The following are some thoughts I have had bouncing around in my head for quite some time. I finally wrote them out (albeit rather quickly) as a comment on another blog. Since I feel like the point being made here is important to understanding Mormon thought for the member and non-member a like, I thought I would share them here as well. I have made some minor changes and additions:
While I understand where people are coming from when they say that there is no official Mormon “doctrine,” I must disagree. Things like the physical nature of God, our being his literal children, salvation being through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and many other things are clearly official tenets of doctrine in the LDS Church. What frustrates people, and makes them think that no such “official” doctrine exists is the lack of an official, systematic theology that ties all of those doctrines together.
The result is every individual member (including the General Authorities) develops there own “personal” theology; that is to say, everyone has there own way of explaining how all those loose doctrines of Mormonism come together. Some people’s “theologies” are more coherent then others, but all (along with all theologies of other faiths) have there problems. I personally do not see this as problematic for Mormonism because the “truth” of something is not dependent upon our ability to understand it or reconcile it with other perceived “truths.” Furthermore, anyone who accepts the claims of religion accepts that some claims must be accepted on faith, despite apparent logical or rational difficulties.
The theologies of popular Mormon teachers and thinkers, such as Joseph Smith, or Bruce R. McConkie, have helped form what could be called “mainstream” LDS “theology,” put the popularity of these “theologies” does not make them “official.” Unfortunately, most members have difficulty making this distinction, both in their own ideas, or in the ideas of others (especially General Authorities). Thus, they tend to think that their understanding of the Gospel (their own "theology") is the official and "true doctrine," and anyone who has a different understanding of the Gospel therefore believes "false doctrine." Now, of course there are limits to when a person's different "theology" can be considered within the boundaries set by the official "doctrine" (for example, a Mormon couldn't deny the atonement of Jesus Christ and simply say that is their own "personal" understanding, or "theology" of the same Revealed Gospel). Precisely where these boundaries are in some areas maybe vaguely defined, eliciting further discussion, but I personally think that the "official doctrines," which are what must be incorporated into any version of "Mormon Theology" are quite clearly established in the standard works, official statements, and official publications such as Preach my Gospel and True to the Faith.
While I can understand the frustration that non-LDS have, caused by the ambiguity of not having an “official theology,” personally find in this lack of official theology a humble admission that we simply cannot systemically reconcile or harmonize everything we believe as doctrine – simply because we don’t believe we have all the necessary information. We believe God ought to be free to impart further knowledge and instruction if he feels such is necessary, and a belief in continuing revelation is at odds with having a systemic theology. Additional information (whether revealed by God, or discovered by man) will always require one to make changes and adjustments to how they understand and reconcile other “truths” and bring all available information together.
In sum, I believe a distinction between “doctrine” and “theology” ought to be made. “Doctrine” being things accepted as “true,” and “theology” being an intricate system that harmonizes and ties together those “doctrines.” The LDS Church does have official “doctrines” (that is, there are things the Church officially recognizes as “true”), but unlike on religious traditions, the Church does not provided its members with an official “theology” (that is, the Church does not provide a system for reconciling all its “doctrines”). This sort of “open theology,” if you will, is required by the Church’s stance on the possibility of additional revelation being given at any point in the present or future.