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.