What is Doctrine?

What is Doctrine

“I advise all to go on to perfection and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of godliness” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:363)

-“ And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth—

 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shallspeak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” (D&C 68:2-6)

-“Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children and desires that they know and understand His plan of happiness. Therefore, He calls prophets, those who have been ordained with power and authority to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. They are messengers of righteousness, witnesses of Jesus Christand the infinite power of His Atonement. They hold the keys of the kingdom of God on earth and authorize the performance of saving ordinances.” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“Concerning the living prophet, the Lord commands the people of His Church:

Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–6) (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“To be in harmony with heaven’s divine purposes, we sustain the prophet and choose to live according to his words.” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“They [the prophets] have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of [the Lord] … , subject to … the President of the Church.  (J. Reuben Clark Jr., “When Are the Writings and Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?”)

-“We also sustain President Monson’s counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. “They have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of [the Lord] … , subject to … the President of the Church.” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., “When Are the Writings and Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?”)They speak in the name of Christ. They prophesy in the name of Christ. They do all things in the name of Jesus Christ. In their words we hear the voice of the Lord and we feel the Savior’s love.” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38)

-The Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”7

-“When we choose to live according to the words of the prophets, we are on the covenant path that leads to eternal perfection.” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“In a world threatened by a famine of righteousness and spiritual starvation, we have been commanded to sustain the prophet. As we give heed to, uphold, and affirm prophetic word, we witness that we have the faith to humbly submit to the will, the wisdom, and the timing of the Lord.

We heed prophetic word even when it may seem unreasonable, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” ( Proverbs 3:5) (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

The Lord honors and favors those who will heed prophetic direction.” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“The Lord “will feed those who trust Him.” (Roger Hoffman, “Consider the Lilies.”) The words of the prophets are like manna to our souls. When we partake, we are blessed, protected, and preserved both temporally and spiritually. When we feast upon their words, we learn how to come unto Christ and live.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that through the prophets “the Lord reveals the truths of salvation, … the salvation that is in Christ; and he charts … the course leading to eternal life. … In every age the Lord gives his people the direction they need at the moment of their peril and danger. And surely in the days ahead there will be times when nothing but the wisdom of God, descending from heaven and flowing forth from prophetic lips, will be able to save his people.” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Deseret Book Company, 1985), 478; punctuation modified; used by permission.)(Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“The words of the prophets gave me the faith and hope that I could prepare for and obtain a happy home. Consistently studying the teachings of the prophets, both ancient and modern, sustained me during the strenuous and often exhausting years” (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“The words of the prophets in the scriptures and taught from this pulpit are words of comfort, love, strength, and good cheer that embrace us all. (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“When we heed the words of the prophets, we build our homes and our lives upon an eternally sure foundation, “the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, … that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to … misery and endless wo.” (Helaman 5:12)

We have a choice. We may choose to ignore, trifle with, trample upon, or rebel against the words of Christ spoken by His ordained servants. But the Savior taught that those who do so will be cut off from His covenant people. (see 3 Nephi 20:23)

As we prayerfully read and study sacred prophetic word with faith in Christ, with real intent, the Holy Ghost will speak truth to our minds and hearts. May we open our ears to hear, our hearts to understand, and our minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to our view. (See Mosiah 2:9) (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“May we choose to stand with the prophets and live according to their words until we become unified in faith, purified in Christ, and filled with the knowledge of the Son of God. (Conf. Report 2015 Oct. By Carol F. McConkie First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/live-according-to-the-words-of-the-prophets?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

-“A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Ether 12:6) (Neil L. Andersen, “Trial of Your Faith,” Ensign (November 2012).)

-“There may be some things that the First Presidency do; that the Apostles do, that cannot for the moment be explained; yet the spirit, the motives that inspire the action can be understood, because each member of the Church has a right to have that measure of the Spirit of God that they can judge as to those who are acting in their interests or otherwise.” (Lorenzo Snow, “A Serious ordeal, etc.,” in Conference Report (October 1898), 54.)

-“a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:265. Volume 5 link; See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 278. off-site)

-“Here we must have in mind—must know—that only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, is sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the Church, and he alone has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church….

When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not “moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” unless he is acting under the direction and by the authority of the President.

Of these things we may have a confident assurance without chance for doubt or quibbling.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “Church Leaders and the Scriptures,” [original title “When Are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?”]Immortality and Eternal Life: Reflections from the Writings and Messages of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Vol, 2, (1969-70): 221; address to Seminary and Institute Teachers, BYU (7 July 1954); reproduced in Church News (31 July 1954); also reprinted in Dialogue 12/2 (Summer 1979): 68–81.)

-“All over the Church you’re being asked this: “What does the Church think about this or that?” Have you ever heard anybody ask that question? “What does the Church think about the civil rights legislation?” “What do they think about the war?” “What do they think about drinking Coca-Cola or Sanka coffee?” Did you ever hear that? “What do they think about the Democratic Party or ticket or the Republican ticket?” Did you ever hear that? “How should we vote in this forthcoming election?” Now, with most all of those questions, if you answer them, you’re going to be in trouble. Most all of them. Now, it’s the smart man that will say, “There’s only one man in this church that speaks for the Church, and I’m not that one man.”

I think nothing could get you into deep water quicker than to answer people on these things, when they say, “What does the Church think?” and you want to be smart, so you try to answer what the Church’s policy is. Well, you’re not the one to make the policies for the Church. You just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Well now, as teachers of our youth, you’re not supposed to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On that subject you’re expected to be an expert. You’re expected to know your subject. You’re expected to have a testimony. And in that you’ll have great strength. If the President of the Church has not declared the position of the Church, then you shouldn’t go shopping for the answer. ( Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 445. GospeLink (requires subscrip.))

-the First Presidency now approves all statements published on the Church’s official website

-“Question 14: Do you believe that the President of the Church, when speaking to the Church in his official capacity is infallible?

Answer: We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility.” (Charles W. Penrose, “Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered,” Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).

-“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 “standard works” 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.” (LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” (4 May 2007).)

-“The position is not assumed that the men of the New Dispensation —its prophets, apostles, presidencies, and other leaders—are without faults or infallible, rather they are treated as men of like passions with their fellow men.” (James R. Clark, quoting B. H. Roberts, Messages of the First Presidency, edited by James R. Clark, Vol. 4, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), p. xiv–xv.)

-“An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside,” Ensign (July 1972), 88.)

-“Revelations from God . . . are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening, . . . the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign (March 1997), 14.)

-for more on this subject, see FairMormon.org

-“Even with the best of intentions, [Church government] does not always work the way it should. Human nature may express itself on occasion, but not to the permanent injury of the work“. (Boyd K. Packer, “I Say unto You, Be One,” in BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, 1990–1991 (Provo, Utah: University Publications, 1991), 84.)

When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry that is thumbing his way across the country as we have had people tell the story; and not through someone, as another story relates, who swooned and came up and gave a revelation. I have said, ‘Do you suppose that when the Lord has his prophet on the earth, that he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for, and when he has something to give to this Church, he will give it to the President, and the President will see that the presidents of stakes and missions get it, along with the General Authorities; and they in turn will see that the people are advised of any new change’” (Harold B. Lee, “The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” [address to CES religious educators, July 8, 1964], 11; emphasis added).

  • -“Of all mortal men, we should keep our eyes most firmly fixed on the captain, the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the man who stands closest to the fountain of living waters. There are some heavenly instructions for us that we can only receive through the prophet. A good way to measure your standing with the Lord is to see how you feel about, and act upon, the inspired words of his earthly representative, the prophet-president. The inspired words of the president are not to be trifled with. All men are entitled to inspiration, and various men are entitled to revelation for their particular assignment. But only one man stands as the Lord’s spokesman to the Church and the world, and he is the president of the Church. The words of all other men should be weighed against his inspired words” (President Ezra Taft Benson“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 16).

-Seminary and Institute teachers are not General Authorities of the church but merely hired teachers by the church education department.

-“ President Brigham Young sent his father, David, and the other young men on their rescue mission, President Young instructed them to do everything they possibly could to save the handcart companies, even at the peril of their own lives. 6 Their acts of bravery were specifically to “follow the prophet Brigham Young” and by so doing express their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Elder Cook, Conf. Report Apr. 2008, Give Heed Unto The Prophets Words, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/give-heed-unto-the-prophets-words?lang=eng&query=words+of+the+prophets)

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