“And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.”
Here is Christ’s explanation of why we must focus on these doctrines to be saved. I’ve heard more words of caution about speaking “more” than I’ve ever heard cautioning about “less.” Both are a problem. It is more fashionable today to speak less about Christ’s doctrine, or to circumscribe it into so narrow a meaning as to render it powerless in effect.
First, as to “more.” When we “declare more” we are getting ahead of the process. We aren’t to worship the “hosts of heaven,” nor a heavenly mother. Despite all we may know about Her, that knowledge won’t save. Other personages or ministers cannot save either. Gabriel will not. Enoch will not. Michael will not. Only the Son will save; and the Father will bear testimony of Him. Interesting stories about individual spiritual encounters or experiences will not save. They are evidence that heaven is still attending to us, but the details are for the individual. The experiences that will save have already been recorded in scripture for our general instruction. Outside of scripture those individual experiences are only useful to the extent they shed light upon scriptural accounts. If a person can help you understand Daniel’s visionary encounters by what they have been shown, then their personal experiences are not as important as the light they may shed upon Daniel’s prophecy. Similarly what I’ve written is helpful only to understand scripture, and not otherwise. Even the account of Gethsemane is anchored in scripture and useful only to the extent it sheds light upon what has been given to us in the New Testament Gospels, Nephi’s prophecy, Alma’s testimony and D&C 19
. I do think my account goes further to explain what occurred than any other writing which has come to my attention. Nevertheless the scriptures are needed as the primary tool for understanding our Lord’s atonement. So the definition of “more” would include such things that supplant scripture or suggest anything is more important than the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; but things as may shed additional light on the meaning of scripture.
Interestingly enough, when we “declare less” we are also condemned. It works both ways. It’s a two-edged sword. Not “more nor less” is permitted. We sometimes greet preaching “less” with applause, because we want less. But that is no better than missing the mark while preaching “more.” Perhaps it is worse, because it represents a rejection of truth. It is active suppression of what needs to be proclaimed.
All of us must be concerned about declaring less. Deleting or omitting is as serious a matter as adding. Either will allow the gates of hell to prevail.
When you adopt creedal Historic Christianity and amalgamate the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into a single cosmic siamese-triplet construct, you are declaring them as less. The disembodiment of God the Father was a lie to supplant and replace Him by another disembodied pretender claiming to be the god of this world.
Christ’s teaching here is preliminary to the Sermon that follows. In the coming Sermon we will read a better preserved version of the Sermon on the Mount from Jerusalem, called here the Sermon at Bountiful. But this explanation of doctrine is given by Christ first. The foundation of doctrine of the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the conferral of power to baptize, and manner of baptism come before the great Sermon. First we receive the instruction to avoid disputes. These disputes lead to contention that lays the foundation for anger between men. This doctrine is so foundational that Christ covers it before any other teaching. Therefore, you should realize its importance.
We will be captured by hell if we do not understand and follow these teachings. Though they are Christ’s very first instructions, we almost never discuss them. You may want to re-read these verses again, and realize their fundamental importance.
Christ is saying it is “evil” to do more or less with His doctrine. It surely is, for ignoring, altering, omitting or enlarging leads to evil.