About the LDS Church
Differentiating between valid LDS
doctrine & opinions of its past leaders
Misinformation being circulated:
There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the LDS Church.
||A common anti-Mormon attack technique used by many conservative
Protestants is to take a single past statement by a Mormon leader and treat
it as a formal LDS doctrine that is binding on all LDS members today. In
reality, there are many beliefs expressed by early LDS leaders that have
been abandoned and are no longer recognized by the present-day church. Some,
in fact, have never accepted as valid.|
like the advocacy of polygamy, and
racism in the Church were formally repudiated
after what the Mormon leadership believe were two revelations from God in
1890 and 1978.
In still other cases, the beliefs simply fell into disuse. Two prominent
||A belief of Brigham Young that Adam, Michael and God the Father are
one and the same entity. This is generally called the "Adam-God
||Another belief by Brigham Young was that Adam and the Virgin Mary
were the parents of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) was "...
begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of
Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven." 1
These beliefs have formed part of the doctrine
of the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) and the Fundamentalist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). But they were never
made part of the LDS Church's doctrine. Further, they are rejected by that church's
In 1976, Mormon Prophet Spencer W. Kimball who
was the LDS Church's twelfth president from 1973 to 1985 stated:
"We hope that you who teach in the various
organizations, whether on the campuses or in our chapels, will always
teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of
doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are
alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past
generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce
that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and
other kinds of false doctrine." 2
||Mormons occasionally assign different meanings to common Christian terms
than are used by other conservative Christians. This is very common among
all Christian faith groups. One example is the nature of God:
||Trinity: Almost all Christian faith groups teach that the
Trinity consists of a single God of one spiritual substance, who is
present in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the son, and the
Holy Spirit. This is considered a truth that is beyond the ability of
humans to fully understand and must be accepted on faith.
||Godhead: The LDS Church teaches that the Godhead consists of
three separate and distinct beings. However, they are one in purpose.
God the Father and Jesus Christ, the son, have glorified physical bodies; the
Holy Ghost is a spirit and has no physical body. They also believe that
other Gods with their female consorts exist elsewhere in the universe.
So, when the LDS Church, and -- for example -- the Southern Baptist
Convention talk about God, they are referring to very different
entities. The beliefs are so different that only one can be correct. Both
may be wrong. Jews and Muslims
may be right with their belief in a single, indivisible God. Strong
Atheists may be correct when they assert that no
Another example, that of being "born again" is given below in a
news release of the LDS Church.
2007 News Release by the LDS Church:
The "Newsroom" is a section of LDS.org, an official LDS Church
website, directed at the media. A news release was issued on 2007-MAY-04 titled:
"Approaching Mormon Doctrine." Copyright laws required us to delete
portions of the document to meet size requirements. It states, in part:
"Much misunderstanding about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints revolves around its doctrine. The news media is increasingly asking
what distinguishes the Church from other faiths, and reporters like to contrast
one set of beliefs with another. ..."
||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)
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 [Mormon] 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. Isolated statements
are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
||Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core
doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less
important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His
atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking
an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Churchís purpose and placing it at
the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who
rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.
Based on the scriptures, Joseph Smith declared: 'The fundamental principles of
our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning
Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and
rose again the third day, and
ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are
only appendages to it.'
||Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets
receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day. This follows the
biblical pattern (Amos 3:7), 4 in which God communicated
messages and warnings to His people through prophets in order to secure their
well-being. In our day, President Gordon B. Hinckley has repeatedly emphasized
the importance of the family in our increasingly fractional society. In
addition, the Church does not preclude future additions or changes to its
teachings or practices. This living, dynamic aspect of the Church provides
flexibility in meeting those challenges. According to the
Articles of Faith, 'We believe all that God has
revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal
many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.'
||Latter-day Saints place heavy emphasis on the application of their faith in
daily life. For example, the active participation of Latter-day Saints in their
community and worldwide humanitarian programs reflects concern for other people.
As Jesus Christ declared, 'By their fruits ye shall know them. ...'
||Those writing or commenting on Latter-day Saint
doctrine also need to understand that certain words in the Mormon vocabulary
have slightly different meanings and connotations than those same words have in
other religions. For example, Latter-day Saints generally view being
born again as a process of conversion, whereas many other Christian
denominations often view it as a conversion that happens in one defining moment.
Sometimes what some may consider an argument or dispute over doctrine is really
a misunderstanding of simple differences in terminology.
Journalists, academics and laymen alike are encouraged to pursue their
inquiries into the Church by recognizing the broad and complex context within
which its doctrines have been declared, in a spirit of reason and good will.
Comments by New Order Mormons on the above press release:
"New Order Mormons" is an Internet community for LDS members who
want to stay in the church even though they are skeptical of some of the LDS
church's teachings. When their web site posted the news release, 63
comments were posted. Some were:
||"KC:" "For me, this is an historical press release. There is so much in
here ó I could write a book. We should all print this out, and keep it with
our scriptures, and quote from it regularly in church. To editorialize for a
minute, this makes me very, very happy."
||"Phil:" "Growing up as a Mormon, I was always taught that whatever GAís
said is considered scripture. End of story."
||"Sally" "This just leaves me more confused. I had always been taught
that it is scripture if said in Gen. Conference. The press release seems to
say that a GA making a statement isn't doctrine. How do we decide if the
statement is true or just an opinion? It says that we are to get our own
confirmation, but if we have to do this every time a GA speaks because we
canít be sure if it is true or not, there will undoubtedly be many people
getting many different answers. It feels like the ship has lost its guidance
system and everyone is on their own to figure out what is doctrine.
||"Tom:" "... there is one great thing about it: we can cite it and point
to as an authoritative statement when people want to make a random JD quote
into Mormon doctrine."
||"Me:" "This might actually come as a surprise to many faithful LDS who
think everything ever said by every General Authority is an absolute truth.
That might be a little exaggerative, but many have ideas that approach this
||"Mayan Elephant:" "I noticed today something that is quite possibly the
most significant reversal in the history of the LDS church. In my opinion,
this position, as it is presented on LDS.org is bigger than the reversal of
the race ban, it is bigger than the Manifesto regarding polygamy, it is
bigger than the 1978 change that allowed women to pray in Sacrament
||"Wes:" "They are running scared. They know the floodgates are open and
there is no stopping it. It is a matter of damage control now."
||"Equality:" "Have you read Ezra Taft Bensonís Fourteen Fundamentals
in Following the Prophet?Or Boyd Packerís Unwritten Order of Things?
Or the Mantle is Far Far Greater than the Intellect? Because they
really bear little resemblance to what is in this press release. But, I
guess according to the press release those apostolic talks are no more
doctrinal than, say, a press release. If there is a conflict between a
non-doctrinal press release declaring doctrinal talks apostles
non-doctrinal, what takes precedenceĖthe non-doctrinal talk by the apostle
or the non-doctrinal press release by anonymous church employee?"
||"Mayan Elephant:" "This press release provides a reference and
qualification for positions held by the majority of members. And more, it
provides relief to many members that may otherwise feel pressure to
apologize for or incorporate every damn thing said by every damn apostle in
any damn circumstance from 1820 to the present. It is not perfect, but,
until I see a reference I will consider it progress and an advancement for
members and a contradiction to previous counsel."
||"Ricercar:" "If the prophet is not speaking scripture and is just a well
informed opinion, what sets him apart from other good people?"
||"Tom:" "I have had annoying conversations trying to get critics to
understand that not everything in the Journal of Discourses
'matters' and Iíve been annoyed with journalists who, albeit understandably,
donít get that they canít pick and choose historical teachings and broadly
characterize the Church based on those quotes in isolation. The press
release may make life a little less annoying and for that Iím grateful."
||"Wes:" "... the days of old when the Mormon church could hide
information are over. The internet has put the final nail in the coffin on
Mormon church censorship. People are no longer going to remain silent in the
face of lies and deception."
||"Tony:" "Impact: Minimal. I think this statement is helpful to those who
are struggling in the church and looking for a little justification in
becoming a 'buffet Mormon,' as John has termed it. Yet, with the rank and
file members, it will do little in changing their opinion of the current
leadership or any other general leader who comes along in their lifetime.
They will always consider what the prophet has to say as 'gospel truth.' He
is after all THE prophet and spokesman for Christ on the earth. And the
other leadership ARE inspired and above criticism. Each generationís prophet
was, for the most part, above scrutiny according to the faithful. They
regarded the most heinous statements as truth simply because it came from
the Lordís mouthpiece. I think that mentality will continue. The press
release, however, does provide an escape clause for those heinous statements
of the past. ..."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Brigham Young, "Self-GovernmentóMysteriesóRecreation and
Amusements, not in Themselves SinfulóTithingóAdam, Our Father and Our God."
Published by G.D. Watt, "Journal of Discourses by Brigham Young ..." Vol. 1, F.D.
& S.W. Richards, (1854), Pages 46Ė53. Online at:
Spencer Kimball, "Teaching the truth," Conference Report,
1976-OCT-1 to 3, Page 115. Online at:
"Approaching Mormon Doctrine," The Newsroom of the LDS Church,
Amos 4:7: "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth
his secret unto his servants the prophets." King James Version.
"GA" means "General Authority." It refers to
approximately 105 male priests who have responsibilities across the entire
church. It includes members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles, Presidency of the Seventy, etc. The term is sometimes used to refer to
a single member of the GA.
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2007-SEP-26
Latest update: 2007-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson