How Important Is the Study of Doctrine?

Is it important to study the doctrines of the Church?  How important?  If it is important, why is it important?  What role does a study of doctrine play in avoiding false doctrine?  Can a correct understanding of doctrine help us build faith?  What is the role of doctrine in repentance?  Is it possible to learn correct doctrine from books?  How about the Book of Mormon, the Bible and other books in our standard works?  Can other books help us learn?  How important is the ability to read and write well to the understanding of correct doctrine?  Can a person obtain an adequate understanding of the gospel without studying gospel doctrine?  President Kimball taught that education is important and that gospel education is the most important education.  If that is true, why is it so?  What is the best way to tell the difference between true doctrine and personal opinion?  Does it matter if the opinion is true?  Our leaders have said that Mormonism includes everything that is true.  That is, if it is true it is part of the gospel.  What does that mean, and is it a good teaching?  How is it possible to make a lifelong study of Church doctrine without getting out in left field with speculation and possibly false doctrine?  Are the writings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, James E. Talmage and Bruce R. McConkie still valuable for the study of doctrine?  Or do we risk getting off in left field from the study of these sermons and writings?

Over the next few months and possibly years, I am going to try to answer some of these questions if I can.  It seems to me that the way the Church teaches doctrine has changed a lot since I was converted by the doctrine nearly forty-seven years ago.  I do not understand these changes, but in order to obtain a testimony of them, I need to understand them better.  I think of it as part of the pondering that is so important in receiving personal revelation.  Of one thing I am certain, in order to understand the scriptures, one must believe them.  Knowledge without belief is futile.  A lack of belief inevitably leads to misunderstanding and incorrect knowledge.

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3 Responses to How Important Is the Study of Doctrine?

  1. Sara says:

    You said, “Of one thing I am certain, in order to understand the scriptures, one must believe them.”
    I would add, but first we must read them to believe them, in order to understand them.

    I agree with Anthony Larson when he stipulated that we the membership have created the lack of understanding of the doctrines of the gospel. Our leaders continue to teach true, lasting, saving doctrine. Their methods may be changing, as are the people they are teaching…..but we as latter-day saints must work harder to teach eath other true doctrine.

    Also, I feel that some people mis understand what an opinion is. Some people I come accross seem to believe that an opinion has to be something completely unique, that each of us has. So, you asked “What is the best way to tell the difference between true doctrine and personal opinion? Does it matter if the opinion is true?” I say, as we learn, believe, gain testimonies through faithful living and prayer, our opininions are aligned with the teaching of our prophets……then our opinion is true and it is our own, although not unique (which is not a requisite for having an opinion, contrary to some popular thought).

    Papa…sorry about the spelling.

  2. The fact that we even have to entertain such questions is a measure of our waywardness as Latter-day Saints. We should know better. It is we, the membership, who have created the information gap that forces these questions, not our leaders. We’re the ones who have failed to study and learn. We believe is it sufficient to believe and follow, contrary to statements of General Authorities from Joseph Smith to the present that an informed membership is far preferable to blind followers. And our pitiful efforts to learn follow the Oliver Cowdery model. We suffer from his syndrome: We believe that all we need do is ask, without making the required effort to study and learn first. If all Saints endeavored to ferret out the answers to your questions, we would all be the better for it and much more blessed.

  3. Learning the doctrine of the Kingdom is vitally important. President Ezra Taft Benson taught us that by studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, it would help us avoid deception. Something that is critically important in this day and age of deceit.

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