Doctine or Opinion?

by Don R. Hender

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Is it 'doctine' or is it merely the subscribed philosophies and opinions of men? Men are great for inovating what may seem to some to be of doctrinal substance. For example take this multiple choice question: Stangely enough, there are some who may not see any of these which are not to be considered true doctrine. So well is the matter of the one which is so presented by its scholarly advocates, that it has become to be seen as a doctrinal matter. And that one is (d). Nowhere in God's doctrine is Joseph Smith ever presented to be Messiah ben Joseph/Messiah ben Ephraim of the latter days. Yet because of how determined its advocates are in their presentation of such, many have come to accept this concept as a doctrinal matter in the LDS Church. This is a dangerous precedent, that when some matter becomes so well scholarly supported that it in itself is become a 'quasi-doctrine' of the Church. I will talk to this matter of Messiah ben Joseph/Ephriam at length in another presentation.

Now there are other such matters such as the issue of the 'negro' and the priesthood or even the matter of the Meso-American model of the geography of the Book of Mormon. The contrivance or inovation of men concerning these such matters have become intrenched or are in the process of being so intrenched in LDS 'scholarly' theology that many begin to teach them as doctrinal truths, that is with such veracity, that the concept becomes advocated by many as being the actual truth and docrine of the matter and they even begin to bear their testimonies to the truth of such matters and to discrimiated against such others who do not come to 'think' as they do.

Such was the case of such early Christian bishops in the days of Bishop Eusebius of Caeserea in such matters as determining the nature of God as in the Nicene Creed and such other matters. Rather than adhereing to the scriptural, fundamental and legitimately prophecied doctrinal truths of God, men, the Bishops, clergy and scholars of the church, began to inovate and create their own philosophies and doctrines. And the all accusing fingers did rise, 'you are wrong and I am right', became the dance of that early church. They no longer had no singular God connected prophet to guide them. And thus one set themself against the other as to what was and was not 'true'.

Many of these 'quasi-doctrines' become quite fashionable. It is the 'in thing' to be on the 'in' or 'in the know' of something more excusively than another. To know the true geography of the Book of Mormon, to understand that Joseph Smith is Messiah ben Ephraim, to know and be able to explain just why African men cannot or could not hold the priethood; etc. It is the exclusiveness of 'I know something that you don't know', so I must be better than you syndrome. The scholarly academic world thrives on it and the evolution of Christian theology has built itself and continues to build itself upon it. And even in the LDS Church, though we have General Authorities who are prophets, seers and revelators in their own right, we seek after these things above and beyond the guidance of our prophet leaders. Even the human-ness of some of these men can become attached to it, either as a supporting advocate or even in some cases the source of some of it.

We often will here that some one of the General Authorities has said this, or that, even about such and such to even the timing of the Second Coming of Christ. Often it is not so, but merely rumor or 'cool doctrinal' matters seeking for supporters. Occasionally it turns out to have some basis. Even one of our leaders may well make the human mistake of opening their own mouth to 'opinion and inovation' and insert their foot in it. It is something we all need to be cautioned about as it can lead down the path of teaching that which is not truly LDS Doctrine as though it were true doctrine.