Good Doctrine Tastes Good

HoneyOne of my favorite things that Joseph Smith taught, is that truth tastes good. I especially love this part in “The King Follet Sermon“:

This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.
This is my measure when someone ‘tells me of things which were given them by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.’ Do I receive them as sweet? Do they taste good to me? If they don’t, then I don’t “rejoice more and more.” I don’t rejoice at all. It’s not good doctrine.


Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

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14 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    I really love this, Rachel

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I love this as well. I’d also like to add the caution that if something doesn’t seem sweet to us, it could be our problem and not the doctrine. Perhaps we aren’t in a position, for whatever reason, to receive the sweetness of the doctrine. Honesty with ourselves is paramount to receiving accurate answers by the sweetness of the spirit.

  3. Emily U says:

    Exactly. If we can’t trust our own senses to inform us of the sweetness of things, what can we trust? I’ve always liked how Joseph Smith acknowledged that affirmations of spiritual truth are inherently subjective. In the statement you quote he does not do what some leaders do and emphasize that himself as the source of truth, instead he trusted members of the church he founded to use their own discernment. We badly need more of that trust from our current leaders.

  4. Nathan Whilk says:

    “I heard the Prophet Joseph say in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: ‘You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (he said) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.'” –John Taylor

  5. Ziff says:

    I really like this, Rachel. Unfortunately, I fear that to much of the Q15 and the general Church membership, doctrine that punishes gay people and their kids tastes sweet. Because teh gays are evil and smacking them feels good. Ugh! I’m with you. These policies taste awful.

  6. Rah says:

    And every invocation of a “trial of abraham” in a way that implies the trial is following a leader against my own conscious is one that flies in the face of this truth. You don’t do hurtful/harmful things to people and justify it because someone told you to, much less admittedly fallalbe someones. To abdicate our moral agency in this way seems the most bitter of doctrines that is ripe for abuse and been used to justify the most awful of abuses even within the outer reaches of our own faith tradition.

  7. Julie C. Moore says:

    Yes, Rah, and now that the Pres. of the 12 has called it doctrine it tastes even more bitter.
    What to do? I am at a loss.

  8. Nathan Whilk says:

    “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60)

  9. Liz says:

    I think things can taste hard, and different, and can be difficult to swallow, but still taste good and be good for us. I also think that things can go down easily, but taste horrible and not be edifying to our bodies or souls. I like this, Rachel.

  10. Nathan Whilk says:

    “I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me” (3 Nephi 11:11)

  11. Drron says:

    ell done Rachel! This article exposes other examples of implementing practices and policies without thinking through the consequences for others. Policies and practices must be based on correct principles.
    I’ve learned as a priesthood leader over 40+ years that teaching correct principles and then letting people govern themselves is easy to understand but hard to do. D & C 121 helps me understand why it is so

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