He’s No Apostle But He’s Got Influence

It’s becoming unquestionable that Robert Millet has considerable influence on the LDS church. This is somewhat significant because Dr. Millet is not a General Authority nor an Apostle of the church. In 2004 in his book “Getting at the Truth” he was the first to state that Mormon doctrine can only be called true doctrine if it passes 1 of 4 test. They are:

1) is it found in the 4 standard works
2) was it taught recently at General Conference
3) is it found in current LDS curriculum
4) is it announced as a revelation or proclamation

This was thought for a time to be Dr. Millet’s own criteria for defining what is and is not doctrine. But recently the church itself seemed to endorse this very criteria in this press release (which is not doctrine). If this is in fact they way to conclude definitively what is or is not Mormon doctrine that means we now know for sure that the following are not Mormon doctrine: Adam-God, Blood Atonement, King Follet Discourse, The Curse of Cain, Mary having physical sex with God the Father.

As an Evangelical I find this evidence of Dr. Millet’s influence to be quite encouraging. I’m encouraged because there are few LDS scholars who are as friendly to Evangelicals as Dr. Millet. To see that he’s not just friendly, but that he clearly has influence is very encouraging.

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33 thoughts on “He’s No Apostle But He’s Got Influence

  1. Salam dude

    Neat post with a nice point

    What happens when current curriculum and General Conference teaching, is no longer containing the content of the four standard works and never been in revelation or proclamation . . .

    My own belief is that Mormon is basically a very adept teaching methodology, which must be sustained throughout belief in any cracks appearing in the founding of the inseminating writing to the name Mormon.

  2. Dando,
    I don’t think these things are accepted as doctrine in the church (i.e. Adam-God, Blood Atonement, The Curse of Cain, Mary having physical sex with God the Father). Personally, most of these things offend me and I consider them opinion of Brigham Young that have been repeated throughout LDS history by people that happen to agree with what he said.

  3. There may be a problem with the exclusions with respect to rule #2. The Journal of Discourses were sermons given at General Conferences, 1854-1856. (Of course, these were not “recent” GC’s. ) This is just one more disingenuous method of trying to wiggle out from under history.

    (The following is given as a preface to Vol 15: “We take great pleasure in presenting to the Saints and the world the … the JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES, which they will find contains rich treasures of information concerning the glorious principles of Eternal Life, as revealed through God’s anointed servants in these last days. All who read the discourses contained in this Volume are earnestly recommended to adapt them to their lives by practice, and we can confidently assure them that, in doing so, they are laying up a store of knowledge that will save and exalt them in the Celestial kingdom.
    Apostle Albert Carrington, Journal of Discourses, Preface, Vol. 15.

    So, at least for vol 15 we have an apostle recommending them as a part of the route for gaining exaltation in the highest of glories, the celestial kingdom.

    You can see the Journal, including its cover at http://journalofdiscourses.org/

  4. Jay, I think the bigger point outside of those things not being doctrine, is that we now have the church now telling us exactly WHY they are not doctrine.

    Gene, I think you are expressing a dilema for us Classical Christians. Should we let the LDS church move away from heresy? Clearly, we think that Brigham Young taught a great deal of heresy in the JoD. So should we stick it to the LDS church and continue to condemn them for it, or should we rejoice that they are moving away from false teaching and congratulate them for it?

  5. Dando, you do make a good point. I’m usually pretty aggressive in my opposition to my old mistress. Ok, I’ll give them that. They have dumped some of the more egregious stuff.

    But I must hold firm that until they stop misconstruing God as nothing more that an exalted Human, with his body of flesh and bone, the aren’t just like a derailed train that only has to be put back on track; the train is heretical and needs a major overhaul. Patching it up piece by piece is going to be a slow process.

  6. But I am right aren’t I, Jay, Dando, and Gene, in saying that the teaching methodology is at least “Adept” and ought rightfully be treasured as a functional masterpiece, regardless of what it is being used to teach about.

    My own wonder is in respect of the degree to which the methodology used by the LDS Church is in origin connected to an Indigenous/Aboriginal/Native tradition, but then what aspects of the method are from Christian Churches, but also what aspects of that method is sourced among the Islamic methodology. Islam’s methods usually being far more likely to neatly intermesh with any Indigenous tradition than any other methods can. What I have observed at the “Why Islam” dot org web site, is that enough members of the Church of Later Day Saints are participating, so that the method of LDS is enabled, and is fitting in among the method of a specific one of the esoteric schools in Islam. Interestingly at that web site, the LDS folk are open in being really very well established in a Muslim Knowledge base by comparison to other site users. There are even open disputes going on between LDS people and Muslims, in which Muslims are accusing the LDS people of not confessing to being believers in Qur’an.

    Funny huh! I guess there is always that point at which a line need be drawn in the sand in reference to what any good teaching methodology might be used for. Because if it has happened that a rich teaching method is utilised to promote a fallacy so terrible as that Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene, then those whom are exposed to that teaching may sustain quite evil psychological repercussions to bear with.

  7. Dando,
    Great little site you guys got going here. I love the premise and I appreciate this post. I think I’ll try to keep tabs on y’all. Best of Luck.

  8. Juuust thought I’d point out:

    As I understand it, Millet was simply reiterating guidelines already set down by the Church (in regards to what is or is not doctrine). While, for instance, we do have excerpts from the Journal of Discourses espousing all kinds of interesting opinions, none of those mentioned have ever been enacted as formal, official LDS doctrine. Another example is Apostle Bruce R. McConkie making a statement in one of his books (entitled, ironically, “Mormon Doctrine”) about blacks and the priesthood which he later retracted upon the publishing of the 1978 revelation (which is “Mormon doctrine”), stating that his opinions, expressed in that book, were not doctrinal and had been proven wrong via revelation. ‘Course, this is an old post, but I thought I’d toss that in there.

  9. My understanding was that when Millett first stated these guidelines no one was sure where he was getting them from.

  10. Ct,

    While you’re correct that none of the weirder doctrines in the Journal of Discourses was ever made ‘official doctrine’, that whole point is kind of defeated when you see that Brigham Young said that everything that he taught was official doctrine and should be treated as scripture.

  11. OK Katy,

    Here’s the quote you mentioned:

    “Well, brethren and sisters, try and be Saints. I will try; I have tried many years to live according to the law which the Lord reveals unto me. I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this [discourse] go to the people with “Thus saith the Lord,” and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them. But if they are plead with, and led along like children, we may come to understand the will of the Lord and he may preserve us as we desire.”

    Brigham Young, “Latter-Day Saint Families, etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by D.W. Evans and John Grimshaw, (2 January 1870), Vol. 13 (London: Latter-day Saint’s Book Depot, 1871), 95–95.

    Now, would you care to hear Brigham’s own explanation of what he meant by this statement?

    “Brother Orson Hyde referred to a few who complained about not getting revelations. I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations—that Brigham Young has said “when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.” I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.”

    Brigham Young, “Texts for Preaching Upon at Conference—Revelations, etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by D.W. Evans and John Grimshaw, (6 October 1870), Vol. 13 (London: Latter-day Saint’s Book Depot, 1871), 264–264.

    Brigham never said that everything he ever spoke was to be taken as scripture.

    If you want more reading on whether the statements of General Authorities are “scripture,” you can read about it on FAIR’s wiki website under the heading: “General authorities’ statements as scripture”

    Of what Brigham, or other GAs, did write down, you have to take it in context of everything else they “officially” taught. Isolated quotes will not do that for you.

    Mormonism is not a simple religion and it requires serious study to interface fully with it. A pamphlet of ten bullet points is utterly insufficient whether it comes from anti-Mormons, or from Temple Square.

  12. Seth,

    I agree that a pamphlet is utterly insufficient. However, the missionaries don’t teach that Mormonism is not a simple reliigion and that it requires serious study. In fact, they teach that the truths are plain and simple, and easy to understand.

    Are we talking about the same religion?

  13. Maybe not.

    But consider how difficult it is to make a religion satisfying both to an uneducated Guatemalan mother and to a hard nosed lawyer in America with a little too much curiosity for his own good.

    Custom-tailoring the official class manuals, pamphlets, videos and everything else to such a diverse group would be an absolute logistical nightmare.

    We’ve got to accept that not everyone really wants to dig into this stuff. Should we sneer at them for that? Especially when it’s not really clear cut what conclusions must be drawn when you do wade in…

  14. I think that the prophet and apostles should make things more clear so that there aren’t so many versions of the ‘one official doctrine’ floating around. If they were specific about the one truth, then there wouldn’t be so many ‘gospel according to so-and-so’.

    The Church claims to have one actual answer. But different general authorities will teach vastly different ‘one true answer’, and you can find a General Conference talk to support whatever you decide to believe in.

    I’m fine with that–it really should come down to being between the individual and God–however, the Church claims that that is not the case.

  15. Indeed. The problem is the absolute truth claims that the Church makes on the face of it, contrasted with the fuzziness, subjectivity, and slippery doctrine underneath.

  16. That was a grammatically horrible sentence, btw. I apologize for inflicting that on the world. I hope my meaning came through relatively unscathed.

  17. Hey I found out last Sunday we as Mormons can’t talk about Heavenly Mother. What do you think about that?Who does it hurt anyway really?

  18. Any thoughts on poligamy? According to several sights I’ve been on it is still practiced in the church but not in the same way as in Joseph’s day. Personally I don’t like it and, unless the Almighty creator himself tells me I’ve got to live it I won’t do it. This goes against everything I was brought up to believe.

  19. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has officially abandoned the mortal practice of polygamy. The Church has not, however, renounced the idea of polygamy being practiced in the afterlife. In fact, Mormons who have lost a spouse in death are allowed to be temple-sealed to an additional spouse when they remarry.

    The Church does not take any position on whether polygamy will be REQUIRED in the afterlife.

    I don’t see much wrong with talking about Heavenly Mother, as long as everyone acknowledges that it is all pure speculation. But some Mormons get pretty touchy about the subject. I don’t share their scruples.

  20. poligamy was done away with, (Thank God) a long time ago and the cases you hear in the news about it are offshoots from Sects of People who have broken away from the official church.

  21. What about polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom? The practice may not be in place on earth, but the doctrine hasn;t been refuted, and a man can marry more than one woman in the temple for time and all eternity, right?

  22. Yup, says I.

    And I think it’s great that that option is in place. Of course, I personally extend equal privilege to women, but…

  23. I’m not exactly sure of that actually. Last I heard, they were allowing women multiple sealings without comment. Can’t verify that rumor though.

  24. Kullervo,
    You intrested in multipul wives? Not me! My wife is all the woman I need, and sometimes it is difficult to concieve why anyone would want let alone need more.

    In the after life I do not think I will be saddles with the burden of having more than one wife. But I have no problem with people who do. There are places in this world where it is leagle and exceptable to marry more than one spouse, and the Gosple of Christ would not exclude thoes people who follow these practices. It is just not leagle to marry more than one in the US and so Pologamy should not be precticed here, if you wanted to do it at all.

  25. Lame, lame, lame. I know of a lame Dodge. I had a white Dynasty made in 1990 by “Chrystler.” It ran good for a few years but then limped along until it could go no more. That was a lame Dodge.

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