things from being discussed in any meaningful way.

If someone has a less-grumpy, much-clearer view of figuring it all out PLEASE let me know. Not trying to offend anyone, just calling it as I see it.

Link to comment
This is a non-doctrinal statement about Mormon doctrine: Approaching Mormon Doctrine

Incorrect. It's an official statement by the Church. See the header.

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

Close. Anything published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is official doctrine.

Link to comment

I'm pretty conservative when it come to established Church doctrines. I agree with the Church's own website.

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

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

Link to comment

I feel it's important to differentiate between history and doctrine. Doctrines are eternal saving principles. History (and 'historical writings') in and of itself is and are only useful to the degree that they are used as examples (or vehicles) to teach doctrine. We are told that the records in the scriptures are 'profitable for doctrine, reproof, etc', but not necessarily for a literal history. I have far more confidence in our Leaders teaching us inspired applicable Doctrine that we need to understand (and act on) in the here and now than in teaching us reference-quality details of history.

For example: The majority of events contained in The Book of Mormon and Bible themselves are not Doctrine. But they are officially recognized and approved sources that can be used to teach Doctrine.

The Church often will use its current understanding of Historical Events to teach Doctrine. If it turns out the history wasn't 100% literally accurate, it doesn't negate the Doctrine being taught, any more than Christ's parables not being historical negates the Doctrines He was trying to teach us.

Contention often arrives when History is misunderstood as the Doctrine itself.

Link to comment

Rather than arguing the semantics of whether a particular sentence spoken by a Church leader 180 years ago is "official doctrine", a much more useful question would have been "when should we accept a prophet's counsel and act upon it?"

A simple answer to that questions is: "when the Spirit testifies that you should - either while the prophet is giving it or when you later inquire of the Lord."

Link to comment

I am of the opinion that we will not be led astray by prophetic counsel. While the examples, reasonings, and framework used to teach the principle may be imperfect, the counsel, at the time received, will be inspired and beneficial, and I believe places us under the obligation of the Law of Obedience.

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

You asked 2 questions and I will answer both of them with the guidance I receive by the Holy Spirit:

Q1) How do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet?

A1) I know that when the Holy Spirit tells me that man is speaking as a prophet.

In other words, I know that when the Holy Spirit tells me that what that man is saying has been inspired by God.

In other words, I know that when the words of that man help me to feel closer to God and to better understand God and the things of God.

In other words, I know that when God tells me that man is a true prophet of God.

Q2: Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

A2: If you'll think about that question some more, while asking for guidance from God through the power of the Holy Spirit, I think you'll be able to discover the answer to that one, just as the Holy Spirit can help you to discover the truth of all [other] things.

Link to comment

I'd say that a more important question is "when should we follow the prophet?"

The answer is all the time. I know that our leaders are guided by God to tell us messages we need to hear and to tell us what God's will is for us to do.

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

Hi Studdley. This question has been discussed (and over-discussed) on this forum many times, so I heartily recommend you give the "search" function a try and enjoy some of those threads.

As for the "Newsroom Statement", here's a good article that discusses it:

"The 4 May 2007 Statement of the LDS Church: "Approaching Mormon Doctrine""

There is a critical flaw in the statement, in that the definition it gives is ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Specifically, the following paragraph is open to at least 2 interpretations:

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 and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four
Link to comment

OK- my dos centavos for what they are worth:

First, I accept only provisionally that the "official statement" is in fact the REAL official statement which I think will be forthcoming yet in the future because clearly this press release needs clarification:

(Bolding added)

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
Link to comment
Rather than arguing the semantics of whether a particular sentence spoken by a Church leader 180 years ago is "official doctrine", a much more useful question would have been "when should we accept a prophet's counsel and act upon it?"

A simple answer to that questions is: "when the Spirit testifies that you should - either while the prophet is giving it or when you later inquire of the Lord."

There is lots that is not doctrinal that we should probably heed. However, that is up to us individually.

There is a critical flaw in the statement, in that the definition it gives is ambiguous and open to interpretation.

I disagree. There are no flaws whatsoever, this being the way the Church has looked at doctrine for many years now. The official statement to the media is neither groundbreaking or new in any way.

Some people read it like this:

Others read it like this:

If you look at what you posted, the "flaw" is not in the statement itself but in your strikethrough. The correct way to read anything to find intent is to read without adding strikethroughs.

Whyen you read without mentally adding strikethroughs you get:

The source of doctrine is the scriptures (see also D&C 68:4). And since neither you or I are qualified to interpret the scriptures for the whole Church, the FP and Qo12 counsel together to establish doctrine and that doctrine is consistently published by the Church. Therefore, the only way to determine what official LDS doctrine is is to read it's publications.

I'm a big fan of the operational definition suggested by John Larsen in this thread. It illustrates the process I've commonly seen LDS use in determining doctrine:

Which is unfortunate because John Larsen does not speak for the Church.

Link to comment
Note that what is being said is that the brethren, together "COUNSEL TO ESTABLISH" doctrine which is "CONSISTENTLY PROCLAIMED" in church publications BUT that the doctrine "RESIDES" in the standard works.

I just wish they made it a little more clear.

It's perfectly clear. Can you or I establish LDS doctrine by reading the scriptures? No, we can't. Only the FP in combination with the Qo12 can do that. Therefore, by simply reading the scriptures, we do not know what LDS doctrine is. It is only in the published works of the Church that we know what that is. For example, that John 3:5 refers also to water baptism and not just a spiritual rebirth as opposed to physical birth is LDS doctrine. You might guess it, but you could not establish that on your own. And you will only find that in the Church's publications.

Link to comment

When you read without mentally adding strikethroughs you get:

The source of doctrine is the scriptures (see also D&C 68:4). And since neither you or I are qualified to interpret the scriptures for the whole Church, the FP and Qo12 counsel together to establish doctrine and that doctrine is consistently published by the Church. Therefore, the only way to determine what official LDS doctrine is is to read it's publications.

Which would mean the part about the Standard Works, proclamations and the AoF is totally redundant, since they are already included among the "official Church publications".

For clarity's sake, they should have at least included "and Church magazines and lesson manuals" in that list as well.

Link to comment
Which would mean the part about the Standard Works, proclamations and the AoF is totally redundant, since they are already included among the "official Church publications".

I don't think so in the sense of they are sources of established doctrine. But if you include the footnotes and other like things that are published with them, sure.

For clarity's sake, they should have at least included "and Church magazines and lesson manuals" in that list as well.

I don't see why that would be necessary for most as most people I know have understood this stance on doctrine for decades. Where else has the Church been publishing?

Link to comment

I personally have come to the belief that "official doctrine" of the church falls into this geralization-

"Official doctrine" of the church may or may not be true, but, it represents the "current" views held and taught by leaders out of all standard works, manuals, conference reports and other "official first presidency statements, etc.

The problem with this is establishing what is defined as "true doctrine" and "untrue doctrine". This is where beliefs come into play. For instance- the teaching of "eternal progression" can be applied in many different ways with both prohpet and apostle disagreeing on the matters at hand. As such, even manuals can lean more one direction over another. What we need to realize is that our own doctrine is ever evolving over time. Since BoM times we have come to a greater understanding for the work for the dead. Repentance that was at one time unfathomable for the dead (in Nephite times) is now a common doctrine in the church. This represents an evolving doctrine in the church and as such the final "true doctrine" concerning the nature and all aspects of the work for redeeming the dead is not yet revealed. Of course this creates a great problem for correlating "official doctrine" because our scriptures contradict itself on the matter. So, you have a paradox where contradicting doctrines are both considered "official doctrine".

There are other instances also. But, we should not be afraid or be weary that even our "official doctrine" may not all be "true doctrine" at the present time, but that in time it will be perfected. Much work is yet to be done. The changes in "Gospel Principles" is one such case of how our doctrine is slowly evolving. Also, the changes in wording of the temple endowment also shows how our doctrine is slowly changing, or becoming more perfect with the will of the Lord.

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet?

Scriptures, the Spirit, other Words of the Prophets (including the one being quoted), Sustaining Vote by the Body of the Church, and simply study and common sense.

Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

Almost always, but not always so.... Sometimes small errors and mistakes can occur. As well sometimes "policy" doesn't have an "actual" doctrine behind it, just believed so. LDS don't rely on "men" in the determination of "doctrine", there must be the "other" checks and balances in play for something to "ultimately" BE doctrine.

Link to comment

I understand the fact that prophets are subject to having their own opinions. Prophets are only prophets when they are acting as prophets. But, how do you know when a prophet is acting as a prophet? Would it be accurate to assume that anything that has been stamped with the official church logo contains official doctrine?

There are many ways to analyze the question of what constitutes official church doctrine. It seems that "doctrine" can fall into two broad categories: empirical claims (claims about objective facts, i.e., whether there is a God, what his/her attributes are, how the world was created, what happens after we die, etc.) and normative claims (how we should behave during our mortal existence). Deterimining whether any given doctrine is "official LDS doctrine" is the subject of great disagreement. But I think it is fair to acknowledge that there is an unwritten heirarchy of authority which determines where any given claim falls of the spectrum of officiality. Here is a rough attempt to illustrate that heirarchy (and, of course, any statements prefaced by a caveat that they are personal opinions don't count):

1) The most official source of doctrine is the express declaration of something as doctrine by a living president of the church, made in a setting clearly intended for uncensored dissemination to the Church membership at large and the world. However, this is a rare occurrence, due in large part, I think, to the reluctance of modern church presidents to take an official stance in case the statement turns out to make the Church look foolish in light of future wisdom. I think modern church presidents have come to appreciate, for example, how Brigham Young's statements about various topics have plagued the Church's reputation. Therefore, when modern church presidents do take unequivocally official doctrinal positions on the Church's behalf, they generally only do so in matters of already well-established precedent, and generally only in areas which are not likely to be controversial in the future (i.e., that Christ is the redeemer of mankind, that he was crucified and lives, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, etc.)

2) The next category in the heirarchy is the statements made or endorsed by a living president of the Church which are made in an official forum and in an official manner, but without any express declaration that the statement constitutes official doctrine. Here is where it starts to get especially confusing. We are left to speculate and disagree about whether the president was speaking his own opinion or speaking "as a prophet". Generally, however, the mainstream membership of the Church assumes that such statements are doctrine because of the setting in which they were made. But should the church ever wish to disavow itself of the statement, it has a certain amount of wiggle room to claim it was only the president's opinion. This category includes official church publications endorsed by the church president, but which do not expressly purport to be official doctrine. Examples would include lesson manuals, most conference talks by the president, etc.

3) Next in the heirarchy are statements made by the other fourteen members of the Quorum of the Twelve (or really Fifteen) Apostles, made in an official setting, which purport to be official doctrine. Like category (1) above, however, this rarely occurs because apostles rarely consider themselves at liberty to make official doctrinal pronouncements on behalf of the Church.

4) Next is statements made by the other fourteen members of the Quorum of the Twelve (or really Fifteen) Apostles, made in an official setting, in the presence of the president, intended for dissemination to the membership and the world at large. The presence of the president and his presumable ability to correct any errors gives the statement more prestige. Most mainstream members consider these statements official doctrine.

5) Next you have the "standard works" which form the Church's canonnical scripture, which can be trumped or superseded at anytime by the above statements.

6) Next, you have about everything else from other church leaders.

7) Next you have folklore.

I really will need more time to compile more details on all of this.

Link to comment
1) The most official source of doctrine is the express declaration of something as doctrine by a living president of the church, made in a setting clearly intended for uncensored dissemination to the Church membership at large and the world.

2) The next category in the heirarchy is the statements made or endorsed by a living president of the Church which are made in an official forum and in an official manner, but without any express declaration that the statement constitutes official doctrine.

3) Next in the heirarchy are statements made by the other fourteen members of the Quorum of the Twelve (or really Fifteen) Apostles, made in an official setting, which purport to be official doctrine.

4) Next is statements made by the other fourteen members of the Quorum of the Twelve (or really Fifteen) Apostles, made in an official setting, in the presence of the president, intended for dissemination to the membership and the world at large. The presence of the president and his presumable ability to correct any errors gives the statement more prestige. Most mainstream members consider these statements official doctrine.

5) Next you have the "standard works" which form the Church's canonnical scripture, which can be trumped or superseded at anytime by the above statements.

The Church used to prioritize in similar fashion. Question. Would any of these not be published if considered doctrine? Of course not. The Church has long ago switched from the establishment of a hierarchy of doctrinal sources to mere publication. An actual hierarchy one could reasonably speculate on and still remain within the context of the LDS Church is what doctrines are most important.

Link to comment

There are many ways to analyze the question of what constitutes official church doctrine. It seems that "doctrine" can fall into two broad categories: empirical claims (claims about objective facts, i.e., whether there is a God, what his/her attributes are, how the world was created, what happens after we die, etc.) and normative claims (how we should behave during our mortal existence)

How are ANY of these "empirical" or "objective facts?? How much does God weigh?

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...