Standard Works as "Binding"

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JohnLocke
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Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by JohnLocke » 06 Jan 2014, 22:59

I have often heard it said that the standard works are accepted as such as because they are "binding" on us. What does this mean to you exactly, as "re-constructed" Mormons? I've never really understood what this means. Are we bound to believe everything they say? Because even most TBM would admit that not everything contained therein is perfect, especially when it comes to the Bible. Bruce Hafen gave a BYU devotional in which he used the quote: "Love is not blind, it is bound. And the more it is bound, the less it is blind." I think maybe I can apply this to the standard works or the church in general. I am not blind to its faults, but I am bound by love to it. Or even just more generally, how have you reconstructed your view of how revelation, scripture, prophets, operate? I like Givens' idea of dialogic revelation as applied to the church as a whole. We are in an ongoing dialogue with God, grasping at bits of light and truth as we attempt to communicate with him and we put those grains of light into inadequate language that often may emphasize certain things over others, due to our imperfections. And this communication "binds" us to God.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 Jan 2014, 00:04

The only way I can jibe this is under the definition of scripture as a set of covenants written down. So, I suppose if we are saying "binding" meaning they explain the covenants between God and the people of God, OK I can go there. But obviously, there's a whole lotta mortar between the bricks, so to speak.

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SamBee
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by SamBee » 07 Jan 2014, 02:10

Which bits are binding though? Some of the Bible contradicts each other, not a secret.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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nibbler
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by nibbler » 07 Jan 2014, 07:13

Standard works binding?

The soft covers hold up surprisingly well. I've found that the ones with the simulated leather cover don't last very long, the spine separates from the pages and they fall apart. The binding on the genuine leather scriptures will separate a bit at the front and back of the book after heavy or prolonged use, but you also pay for it.[/joke]

I haven't heard the word bound thrown around much, at least with respect to the scriptures. The language that I've heard that conveys a similar idea is that the world will be judged using scripture as the measuring stick. I guess it would help to nail down a definition of bound. I'm currently taking it to mean: to place within certain limits; restrict... but there are other definitions.
JohnLocke wrote:Are we bound to believe everything they say? Because even most TBM would admit that not everything contained therein is perfect, especially when it comes to the Bible.
I think the overwhelming majority of scripture represents stories that are meant to facilitate the teaching of principles, not accounts of literal events. In that sense I don't think we can be bound to believe everything the scriptures say. If the word bound is applied to scripture I think the intent would be to bind people to conform to certain behaviors... if any of that that makes sense. E.g. I don't have to believe that there was a man named Job that actually suffered all of the things that are mentioned in the scriptures to be bound to the principles of patience and long suffering in affliction.
JohnLocke wrote:I have often heard it said that the standard works are accepted as such as because they are "binding" on us.
I'm not sure what that means. We accept our canonical works as scripture because they have the inherit ability to be binding on us? I see a bit of circular logic in there, they are binding because they are scripture, they are scripture because they are binding. Who decided which books would be scripture? Ultimately I don't think it matters very much. More below on that.
JohnLocke wrote:What does this mean to you exactly, as "re-constructed" Mormons?
Before I said it really didn't matter who decided which books would be elevated to scripture status, I'll elaborate. Why should someone else get to decide which books are binding on me? Maybe I blaspheme here but consider this. A bunch of average Joes got together to decide what would be in the Bible and what wouldn't be in the Bible. Some imperfect but well meaning church leaders decided what was scripture and what was not, they have both added and removed material to/from the scriptures over time. I'll plunge off the deep end here... letting others decide for me was fine for a while but now it's my turn. :twisted:

Dare I be an average Joe at the council of Nicaea? Dare I play the role of the imperfect but well meaning church leader in deciding which material of all the vast material that is in front of me gets to hold binding status in my own life? Yes, I dare. Ok, this is starting to sound a lot like the Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree, so I'll end it there.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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On Own Now
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by On Own Now » 07 Jan 2014, 08:08

Joseph Fielding Smith:
It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted. --Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation
JFS wrote this while an Apostle. But I think it is a very important concept that the Church's doctrine is established only in the scriptures. Why is this so important? Because no matter of doctrine can be added or removed except by making the change in the standard works themselves... canonizing the change... and that must be accepted by vote of the membership. I actually think that is a good thing. But we have to separate out in our minds the difference between personal faith and Church governance. It is very good that the Church is bound to the standard works.

Role in the Church -

Mormons certainly don't believe in "inerrancy" of the Bible, and I would argue not even in the other standard works. For example, Alma 40 botches some doctrines, and the Seminary answer is that Alma taught what he understood, but it was incomplete. So, even on points of doctrine there is conflict. Many of the stories in the Bible are just of no value. But as a basis of faith and doctrine, I think it is better for the Church to have the standard works and to leave changes in doctrine to the domain of adding something to the D&C. So, when the 14Fs are preached, we can ask where that is found in the standard works.

Role in personal faith -

But when it comes to personal faith, if you don't want to believe Section 132, you don't have to. In addition, you put weight on the things that resonate with you. I can tell you that I've spent far more time in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John than in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. I have memorized D&C 4 in two different languages, but I skim Section 61 with a puzzled look. I delight in the Psalm of Nephi and yawn at the wars of the Jaredites.

Although it is easier to be a "Cafeteria Mormon" as a non-believer, I think that all members of the Church have a cafeteria-style approach to the scriptures, even if they would argue to their grave that they don't.
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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
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"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Jan 2014, 10:36

I absolutely love the scriptures - as representative of the best people knew at the time, including lots of things that we now dismiss or ignore, some of which many of us see as abominable. (ancient beliefs about race, the idea that God would command genocide, the sun standing still to let one army finish slaughtering another one, talking animals, Paul saying women should remain silent in church, etc.)

Binding? Sure, if I believe something in scripture actually represents the will of God to all people throughout history - or, in other words, if I believe something represents immutable Truth. I see the Sermon on the Mount that way, with a few detail exceptions; I see the Intercessory Prayer that way; I see some of what's in the Book of Mormon that way; I see much more in all the standard works that is not that way but, again, simply the best the people knew who wrote or compiled them.

I believe something is binding on me if I make it binding on me.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by Brian Johnston » 10 Jan 2014, 13:03

"What is Official Mormon Doctrine?" We have a great article on this topic in the resources section of our website: http://www.staylds.com/?p=326

It was written by one of our community members a couple years ago. I think he did a good job of describing the history of our doctrinal development and the various levels of "call to authority" we make. Our church has a specific procedure that was accepted a long time ago, even if many members today don't know about it. No, not everything that comes out of the mouth of a leader has equal weight. And the ultimate authority for what is "binding" as official doctrine is *supposed* to include the democratic element of the being voted on by the members.

The "Standard Works" (Bible, BoM, D&C and PoGP) were voted on and accepted by the church. New problem: what do all those stories mean? :lol:
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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nibbler
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by nibbler » 10 Jan 2014, 13:46

Brian Johnston wrote:The "Standard Works" (Bible, BoM, D&C and PoGP) were voted on and accepted by the church.
Without actually looking it up that's the supposition I always held, that at one point people raised their right hand to sustain what would represent the standard works. That brings me to the stupid comment/question of the day...

Bible and BoM: Members voted on this in 1830
First 103 sections of D&C: Members voted on this in 1835
PoGP and 32 additional sections to the D&C: Members voted on this in 1880
etc.

I see the benefit of having a set of standard works as they pertain to the organization of the church. At the same time I didn't vote on those things. People many generations ago voted on those things... yet they continue to be binding over a people several generations removed. The leaders of the church are regularly sustained, perhaps because church leaders are in constant flux, but at the very least it provides the general membership an opportunity to express their common consent. Is something similar done with the standard works?

I suppose one could argue that you consent at baptism. One could also argue that, as policy, adding regularly sustaining the standard works to the list would create a slippery slope where an hour or more during every conference would be spent habitually sustaining things while the mind was miles away.

While not the time or place to give common consent the temple recommend includes a question about sustaining the leaders of the church. It's interesting that there's no question related to the standard works.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by Brian Johnston » 10 Jan 2014, 14:07

I suppose it's theoretically possible to reverse the process. One or all of the standard works could be demoted.

The thing is, all those books of scripture are filled with vague stories from distant times and foreign cultures (even the D&C is pretty far removed from our contemporary experience). They are about other people in other times. What we really work with is what Daymon Smith calls "metatext." We seldom talk about the actual text in scripture. We mostly think and talk about stories about the words in those books (and interpretations of our stories about the texts).

Take the Old Testament for example. It's a compilation of stories that are almost 3,000 years old, about a culture and people that no longer exists. There's very little actual theology in them. **BUT** it has stood the test of time because the stories are loose enough to be constantly interpreted and re-interpreted into later environments. It's a source of inspiration for many people. I'm totally cool with that. But what does it mean to accept the text? We really accept interpretations of the text. All religions do this.

We already do this in LDS religion and culture. We tell each other new stories and interpretations about what "The Scriptures" contain. The Old Testament is binding on the church, but I would certainly be excommunicated from the LDS Church (and thrown in jail) if I tried to keep captured women as concubines from countries I visited as a soldier in the US Army. That's allowed in the Old Testament. But we certainly don't accept that.

Sorry to use such a gross and shocking example, but it makes an important point. The scriptures are "binding" and a sure source of truth, as long as we ignore all the parts that aren't... :wtf:
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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On Own Now
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Re: Standard Works as "Binding"

Post by On Own Now » 10 Jan 2014, 14:10

nibbler, believe me, I would love for the Church Body to be given another chance to vote on Section 132.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

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