How should we respond when we hear things preached that we are not certain are Church doctrine?
previous next

“How should we respond when we hear things preached that we are not certain are Church doctrine?” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 23

Occasionally during Sunday School or priesthood classes I hear things preached about the gospel that I’m not certain are Church doctrine. How should we respond in such situations, especially when one does not wish to challenge the respect for and testimony of the teacher?

A. The need for teaching sound doctrine is and always has been basic in the Church. The word of the Lord as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 77, states, “And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.” [D&C 88:77] And further (D&C 88:118), “Teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom.” [D&C 88:118] Meanwhile, we remember that love of our neighbor is always to be maintained.

It is the teacher’s responsibility to build faith and conduct his class in the spirit of these scriptures, thereby avoiding speculations and personal opinions. Should this not occur, the class members should be obliged to have matters in question clarified. The manner of doing this is an area of sensitive concern, however, and should be given careful and prayerful consideration.

Preferably, the concerned person should evaluate the questioned doctrine by appropriate study of it as contained in the standard works. He should be able to support his differences of opinion by chapter and verse documentation. With this evidence he should seek private audience with the involved teacher and, as the Lord has directed, “reason together.” (D&C 50:10.)

It would be appropriate to request an opportunity to review the matter perhaps at the next class session. Should the teacher not agree to this and persist in expounding unsound doctrine, the problem should then be reported to the Sunday School presidency of the ward or the branch.

Sunday School teachers who have completed the teacher development program basic course and who participate in the inservice lessons will know how to avoid these problems. An open confrontation, particularly one pursued in sharp criticism or emotionalism, should be avoided at all cost. Love for God and our fellowmen should characterize all of our thoughts and actions.