Wednesday, March 24, 2010
There is "truth" which exists independent of what we think or believe. (I use the word in the same sense as D&C 93: 24-25.) Our collective forgetfulness does not erase truth. Nor does our vain imagination alter truth.
Whenever a doctrine is changed because of man's planning or arguments, then we are teaching for commandments the doctrines of men; just as Christ complained to Joseph in the First Vision. (JS-H 1: 19.)
During the Third and Fourth Centuries the debates over "adoptionism" were causing doctrinal havoc for the Christian movement. As they solidified control over the movement, the leaders of the developing Historic Christian faith had a plan to cure the schism involving arguments that Christ was just a man who had been "adopted" at His baptism to become the Son of God. The original words spoken at His baptism came from Psalms 2: 7. These words supported the "adoptionist's" arguments. The answer was simple - change the text of the Gospels. So they edited the words and changed them from saying, "Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee" to instead, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3: 17.) That drove a stake in the heart of the "adoptionist" arguments.
Bart D. Ehrman has shown how this, and other controversies, affected the text of the New Testament in his book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament.
Patterns in history have a way of repeating themselves. Men almost always find it easier to change doctrine than to conform to the truth; and to edit books to fit their failures than to follow direction. Our challenge is to learn the right lessons from history. We should not succumb to the easy advantages of changing the principles our religion is founded on, in order to accomplish "good" and repel criticism by adapting to meet the critics' arguments.
Truth is immutable and unchanging. We either conform to it or apostatize from it. We can't change it.
How grateful I am to still have prophets among us.