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                 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES - WHY WERE CHANGES MADE?

        Gospel Principles is a book published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons or LDS). It is used to teach new members the doctrines of their church. I received my 1978 edition about 1978 or 1979. There were also 1979, 1981, 1985 and 1986 editions.  When I compare the 1978 through 1986 edition I find that all read the same for the issues discussed below. When I compare the 1978-1986 editions to the newest one, the 1997 edition, some major differences are noted.

1)   1978 Ed.: on page 9 we find, "Our spirits resemble our heavenly parents although they have resurrected bodies."
      1997 Ed.: On page 11 this sentence has been removed.

2)   1978 Ed.: on page 58, item 7 has, "In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ atoned for the sins of all mankind." And item 8 says, "Christ died on the cross at Calvary.
      1997 Ed.: on page 58, item 7 has, "In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior took upon himself the sins of all mankind." And item 8 says, "Jesus died for our sins on the cross at Calvary."

3)   1978 Ed.: on page 290 we find, "We can become Gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation."
      1997 Ed.: on page 302 we find, "We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation."

          These changes are significant. Do they herald a real change in the teachings of the Mormon church? Or are they just an attempt to do a better job in hiding them? I don't know, but they certainly are consistent with how the president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, three times avoided the same question posed by three interviewers in 1997. One of them went as follows:

 Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?
 A: I wouldn't say that. There was a 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.
  (President Gordon B. Hinckley with Don Lattin, the San Francisco Chronicle religion writer. The article was dated Sunday, April 13, 1997, page 3/Z1.  I found the article at http://www/sfgate.com/search/, from which you enter 4-13-97 in both "To" and "From" date boxes. The interview article is the second one on the list that comes up, on. pages 2-3 of the interview, which in this part was a question/answer format.)

Let me remind you that this is just one of three interviews in which the same question was asked. A second interview was recorded in Time magazine of August 4, 1997, in an article titled "Kingdom Come," page 56, middle column (bottom) had the following.

 "On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he sounded uncertain, I don't know that we teach it, I don't know that we emphasize it...I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it."

What do you think?

John Farkas
Berean Christian Ministries; P.O. Box 1091; Webster, NY 14580

E-mail: bcmmin@frontiernet.net
Web page: http://www.frontiernet.net/~bcmmin
  

 

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Last modified: March 30, 2001