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BATKINSON - I was reading your site and had a quick question...I
have been taught that if it was published by the church, it's doctrine.
And as Brigham Young taught, if he says it (or current prophet) then
You mentioned that the Journal of Discourses isn't
considered doctrine...and that's different than what I
was taught. I was just wanting
further clarification. Like, for talks, I was told we
could pull statements from any church publication and speak on it - should
that not be done? Not publications from MEMBERS, but publications from
CHURCH articles - the ensign and things written by prophets should be
considered "scripture" more or less.
JOEL - Much of what is found in the Journal of Discourses(JOD) can
be considered doctrine but it cannot be called an
official source of Church doctrine because of the
unreliable method in which it was recorded and
printed. It was recorded in shorthand and later
reproduced often relying on the memory on the person
who recorded it. Often times what was recorded and
printed was not always cleared by the speakers because
of time and distance (they were published in England) and
many things said in those speeches were sometimes expressed as only opinions of the speakers.
As you mentioned, Brigham Young once said, "I have
never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the
children of men, that they may not call scripture."
(Journal of Discourses 13:95).
In other parts of this sermon he states: "Let me have
the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as
good Scripture as they deserve. " He also states: " I
say now, when they (discourses)are copied and approved
by me they are as good Scripture."
So President Young qualifies his statement by
ephasizing the need to be able to review the sermons
and make any necessary corrections before it can be
called scripture. This did not always happen in the
case of the Journal of Discourses.
Official Church doctrine comes from the four standard
works(scriptures) and from the pulpit during the General
Conference sesssions of the Church. It also can be found in
any books or teaching manuals published by the Church
that are used in Sunday School, priesthood, relief
society instruction or leadership instruction. It also
comes from official statements or declarations from
the First Presidency of the Church.
Church publications today are much more reliable
because they are reviewed and cleared by the speakers,
so we can consider them church doctrine and use them
as sources for talks and study.
However, in regards to publications besides the four Standard works of the Church,
we must always be careful, that what is said is in harmony with the scriptures and in
harmony with what the Holy Ghost confirms in our souls.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. The standard works are the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 3:203.)
There is a very good recent statement from the Church describing what can be considered Church doctrine at this page.