Sunday, August 07, 2011

A prophet only when acting as such, part 2: Proper Use of Titles

I own a copy of the Style Guide for Publications of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1972 (second edition 1978). Section 13 gives instructions on "Proper Use of Latter-day Saint Titles." Regarding the title "President," the Guide says:

13.1 "Members of the First Presidency of the Church and President (and Acting President) of the Council of the Twelve are addressed as 'President.' "

Regarding retroactive application of titles, the Guide says:

13.11 "When a General Authority is quoted or mentioned in a story, he should be referred to by the title he held at the time of the statement or event."

Accordingly, in the 1978 edition of Gospel Principles Chapter 39 on Chastity, Spencer W. Kimball was referred to as "Elder Kimball" even though he was, at the time, Church President.

By contrast, the 2009 edition of Gospel Principles suggests there has been a policy change regarding retroactive application of titles for Church Presidents. The 2009 Chapter 39 now says "President Kimball" even though the quoted material was published in 1969 when he was still properly addressed as "Elder Kimball."

The same policy change was apparently in place for the 2007 MP/RS manual where more than 80 quotations from his 1969 book are published by the Church as Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.

The book Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley includes the following paragraph (twice):

"The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, called and ordained to hold the keys of the priesthood, have the authority and responsibility to govern the Church, to administer its ordinances, to expound its doctrine, and to establish and maintain its practices. Each man who is ordained an Apostle and sustained a member of the Council of the Twelve is sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator." (77, 84.)

Apparently, the difference between what is taught by the Church President as President and what was taught the previous year by the same man is not as significant as some have assumed. In the examples cited above, Spencer W. Kimball's teachings are all President Kimball's teachings whether published before or after he became "President."


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