(This post was inspired by the conversation between Mark D., Bob, and several others in the comments here.)
#79: Mark, I guess I still don’t know what you mean. Do you want a new “Mormon Doctrine” book written and studied. Or, a new set of AoF?
Bob’s question summarizes what I believe to be the most compelling argument against developing a church-wide systematic theology: “with all the failed attempts in the past, why do you think we’ll get it right this time?” And it’s a good argument; chances are, we won’t get it right. Explanations and apologetics soon become outdated.
What this view takes for granted, however, is that the church leadership must always speak with unanimity. If we go back a century or more, we see this was not always the case. Great debates played out between general authorities, sometimes in relatively public forums.
This discursive approach to church leadership certainly had its problems (most dramatically in the story being re-told by Daymon and Brad at BCC (by the way, to Daymon, Brad, and every other blogger who writes multi-part articles — please update the original article with links to the later ones, otherwise it’s hard to provide a good link to your amazing work!)) It is more chaotic, less predictable, more likely to offend long-time members when long-held doctrines change. However, it is, perhaps, more responsive to the changing needs of church membership.
In terms of developing a systematic theology, open discussion between church authorities means that incompatible theologies can be held simultaneously. So, while a new Mormon Doctrine isn’t going to be the answer, perhaps several different simultaneously published Mormon Doctrines could be (and don’t tell me you wouldn’t love to compare, say, Elder Hales’ version with Elder Scott’s!)
This has the advantage of implicitly acknowledging that none of them are the “one true theology” of the church, while still providing some level of authoritative guidance on complex issues. It would also encourage church members to engage with difficult topics beyond merely saying, “Elder So-and-So said it, so it must be true.”