MD Podcast – Charlie Harrell: This is my Doctrine

by: Bill Reel

July 13, 2014


Mormon Discussion Podcast sits down with Prof. Charles Harrell to discuss his book “This is My Doctrine”.  Bro. Harrell discusses the complexity and difficulty in defining LDS Doctrine and the way in which we can deal with such issues.

How do you differentiate between Doctrine, Policy, and Culture?

What do you make of the tansfiguration of where our Doctrine was and what it is today?

Many leaders have taught that “Doctrine” in the Church has come by revelation.  What do you make of the “Race and Priesthood” Article disavowal of past Doctrines as racist theories?

The podcast episode is found here

Bill Reel is the host of Mormon Discussion Podcast.  The podcast tries to deal with the tough issues forthrightly while “leading with faith”.

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4 Responses to MD Podcast – Charlie Harrell: This is my Doctrine

  1. Mary Bliss on July 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I grew up in the pre-1978 era and it was pretty clear to me at the time that the race and the priesthood situation was not doctrine. It was practice. Doctrine was/is anything that doesn’t change. Atonement, repentance, faith, charity, etc. etc. Practice was anything that could be changed by church decree or divine decree. Some practice was divinely inspired, some of it was not. We expected that the prohibition of priesthood and temple, based upon race, would change some time down the road. And most of us hoped it would be sooner than later. (Some people don’t remember that Bruce McConkie’s stand that it would never change was not shared by other members of the Quorum of the 12).

    Culture, the third element, was understood as an influence upon an individual or a group’s understanding of doctrine and upon their apologetics for or translation of practice. It is true that many members used culturally influenced apologetics to convince themselves that the practice was doctrine. That’s a classic human pyschological response: finding reasons for an established practice when there is insufficient logic to support it. People always do that. We are no exception, either back then or now.

    Maybe you lived back then and were told that the issue of race and priesthood was doctrine, but where I grew up that wasn’t what I was taught. Where I was the issue of race and priesthood was considered practice.

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  2. Klarity on July 15, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Speaking of Doctrine and Bruce R. McConkie–does anyone remember when Elder McConkie raged against the idea that people could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? To this day many members believe that it is wrong to have that special understanding of our Savior, in this his very church. I do not consider that BYU talk to be doctrine. The other apostles never ratified it as far as I know, and I don’t remember hearing Spencer W. Kimball speaking up in favor of squashing such a relationship. Would this fall under culture? Because Brother McConkie sounded like he wanted to keep Mormonism isolated from what other churches of the time were getting into.

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  3. MB on July 15, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    Bruce R. McCopnkie’s talk to which you are referring was “Our Relationship with the Lord, given in March of 1982. I went back and read it. Actually he didn’t argue against a personal relationship with the Lord. His thesis was that our relationship with the Father and with the Son are wonderful and distinct and that it was wrong to “single out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others”. And he was leery of unusually elevated adoration of Jesus to the diminishment of worship of the Father.

    I do think that the thesis had merit but his espousal of it was seriously colored by his personal culture. He was a man that was not comfortable with close or emotional relationships outside of his own immediate family and much preferred respectful, slightly distant relationships as an expression of respect. So to him, at that time, the idea of an “inordinate or intemperate zeal that encourages endless, sometimes day-long prayers, in order to gain a personal relationship with the Savior” was less worshipful of God than a mode of worship that maintained a “reverential barrier between [our]selves and all the members of the Godhead.”

    However, contrast that speech at BYU with the experience of watching a recording of his last address at General Conference in 1985 a few weeks before his death in which he said, in tears himself, of Christ “and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears”. His personal willingness to express emotion and proximity about a relationship with Christ may have changed a bit in the intervening years.

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  4. billreel on July 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Mary Bliss, Unfortunately I have been taught a lot of nonsense over the years within my ward culture. Much of it set me up for a fall. Unfortunately we also have Leaders who set the nonsense up as well. For example the First Presidency in the 1940’s are on record as saying that Blacks being less valiant was “doctrine” along with inter racial-marriage as sin. Sifting out REAL, TRUE Doctrine from Culture is something I wish we all were trained to do.

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