One of the charges often levied against the LDS Church is that the doctrines change over time. For example, from http://20truths.info/mormon/doctrine.html and http://wakeupmormons.blogspot.com/p/latest-changes-to-lds-doctrine.html:

Changing Doctrine Over Time

In one of his more regrettable statements, Hugh Nibley said that one of the hallmarks of Mormon truth is that it has never changed over time:

"The gospel as the Mormons know it sprang full grown from the words of Joseph Smith. It has never been worked over or touched up in any way, and is free of revisions and alterations. Joseph Smith took the same elements that have proven so recalcitrant and so hopelessly conflicting in the hands of the churchmen and threw them together, with an awful lot of other stuff, to follow Brodie, into a single wildly chaotic mess. And lo and behold, everything fell into line of its own accord; all the haphazard elements in the bewildering heap fitted together perfectly to form a doctrine so commanding that not even a hint of rhetorical paradox is needed to support it, and no 'Gregorian compromise' with a pleasure-loving world has been necessary to assure its vigorous growth." (Hugh Nibley, No Ma'am, That's Not History)

The facts, however, show otherwise.

The site then goes on to list several doctrines that have, clearly, changed over time.

Other arguments levied by more "mainstream" Christians against the LDS Church include references to Malachi 3:6, which starts out "For I am the LORD, I change not;" The claim is that the LDS teachings are in contradiction with this.

They say, "If God never changes, then Truth never changes." They cite changing doctrine as evidence that the Truth taught in the LDS Church changes, and therefore, can't really be from God.

So, from an LDS perspective, what is the defense to this charge and these changes?


According to the Neal A Maxwell Institute, a dedicated LDS apologetic organization within BYU, this is not a problem.

Some may see change in teachings and practices as an inconsistency or weakness, but to Latter-day Saints change is a sign of the very foundation of strength upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is built—that God is always (yesterday, today, and forever) willing to reveal his will to his people if they are willing to listen and obey. Although the eternal saving principles of God's plan of salvation for his children do not change, the revelation of those principles and their application—to whom, when, where, how much—varies to meet a myriad of mortal circumstances and God's purposes and timetable.

Members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ believe that there are many great and important things yet to be revealed (see Articles of Faith 1:9); this indicates that our past and current understanding of things is incomplete and may need adjustment.

In other words, changing doctrine is not evidence that their "Truth" is wrong, just that it's incomplete: God hasn't yet revealed everything to us.

The official position held by the author at the Maxwell Institute is, in effect "We don't argue that our teachings have changed. We simply accept that our knowledge is limited, and we're doing the best we can with what's been revealed to us. As God reveals more, we may have to adjust our understanding. God doesn't change. Our understanding of God does."

This is in perfect harmony with the idea of continuing revelation that is accepted within the LDS Church. It's not a problem at all.

  • We must also remember that occasionally things are taken away, because we are not able to live them fully yet, or we are not ready. – That One Actor Mar 15 '16 at 4:04

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