Monday, July 17, 2017

Establishing True Doctrine

How does one establish what is true doctrine in the LDS church? I think this is an important point to ponder. Many members of the church in different fields have opinions about certain aspects of doctrine, but how do we know what is truth? Here are a few quotes on the topic that may be helpful.

“[We] should [bear] in mind that some of the General Authorities have had assigned to them a special calling; they possess a special gift; they are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, which gives them a special spiritual endowment in connection with their teaching of the people. They have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of God to his people, subject to the over-all power and authority of the President of the Church. Others of the General Authorities are not given this special spiritual endowment and authority covering their teaching; they have a resulting limitation, and the resulting limitation upon their power and authority in teaching applies to every other officer and member of the Church, for none of them is spiritually endowed as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Furthermore, as just indicated, the President of the Church has a further and special spiritual endowment in this respect, for he is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the whole Church.”

J. Reuben Clark Jr., “When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Church News July 31, 1954, 9-10

Attempting to understand a doctrine or principle by relying unduly upon a single scripture or prophetic statement in isolation from all else that has been revealed on the subject generally is misguided. True doctrines and principles are emphasized repeatedly in the standard works by the prophets and apostles and through the illuminating and confirming power of the Holy Ghost.  David A. Bednar, Act in Doctrine (2012) p. xvii

Elder Bednar's statement is consistent with scripture where we learn that truth is established by two or three witnesses. Each book of scripture has at least one statement that teaches this principle.

Old Testament: Dueteronomy 19:15
New Testament 2 Corinthians 13:1
Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 11:3
Doctrine and Covenants 6:28

An individual my 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, Ensign July 1972

The Book of Mormon declares the doctrines of the gospel. In his April 2017 conference address, President Thomas S. Monson said:

My dear associates in the work of Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. as we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven's help in our lives." Thomas S. Monson, The Power of the Book of Mormon, April 2017

If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men. I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That book is a great sifter." - Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, December 1988

Understanding true doctrine changes behavior.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior... The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel. Boyd K. Packer, Little Children, October 1986

If we want to really know, we must do.

John 7:17
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

One could write a book on this topic, but I think the above quotes give solid direction and are helpful when trying to discern truth from error and in the effort to teach true doctrine.

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