The following is a from Dialogue, Autumn 1982 quoted from Peter Crawley, a BYU professor. I have posted this as we often hear from LDS "apologists", but they always state that they are not official spokespersons. There are many web sites promoting Mormonism, all of which have that little disclaimer. I happened to run into this and thought it interesting.
"...While certain doctrines are enunciated in the standard works and some doctrinal issues have been addressed in formal pronouncements by the First Presidency, there is nothing in Mormonism comparable to the Westminster Confession of Faith of the Augsburg Confession. Few of the truly distinctive doctrines of Mormonism are discussed in official sources. It is mainly by unofficial means -- Sunday School lessons, seminary, institute, and BYU religion classes, sacrament meeting talks and books by Church officials and others who ultimately speak only for themselves -- that the theology is passed from one generation to the next. Indeed it would seem that a significant part of Mormon theology exists primarily in the minds of the members... the absence of a formal creed means that each generation must produce a new set of gospel expositors to restate and reinterpret the doctrines of Mormonism. "
This makes it very clear why Mormonism is constantly changing and very fluid in its beliefs. It never struck me until I left Mormonism that there is little, if anything, ever officially announced doctrinally. The articles of faith have nothing in them which have the unique Mormon beliefs of god having been a man who once lived on another planet, polygamy, blood atonement, and the making motions of having your throat cut to not reveal a covenant made in the temple. The bloody oath of moving your thumb across your throat was removed from the temple ceremony in 1990. I made that motion many times across my own throat. The articles of faith do not contain information on blacks being unworthy of holding the priesthood. That church policy got changed in 1978 when all the negative publicity about the church being racist was hurting their missionary activities and public opinion. Many members, especially in Brazil when doing their genealogy, found they had black ancestry. These members had already been ordained Bishops and Stake Presidents and they had to be released from their positions because they had some "black blood". Mormons in the 1960s were told to tell people "no, we are Mormons" if asked if they were Christians. This did not win as many converts as desired so that got changed in the early 1970s to say "yes, we too are Christians". Until several years ago, Mormons were told not to strive for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This had been clearly taught by Bruce R. McConkie a Mormon Apostle. Today the Mormon missionaries use the concept of having a personal relationship with Christ as a missionary tool. BTW, on this site I am not promoting any religious beliefs. I used these previous example to show how Mormons will redefine themselves to fit a situation.
God was once a Man
This teaching was always central to the gospel of Mormonism. Let's look at how this is changing now. Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith declared in 1844, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! I am going to tell you how God came to be God ... We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 345)
A San Francisco Chronicle interview (4/13/97) with LDS President Gordon Hinckley portrayed the 86-year-old leader as one who is beginning to change the most fundamental belief of Mormonism. When Chronicle religion writer Don Lattin asked, "Don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?" Hinckley responded, "I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, 'As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about."
Again, Mormonism is fluid and adapts itself to studies by professional marketers and changes its public relations campaigns for the purpose of gaining more converts more efficiently.
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