When the previous Pope died, numerous news reports cited various polls which asked the people what the next Pope should change: Should he allow the priest to marry? Should he allow female priests? Should the church change its views on abortion or birth control? Have you ever noticed how fluid doctrine is to some?
Consider Jehovah Witness doctrine. On July 1, 1945 Jehovah Witness publication, The Watchtower, indicated that all blood transfusions and blood products were prohibited. On September 15, 1958 they indicated that the use of blood products (fractions) was a matter of individual judgment.
Concerning the storage of blood, on October 15, 1959, The Watchtower indicated that to store one’s own blood even for a brief time would violate the scriptures. On September 15, 1964, the same publication indicated that blood transfusions were wrong even of one used his own blood. But, on March 1, 1989 they changed saying, “the recovering and reusing blood during surgery… a personal decision.”
Concerning the worship of Jesus, the October 15, 1945 Watchtower said, “You must worship and bow down to Jehovah’s chief one – namely Jesus.” Then in November 1, 1964 they changed saying, “It is unscriptural for worshippers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.” [Note: one must understand that The Watchtower is not just a publication for them. It is their standard.]
Next, consider the Mormon doctrine. Concerning polygamy their doctrine has varied. Originally the Mormons rejected polygamy. The book of Jacob chapter 2:27, “…there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none. Jacob 2:24, “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Ether 10:5 reads, “…Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines…”
In 1835 Doctrine & Convenants 101:4 reads, “We believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to remarry again.” In 1843, D&C 132 was added which approves of polygamy. D&C 132:34, “God command Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law… ” D&C 132:52 reads, “And let mine handmaid Emma Smith, receive all these that have been given unto my Servant Joseph…” In 1876 D&C 101:4 was removed (see above). Then, in 1890 when Utah was desirous of statehood then President Wilford Woodruff discontinued the practice of polygamy.
Also, consider Methodist doctrine. It was not until the year 1910 that the Methodist church repudiated the doctrine of inherited sin. In that year infant baptism became simply a baby dedication ceremony. In 1948 Methodist Discipline reads, “we hold that all children by virtue of the unconditional benefits of the atonement are members of the Kingdom of God, and therefore graciously entitled to Baptism. The minister shall earnestly exhort all parents to dedicate their children to the Lord in Baptism as early as convenient, and before Baptism is administered he shall diligently instruct the parents regarding the vow which they assume in this sacrament. It is expected of parents or guardians… that they use all diligence in bringing them up in conformity to the word of God…” More recent Disciples say essentially the same.
Moreover, in the news of late is the Methodist position on practicing lesbian ministers. It is now allowed after initially being disallowed.
Let’s also consider Roman Catholic doctrine. Many areas could be looked at but let’s focus in on the election of a Pope. The current method of the Cardinals electing a Pope has not always existed. The current method developed from two councils: The Lateran council, 1059 A.D., and The Third Lateran council, 1179 A.D.. In 1179 A.D. it was determined that, “the election of popes exclusively in the hands of cardinals, to be decided by a majority of two-thirds, and threatened with excommunication and deposition any one who should dare accept an election by a small number of votes” (Schaff, History of the Christian church, volume 5, page 118). Yet in 1986 Pope John Paul changed the rules. He decided that if after two weeks the two-thirds super-majority didn’t occur then, a simple majority would do. The rules changed.
As a side point, if they truly are guided by the Holy Spirit in this selection process, why isn’t the decision unanimous? Why is it that the conclave became necessary? One time it took thirty-three months to elect a Pope (Nov. 29, 1268 to Sept. 1, 1271)! The word ‘conclave’ is from clavis, meaning key. Due to how long the previous mentioned case took, the cardinals were locked into seclusion. If after three days no decisions is made, the meals are reduced to twice per day. Should eight days pass, the food is reduced to wine and bread (at least such used to be the rules). In the 1200’s when the election took so long, the roof of the room they were in was actually removed in order to give motivation to reach a decision. Yet, this process is supposedly guided by the Holy Spirit. Hmmmm… does this sound like the way Judas was replaced? (see Acts 1:21-26). Consider the chart on the following page titled Departures from the Apostolic Way for just some of the changes that have been made in the Catholic church.
We could also add to this information about various denominations changing their position on women preachers, homosexuality, and the like. However, the point has been made to some doctrines can be changed. Bill Clinton was interviewed at the Pope’s funeral. After his kind words for the deceased, he was asked about what the Catholic church had ahead of it. His response was that if churches don’t change with the times, they die.
Folks, let us always remember that the Lord’s church is not a democracy where the rule of majority reigns. It is not an oligarchy, ruled by the minority. It is not a plutocracy, a rule of the rich. It isn’t an aristocracy, a rule of the privileged class. Nor, is it a monarchy, a rule of one (unless that one be Jesus Christ). The Lord’s church is a theocracy, it is to be ruled by God.
Moreover, let us remember that the Apostles were guided into all truth (John 16:13). The system of Faith is complete (Jude 3). It is by the words of the New Testament that we’ll be judged (John 12:48; Rom. 2:16).