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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is Mormon Doctrine?

My sister and I had an interesting discussion the other day about "mormon doctrine". It seemed to us that there isn't really any "official Mormon doctirne". Rather, "mormon doctrine" is simply an interpretive tradition that is codified by practice. Let me see if I can explain with an analogy. It is much like how our laws and the Constitution work in the United States. We have the Constitution. The Constitiution is "set in stone". But the interpretation of it is not. Laws are made with the idea that they are in line with the Constitution. But the constitiution is open to interpretation and laws can change if they are deemed to be not in line with it by those in authority at the present time.
We have the scriptures. The scriptures are "set in stone". The interpretation of them is not. That is the beauty of revelation. As we recieve more light and knowledge, the intererpretation of the scriptures expands. Sometimes it even changes. Does that mean the church isn't true? Does that mean that so and so wasn't a prophet because things aren't the same now as they were when they were president of the church? Absoultely not. It means we have modern revelation.

So what do you think? "Official Mormon Doctrine" or interpretive tradition that is codified by practice?


Dallas said...

EXCELLENT thoughts! I am definitely agreeing with this idea that there is no "Official Mormon Doctrine."

I am really liking this idea also. There are, of course, policies and directives, but when it comes to "Offical Mormon Doctrine" there isn't any.

Take tithing even that seems straight forward 10% right. Is it Pre-Tax or after? What about bonus or inheritance? That is all subjective to our own personal revelation.

Anonymous said...

"For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now, if ye have imagined up to yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is a shadow of changing, then ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles."
"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated--And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
God does not change. His laws are eternal. Each prophet that was called of God from Adam until now has taught the same doctrine. Circumstances of life have changed, but we still face the same trials and seek the same blessings.
You would be better served studying the truth rather than discussing various interpretations. Go straight to the source--the scriptures, conference talks, and prayer.

Dallas said...

“Each prophet that was called of God from Adam until now has taught the same doctrine.”

I would be careful with this phrase, it is a catch point with Anti’s. (By catch phrase, I mean a statement that can said, and they will lead you down a course disproving Mormonism.) I mean we can even look at our dispensation. Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to a black person Elijah Able, unfortunately Brigham Young than forbade the Priesthood and it wasn’t until 1978 that we were able to change this.

Or what about Polygamy, Joseph taught it and up past Wilford Woodruff it was practiced. But now President Hinckley has condemned this practice.

This is why I really like Robby’s “interpretive tradition that is codified by practice.” It can clarify so much of what is not talked openly about in our past.

Robby C said...

I have to agree with Dallas on this one. Infact, blacks and the priesthood was what led my sister and I to this discussion. First they can have it, then they can't, then they can.

"Each prophet that was called of God from Adam until now has taught the same doctrine."

This is just not a valid arguement for this discussion. What is the "doctrine" that they have been teaching? Does it mean that if any of the "doctrine" changes, that it really wasn't "doctrine" to begin with? There have been many changes in the church. How do you know that other things won't change in the future. That is the beauty of modern day revelation. Using your "same doctrine" arguement, we will never really be able to tell if something is official Mormon doctrine. We will only be able to tell what is not Mormon doctrine after the "doctrine" is changed. According to your arguement, if it changed, it must not have been doctrine in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Bruce R. McConkie wrote a definitive work, which he called Mormon Doctrine. He was a very meticulous author and addressed every conceivable idea which might come up regarding various Mormon beliefs.

At that time the the church was being lead by David O. McKay, he had taught the members not to mix words regarding LDS stances. Many people were offended by the brazen attitudes of the members, some of those staunch phrases still remain with the church today. A classic example would be when offered a cup of coffee, the proper response would be,"I am of the LDS faith and we don't believe in drinking coffee, it is against our word of wisdom."

This has been a bit of a side trip from the original point, but I believe you can see perhaps one of the great legacies left behind by Gordon B. Hinkley, was his efforts for us to be more tolerant and friendly to others. So many times in our zealousness we come across quite rude.

My point being if you were to read some of the doctrines that McConkie outlined, you can see how those doctrines have changed or been modified, maybe relaxed to fit into the more friendly church setting that the modern church is striving for.

Dallas said...

Anonymous, can you elaborate on calling Mormon Doctrine a "definitive work?"

Personally I am not a big fan of this work, and the legacy it has. I have even heard it called "The stick of Bruce" by some people. Considering his First Edition was recalled shortly after publication for Falsehoods(Attitudes toward African Americans is the first one that comes to mind) Why is this referred to as a "definitive work?"

If the First Edition is so wrong how can we use the subsequent issues to define our Doctrine?

Spektator said...

I would suggest that Mormon doctrine can be clearly defined in the Mormon scriptures. Just look for where it says something like, "here is the doctrine of Christ." How is that for easy?

Beginning in 2 Nephi 31:2, Nephi speaks concerning the doctrine of Christ. This runs through 2 Nephi 32:2 where it also directs us to the next installation of doctrine that will be delivered in 3 Nephi 11:31-40.

I don't think you can get any doctrine that is more pure and unadulterated by the mind of man than is found in the references above. Be sure to read 3 Nephi 11:40 if you have any doubts about missing pieces.