If there is a least official church doctrine, it may be that there is such a thing as “official church doctrine”. There is truth. There is the Holy Ghost. There is God. There are revelations. There are revelators.
Truth is truth. The big bureaucracy idea of itemizing some truth as officially true is ricidulous. It has no place in scripture for a reason.
And frankly, the idea of official church doctrine has become a heresy.
It has become a heresy because it has grown out of all proportion and become a means of teaching people not to teach by the power of the Holy Ghost. It has become a means of preventing people from speaking in the confidence of the spirit. It has become a means of refuting anything that is taught based on whether it can be found in a checklist of existing quotations.
Sure, there would be mistakes made if we were to relinquish our grip on this new heresy.
But look, all you have to do is read the four gospels and you can see how horribly wrong this notion is.
What was it that Christ expected of his disciples?
How frequently did he rebuke them for not understanding him? It seems like that happened quite often, and yet they certainly understood the words he literally spake to them. Does he say they are simply foolish and don’t understand his plain words?
No. The issue is faith. He wanted them to have more faith so that they, by the Holy Ghost, would clearly see his meaning. He wanted them to know MORE THAN HE SAID. What do you think teaching in parables was? He KNEW they understood his literal meaning perfectly well. But he rebukes them for not seeing further into what he said and knowing his intent by the Holy Ghost. He required them to know far more by the Holy Ghost that what he literally said. He rebuked them for not doing it enough, or not doing it well enough. And these were men who were far better at learning by the spirit that you or I.
Christ’s reproof of his disciples in the new testament precisely matches the sort of reproof Joseph Smith once gave members of the twelve. As Brigham Young recounted: “It was William E. McLellin who told Joseph, that I and Heber were not ordained High Priests, and wanted to know if it should not be done. Said Joseph, ‘Will you insult the Priesthood? Is that all the knowledge you have of the office of an Apostle? Do you not know that the man who receives the Apostleship, receives all the keys that ever were, or that can be, conferred upon mortal man? What are you talking about? I am astonished!’ “
Can we not see in this the same reproof Christ repeatedly gave his disciples?
And for what are they reproved? The prophets astonishment and the Savior’s rebukes were all over the same thing. The issue was not that those they reproved had failed to know something that had been directly, plainly taught. The issue was that they had not searched and found the additional wealth of meaning the Holy Ghost would have revealed in those teachings. Not only were they expected to recognize more, they were expected to teach and act on more. Certainly these good men had learned to hear by the Holy Ghost far better than you and I, but not nearly as much as God desired of them. And he reproved them on that matter at times. They should have been gaining volumes of knowledge from chapters worth of instruction, because they should have been learning by the Holy Ghost far more fluently that they were.
And we, who stand far beneath them in light and knowledge, must be seeking and learning to do the same.
There is a vision to be caught in the words of Christ’s beloved disciple:
John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
The point is not that the Savior talked so constantly that taking dictation would have filled the world with books. The point is that we are to unravel the teachings into their fullest meaning through the Holy Ghost. The point is that we only understand revelation by gaining revelation. The very point of Christ’s words was to be planted as a seed and to then gain the full tree from that seed.
In his parable of the talents Christ speaks of those that keep the talent safe and preserved exactly as it is. They report of their prudent protection of it to their master. I think it is interesting that this is the person who took no risks. And that seems to be the point of this new heresy of shooting down anything that can’t be found in our checklist of official doctrine and conference quotations. We have many in the church that consider this heresy to be the way of the faithful. The heresy is meant to keep everything nice and safe. They think that if we don’t strive for more light, we won’t ever find that we made a mistake. We will protect the light that we have safely precisely as it was given to us, buried in the ground where it can’t be touched, and then present it back up to our Lord pristine and perfect exactly the way he gave it to us.
And that mode of thinking defeats the whole purpose of giving us the talent in the first place. In seeking safety, they find disaster. In making people feel like they are teaching against a checklist of quotations, we silence the Holy Ghost in our classrooms, our sacrament talks, our writings, or even our conversation? What a horrible trade off, for there is no real safety in pushing the Holy Ghost out of the classroom. What room is there for God the revelator when revelation is no longer allowed? In the parable of the talents, to bury the talent and merely keep it safe angers the Lord. Don’t we know that he requires his own back with interest?
It may not be as safe as burying it in the ground, but we are to required by God to take the light he gave us and give it to the exchangers, and risk getting things wrong some times as we learn to walk for ourselves and to hear for ourselves and to see for ourselves. We are to all to be becoming prophets, seers, and revelators over our own domains.
We are fooling ourselves if we think that we aren’t risking everything on personal revelation anyway. We are risking our eternity on a revelation we personally received. It is called a testimony. Of all the many, many religions in this world we are risking our eternity (which is quite a long time) on our revelation that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one true church in the world.
If we can stake our eternity on our own personal revelation, could we stop being afraid to simply teach, to write, and to speak in confidence by the Holy Ghost when, instead of eternal misery, we are risking that we might make a mistake in something we teach, write, or say in a transitory moment that is not apt to be remembered two months after the fact?