The under title of The Iron Rod blog has been updated. It now reads, “Mormon doctrine in the tradition of Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie and Gordon B. Hinckley.” I have made the change because of some criticism that I have received from people who did not understand the old under title which was “Mormon doctrine in the tradition of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie.” There was even one mystery man named Area Authority who commented on one of my blog posts calling me to repentance for teaching doctrine “in the tradition of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie.” He correctly pointed out to me that an undue emphasis on the doctrinal teachings of dead prophets is contrary to the Restored gospel, and that I should only teach as doctrine what is currently being taught by the living prophets, especially the President of the Church. I agree completely with one proviso which needs to be understood by anyone reading The Iron Rod.
That proviso is this: Prophets don’t make up the doctrine as they go along, but they learn it from the same unchangeable God as it is revealed to them by the Holy Ghost in a process that we Mormons call “continuing revelation.” This process is one of our thirteen Articles of Faith, and if we do not believe this fundamental principle, then we are not really believing Latter-day Saints.
Further, since God is an unchangeable God, and truth does not change, true doctrine does not change either. When a doctrine changes, either a mistake was made and false doctrine was taught as a result of that mistake, or the new doctrine is a mistake and is false. What was true once is true forever.
Keeping this in mind, the President of the Church is the only mortal upon the earth with the keys, authority and stewardship to proclaim new doctrine, change old doctrine, or give scriptural interpretation that is authoritative for the whole Church. This principle is clearly revealed by God in the Doctrine and Covenants. Because of this, doctrine cannot be changed by gossip, rumor, scholarly studies, propaganda, grassroots activism on the Internet, the personal opinions of doctrinal commentators such as myself, others with a different opinion, popular authors, influential books, organizations such as FAIR and FARMS, or secret combinations in our midst made up of communists, Signaturi, so-called Fundamentalists, or any other group or faction with a hidden agenda to confuse the saints about the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Only Satan has anything to gain from confusing the saints about the true doctrines of the Restoration that have been revealed to us by Joseph Smith, the Twelve, and all of his successors down to and including Gordon B. Hinckley and the Twelve who are serving in the Quorum of the Twelve today. Lucifer wants to do what he did in ancient times. He wants to lead off the saints into believing a variety of conflicting doctrines so that he can bring about today a repetition of The Great Apostasy that he had so much success with in the early Christian Church.
Therefore, I renounce every doctrine or scriptural interpretation that was ever taught by Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie that can be clearly shown to be false because it has been changed or overturned by Gordon B. Hinckley or his predecessors as President of the Church since the death of Joseph Fielding Smith. But I retain and accept as true doctrine all that these men taught that has not been overturned by Gordon B. Hinckley or his predecessors in the First Presidency. Gospel doctrine is not something that we make up as we go along. We cannot reject true doctrine just because we don’t like it. Nor can we proclaim to be true doctrine some personal opinion or scriptural interpretation just because it appeals to us.
But more than that, we are all bound by the truth whether it is “official Church doctrine” or not. There are many things that are true that are not “official Church doctrine.” The Family: A Proclamation to the World is not official Church doctrine by a strict definition, because it is not in our standard works, and it has not been specifically sustained as scripture by the membership of the Church assembled in General Conference. Neither is much of our temple ritual. Neither were any of the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants before they were included in our standard works and sustained by the Church membership. But they were just as true before they were added to the standard works and before they were sustained by the Church membership as they were afterwards. The Law of Gravity is also not in our standard works or sustained by the membership of the Church as “official Church doctrine,” but it is just as true and just as binding upon everyone as the truth always is. We don’t have to believe it. We don’t have to agree with it. But we are bound by it nevertheless. The truth, whatever it is, is binding upon everyone whether he likes it or not. And life’s greatest challenge is to find out what the truth is and get our lives in harmony with it. Official Church doctrine is just a beginning, a foundation. The Lord expects all of us to believe it and order our lives by it, but he expects us to go on from there by learning true doctrine until we know as much about the Plan of Salvation as he does. And that will occur long after this life is over for all of us if it happens at all. Because men truly are free, some will choose to follow other paths and to accept as true that which is false.
So my bottom line is this: This blog is my commentary on Mormon doctrine in the tradition of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie as modified and filtered by the doctrine taught by Gordon B. Hinckley and the prophets living today. Where President Hinckley disagrees with Smith and McConkie, I will not accept as authoritative the earlier teachings. But unless it can be clearly documented otherwise, I will assume that President Hinckley agrees with the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, and all of the other prophets of the Restoration for that matter. Where someone claims that I am teaching the dead prophets, they must point to some teaching by living prophets that shows Smith and McConkie to be wrong. In almost every case they cannot do this because all of these men get their understanding of doctrine from the same standard works and revelations from the same Holy Ghost. Teaching Smith and McConkie is teaching Hinckley. They are agreed on matters of doctrine. And only the President of the Church has the authority to declare that they are not.