Some of our critics thrive on the confusion they create about LDS beliefs by finding strange quotes from various old LDS sources, presenting them as if they were official Mormon doctrine, even when they know we don’t believe such things. To remind us what constitutes LDS doctrine, LDS.org has a new statement on official doctrine. I think it’s helpful and timely. Read the whole thing, but here’s a short excerpt:
The doctrinal tenets of any religion are best understood within a broad context . . . and thoughtful analysis is required to understand them. . . .
Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted. . . .
A hat tip to Mike Parker, who also notes that the statement can be accessed via http://tinyurl.com/2twzvc (redirects to LDS.org/newsroom).