Of the Tenets Thou Shalt Not Talk

My goal in blogging is to write about those things that will help followers of Christ draw nearer to the lord. The scriptures teach, “draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” With that thought in mind I would like to explore the following scripture.

And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost. D&C 19:31

What is the Lord teaching Martin Harris, and the rest of us in this verse of scripture?

The way I read this verse of scripture is that the Lord is teaching His followers the importance of talking about those things that will be the most beneficial Spiritually. He says, of “tenets thou shalt not talk” (the word tenet only appears twice in the standard works).

The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary defines tenet:

Any opinion, principle, dogma or doctrine which a person believes or maintains as true; as the tenets of Plato or of Cicero. The tenets of christians are adopted from the Scriptures; but different interpretations give rise to a great diversity of tenets.

When I first read this I was puzzled why the Lord would tell us not to talk about the “doctrines” of the church. After some thought, I decided that what the Lord is telling us is to focus on certain doctrines, the most important ones, so that we don’t get our doctrinal priorities mixed up. The scriptures contain many hundred tenets; just go through the Topic Guide to observe this.

Based on my observations, this verse needs to be talked about more in our day. It seems that the important principles of the gospel: “repentance faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” are not favorites in the bloggernacle, just as healthy food is not an American favorite in this day of fast food.

On healthy foods, the next time you have a group of friends over, place some fruit and vegetables next to ice cream or pizza. Which food will be consumed first?

Seeking Understanding from the Scriptures

The Lord’s counsel to stick with basic doctrine is reaffirmed in the following verses:

Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. D&C  10:67 – 69


I think the message for church members in D&C 19:31 is simple. The Lord is teaching us to focus on those doctrines that will bless our lives the most: the first principles of the gospel.

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