Edward H. Anderson (from the Improvement Era):
A correspondent has written asking whether or not articles appearing in the Improvement Era, the Liahona, the Young Ladies’ Journal, the Relief Society Magazine, and other publications of the Church, may be quoted as authority on doctrine; and wishes us to answer how far these publications may be quoted, and just to what extent they can be taken as authority. He cites, for example, an article by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith in the January number, 1916, of the Improvement Era, on the second death, entitled, “Is Man Immortal?”
Replying, we will say that all writings, sermons, instructions and admonitions by the authorities of the Church are to be taken as authority as far as they agree with the printed word of revelation, as contained in the standard books of the Church, namely, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Whatever any writer or speaker may express on doctrine should be considered as personal instructions, for which the person who speaks or writes is responsible, and not the Church. Such instruction may be, and is, of great advantage and benefit to those who may listen or read, in aiding them to come to conclusions and to understand the word of the Lord, but as far as its being taken as authority, no instruction may be so taken in the way of doctrine except it shall be in strict conformity with the revealed word of the Lord, and in harmony with the teachings of the living prophet of the Lord. We believe that the arguments set forth in the article referred to, “Is Man Immortal?” will stand this test.