"We have seen of late a growing public interest in the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve said in his conference address Sunday morning. "This is something we welcome because, after all, our fundamental commission is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, His doctrine, in all the world. But we must admit there has been and still persists some confusion about our doctrine and how it is established."
Since the beginning, it has been the purpose of the Lord and the labor of His prophets to proclaim God's plan of redemption, said Elder Christofferson. For centuries, the struggle to preserve the doctrines of the gospel against false tradition and philosophy prevailed, until, after occasional rays of gospel light, the Restoration of the gospel in its fullness illuminated the earth.
"A brilliant dawn of Restoration broke upon the world and the gospel of Christ, full and complete, was once again on the earth," he said. "This glorious day began when, in a pillar of light 'above the brightness of the sun,' God the Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ visited young Joseph Smith and initiated what would become a virtual flood of revelation linked with divine power and authority."
Elder Christofferson quoted from 3 Nephi, which records what might be termed the core doctrine of the Church Jesus Christ established upon the earth. Jesus Christ declared: "This is my doctrine ... which the Father hath given unto me; ... And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. ... And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. ... this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them" (vv. 23-25, 39).
The Church today, just as anciently, establishes the doctrine of Christ by revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority, said Elder Christofferson.
He said, "In some faith traditions, theologians claim equal teaching authority with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and doctrinal matters may become a contest of opinions between them. ... We value scholarship that enhances understanding, but in the Church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority."
It is through that authority that leaders are able to declare the mind and will of God to His people, he said.
"The Savior may act by messenger or in His own person to reveal His will and doctrine to prophets, seers and revelators, he said. He may speak by His own voice or by the voice of the Holy Spirit. ... He may direct Himself to His servants individually or acting in council. ...
"These same patterns are followed today in the restored Church of Jesus Christ. The president of the Church may announce or interpret doctrines based on revelation to him. Doctrinal exposition may also come through the combined council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. ... But in the end, just as in the New Testament church, the objective is not simply consensus among council members, but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord."