Friday, March 18, 2016

Keeping Church Doctrine Pure

Editor's note: This is the 10th in a series of posts by Dennis Horne, sharing quotes from his book, Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. You can read the first post here. The first part of each post is a new introduction, placing the quotes in context with contemporary issues. The quotes that then follow are from the Determinining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

            Along with holding the keys of the priesthood in their fulness comes the responsibility for prophets and apostles to keep gospel doctrine pure:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [patriarchs]; and some, pastors [bishops] and teachers;

 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:11-14).

            Among other things this passage means that we will have apostles and prophets acting as watchmen on the tower to guide and help keep obedient and faithful believers from being deceived by cunning and crafty men and women, until the Millennium, during which time we will all come to a unity of the faith under Jesus as our Lord and King and we will no longer need them. It almost makes one weep with joy and thanksgiving to think of—a thousand years of no negative, icky, anti-Mormons/anti-Christs flooding the earth with their deceptions and falsehoods; a time when there will no longer be people “who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).

But until “the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble” (JS-H 1:37), and the great Millennium begins, we have prophets and apostles teaching true, pure and powerful doctrine to all those who will listen and obey and thereby benefit both now and eternally. Elder M. Russell Ballard recently quoted President Hinckley on this tremendous responsibility: “In a General Authority training meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught on the subject ‘keeping the doctrine pure and the Church on the right course.’ He said, ‘We cannot be too careful. We must watch that we do not get off [course]. In our efforts to be original and fresh and different, we may teach things which may not be entirely in harmony with the basic doctrines of this the restored Church of Jesus Christ. … We had better be more alert. … We must be watchmen on the tower.’” So it is, and we thank Almighty God for it.

L. Aldin Porter:

            The prophets are called not only to receive the doctrine and direct the ordinances through the keys they hold. They are also responsible to keep the saving doctrine pure so that people can hear and feel that doctrine in its sure and certain form. (L. Aldin Porter, Conference Report, October 1994, 82.)

Gordon B. Hinckley:

            I have spoken before about the importance of keeping the doctrine of the Church pure, and seeing that it is taught in all of our meetings. I worry about this. Small aberrations in doctrinal teaching can lead to large and evil falsehoods. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997], 620.)

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve:

            [Brief excerpt from a] Statement by The Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:…

            We have the responsibility to preserve the doctrinal purity of the Church. We are united in this objective….

            The Council of the First Presidency and The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Church News, October 23, 1993, 3.)

Joseph Fielding McConkie:

            The essence of our faith centers on preserving the purity of our doctrine. No principle of salvation can ever be a matter of private interpretation or of speculation. Faith cannot be exercised in principles that are not true. As we must not be seduced by false doctrines, so we must not be distracted by doctrinal decoys. (Here We Stand [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995], 116.)

            The Lord has only one source for the declaration of His basic fundamental doctrines. Even as General Authorities of the Church, we are instructed: “In order to preserve the uniformity of doctrinal and policy interpretation, you are asked to refer to the Office of the First Presidency for consideration [of] any doctrinal or policy questions which are not clearly defined in the scriptures or in the General Handbook of Instructions.” In this way, conflict and confusion and differing opinions are eliminated.

Joseph Fielding McConkie:

            The purity of the gospel is lost when scripture is mingled with the philosophies of men. The center of gravity for the Christian world was shifted in the time between the death of the apostles and the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. A church that had been founded on the principle of revelation was now to be founded on philosophical speculation. A form of godliness was preserved, but the power was lost, and the world entered into a period known to us as the Dark Ages. The loss to mankind has been immeasurable, and even though the gospel has now been restored, it will be generations before its influence will set at naught the influence of those dark days. (Here We Stand [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995], 119.)

Harold B. Lee:

Our best hope of maintaining doctrinal purity rests with a membership that knows and understands doctrinal implications because they have “witnessed for themselves.” (“Special Challenges Facing the Church in Our Time” [regional representatives’ seminar, 3 October 1968], 7.)

Harold B. Lee:

We face a tremendous task in our time in maintaining doctrinal purity. . . . The doctrines of the Church are not “ours,” but His, whose Church this is! That we must impress upon all. Failure to keep the doctrines given by Christ pure and simple would cause much human misery here and in eternity. For this reason, fruitless speculation, fascination with the mysteries, and the tendency of some teachers to add their own personal embroidery to the fabric of the Gospel, must be resisted. (“Special Challenges Facing the Church in Our Time,” 6.)

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