Policy vs. Doctrine

By: hawkgrrrl
February 1, 2011

In discussions on the bloggernacle, the subject of how change happens in the church often comes up.  We often talk past either other when it comes to defining “changes” within the church.  There seem to be different views about policy vs. doctrine and why change happens in the church:

  • View 1:  Policy changes are just men changing man-made policies that were made absent revelation.  Doctrinal changes simply don’t happen in the church (meaning revelation is never reversed).
  • View 2:  When something previously accepted as doctrine (or based in revelation) is changed, it is downgraded to the status of policy to lessen the impact of the change, and to clarify that it never was a  doctrine.

Of course, all of this is contingent on the meaning of the word “doctrine.”  Doctrine is defined by the dictionary as a set of teachings, but within the church, we generally mean that it must originate in a canonized revelation, not just be a policy.  Doctrines are usually viewed as pronouncements directly from the Lord, accurately received and communicated to the church, and therefore unchangeable.  Policies are considered time-bound and man-made, but doctrines are viewed as being from God and therefore binding.  The recent clarification of the Proclamation on the Family being a “guide” may be an example of something being deemed a “policy” but not a “doctrine.”

So when change happens in the church, there seem to be a few prevailing theories about why this is:

  • Theory 1:  God is in charge, and adjusts (milk before meat style) for society’s ability to keep up.
  • Theory 2:  Men are in charge, and are led by societal norms.
  • Theory 3:  A hybrid of the 2 above.  While God is in charge, men are interpreting his will.  Societal norms shift and adjust how men perceive God’s will.  This is as designed because society at large couldn’t handle change at a faster pace anyway.

What’s your view?  Which theory best describes how you see change happening in the church?  Do you have a different theory altogether?  If so, what examples can you give to bolster your argument?  Discuss.

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41 Responses to Policy vs. Doctrine

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 1, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    I think it is important to consider that if reality is more complex than we understand, then God giving us direction will not necessarily look as clear as we might think.

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  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 1, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    Which leads me to theory four. God gives us direction, through our filters (which includes our leaders, our culture and our understanding), that pushes us (individually and as humanity) in the way we need to go.

    Consider ancient Israel. The law of Moses was something that existed to make for the right milieu and setting for the Christ to come into.

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  3. Latter-day Guy on February 1, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    View 2, Theory 3-ish.

    Theoretically speaking, I think a healthier development for the LDS concept of the revelation of doctrine would be to begin to see it as a corporate process mediated and guided through inspired leaders. The current model falls along the lines of “Hey, guys, we’ll go up to the mountain, and then we’ll tell you what God wants. At which point, you can all pray about what we tell you. If you don’t get the same answer we did, we’ll need to find out what sins you’ve been committing… ’cause we aren’t wrong. Seriously, guys.”

    The current model presents serious trouble when dealing with Church history. In the information age the “Shh!-Let-ugly-past-issues-quietly-die Approach” has turned into the “Wow!-Did-we-really-say-THAT! Problem.”

    If the model of revelation doesn’t shift, distancing ourselves from embarrassing past teachings (necessary), cannot help but undermine confidence in current leaders’ teachings. The question of policy v. doctrine is a smokescreen that becomes thinner and thinner by exposure to (increasingly easily available) original sources — sources which demonstrate that, by every reasonable measure, many “policies” changed in our past meet all the current qualifications of “doctrine.”

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  4. Paul on February 1, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    I’m kind of liking Stephen’s fourth model in comment #2.

    Of course men are interpreting God’s will. We have done it all the time, and I do it for myself all the time. But I do it within a context of my choosing and acceptance.

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  5. Mike S on February 1, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    I think there is very LITTLE doctrinal in the Church that changes. We haven’t had any changes to our canonized scriptures in over a century, except for the 2 “declarations”.

    And even these 2 changes didn’t seem to really change doctrine. In the case of polygamy, the declaration was essentially a vision of what might happen if we didn’t stop polygamy – so it wasn’t really changing doctrine, just a practice.

    In the case of OD#2, it was basically just fixing Brigham Young’s institutionalized racism. And even McConkie, who had come up with all sorts of “doctrinal” reasons for the ban prior to 1978 basically said, we were wrong – just move on.

    So, in reality, we haven’t really had any changes in doctrine for a LONG time. Instead, we have various talks which people interpret at doctrine. For example, Hinckley mentions how he doesn’t like 2 sets of earrings. Now, a teenager can’t even go to a 1 week conference at BYU for EFY if they have 2 sets of earrings. And some people interpret someone with 2 sets of earrings as well on their way to apostasy.

    The problem with treating things like this is that there is no “base”. Later leaders can change things whenever they want, and say, well, that was never really a doctrine anyway. It was just someone’s opinion.

    Ultimately, this undermines what people say. It’s like the boy crying wolf. If leaders change what prior prophets and apostles said whenever they want by saying “It was just their opinion, them speaking as a man”, when do we apply the same to the living leaders?

    And it does seem that doctrinal changes come about as a reaction to societal changes. When polygamy became a hot-topic, there was a revelation to change it. When blacks and the priesthood became a hot-topic, there was a revelation to change that as well.

    From above, I think View 2, Theory 3 best fits the model we see in the LDS Church.

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  6. WMP on February 1, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    Not exactly on point, but I thought I would raise this:

    I don’t think President Packer’s talk, in its spoken form, characterized the Proclamation as “doctrine.” The word he used (I think) was “revelation.” This was changed to “guide.” Presumably, there have been lots of revelations to the prophets and apostles that have not become doctrine.

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  7. Paul on February 1, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    As for the Proclamation, why would we not assume that it is based in doctrine? It seems doctrine is the foundational teaching upon which our practices and policies are based. And it’s completely consistent (as #6 suggests) that such a document, outlining practice based on doctrine, would come as the result of revelation.

    Similarly, the latest CHI is a set of policies guided by doctrines of the gospel, developed in an atmosphere of revelation.

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  8. WMP on February 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Paul,

    I should have clarified that I have no problem with the Proclamation being characterized as doctrinal (or based in doctrine, as I believe it is). Just making the point that some have used the talk’s re-wording as an argument for somehow demoting the Proclamation’s status, which I don’t think was President Packer’s intent.

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  9. Michael on February 1, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    “Similarly, the latest CHI is a set of policies guided by doctrines of the gospel, developed in an atmosphere of revelation.”

    …guided by doctrines… & …developed in an atmosphere of revelation…?????

    Paul, how does that work exactly? I would be curious to further explore your descriptions of the CHI process. They seem a little ambiguous. I understand “inspiration” and I understand “revelation” and I am aware of the difference between the two but I am not familiar with an “atmosphere of revelation” when developing an operational procedure manual such as the CHI.

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  10. Michael on February 1, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    WMP,

    I also have no problem with the Proclamation being considered to contain many items of doctrine. However, it also leaves many questions open-ended. Such as the definition of “gender”, what does it mean that “gender is eternal” and how does all this play out in the long run. If gender is defined as “sex” – masculine and feminine genitals then did our spirit bodies have those same parts? What will happen to those parts for those that are not exalted and not entitled to pro-create in the eternities? Do they become genderless?

    If “gender” represents certain personality traits or mental characteristics then what exactly are those traits or characteristics? Why have they not been revealed?

    I still find it a confusing document.

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  11. Chase on February 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    I feel that the main problem with the ideas of doctrine V Policy is that we look at doctrine as something it is immutable. This idea is a carry over from traditional Christianity, that relies heavily on Hellenistic thinking.
    The “capital T” Truth of doctrine should not be thought of as ideas and concepts, like Platonic forms, but rather an embodied Truth. Christ is the Truth and what he says at anytime is correct, even if it goes against what he said earlier.
    I think we should look at doctrine like marching orders from from a general who can see the big picture. Circumstance and context can change everything, thats what Joseph taught, so I guess in short I think I am a type of Theory 1 guy.

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  12. SilverRain on February 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    View 3—the Lord is capable of changing His instructions on how to reach our destination to suit our present location. And policy is the Church’s best attempt to implement doctrine into the practices and hearts of its people.

    I second Stephen’s theory 4.

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  13. Paul on February 1, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    #9: I am not entirely comfortable with the artificial lines drawn between inspiration and revelation. Both are divine communication. In his talk “Revelation in a Changing World” in the October 1989 General Conference, Elder Packer seems to use the terms interchangably. Elder Oaks does the same in an article “Eight Reasons for Revelation” in the September 2004 Liahona (based on an address given in 1981 at BYU).

    I assume that as the brethren crafted the CHI (based on the training received and similar communications in the past) that they sought inspiration (or revelation) as they worked, that they proceeded in the spirit of prayer, that they sought to understand the core doctrines underlying the instructions (as evidenced by the layout of the new Book II at least), and that they sought spiritual confirmation of the work they did (consistent with instructions in the Doctrine and Covenants). Further, content was reviewed by prophets, seers and revelators who also have access to the same divine guidance.

    Elder Oaks described it this way in the leadership training:

    “Under the direction of the First Presidency, individual chapters were written, read, and approved by the Presiding Bishopric, by the general auxiliary officers, and by General Authorities assigned to the various Church departments. The proposed text was then reviewed and approved by the Quorum of the Twelve, assisted by the Presidency of the Seventy. Finally, the total text was read, modified, and approved by the First Presidency. Throughout this work we have been guided by a sweet spirit of inspiration.”

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  14. Paul on February 1, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Ref #13 — sorry — I should have said that the brethren and sisters worked to craft the CHI, as the sisters clearly had input, as well. My mistake.

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  15. Homer on February 1, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Re: Paul

    You stated the following:

    “Similarly, the latest CHI is a set of policies guided by doctrines of the gospel, developed in an atmosphere of revelation. … I am not entirely comfortable with the artificial lines drawn between inspiration and revelation. Both are divine communication. … I assume that as the brethren crafted the CHI … “

    I’d probably focus on your word assume, but you probably know what that makes you and me.

    There is a monstrous difference between “inspiration” and “revelation.” Just because a leader conflates or misuses the two or uses them interchangeably does not mean that they are merely “artificial” differences.

    If you’d take the time to read your own sources, you’d see there are differences – the LDS bible dictionary (which is not scripture, but nevertheless useful) states it as follows:

    Revelation: (From the BD) “The English word revelation is translated from a Greek word apocalypse, meaning to make known or uncover. … Without revelation, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.” (From 1828 Dictionary) “The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them…”

    Inspiration (from 1828 Dictionary): “The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions…”

    There is an inherent difference between revealing something that was “previously unknown” and “infusing ideas” into someone. The former, at least according to the Bible Dictionary, should come via “…visions, dreams, or visitations…” .

    But hey, let’s assume they are the same to make it more convenient for us to claim that we’re receiving revelation. As to the CHI, if it’s so important and written under such “revelatory” auspices, then both books – not just #2 – should be made available to all members.

    Now, I maintain that the CHI just isn’t that important, that it’s not all that revelatory, and that it’s certainly not scripture – so I don’t care to have a copy in my hands (nor do I want one). But if the leadership and the mainstream are going to claim its pure, unadulterated revelation, then they (the general membership) have a right and obligation to have it in their hands as a study reference, especially if they’re going to be judged by it.

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  16. Homer on February 1, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    P.S. I choose neither of the options above. I think the church is largely governed, today, by politrine: where doctrines = policy and policy = doctrine. They are one in the same in the minds of most members and leaders, and that’s probably 1/2 the battle.

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  17. Michael on February 1, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    Paul,

    Thank you for your clarification. However, I will have to side with Homer on this one – I don’t think the boundary between revelation and inspiration is an artificial one at all. i believe the difference is of the utmost importance when trying to determine if something is policy or doctrine or just plain old speculation.

    The fact that the Brethren conflate the two has always left me perplexed.

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  18. Matthew Chapman on February 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    As a simple example of doctrine, I would point to the articles of faith. They have been revised over the years:

    “We believe that Zion will be built upon this continent” has morphed to “We believe that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent.”

    However, the understanding of the Articles of Faith has not changed substantially.

    Policies, programs and practices are attempts to implement doctrine, sometimes by man, and sometimes by God, and sometimes by compromise.

    An example of a policy and practice received by revelation is the name of the Church. But it is not an eternal principle. Surely, after the beginning of the millennium, we will no longer call ourselves “Latter-day Saints” as the latter days (the final days before the advent of the Savior) will have been fulfilled.

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  19. Jeff Spector on February 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    According to Elder Bednar at one of Stake Conference before he was an Apostle, he said something like:

    Doctrine—–>Principle—->Policy—–>program

    Doctrine does not change, the principle is understanding the point of the doctrine and the policy is the current implementation of the principle. The program is how we use the policy. I kind of like that interpretation.

    I don’t claim to understand all the policies of the church and how they are doctrinally based. I am not sure some of them are. Beards being one of them. Earrings (multiple on females) possibly being another.

    OTHO, I do not think you can satisfy the cynical in the crowd with any reasonable explanation of how the Church actually functions visa vis revelation versus inspiration.

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  20. brjones on February 1, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    “I do not think you can satisfy the cynical in the crowd with any reasonable explanation of how the Church actually functions visa vis revelation versus inspiration.”

    I think this is very true, Jeff. That said, there is a difference between a cynic like myself, who doesn’t have any emotional investment in resolving the tension between revelation vs inspiration in the church, and someone like, say, Mike S, who seems to really want to believe and have his doubts and questions satisfactorily resolved. For some of us it’s just an academic exercise, but for many others, even though they could rightly be called cynics, they would like nothing more than to have their concerns resolved in a positive way. For those people I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s no satisfying them. It’s just going to take a lot to do so.

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  21. Paul on February 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    19 – Jeff, I’m with you.

    15 Homer, 17 Michael — I guess you can cite differences between inspiration and revelation if you like, but since the prophets, seers and revelators have used them interchangably, I’m happy to also. They are both divine communication, and they come in response to requests from the Lord’s servants in His work.

    While it’s true that some revelations are canonized in the scripture, that doesn’t make other bits of inspiration less valuable (or true).

    As for the use of the word assume, my assumption is based on the statement of Elder Oaks, an apostle, a prophet, seer and revelator, who described the process by which the CHI was developed.

    No one said the CHI is pure revelation. The training (available for all to read and see on the church’s website) makes clear that it is a book of policy for the church to ensure that certain things are done in order. It is, as Jeff (and Elder Bednar) made clear, based on principles which are based on doctrine. The layout of Book II follows that pattern in its presentation of policy and programs as has been discussed quite a bit here in the blogernacle.

    It’s hard to imagine that anyone would consider the recommendation that women not wear multiple piercings as doctrine. Or that beards among temple workers is doctrine. That does not stop those things from being practice or even policy, however. Whether those policies in particular are doctrinally based is not clear to me, but if called to work in the temple again, I will shave my beard (again) because I choose to sustain those who set the policy.

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  22. diane on February 1, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I don’t believe the sister had as much input on The CHI as Paul would like to believe.

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  23. diane on February 1, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    I don’t believe the sisters had as much input in the CHI as paul would like to believe

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  24. Jeff Spector on February 1, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    “someone like, say, Mike S, who seems to really want to believe and have his doubts and questions satisfactorily resolved.”

    Well, I can be as cynical as the next guy, but many things are just not that important to me to fight or argue about. Having said that, I am unwilling to shave my beard at this point until my wife and I are ready to serve a mission. I understand beardless missions, I do not understand beardless Temple workers or beardless Bishops. Especially when you serve in the Temple with a beard for 5 years and then move and they tell you you can’t because “the Prophet said so.”

    Those kind of explanations do not sit well with me. I might have a testimony of the Gospel, but not of beardless leaders.

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  25. Bishop Rick on February 1, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Jeff Spector [23]

    Mark 7:7

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  26. Bishop Rick on February 1, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    BiV

    Theory 6 (I think that’s where we are):

    Man is in charge but interprets Man’s will as God’s will.
    That’s why we have all the screw ups followed by cover up.

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  27. Mossman on February 1, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    Re: Paul

    #21

    “No one said the CHI is pure revelation.”

    Well, you might not have said it that way, but you did say it this way:

    “Similarly, the latest CHI is a set of policies guided by doctrines of the gospel, developed in an atmosphere of revelation.”

    If words mean anything, then putting that word “atmosphere” in that sentence implies that the environment surrounding the latest CHI was blessed with ever present, surrounding influence of revelation. If revelation – the revealing of unknown things – was ever present, then someone deducing you meant “pure revelation” isn’t that far off base.

    Lastly, this:

    “I guess you can cite differences between inspiration and revelation if you like, but since the prophets, seers and revelators have used them interchangably, I’m happy to also.”

    A calling to be something is different than being that something. D&C 107:92 – from whence the “prophet, seer, revelator” terminology is derived – could equally be read as implying that one has to actually exercise those gifts before being called to a particular position, with particular emphasis on gifts.

    Scripture – particularly the D&C – is filled with examples that men and women are to be called to positions, callings, etc., based on their several gifts, not because they’ve had an abundance of longevity, or were groomed for a certain position, or were friends with so-and-so, or were particularly wealthy, or had good business or legal skills, or anything else. It was to be based on gifts – from being ordained to the Aaronic (or Melchizedek) priesthood, to being ordained to a particular office in either priesthood – it was predicated, at least scripturally, on the manifestation of the gifts God had given you as an individual.

    Today, however, everything is based primarily on age. Deacons are automatically ordained at 12, teachers automatically at 14, priests automatically at 16, elders between 18-19. HP is a bit different – but even there, from the Stake Presidents I’ve associated with – it’s either do to a calling (which may be related to gifts, but typically not) or age – once you’ve outgrown the EQ. It’s a progression, climbing the ladder.

    The original scriptural plan (if I’m not misreading it, which is up for discussion) was to have some in each office – again, based on gifts, but with no formal progression from one to the other. Everything based on either revelation or inspiration (two different things).

    So, when you presume that someone we sustain as a “prophet, seer, and revelator” has the final say in doctrinal (or matters of definition), I take a more nuanced approach: we may sustain them as such, but that sustaining vote does not mean that they are either exercising those keys, or that they are experiencing those gifts. The latter, to me, is of more weight and I’d welcome someone pointing out those specific gifts in action.

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  28. Mr Q&A on February 2, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    “Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day. This follows the biblical pattern (Amos 3:7), in which God communicated messages and warnings to His people through prophets in order to secure their well-being.  In our day, President Gordon B. Hinckley has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the family in our increasingly fractional society. In addition, the Church does not preclude future additions or changes to its teachings or practices. This living, dynamic aspect of the Church provides flexibility in meeting those challenges.  According to the Articles of Faith, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

    This is from the an article produced by the Church called approching Church Doctrine.

    I think from this statement it highlights that Man can be deceived, but doctrine distills through time and process. God approaches society differently at different times, this will lead to a changes in doctrine when we are ready for it, any doctrine that is missing at the moment is a reflection on society and not God.

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  29. Mr Q&A on February 2, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    Sorry this part of the quote was ment to be included.

    “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.”

    These two statements together are what my comment above is based on.

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  30. Paul on February 2, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    #22 Diane, I suppose you can believe what you want. But when Elder Oaks says that auxiliary leaders (eg, YW, RS, Primary) participate in the preparation of the handbooks, I take him at his word.

    #26 Mossman, what gives? The purpose of the CHI is pretty clear from training and from the book itself: it’s policy to be followed to allow the church (the organization) to function. It was prepared under the inspired dircection of those men and women who are called to lead the organizations affected and the church itself.

    As for your rant about how people are called to fill various slots in organizations, that’s beyond my pay grade.

    But I will say this: it makes perfect sense for a bishop to serve after having a broad range of other experience at the ward level. That was my own experience.

    But it is not the only way. When I was replaced after my release, the man who was called behind me had been a member two years (and served one of those as my counselor). He served two years, then was called into the mission presidency and was replaced by a man who had also been a member two years.

    I do sustain members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency as prophets, seers and revelators.

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  31. Aaron L on February 2, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    This is a great question and one that I think needs answering once and for all. Almost all my concerns with the church ultimately come down to this purposeful conflation of doctrine and policy. Given that the church currently claims to have prophets who are divinely inspired, but said prophets have frequently been on the wrong side of the issues when it comes to social policy, science, moral questions, and inconsistent in their doctrine, I see only two possible situations that can provide an explanation for the problem.

    (1)Prophets are divinely inspired in some form, but they are still sometimes wrong. They are subject to their own environments and biases just like the rest of us and those biases and myopic views are sometimes manifested in their policies and what they convey to the rest of the church membership. These span all the way from seemingly unimportant cultural phenomenon to relatively core doctrinal principles. Given that there is no objective standard to judge a prophet’s words and tell if he is speaking for God or just giving his opinion, being divinely inspired or influenced by his own imperfect humanness, everything they say must be taken with a grain of salt. It is up to us to use the holy ghost and judge for ourselves what of their words we should follow and what we see as shortsighted. Likewise, we can not and should not in any way judge each other for seeing things differently, irregardless of what has been said by prophets about the issue. The gospel is true, but the church can mean widely different things to different people, and those different viewpoints can still be correct. The truth, and how is best for each of us to live our lives is somewhat relative and ultimately God will have to judge us based on correct principles and how well we lived up to our own consciences.

    (2)The approach as echoed by Benson in the 14 fundamentals. The current prophet and whatever he says is the gold standard. Calling it revelation vs. inspiration vs. inspiration or anything else is only a word game. His words supersede the scriptures and previous prophets. He can not lead the church astray. He speaks for the Lord in everything even if he has no secular experience or expertise in any given issue. Follow him and be blessed, reject him and suffer. Morality becomes arbitrary because it is tied to what the prophet says at the expense of all other considerations. He could tell us to do things that cause endless human suffering and it wouldn’t matter because he commanded it. What he says could contradict scriptures, previous prophets, or himself, or completely fly in the face of science, reasoning, logic, and common sense. He could command you to do things that hurt other people. He could say to you, “Hey, your wife is pretty hot, and I would like her for my wife, so sorry, you’re SOL.” He could tell you to drink the purple koolaid laced with cyanide because that is what God wants. It doesn’t matter. He is the authority. All the examples in history that seem to show that prophets were wrong or shortsighted just seem that way because we don’t understand them fully. Maybe the historical record isn’t accurate, or maybe they were just taken out of context, or maybe God’s ways are just higher than our ways so we should just trust and have faith. Either way, what the prophet says goes, period. If we disobey, we do so at our own peril.

    For many reasons, I wholly reject scenario #2. . If that is what you believe, then by definition, you belong to a cult. I wholeheartedly reject the entire sentiment of the 14 fundamentals.

    I normally don’t like the scenario of having to choose between two extremes, but in this case I don’t see a third option. When the church leadership is wrong/inconsistent as often as the LDS prophets/apostles have been while claiming divine inspiration/revelation, while at the same time providing no objective standard to distinguish opinion from divine communication, they paint themselves into a corner. Interestingly, the church consistently tries to straddle the issue as though a more moderate middle ground made any sense, when it does not. You can cherry pick quotes from apostles and prophets that strongly endorse either scenario and some that fall somewhere in the middle. Sometimes quotes from the same person will vary widely on this issue, depending on who the person is talking to. The leadership tries to have the best of both worlds, while conveniently not emphasizing the negatives. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They must think or at least hope that most people won’t be observant enough or care enough to see it. It is ridiculous for anybody prophet or not, to expect other people to try to follow and believe everything they say until said prophet becomes accountable for their screw ups.

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  32. Mossman on February 2, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Paul:

    Nothing gives. Just pointing out that your initial response has morphed from one where the CHI was prepared under an “atmosphere of revelation” to, now, one that suggests it was prepared under “inspired direction.” There is a substantial difference between the two.

    As to my “rant”, I was merely pointing out that I disagree your line of thinking. We all sustain them as “prophets, seers and revelators”, but our sustaining isn’t some magic wand that makes those gifts automatically active in any of them. It is still predicated as a gift from God/Christ which they, and they alone, give. If the men we sustain as “prophets, seers and revelators” neither prophecy, nor see, nor reveal, then that is a matter for a whole different discussion.

    As for your personal experience, I have no doubt that’s the case because that’s how it has been for, quite literally, decades. The initial change to Aaronic Priesthood ordinations was made under the guise of giving youth “some experience” in the Priesthood. A worthy goal, no doubt, but our aspirations to change things, no matter how worthy, can only end badly if they contradict the very words in our standard works. And, today, we see it in the largely robotic way we go about giving and receiving priesthood ordinations – everything predicated on age. It has became a ladder that one climbs as they grow older, dating back to when it was officially reorganized in the early 1900s.

    Now, this is far from the only thing where our contemporary practice diverges from scriptural standards (the Sacrament being one with some fairly substantial differences as well). Coincidentally, I’d much rather have a 21-year old full of the Spirit, with control of the “Spirit and elements” as my Bishop, than a 60-year old who is about as dull as my 40-year old pocket knife, but great at administration (or, what some refer to as men who “don’t have one ounce of the Spirit”).

    For further discussion, I’d point to this discussion on the vast differences between Priesthood and Authority.

    ““Who can deny such a power to another? No man. Who can bestow it on another? No man. We like to think that the Church is divided into those who have it and those who don’t have it; but it is the purest folly to assume that we can tell who has it and who does not… The result is, that if there is anyone who really holds the priesthood, no one is in a position to say who it is—only by the power to command the spirits and the elements is such a gift apparent.”

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  33. Paul on February 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    I don’t believe my meaning has morphed. To be prepared under the spirit of revelation, the atmosphere of revelation, the spirit of inspiration, under inspired direction — all of those allow for those involved to receive divine guidance in the process.

    Since I’m not responsible for calling your bishop, I suppose I can’t comment on that.

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  34. brjones on February 2, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    #30 – There is a third option, Aaron L.

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  35. brjones on February 2, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    #32 – Paul, I think you’re in danger of expanding your definitions to the point that they don’t have any real meaning. Any person can receive divine guidance in the process of doing anything. I don’t know that this really advances the ball at all with respect to the original question.

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  36. Aaron L on February 2, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    #33 – Oh, I know. Believe me, I’m strongly considering it.

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  37. Apmex on February 2, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    And that 3rd option would be?

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  38. Aaron L on February 2, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    The third option is that the church is that inspiration or revelation has never existed in the church, that the church is not what it claims to be.

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  39. Aaron L on February 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    oops, I meant to say, “The third option is that inspiration or revelation has never existed in the church and that the church is not what it claims to be.

    I need to proofread better.

    I didn’t include this as a third option in my original reply before because I was only speaking within the framework of the church being true. Like most of us here, a large part of me hopes to be able to feel good about the LDS church being what it claims to be. I want to believe, but can’t bring myself to do it without turning off my brain. It’s like the Iphone guy on the commercial for TMobile who is paying too much for his broadband service. He says on the commercial, “it makes a lot of sense if you don’t think about it.”

    That’s sort of how I feel about the church being true.

    I think I could make a lot more sense of it if doctrine and policy were clearly defined.

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  40. Thomas on February 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    The cynic in me says that the distinction between “doctrine” and “policy” only gets established in retrospect: If something got changed, it was a policy.

    “Doctrine” may be nothing more than “Christ crucified.”

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  41. Douglas on February 14, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    It amazes me that this is debatable…

    In general, doctrine does not change but application thereof can and does change according to the Lord’s wishes and the needs of His people.

    That’s why, for example, the temple ceremonies could be changed four times, or blacks, a few in Joseph Smith’s day got the Priesthood, then under BY they didn’t, then under SWK they do and still do this day.

    That’s why we are governed by common consent AND we have brains…Heavenly Father does expect us to reason out things that concern us and not just follow like sheeple.

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