Friday, July 29, 2016

Where to Find Authority on Doctrine

Editor's note: This is number 39 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 introductory 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 Determining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

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.

            This should be remembered:  The Latter-day Saints believe in continuous revelation, and that the general authorities of the Church so designated and sustained, are in very deed prophets, seers and revelators to the people.  Also that whatever, under authorized conditions, the leaders of the Church, in their appointed places and positions, expound unitedly to the community, is the word of the Lord to the Latter-day Saints; and, as is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be Scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”  Those instructions we may look for continuously, because we believe in continuous revelation, and it is just as much an obligation upon the Latter-day Saints to conform to the instructions of the living oracles, as it is to believe and practice the principles of life and salvation, as explained in the standard works of the Church, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  All officers are subject to and should act in unison with the prophet, who, in turn, is subject to the inspiration and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Edward H. Anderson, “Where to Find Authority on Doctrine,” Improvement Era, vol. 25 [1921-1922], 645-46.)

No comments:

Post a Comment