If you haven’t taken the opportunity to read the LDS Church’s “Race and the Priesthood” essay, it would be worthwhile to do so. Not only does it articulate the church’s current position regarding race relations but also disavows past explanations given for the former priesthood ban.
Most are pleased at this clarification because it is a good step toward clearing up incorrect teachings that have been perpetuated in the past. The essay emphasizes that all saving ordinances are available to all worthy individuals regardless of ethnic or racial distinctions.
Because this essay may require a paradigm shift, it has naturally led to confusion for many. Some are asking: “If ideas that were once taught as doctrine are now disavowed, how can we trust that other doctrines now being taught won’t also change later?”
Dr. Michael Goodman has studied the nature of doctrine in his capacities as co-chair of the committee that wrote The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, one of four cornerstone courses of the Church’s Institute program, and as a professor of religion at BYU.
Often the terms doctrine, policy, and practice are bantered synonymously. Dr. Goodman has found that helping students determine what the term “doctrine” actually means aids them in grappling with conflicting religious and secular ideologies.
Three criteria are currently being taught by church leaders to help identify true doctrine. They include its unchanging nature, salvific necessity, and prevalence in the teachings of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
These guidelines, combined with our own intellectual efforts and personal revelation, may help us more easily determine what may change and what was never meant to change.
Join us for a timely discussion on the nature of doctrine on this episode of LDS Perspectives Podcast.