As members of a living church with continuing revelation, we need to understand the difference between unchanging doctrines and procedural adjustments.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is directed by revelation. However, when curriculums and even regular worship schedules change, it can be hard to reconcile the idea of God’s unchanging doctrines with changing Church procedures. When past revelation seemingly contradicts more recent revelation, it can be a source of honest questioning. David A. Bednar’s talk “Teach Them to Understand” can help us understand the difference between unchanging doctrines and procedural adjustments.
Church leaders don’t try to hide that changes are made regularly within the Church. For example, in a statement released at the beginning of 2019, the First Presidency acknowledged, “Over these many centuries, details associated with temple work have been adjusted periodically . . . Prophets have taught that there will be no end to such adjustments as directed by the Lord to His servants.”
These changes, however, do not reflect changes to gospel doctrines. David A. Bednar explains: “Doctrine refers to the eternal, unchanging, and simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are also principles. Principles are doctrinally based guidelines for what we ought to do.” We also receive instruction on how we can apply these principles and doctrines to our lives. These applications of doctrine and principles can change, according to revelation, even though the doctrines and principles themselves do not. Doctrines answer the question “Why?” principles help us understand “What?” and applications tell us “How?”
We can be confident in our apostles’ and prophets’ ability to receive revelation. We can understand that a living church can be based on unchanging doctrines, while still allowing for adjustments to applications. Applications change in order to offer us experiences that are more personal, more impactful, and more focused on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Read Elder Bednar’s talk “Teach Them to Understand” to learn more about the unchanging doctrines and principles of the gospel.
Source: BYU-Idaho Education Week
—Teya Jensen, Mormon Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY JAMIE STREET
Find more insights
Read the First Presidency Statement on Temples from 2019.
Michael R. Ash also talked about change and temples in the article “Can Temple Ceremonies Change?”
President Russell M. Nelson also spoke about this topic in “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.”