I discussed the Statements of the LDS First Presidency with my guest, Gary Bergera. This is the title of a very handy book gathering doctrinal statements and arranging them according to topic, and also chronologically within each topic.
Gary explained his approach to the project. He drew from more than 40 sources, from 1833 to the present, which are, or contain, items which were authored by, or endorsed by, the First Presidency and thus represent those points upon which it has chosen to write, as the highest quorum in the LDS Church. Addresses and writings of individual members of the First Presidency are not included. That the unified statement of the First Presidency is of higher authority than an individual statement of a member of the First Presidency, or of another General Authority, has been declared many times by LDS leaders.
We discussed several points:
1. The role of the book in efforts to determine Mormon beliefs on doctrinal topics.
2. Why certain sources were included and why others were not.
3. This book is a convenient collection of doctrinal statements; a considerable guide to the written pronouncements of the First Presidency. While very valuable, it should not be considered something which it is not.
4. It is not the Mormon Creed.
5. The book is not the handbook of official Mormon Doctrine.
6. It is not a comprehensive collection of Mormon doctrinal beliefs. This would require going beyond the collection in this book to the much larger body of sermons, articles and writings of Mormons which are not statements or specific endorsements of the First Presidency.
7. Their statements have a rather narrow focus and tend to address very basic doctrines.
We discussed with each other and with callers and email a number of specific doctrinal topics in the book, including: abortion, when the spirit enters the body, evolution, the U.S. Constitution, status of books by LDS authorities, the Adam-God theory, differences on the omniscience of God, birth control, common consent, Book of Mormon geography.
A few of the other topics covered are: Word of Wisdom, sexual relations, second coming, sons of perdition, marriage, Godhead, Satan, euthanasia, labor unions, intellectualism, gender, gathering, gambling, excommunication, exaltation, church discipline, child abuse, capital punishment, education, dress and grooming, debt, cremation, artificial insemination and adoption.
I enthusiastically endorse this work as valuable to anyone interested in LDS doctrinal beliefs.
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Podcast address: mormonmisc.podbean.comThis is the 18 March 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year. To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.