Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Challenges of Defining Mormon Doctrine

I have to give major kudos to Loyd Ericson and his article "The Challenges of Defining Mormon Doctrine," which was published in Element (Spring and Fall 2007 edition, although it lists 2009 events)--thanks to Matt W. for loaning me his published copy after seeing my last post about Differing Definitions of Doctrine.

It's an excellent, and important article--link to it for yourself. Ericson nails some of the key questions that I've personally been asking myself--tough questions that people in the know haven't spent much time addressing. I hope that changes now.


Matt Davies said...

That was a fascinating article...thanks for posting it. It made me rethink this article from the LDS Newsroom. Although it is entitled "Core Beliefs," it later implies that text explains Church doctrine. (When you begin to read the section on the missionary program, I feel like the use of "difference in practice and not doctrinal belief" is deliberate) So would this be classified as doctrine, beliefs, or policy? It's interesting to think about.

Clean Cut said...

Matt, I'm glad you found it fascinating. I certainly did, as well. I also find your educational pursuits fascinating!

The Narrator said...

The biggest challenge with discussing “doctrine” in Mormonism is the problem between the relationship of doctrine and truth. Last Sunday I had the /joy/ of teaching the “Teach the Doctrine” lesson for the Teacher Development class. As someone kindly pointed out in the manual ”the phrase “doctrine of the kingdom” refers to the revealed truths of the gospel. ” (http://www.lds.org/manual/teaching-no-greater-call-a-resource-guide-for-gospel-teaching/lesson-4-teach-the-doctrine?lang=eng).

At the heart of Mormonism–at least as it is taught by the Church’s prophets, seers, and revelators–is that we have a privileged access to true doctrines that other faiths do not. “We have the truth!”

But then what does it mean when those truths are changed, or if we do not have any idea what those truths are. Anyways, since you linked to my Element article, I feel it safe to point to my rejoinder to Millet and Oman, where I end by drawing out this problem further.


I’m of coursed biased, but Charley Harrell's book--"This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology"--is IMO the best source for understanding the rich history of our “doctrines.”