8. Do the doctrines and practices of the LDS Church change?

8. Do the doctrines and practices of the LDS Church change?

may see change in teachings and practices as an inconsistency or weakness,
but to Latter-day Saints change is a sign of the very foundation of strength
upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is built—that
God is always (yesterday, today, and forever) willing to reveal his will to
his people if they are willing to listen and obey. Although the eternal saving
principles of God’s plan of salvation for his children do not change, the
revelation of those principles and their application—to whom, when,
where, how much—varies to meet a myriad of mortal circumstances and
God’s purposes and timetable.

Members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ believe that there are many
great and important things yet to be revealed (see Articles of Faith 1:9); this
indicates that our past and current understanding of things is incomplete and
may need adjustment.

Line upon Line

But why doesn’t God give us everything we will ever need
to know and be done with it? Because God honors both agency and circumstance
and reveals his will as his children are willing and able to receive it and
as it is appropriate to fulfill his own purposes. Isaiah taught this principle:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?
them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line
upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9—10)

This principle is illustrated clearly in the New Testament in terms of an important
change in policy or practice in the early Christian church. When Jesus called
and first sent out his twelve apostles, he said: "Go not into the way of
the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samarians enter ye not: But go rather
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5—6). Years
later Jesus revealed to Peter that it was time for a change. The gospel was
now to go to the Gentiles. It took a repeated revelation and a remarkable demonstration
of the power of God to convince Peter that this significant change in direction
was to be made (see Acts 10).

A Living Church

And so it has been in our own day. Latter-day Saints acknowledge
change as an integral part of the living church, a vital dimension of what
it means to be led by living prophets. The need for revelation to properly
apply the truths of heaven was taught by Joseph Smith in these words:

God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou
shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government
of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in
which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God commands is right,
no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long
after the events transpire. . . .

. . . As God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His
creatures, he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give
a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote
that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest
amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and

If such changes were to come by the whims of mortals,
there would be serious cause for concern. If those changes come, however,
by revelation from God to his duly authorized servants, they are right and
God’s people are duty bound to accept and obey them.

Globally and historically the principle of growing line upon line is illustrated
in God’s revealing to various peoples the measure of light and truth they would
accept and from which they could benefit. Therefore, it is not surprising to
find varying amounts of gospel truth among all cultures, philosophical systems,
world religions, and the many Christian churches existing in the world. Some,
in fact, enjoy much of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and their adherents are wonderful
examples of Christian living. However, Latter-day Saints believe that there
is something called the "fulness of the gospel" that is available
to those who desire it. That fulness was restored to the earth through Joseph
Smith and is proclaimed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It includes belief in living prophets who are called by God and to whom he reveals
his will. These prophets and others ordained by them have authority to preach
the gospel and perform essential saving ordinances. They are charged with the
same responsibility Jesus gave the original twelve apostles: "Go ye into
all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). As
they move forward in an effort to fulfill that commission, they will seek and
receive more revelation from God. Undoubtedly, as circumstances change, so will
policies, practices, levels of understanding, and application of principles
change. And under the direction of the Almighty the work of the living church
will steadily move forward, all as a part of bringing to pass the immortality
and eternal life of man, which is the work and glory of God (see Moses 1:39).


Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 256—57.