Friday, January 9, 2015

Agency: Gospel vs. Doctrine (of Varying Sources)

I think it is extremely important to distinguish between the Gospel of Christ ("Good News" of faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, enduring to the end), the doctrines (teachings) of Christ (as recorded in our scriptures, understanding the "translated / transmitted correctly" caveat), the doctrines (teachings) of the early Christian leadership (which sometimes contradicted the teachings of Jesus recorded in the New Testament "Gospels") and the doctrines of the LDS Church.

They aren't the same thing, and I don't even classify all of the Biblical "teachings of Christ" as eternal and completely binding - since I am not convinced Jesus of Nazareth actually taught all of them. Move forward into the Pauline epistles, the teachings of the "Christian fathers", the teachings of the Popes, the teachings of the Protestant reformers, the teachings of the early Mormon leaders, the teachings of the subsequent Mormon leaders, the teachings of the current Mormon leaders, the teachings of my parents and co-worshipers, etc. and I see generally good people doing their best to understand the Gospel and the doctrines of Christ in ways that help them in their own world. I'm cool with and honor that - but I don't see it as eternal or binding. I also see my own need to "be the source" in my own life for myself - to establish my own "doctrines of Ray" that govern my life - to be, truly, an agent unto myself, as it says in the Book of Mormon.

I'm fine with some compromise (quite a bit, actually) from what might be my own personal ideal in order to work best with my immediate family, my church family, my community, etc - but, in the end, I have to figure out what my own doctrines are and try to live by them. After all, I am told that I can receive revelation (obvious or not) and live by what I believe to be the word of God. Really, that's all I can do - and I won't push that responsibility onto others, even as I default to "doctrines of the Church" when I lack a personal alternative about which I feel strongly. If it doesn't matter enormously to me, I generally will accept the group standard - but I still maintain my right and privilege to change my view about anything if I feel I've gained "further light and knowledge" about it.

I think that is a central tenet of Mormonism and indispensable within the concept of agency and accountability.