In studying about different levels of “authoritativeness” of Church doctrines, I found this article by Anthony Sweat, Michael Hubbard MacKay, and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat of the BYU faculty. It proposes some different types of doctrine, from the core, unchangeable everlasting truths of the Gospel to Church policies that apply to the current needs of the Church in a given moment. It is an excellent article that helps one determine for themselves when something is authoritative or not. It also explains how to handle changes when they occur. I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in this topic.
Here is an excerpt:
“Many … wonder and have pressing questions related to Latter-day Saint ‘doctrine,’ such as ‘If God is unchanging and truth is eternal, then why does Church doctrine sometimes change?’ or ‘Why don’t we still teach some of the doctrines that were taught in the early Church? Were they wrong, or are we?’ When discussing the Latter-day Saint faith, some imply or assume that everything ever spoken by any Church authority past or present constitutes eternally binding Church doctrine. Additionally, upon hearing an idea brought up in the Church, some want to know, ‘Is that teaching an official doctrine? How can I know?’ These questions and many others about Latter-day Saint doctrine have caused difficulty for many, both within and outside the Church.”
Read the full article here: