For decades I’ve been fascinated at the regular conflation of doctrine, policy, and practice among members. We tend to claim the policy of today as not just practical, meaningful, and inspired, but as doctrine. Until it changes and we forget all about it.
One example that comes to mind is the “doctrine” from my childhood of only taking the sacrament (and only passing the sacrament tray) with the right (covenant-making, clean, dextro) hand and never with the left (unlucky, dirty, sinistro) hand. Somewhere between the church of my childhood and my 30s, this teaching disappeared from all teaching manuals, missionary discussions, and the gospel principles class. (My search was not exhaustive and I haven’t renewed that effort, but I could not find this teaching in any current materials at the time.)
Did the general authorities and curriculum advisors just forget to include this? Was this a massive, sweeping oversight that—as one woman suggested to me—needs to be corrected by member-to-member teaching? (Yes, as in correcting anyone seen using the “wrong” hand and making it a point of testimony meeting content.) Or was this symbolic gesture allowed to quietly fade from emphasis while focusing on things more meaningful to the current generation?
It seems that one of the most confusing parts of Mormondom is nailing down doctrine. We know it’s not:
- Mormon Doctrine
- Policies and practices
- Stuff that your stake president/mission president/seminary teacher/bishop/Sunday School teacher/neighbor told you that doesn’t align with anything from the general level.
So what is is? The point of this post is to glean insights about the things that constitute actual LDS doctrine. I’ve got three things that seem central to me:
Do you agree with those? What would you add to this list?