Many Mormons equate the following with "official doctrine," when in fact, according to this guide put out by FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research: A Foundation created to counter the misrepresentation and criticism of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), they don't -- in my opinion -- appear to fulfill the criteria for being considered doctrinal:
- Church manuals
- General Conference talks
- First Presidency message in the Ensign
- Proclamation On The Family
- Quotes, statements, and teachings from prophets
Now, going back to the FAIR guide, I have to ask myself: what is official doctrine? Well, it would apparently have to:
- "...generally conform to what has already been revealed. “
It almost sounds like J. Fielding Smith is telling us that we shouldn't expect anything too earth-shattering in terms of doctrine, since it cannot be in conflict with what the Lord has already revealed in the scriptures. Interesting how he uses the term "man's doctrine." Is he downplaying the role of prophet here, by allowing much larger leeway for error than what is commonly assumed by Mormons who have an infallible view of the prophet being God's mouthpiece?
"Harold B. Lee expressed similar thoughts when he taught that any doctrine, advanced by anyone—regardless of position—that was not supported by the standard works, then “you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion.” He recognized that the Prophet could bring forth new doctrine, but “when he does, [he] will declare it as revelation from God,” after which it will be sustained by the body of Church."
But are the scriptures "official doctrine?" After all, we only "believe the Bible to be true as long as it is translated correctly." (8th Article of Faith) Do we need to allow room for error where the scriptures are concerned as well?
According to FAIR:
"The Prophet can add to the scriptures, but such new additions are presented by the First Presidency to the body of the Church and are accepted by common consent (by sustaining vote) as binding doctrine of the Church (See D&C 26:2; 107:27-31). Until such doctrines or opinions are sustained by vote in conference, however, they are “neither binding nor the official doctrine of the Church."
When was the last time that happened? Seriously, I can't recall a single event. I've seen those who have argued that the Proclamation On The Family is official doctrine. Perhaps I was just to young to remember, but I cannot recall a sustaining vote in General Conference when it was presented.
So, based on the guide put out by FAIR:
- Does the LDS Church have any "official doctrine?"
- If you think it does, can you name some "official doctrines?"
- Assuming that the priesthood ban was a policy and not doctrinal, as indicated by David O. McKay, is the Official Declaration in D&C regarding its cessation "official doctrine?"
- Do you view the scriptures as doctrinal?