Comments about ‘Five ways Latter-day Saints can detect and avoid doctrinal deception’

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Published: Thursday, Sept. 19 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Far East USA, SC

I do not understand why it takes 5 convoluted questions to determine what is "doctrine"

If the church leadership would clearly and unequivocally state what is doctrine and what is opinion, there would be no confusion.

Example. "The words I have just spoken (or about to speak) are official Church doctrine."

If not, they are opinions and may be proven incorrect or recanted in the future.

Wouldn't that clear up all the confusion and negate the need to go through a complicated flow chart that will yield different answers for everyone?

Mint Julip

"It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be." Elder Maxwell

Why is the title of the book in question left out of the article? Does the LDS leadership not trust their membership to utilize these "five ways"? If these ways are reliable, there should be no concern about allowing members to look into the book themselves.

Los Angeles, CA

Okay, this all sounds fine but now let's put it into practice. What if a leader, say a Stake President for example, presents deceptive information (failing some of the enumerated tests above) in a meeting? This article concedes that it can happen. Should I, as a member, attempt to get the record corrected? How would I go about doing that if the person who presented the information does not want to correct the record?

Do I even have a duty to seek correction of what was said? The article reports Elder Maxwell saying, "It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be", and I believe many if not all of my fellow members just accepted the false information as being true.

I don't believe there is any way for a mere member to address false doctrines taught by leaders in our church. The only way Salt Lake would know about it would be if I happened to know somebody (like a GA) and went outside normal channels (I was told by our Stake President that any correspondence sent to Church Headquarters by a member is returned, unread, to the member's Stake President).

Dietrich, ID

Many people claim to pray about something they should do but I wonder if it is a decision they already made and said they prayed to validate the choice they made. That said personal revelation is for that person. They can't use it to justify calling other church members to repentance.

Dallin H Oaks gave a talk in the 90's at BYU saying our strengths can become our downfall. Patriotism, vegetarianism, Anti vaccine, home education people are free to choose those. But when they find something the church today has yet to mention and use dead prophets to browbeat people than that is where you know they are wrong. Revelation is stewardship bound.

Near Death experiences we know they are not church doctrine since the Lord does not reveal in obscurity.

1.96 Standard Deviations


The main issue is not what is doctrine when coming from church leaders (First Presidency + Quorum of the 12 Apostles), it is when someone else states something as if it were doctrine or revelation. That is, it has the "appearance of Godliness."

If I were to speculate, I think the book the article makes reference to is called "Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days." This book is about an LDS man who allegedly had many visions and revelations regarding the last days and the second coming of Christ. I have read the entire book myself.

If this truly is the book in question, I personally found it very problematic doctrinally (from an LDS theology perspective) and also has many inconsistencies relating to the order of revelation and how it is received, to whom it applies, how it should be divulged, etc. Hence, the reason for an article like this in the Deseret News -- to help church members not be deceived with "every wind of doctrine."

sandy, ut

That answer leaves the question of doctrine vs. opinion as cloudy as ever. If every doctrine has to be uplifting then there are several 'doctrines' in the 1800's that would not qualify. so does that mean they were never doctrines to begin with, or that they only aren't doctrines now? Examples are blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, and word of wisdom. God supposedly doesn't change, but his doctrines clearly do.


@1.96 Standard Deviations

"The main issue is not what is doctrine when coming from church leaders..."

I disagree. Church leaders have admitted they are fallible and have encouraged us to question and test what we hear. But while on the one hand we are supposed to question, on the other hand there is no process to raise questions or concerns about "non-doctrine" coming from leaders.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

I express my opinions but I don’t claim they came to me by divine revelation. That can of worms was opened by Joseph Smith in making such claims for his own pronouncements. The Church today clings to claims of primacy and authority but controlling the message is something that’s more difficult. Know the truth and truth will set you free is the much stronger idea that won't be stifled.

Brigham City, UT

Alma 26: 22 If you have faith and repent and pray and do good, you will be able to reveal things that have never been revealed. And more importantly, bring thousands of souls to repentance. We are lucky that one verse hasn't created chaos, yet does show all who speak in church don't have to say the same things. The church would die without creativity, art, and revelation.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

To christoph:

So is everything taught in church true then? Or is it just opinion?

How do we discern at the time between what is true and opinion?

Mount Laurel, NJ

Shafovaloff has asked a number of members of the church, if it is possible, that God was once a sinner like us. The responses to the Shafovaloff interview are all over the place. When Gordon B. Hinckley was asked if God was once a man, he responded, "I wouldn't say that . . . I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it".
Some members of the church feel exasperated when prophets and revelators proclaim that the official and correct response to difficult questions concerning the intersection of theology, science, sociology, and faith is "I don't know." Then a vacuum is created and people write books to fill it.


Moroni 7:11-18 is the best rule and simple to understand and apply. The Holy Ghost can teach the truth of all things.

Ezra Taft Benson famously quoted J Reuben Clark Jr and advised us to "to keep our eye on the captain" that is the President of the Church to lead us, for even apostles have apostatized. Elder Benson also warned "apostate doctrines ..are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and appear in our publications". Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson page 89. Brigham Young warned of "reckless confidence" in our leaders.

Wilford Woodruff said, in 1856:

The Twelve Apostles have got to rise up and magnify their calling or they will be removed out of their place. The high priests, the seventies, the bishops and every quorum in the church.....have got to to do the same, or they will also be removed..."

The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, page 326, in subsection on "The Great Reformation of 1856".

Nevertheless we are warned not to rise up against any authorized leader. We need to be united. We need the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost enabling us to know the truth of all things.

1.96 Standard Deviations


The "main issue" I mentioned related to the general theme of the article. That is, guidelines to follow when we are confronted from non-authoritative sources claiming to be revelation or doctrine (like a book from a Joe Schmoe). However, I can see the guidelines being applied to church leaders (authoritative sources) as well.

1aggie & Wastintime-

My response to your points about raising questions about possible "non-doctrine" from leaders -- You already know the answer.

First, forgive them. The Lord requires we forgive all men. Then, the process is the same as missionaries ask of investigators: Search, ponder, and pray. Walk by faith. Be obedient and get a confirmation from the spirit what to do (or not do).

Don't get discouraged if you don't get clear answers initially -- I believe the Lord allows ambiguity in some aspects of the church in order for us to better learn and grow how to use moral agency. For example, D&C 58:26 states "[...] it is not meet that I should command in all things."

Salt Lake City, UT

@1.96 Standard Deviations

I also believe the book in question may be "Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days." Before anyone considers reading it, may I suggest reading Dr. Greg Smith's well written review of it off of the fairlds website. It helps to keep things in perspective.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

Maxwell said, "It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be."

Attitude reflects leadership. LDS are gullible because Church leaders nurture gullibility.

The five questions Millet provides are less than helpful. Everything Joseph Smith did, from its beginnings, fails all five criteria!

And who is Millet to be speaking about the doctrine of doctrine? Are Millet's pronouncements official Church doctrine?

In setting out the criteria for official Church doctrine, Millet is not acting within the bounds of his or her respective stewardship.

Because he is overstepping his stewardship, Millet is not "worthy to receive such."

Millet's declaration is out of harmony with the standard works and teachings of the prophets.

Millet's speech does not edify or instruct, in creates further confusion and contradiction.

Millet's words do not build a person's faith not strengthen commitment - except commitment to him and his ideas.

No wonder fewer than 3/10 Mormons are "active".

Payson, UT

1.96 Standard Deviations
"If I were to speculate, I think the book the article makes reference to is called "Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days."
Neal Ash Maxwell (July 6, 1926 – July 21, 2004) "Visions of Glory..." Was released November 2012. It is highly unlikely that Elder Maxwell was commenting on a book that wasn't published until 8 years after his death.
Speculative errors, apostate doctrine, and Education Week messages that encourage blind obedience to men rather than Christ are all problematic. Perhaps it is time for the Saints to wake out of our deep slumber?

Cinci Man

I think Dr. Millet could have done a better job with this article. He should have defined a doctrine. Many things that people take as doctrine are not doctrine because the teaching does not fit the definition of a doctrine. sometimes people's opinions, including leaders, teachers, and General Authorities, cannot be considered as doctrine because they do not fit the definition. Policies are often interpreted as doctrines. They are often based on doctrine, but many are policies instituted by bishops and stake presidents are simply personal agendas and traditions that may later go away. Leaders assist members become better by giving policies they think improve our focus. When I see something that is a doctrine, I can use the 5 steps Dr. Millet outlines here and enjoy the fruits of his wise guidelines. The rest of the stuff, I can take or leave, at my choosing.

layton, UT

RE: five points Latter-day Saints can use to avoid doctrinal deception in the church?

I use, Acts 17:11 the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Brigham Young, who first taught the Adam–God doctrine at the church's spring General Conference on April 9, 1852.

RE: Gildas, Moroni 10: A testimony of the Book of Mormon comes by the power of the Holy Ghost—The gifts of the Spirit are dispensed to the faithful—Spiritual gifts always accompany faith, Moroni’s words speak from the ‘dust’.

Compare poor KJV translation to(Latin vulgate, Is 29:4), and thy speech shall whisper out of the ‘dust’. and thy voice shall be from the earth like that of the “*pythonis=(familiar spirit)”, and out of the earth thy speech shall mutter.

From, Acts 16:16 And it came to pass,as we went to prayer a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination= (*python/Grk,=4436) met us which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying .

1.96 Standard Deviations


Good point, he likely wasn't referring to the book I mentioned. My mistake. I mistook Elder Maxwell for Elder Holland in mind for some reason. I had also heard of the small "cult following" of the book I mentioned. Either way, even with my mistake about the specific book, the same thing applies.

Pleasant Grove, UT

"Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." TPJS, pg. 288

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