Monday, May 7

Mormon Doctrine

A personal religious conundrum I have had the last few years is what constitutes official Mormon doctrine. Mormons do not have a book like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to clearly lay out all doctrines. At the same time, we are taught to follow our leaders, and most notably the counsel of the current prophet, Gordon Hinckley. Is everything he says doctrine? What do we do when two leaders or even prophets contradict each other? Some might say that current conditions call for current teachings. Others try some mental gymnastics to apologetically explain how all the teachings fit together. Some get disillusioned. Some (like me) get a little confused. Recently the church released a statement on their official website on what constitutes church doctrine. It has greatly simplified my religious life. Here is a little bit from the statement (for the whole text, click here).

“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. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.”

Many people have told me that Mormonism is restrictive in its doctrine, but I find it to be a source of freedom to my spirit and mind. This statement has cleared up a lot of questions for me regarding my faith, and it exemplifies to me the agency of thought the church gives to its members.


  1. Here is a nice quote to think about from President Brigham Young: "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture" (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot], 13:95).

    Is scripture superior to doctrine?

  2. I think doctrine is superior, that is, if they are two different things.

    As for the quote, I can't imagine Brigham Young saying anything to the contrary, i.e. "maybe some of what I preach is not scripture."

    We also have to take into account the witness of the Holy Ghost in determining scripture or doctrine for ourselves. I don't think it was his intention for the Saints to accept everything he said as scripture without receiving a witness of it.


Comments that are not offensive, snide, or off-topic enough may be subject to moderation.