What’s In a Name?
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s hard to miss the ever-increasing use of the phrase “covenant path.” It seems to have been a term that popped up around 2005, and then took off in usage after President Nelson’s first address as president of the church in January 2018. It has been a catchphrase by him and several other church leaders ever since. Last year, the term showed up 36 times throughout April and October general conferences. Most notably in this past general conference, “covenant path” was mentioned 18 times alone.
Many terms in the church have undergone metamorphosis: you may recall “Relief Society Meetings” were changed to “Homemaking,” then “Home, Family, and Personal, Enrichment” meetings, then shortened to “Enrichment Night” for those who didn’t want to say the whole phrase, then back to Relief Society Meetings.” “Ward Teaching” generations ago, changed to “Home Teaching” and “Visiting Teaching,” but it is now known as “Ministering.” We’ve also gone from informal “family teaching or instruction” to the formal phrase of “home-centered-church-supported” curriculum with its own allocated time each Sunday after the new 2-hour block.
And yes, you could argue that with new revelation, you can also expect change. While that might be fine for programs, policies, and procedures, it might be well to remind ourselves that while phrases and words can change, doctrines and principles never change. So, to take a new word and use it in the place of “the plan of salvation” or the “doctrine of Christ” may seem like a fresh approach, it may just be serving us a disservice as it becomes more of a platitude—”a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as it if were fresh or profound” (Dictionary.com).
We are left asking ourselves, what is the covenant path anyway?
The phrase is not scriptural (not found anywhere in scripture). If you search the internet for its use and read its context, there is a risk as you migrate away from an old phrase and into a new one, that the power of the original meaning is lost on some, especially because it does not always come with a definition. It has been my personal experience that If you ask ten church members what the “covenant path” is, or even “plan of salvation” for that matter, you’re likely to get different answers from half or more.
Let me be clear, there is only one source of all truth—our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. It’s for this reason that I can only quote the Lord’s own words in scripture when sharing Christ’s doctrine. I have personally been directed to be bolder than I previously have been. My purpose is to clarify what the covenant path really is, to unveil the simplicity and beauty of the true covenant path so that it does not lose its meaning and that you know the true way to personal redemption. My witness is that anything else is rooted in darkness to frustrate your personal journey “in and through” Jesus Christ.
Your personal reaction to this post will tell you a lot about where you are in your journey and relationship “in and through” Christ. You and you alone are responsible for your relationship with the Lord. You and you alone are responsible for seeking for and developing gifts of the spirit. These gifts include the gift of revelation.
As you read this post, I invite you to prepare yourself to receive revelation. Be very careful to not dismiss something outright because it is unfamiliar or different than the narrative you have been taught your whole life, or at least taught to you through your affiliation with the church. Create and ask questions to the Lord God. Not asking questions means you are not wanting to be taught regardless of the answers. Seek for personal revelation and to be taught by the Lord God through His Holy Spirit. Remember that your journey is about your personal relationship with the Lord.
In With the Old
In each major dispensation, the Lord has revealed the means whereby a person can receive a complete and personal redemption. That means is the “covenant path.”
Let me be very clear here:
“The Covenant Path” (not scriptural phrase) = “The Plan of Salvation” = “The Doctrine of Christ” = “The Gospel” = “The New & Everlasting Covenant” (all scriptural phrases)
“Covenant” denotes that it was initiated by a covenant extended from the Lord to Adam & Eve in the very beginning of this earth (Moses 5:9-11).
9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
“Path” denotes that it requires a person to go from point “A” to a known destination marked by milestones. In this case, it is the path to complete and personal redemption (“Salvation”).
The covenant is everlasting. It has existed before our earth, it is available now, and will forever be taught and offered to beings on other earths and into the heavenly realms. So while the phrase “covenant path” might be new or just a fresh take on something old, it is still the doctrine of Christ, and the doctrine of Christ is timeless.
The Doctrine of a Christ is the Covenant Path
There are a lot of ways to look at the phrase “doctrine of Christ.” Certainly, it must be significant if the Lord personally used it. He referred to it as “my doctrine” and the way, means, or path that a person must fulfill in order to gain personal redemption (remission of sins) and the promise of eternal life while in mortality.
So what “doctrine” would “a Christ” teach? Well, a “Christ” is a title for one that redeems or enables complete and personal redemption. He does this out of eternal love. It is logical that a Christ would teach the correct “way” to receive this redemption because He loves them. His way would enable a person to eternally progress (ascend) just as He did and those before Him. Thus, “the way” is constant throughout the eternities—never changing. A Christ’s doctrine (or the doctrine of Christ) is “the way” and even “the only way” to redemption and goodhood.
A little bit more on what “doctrine” is from Lecture One in Lectures on Truth:
11 Doctrines are the pathway and the transformational experience of the spirit to Godhood and beyond. It is the eternal potential for each individual (the “Why–what’s it all for anyway”). God reveals Doctrine to orient or re-orient His children back to God and to set them on their own journey to Godhood “in and through” a Savior (Christ). In order to have a proper orientation, Doctrines are constant and do not change.
11.1 Doctrines change people. Doctrines change people because they change our perspective. Doctrines enable us to see and understand what is possible for each individual. “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Boyd K. Packer). “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in… The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (Ezra Taft Benson).
11.2 Doctrines reveal the nature of God. True Doctrine should characterize the God of light at a minimum as glorious, perfectly just and merciful, omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-loving).
11.3 The following are some examples of Doctrine:
- Eternal Families
- Kingdoms & Heavens
- The Omniscience of God
- The Omnipotence of God
- The Omnibenevolence of God
- Priesthood Power
- Eternal Lives
- The Glory of God
- The Justice & Mercy of God
Jesus Christ, Himself teaches this only-way-doctrine in His own words through most of the book of 3 Nephi. He teaches some important characteristics of the doctrine. He also includes the very few, yet essential steps or milestones that you personally have to fulfill or receive.
In Part 2 in this series (The “Covenant Path” Unveiled), we will dig into the scriptures for His own words on the subject.
JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org is based on free, online study guides to help you learn, believe, live and teach the Doctrine of Christ. The Study Guides invite any and all to see and know this truth for themselves that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has, in fact, introduced His doctrine and He personally invites all to receive personal redemption and literally receive Him while in the flesh (mortality).
Blog posts are only intended to supplement the Study Guides. Per all blog posts, seek the understanding and confirmations from the Lord in your own personal revelation. Study guides are intended to point you to both the Lord’s written word and His voice (personal revelation). These study guides will help you uncover what the Doctrine of Christ is and other essential topics that will help you in your journey to literally “come unto Christ” while in mortality. All study guides are available at JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org.