Who Has The Authority To Interpret LDS Doctrine?

"Doctrinal interpretation is the providence of The First Presidency. The Lord has given that stewardship to them by revelation. No teacher has the right to interpret doctrine for the members of the Church." Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of the Prophets

I can't even begin to tell you how strongly I personally feel, about the comments that are made in this video (below) in regards to WHO has the right, and authority to interpret Mormon Doctrine!

As a former Seminary teacher, who loves loves her library of commentaries, by many respectable and credible LDS Church Scholars, I firmly believe that our Prophets are THE final word, when it comes to interpreting scripture.

This may not seem like it would be a controversial topic among members of the Church. It should be a no brainer, right? Unfortunately, it is not. More and more conversations about LDS doctrine, and WHO can interpreted it, are being scrutinized. In my opinion, LDS scholars are being given far too much weight, in this area.

I have a deep love for studying the doctrines of the Church. My personal library will attest to this fact. I am a lover of truth! I can also get into some pretty deep doctrinal conversations, on occasion. In fact, I even love to speculate about some of our doctrines. It can really be fun. Better than going to Disneyland!

However, there is a line that cannot be crossed when it comes to what we embrace and teach in regard to "What is LDS Doctrine"? From the perspective of a teacher, the doctrines of the Church, as explained and interpreted by our prophets, must be kept intact and honored.

My pet peeve, worst excuse about WHO we should or should not look to for correct interpretation of Mormon doctrine, has to be - hands down - when the issue of whether a certain prophet being dead or alive, enters the conversation! Ugh!

What's yours?

Kathryn Skaggs

Note: Please don't leave comments about the "man on the moon", and those of the like. I am talking about common sense doctrines, where the Spirit will readily confirm the teachings of our prophets. I've had too many of those type conversations in my past life, online:-)

FYI: This guy is NOT a Mormon.


  1. I am pretty sure that I'm with you on this one. I cannot comprehend becoming and remaining a latter-day saint and not knowing that it is the prophet who has the final word. To me, when a prophet speaks, the interpretation ends. The Word has been spoken.

    For me it is a simple thing. I am confused by how it is complicated to others with the church.

  2. I don't even know if I can add to the BLOG post by commenting, you have done such a wonderful job of expressing a really common problem that is seen regularly. I believe it is often seen as well when you read some of the more popular LDS Blogs on the Internet. Some stuff I read I simply shutter!
    It is very easy to be persuaded to understand doctrine from one who "studies" it and "teaches" it regularly, or one who seems to know by their way of expression. There are some really scary things out there that completely disagree with the doctrine that is preached by our living prophets. This is shaky ground to tread on. I know you know that I feel the same way you do on this issue. Ultimately that is the reason that it is so imperative that you call upon the spirit for guidance.
    I noticed that you stated this gentleman was not Mormon...do you have more information on this video?

  3. I actually had a prof. at BYU who said, flat out, "We all know President Benson said women should not work outside the home if at all possible, but any intelligent, thinking woman would never make that choice."
    I was mortified! She, however, was not around long.

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  7. The doctrine is irrefutable. The authority of interpretation goes by keys.

    Anyone who says that LDS scholars have authority has no understanding of LDS theology. A bishop has the authority to interpret them for his ward, so long as he is not overriden by a superior authority.

    Any member of the church is free to ignore them. That is what free agency is, but that means that they will be held accountable.

    Conversely, the living Prophet is the ultimate and final interpreter of scripture.

    Thus, when the First Presidency does something in public, as the First Presidency, those people or things that the First Presidency endorses, be it political party, ideology, legislation or action, falls solely upon their own heads as blessing or condemnation from the Lord according to His will.

  8. Wow, what a wonderful and insightful post. I too feel very strongly about this topic, and couldn't agree more. Thanks for visiting my blog...I look forward to reading yours often!

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