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LDS Doctrine


Pahoran

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This is a very brief overview of a large and complex subject. Pacumeni9 from ZLMB wrote a long paper on this; I believe it came close to 30,000 words. Accordingly, this is less a digest or summary of his arguments, but rather a summary of my own views on the subject some years after having read his paper.

1. The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of the entirety of the teachings that have been severally accepted by the Church as a body.

2. These teachings are found in their authoritative form only in the following sources:

- The Holy Bible;

- The Book of Mormon;

- The Doctrine and Covenants;

- The Pearl of Great Price. These four volumes are collectively referred to as "the Scriptures" or "the Standard Works of the Church;" and

- Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.

3. These teachings may be expounded upon, explained, announced or interpreted in other media, such as:

- Official Church periodicals;

- Official Church curriculum materials such as lesson manuals to be used in adult, youth or child classes;

- The two official Church websites, www.lds.org and www.mormon.org;

- Talks by Church presidents, apostles and other General Authorities in General Conference;

- The published records of such talks;

- Talks by local leaders and members in local Church meetings such as Stake Conferences and Sacrament meetings;

- Books written by Church leaders and members;

- Discussions by Church members in various formal and informal settings.

Such sources may be taken as representing the views of those who make them, and as evidence of what the Church's position may be upon the subjects discussed. None of these sources are held by the Church to be infallible, and as such are not binding upon the Latter-day Saints.

4. Latter-day Saints believe that prophets are those to whom the Lord may choose to reveal His will on specific subjects from time to time. Latter-day Saints have never believed, and the Church has never taught, that God somehow takes over a prophet's mind so that he is henceforth incapable of error. Such a view is unreasonable, unscriptural and untrue. Put simply: there is no doctrine of "prophetic infallibility" in the Church.

5. The nearest thing to such a doctrine is the oft-quoted statement that the Lord would never allow the Prophet to lead the Church astray. However, this is in nowise a claim that the Prophet's statements would never lead anyone to hold a doctrinally incorrect opinion, because it is not our belief that we will be judged for the doctrinal purity of our opinions. Rather, it asserts that the Lord would never allow the Prophet to turn the Saints away from their duty. Orthopraxy, rather than orthodoxy, is the "gold standard" for the Latter-day Saints; and orthopraxy is mostly viewed in terms of covenant keeping.

6. From time to time, various Church leaders have taught that Latter-day Saints ought to follow the Prophet's counsel faithfully in all things. These statement do not affirm or imply that the Prophet is actually infallible, but rather must be understood in terms of point (5) above. Inasmuch as the Lord will not permit the Prophet to lead the Church astray, the Saints will at all times be safe in following the Prophet's counsel.

There is, in some quarters, a popular and rather mean-spirited game that is played wherein a handful of sentences are excerpted from statements made by leaders of the Church, ripped from the context that gives them meaning, and then flung in our faces exclusively for their shock value.

The value of such an approach is limited exclusively to the entertainment it provides to those who are hostile to the Church. It does not help anyone to better understand LDS life and teaching in any way. Believing Latter-day Saints are rightly offended by this tactic, which is intentionally misleading, and designed to inflame rather than to inform. As such, we should not stand for it wherever it appears, but vigorously oppose it for the polemical dirty trick it is.

Regards,

Pahoran

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2. These teachings are found in their authoritative form only in the following sources:

- The Holy Bible;

- The Book of Mormon;

- The Doctrine and Covenants;

- The Pearl of Great Price. These four volumes are collectively referred to as "the Scriptures" or "the Standard Works of the Church;" and

- Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.

3. These teachings may be expounded upon, explained, announced or interpreted in other media, such as:

- Official Church periodicals;

- Official Church curriculum materials such as lesson manuals to be used in adult, youth or child classes;

- The two official Church websites, www.lds.org and www.mormon.org;

- Talks by Church presidents, apostles and other General Authorities in General Conference;

- The published records of such talks;

- Talks by local leaders and members in local Church meetings such as Stake Conferences and Sacrament meetings;

- Books written by Church leaders and members;

- Discussions by Church members in various formal and informal settings.

What should we do if a teaching is in the scriptures (#2), but #3 consistently interprets the teaching in a way we don't like? Is it safe to assume that #3 is wrong or "unofficial", and our alternate understanding of #2 is therefore acceptable?

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This is a very brief overview of a large and complex subject. Pacumeni9 from ZLMB wrote a long paper on this; I believe it came close to 30,000 words. Accordingly, this is less a digest or summary of his arguments, but rather a summary of my own views on the subject some years after having read his paper.

1. The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of the entirety of the teachings that have been severally accepted by the Church as a body.

<snip to rest simply and only for space...>

You, my friend, have let CAF get to you. :P

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2. These teachings are found in their authoritative form only in the following sources:

...

- Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.

I don't think there is any justification for this statement. what is your source? This is a very important issue and without an authoritative source on what is an authoritative source, how can we be sure that source is authoritative.

Besides, I know of no statement by either of First Presidency of the 12 that says what you say here. So again, what is your source?

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Creating a difference or division between doctrine that is official or accepted, and doctrine that is not, implies that any doctrine that does not fit the contrived definition of being official is automatically suspect or untrustworthy in regard to being true, however, D&C 68:4 says "whatsoever they [i.e. elders] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture...." This suggests to me that every individual needs to receive independent revelation regarding the veracity of things that are taught, rather than trying to create rules about what is reliable.

D&C 46:7 But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils
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This is a very brief overview of a large and complex subject. Pacumeni9 from ZLMB wrote a long paper on this; I believe it came close to 30,000 words. Accordingly, this is less a digest or summary of his arguments, but rather a summary of my own views on the subject some years after having read his paper.

It's too bad because all he had to do was attend a teacher prep class or ask his bishop and it would've saved a lot of time and space. Plus, he would've got the correct information. He's close, but ultimately wrong; especially with #1. The Church as a body does not approve doctrine nor is it necessary for them to sustain something for it to become doctrine or canon.

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I agree with almost everything that Pahoran has stated. I think those who think similarly are more purist in their approach to doctrine and understand that a prophet or any other General Authority are men first and then they are men called of God with a mantle of responsibility upon them. Those things that are deemd new revelation are added to the Standard Works and thus become doctrine. "When moved upon by the Holy Ghost" is the most important phrase in the counter provided above. We may learn truths, but if it is important enough it will be added for all to acknowledge as doctrine.

This structure overcomes the weakness of men (read GAs) when they think out loud or when they share their thoughts about a given topic. BY's teachings as understood by others was declared false doctrine by the Church, justifiably so. Had this been true doctrine, it would have been recognized as such and added to the SW. Further, the KF discourse would also be added if it is to be doctrine for the Church. President Hinckley was not talking out of the side of his mouth on Larry King; he was stating what he understood doctrine to be versus the thoughts of man.

The Church needs to make a clarification here so that all will understand. They have yet to do so because so many LDS believe different things. I never teach that God the Father was a man exactly like us, rather I teach that he was man like Jesus was a man. There is a signficant diffference there. I do not believe that eternal progression applies to God as it does to us. Our Father is the creator and author of the process of exaltation for all his children. He is not a subject of it. I digress.

Doctrine is found in the SW. Clarification of the meaning of scripture is found in the words of the Prophet and the Apostles. When new revelation has been declared, it is added to the SW.

Thank you for your summary, Pahoran.

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Clarification of the meaning of scripture is found in the words of the Prophet and the Apostles.

Except when their words are based on Christian traditions, folklore, or culturally influenced conjecture, right?

And the scriptures aren't 100% perfect, so there may be things in the scriptures that are stated in such a way that they aren't 100% doctrinally correct, and require latter-day clarification, right?

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I guess I am puzzled why someone would have a problem with knowing what is official doctrine.

I know it when I see it. I have been in the church long enough, and studied the scriptures that I have confidence in my own judgement, as I feel the spirit confirm it.

Pretty simple and basic.

I know, for example, that BOM geography is not a doctrinal issue, but a matter for factual investigation.

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I don't think there is any justification for this statement. what is your source? This is a very important issue and without an authoritative source on what is an authoritative source, how can we be sure that source is authoritative.

Besides, I know of no statement by either of First Presidency of the 12 that says what you say here. So again, what is your source?

John Larsen,

Firstly: would you be so good as to acknowledge that you are not one of the allegedly mainstream LDS posters who are allegedly disagreeing with what I posted? Thank you.

I agree with you that I don't know of any authoritative source that says what I am saying here. I'm not sure that it would change anything if there was, since the source's claim of authority would essentially be self-referential. For example, suppose the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve were to issue a joint statement saying, "Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are authoritative sources of doctrine."

Actually the statement linked to by others agrees pretty well with what I wrote. However, that statement (like my post) places itself outside the corpus of authoritative sources. IOW, it is not authoritative either.

Regards,

Pahoran

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It's too bad because all he had to do was attend a teacher prep class or ask his bishop and it would've saved a lot of time and space. Plus, he would've got the correct information. He's close, but ultimately wrong; especially with #1. The Church as a body does not approve doctrine nor is it necessary for them to sustain something for it to become doctrine or canon.

BC,

First: It's not Pac's paper. It's my own view. I really thought I made that clear. I mentioned his paper only to point out how large and complex an issue this is.

Second: Point 1 does not talk about how something becomes doctrine. It defines the scope of what LDS doctrine is. Are you saying that you know of LDS doctrines that have not been accepted by the Church as a body?

If so, which ones?

Regards,

Pahoran

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I guess I am puzzled why someone would have a problem with knowing what is official doctrine.

I know it when I see it. I have been in the church long enough, and studied the scriptures that I have confidence in my own judgement, as I feel the spirit confirm it.

Pretty simple and basic.

I know, for example, that BOM geography is not a doctrinal issue, but a matter for factual investigation.

I agree with you. Probably the main reason the Church has never bothered to define what doctrine is, is that the Saints pretty much know; it is those outside of the Church -- especially those who love to play the "quote mining" game -- who don't get it.

In fact, the Newsroom statement "Approaching Mormon Doctrine" that has been linked to above was likewise written for a non-LDS audience.

Regards,

Pahoran

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John Larsen,

Firstly: would you be so good as to acknowledge that you are not one of the allegedly mainstream LDS posters who are allegedly disagreeing with what I posted? Thank you.

I agree with you that I don't know of any authoritative source that says what I am saying here. I'm not sure that it would change anything if there was, since the source's claim of authority would essentially be self-referential. For example, suppose the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve were to issue a joint statement saying, "Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are authoritative sources of doctrine."

Actually the statement linked to by others agrees pretty well with what I wrote. However, that statement (like my post) places itself outside the corpus of authoritative sources. IOW, it is not authoritative either.

Regards,

Pahoran

I agree of course.

It is totally obvious that statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are authoritative sources of doctrine. I cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with that.

The idea that both of the most authoritative quorums of the church- each of which would be capable of governing the church individually on their own, issuing a unified statement together would NOT be considered "doctrinal" is absurd.

If those brethren are not "in charge", who is?

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I agree of course.

It is totally obvious that statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are authoritative sources of doctrine. I cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with that.

The idea that both of the most authoritative quorums of the church- each of which would be capable of governing the church individually on their own, issuing a unified statement together would NOT be considered "doctrinal" is absurd.

If those brethren are not "in charge", who is?

The disputation is not that they are or are not in charge. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve may issue statements based on doctrine, but that does not mean the statements themselves are doctrine.

H.

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I guess I am puzzled why someone would have a problem with knowing what is official doctrine.

I know it when I see it. I have been in the church long enough, and studied the scriptures that I have confidence in my own judgement, as I feel the spirit confirm it.

Pretty simple and basic.

What did the spirit tell you with respect to blacks and the priesthood? Many faithful long time members, guided by the spirit, felt (and still feel) that it was official doctrine. Let's not debate the issue of blacks in the priesthood, but use it as an example that counters typical intuition regarding official doctrine.

H.

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What did the spirit tell you with respect to blacks and the priesthood? Many faithful long time members, guided by the spirit, felt (and still feel) that it was official doctrine. Let's not debate the issue of blacks in the priesthood, but use it as an example that counters typical intuition regarding official doctrine.

I understand the difference between a doctrine and the practice of a doctrine (policy). For example, we practice tithing now instead of the United Order.

Is it doctrine that a 10 year old boy not receive the priesthood until age 12? Again, that is the practice or policy. I knew that eventually blacks would receive the priesthood (doctrine), only a matter of time (practice).

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I understand the difference between a doctrine and the practice of a doctrine (policy). For example, we practice tithing now instead of the United Order.

Is it doctrine that a 10 year old boy not receive the priesthood until age 12? Again, that is the practice or policy. I knew that eventually blacks would receive the priesthood (doctrine), only a matter of time (practice).

Yes, but that's you . I'm not really interested in how you feel, but how the general membership can recognize whether something is doctrine or not given little clarification on some matters.

H.

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I agree with almost everything that Pahoran has stated. I think those who think similarly are more purist in their approach to doctrine and understand that a prophet or any other General Authority are men first and then they are men called of God with a mantle of responsibility upon them. Those things that are deemd new revelation are added to the Standard Works and thus become doctrine. "When moved upon by the Holy Ghost" is the most important phrase in the counter provided above. We may learn truths, but if it is important enough it will be added for all to acknowledge as doctrine.

This structure overcomes the weakness of men (read GAs) when they think out loud or when they share their thoughts about a given topic. BY's teachings as understood by others was declared false doctrine by the Church, justifiably so. Had this been true doctrine, it would have been recognized as such and added to the SW. Further, the KF discourse would also be added if it is to be doctrine for the Church. President Hinckley was not talking out of the side of his mouth on Larry King; he was stating what he understood doctrine to be versus the thoughts of man.

The Church needs to make a clarification here so that all will understand. They have yet to do so because so many LDS believe different things. I never teach that God the Father was a man exactly like us, rather I teach that he was man like Jesus was a man. There is a signficant diffference there. I do not believe that eternal progression applies to God as it does to us. Our Father is the creator and author of the process of exaltation for all his children. He is not a subject of it. I digress.

Doctrine is found in the SW. Clarification of the meaning of scripture is found in the words of the Prophet and the Apostles. When new revelation has been declared, it is added to the SW.

What further clarification are you looking for? For decades now it seems like your question has been answered and such answers have been summarized in the Church's own statement which I link to in my siggy. You answer is that if said BY reference is not printed in an LDS publication of some kind, it is not doctrine. It also makes mention of isolated statements by individual leaders. It is the entire Qo12 and FP who establish doctrine and then publishes it making publication the sign whereby you know something is doctrine or not.

So you may safely reject any references to the JoD and the like as doctrine (and I daresay safely reject it in the context of the Church 150 years ago as well) unless such a reference or topic has been reprinted in an officially published manual of some sort.

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I agree of course.

It is totally obvious that statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are authoritative sources of doctrine. I cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with that.

The idea that both of the most authoritative quorums of the church- each of which would be capable of governing the church individually on their own, issuing a unified statement together would NOT be considered "doctrinal" is absurd.

If those brethren are not "in charge", who is?

Just to be clear, is the following statement "Official Doctrine"? Would a belief that Adam's body was "created" through an evolutionary process beginning with lower forms of life contradict this doctrine?

It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declared that Adam was
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I was going to say that I will play the devil's advocate, but then I realized that you would tell me that I am not playing.

These teachings are found in their authoritative form only in the following sources:

- The Holy Bible;

- The Book of Mormon;

- The Doctrine and Covenants;

- The Pearl of Great Price. These four volumes are collectively referred to as "the Scriptures" or "the Standard Works of the Church;" and

- Joint statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.

I have had this list (or a version of it) thrown at me many times to counter a quote by a church leader. Has the church officially released this list as containing official doctrine, or is this just something that is understood?

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