Where Have All the Revelations Gone?

Lesson 17 of the Gospel Principles manual in use today for Priesthood and Relief Society is entitled “The Church of Jesus Christ Today.”  Under the heading, “New Revelation from God” is this quote:

“…Since that time [the First Vision] the heavens have not been closed. Revelation continues to this day through each of His chosen prophets. Joseph was to be the one to help restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I do believe and accept the Church is receiving inspired counsel from on high. Not just the President, but at all levels down to families and individuals. However, it got me thinking, “where have all the revelations gone.”

In the early days of the Church (between 1823 and 1843), about 130 Sections of the Doctrine & Covenants were given to Joseph Smith as revelations from the Lord. After that time, only 4 more have been added as canonized revelations.  The Prophet Joseph received significantly more revelations that have not been officially canonized and appear in various places.

On the other hand, the RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ) has continually added to their Doctrine and Covenants since it was organized in 1860 and has 164 Sections. I know that there are others in the works as well.

That is not to say there is not revelation given to the President and Prophet of the LDS Church. I can point to a few examples I believe were revealed to the President of the Church by the Lord. For example, the plan to design and build small Temples put in place by President Hinckley, the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund, the move to the block meeting schedule, the major changes in the Temple ceremony in 1990, etc. I think these were the result of revelation from the Lord.

But, I wonder sometimes why we do not have further sections added to the D&C as canonized scripture or that some of these changes are not brought before the membership of the Church for their common consent.

So, just what might constitute additions to the Doctrine and Covenants which would be voted on by the Church membership?

Some have suggested the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” might be a candidate. I always thought President Ezra Taft Benson’s talk “Beware of Pride” might be considered. I even formatted it on my computer as a page of scripture to see what it might look like.

So what would get your vote?  Or do you have an explanation why we do not have more canonized revelations since we are supposed to have a living canon and we have a living prophet?

Comments

comments

61 comments for “Where Have All the Revelations Gone?

  1. Dave P.
    August 20, 2010 at 7:04 am

    First off, how many people in the general church membership even know about and/or understand the process by which we’re supposed to receive and accept revelation? We already know the following:

    1. It must be known that it comes from the Lord. So a preface of “Thus saith the Lord,” is the most cited example.
    2. It must be written down.
    3. The written revelation is presented to the church membership for a vote of acceptance before being canonized as scripture.

    Hence this is why I have such a big problem when people say, “Any time the prophet speaks, it’s scripture,” because there’s a significant difference between “The prophet said” vs what “The Lord said through the prophet.”

    I also disagree that The Family: A Proclamation to the World should be counted as scripture because it’s exactly what it says it is: A proclamation to the world about where our doctrines and beliefs stand. Everything in the proclamation is simply a summary of what’s already found in our scriptures and the Lord does not need to re-reveal what’s already been revealed. Of course that doesn’t mean it isn’t at least an inspired writing. Section 124 deals with a commandment from the Lord to write a proclamation of the gospel to the kings and rulers of the earth and how the Holy Ghost would help them at the time of the writing.

  2. Niklas
    August 20, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Dave P., in my opinion Family could be in our canon in same way as Articles of Faith. AoF are in our Scriptures, even though they were only a summary of some of the things found in our scriptures. How do you reconcile that with your point 1? I agree with OP thatBensons Beware of Pride could be part of our canon. Maybe some other talks too. It’s hard to tell what is “direct revelation” and what “just” inspired words. In D&C we have parts of JSs letters, some of them not in the manner of “thus saith the Lord”.

  3. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Niklas and Dave P.

    One of the reasons I said 130 sections of the D&C is that there are a few sections that are statements like 135. And I agree with Dave P. that the proclamation is nothing more than a collection of doctrine. But I suspect some of the D&C sections that are ‘revelations’ could be construed that way as well.

  4. Mark Gibson
    August 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

    We have two extremes present: the aforementioned “anytime the Prophet speaks, it’s scripture” from the LDS, and the CofChrist tendency to only give heed when the prophet brings forth an “inspired document” (have’nt been called revelations since 1974) and even those are subject to a legislative process of nit-picking.

    Perhaps the qualifying word is “binding”. Some LDS teachings are merely guidelines but are regarded as scripture and thus binding by some. There’s also been cases in both Churches of previous counsel being later included in the canon of scripture.

    Jeff, I agree with your examples of non-scripture revelation and would add President Joseph F. Smith’s instructions on Family Home Evening in 1915. Way ahead of its time!

  5. August 20, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I have a hard time recognizing some of the areas you mention as pure revelation. I think we need to separate “good ideas” from “revelation”. Revelation needs to be on-par with revelations in prior times. I just don’t see that in the examples you raise.

    The plan to design and build small Temples put in place by President Hinckley,
    This makes no sense. The church saw a need to (a) have more temples and (b) not spend so much money. The concept is introduced to build smaller and simpler temples. How is that a revelation? I mean if you want to think that any great idea, or even a simple idea would be revelation. But then what makes our good ideas different than someone else’s revelation that is not a prophet and is not a Mormon. Was the inventor of the duplex receiving revelation? What about the inventor of the “Smart Car”. Smaller and less money. Revelation? This was in NO WAY, revelation.

    the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund,
    Before the creation of the PEF, there were many other foundations that were doing the exact same thing. Micro-lending has been around for quite a while. Also, the whole idea behind this when Pres Hinckley introduced it was that donations made would be loaned out and then re-paid. What actually happens is that the church keeps 100% of the money donated. It is set in trust and just the interest on the money is used to back loans. This was a financial decision to help people, while also increasing the financial standing of the church. This was in NO WAY, revelation.

    the move to the block meeting schedule
    What??? Really?? They are having wards spread out in further and further areas. They were asking families to come back to the church 3 separate meeting during the day on Sunday. I remember these days and it was a royal pain. Someone starts saying “Lets just stay at the building” and the block schedule is born. In no way could this be seen as revelation on par with anything unique. Was Daylight Savings Time implemented by revelation? This was in NO WAY, revelation.

    the major changes in the Temple ceremony in 1990,
    There is quite a bit of evidence to indicate that this was the result of a survey and a lawsuit during the 80’s. Many people were uncomfortable with the prior format. How is changing/removing some very odd/offensive/disturbing items from the temple. This was in NO WAY, revelation.

    I see very little evidence that any revelation has occurred since Joseph.

  6. Nick Literski
    August 20, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I doubt very much that Ezra Taft Benson’s “Beware of Pride” talk will be canonized, Jeff. While I think it’s fair to say it was the summit of ETB’s ministry, its origins are under a bit of a cloud, in that it’s remarkably similarity to segments of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I don’t know that there’s any point in detailing those similarities here, but suffice it to say there are several statements in ETB’s talk which appear to quote, or nearly quote, Mere Christianity. While the insights ETB presented were profound, and many would likely benefit from them being canonized, I suspect many would react negatively to those similarities.

    Mind you, a negative reaction isn’t necessary. First, I’m told that C.S. Lewis is the one non-LDS person most frequently quoted in LDS general conference talks, so his writings have clearly been influential for many LDS general authorities. Second (and perhaps more importantly), inspiration or revelation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I can point to writings where Joseph Smith lifted verbatim from other early 19th century authors, but that doesn’t mean Joseph wasn’t inspired in selecting those passages to help convey his message. I think the only thing you can really criticize is that neither Joseph nor ETB openly identified their sources in these situations.

  7. SkepticTheist
    August 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Its pretty clear to me that there was a foundational period in Mormonism where just about anything Joseph Smith said was canonized, and now we are in the correlation period where everything is standardized, and most revelations are not doctrinally significant, but just provide general guidance of what we should be doing. I think there is a difference between guidance revelation and revelation that actually affects doctrine. Guidance revelation doesn’t reveal truths, only direction, and I don’t think that each thing like that belongs in the scriptures. I’m not going to be naive to say that everything that is standardized by correlation is always true by any means, because a lot of that may well be overturned later on. But I do question the need for everything that is true to be in the scriptures. The Dead Sea scrolls manifested quite a collection of literature, only a small portion that one could actually call canon. We should be willing to look for truth in our own lives wherever we can find it and be less worried about what the Church itself does. I would say that the English text portions of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers contain a lot of stuff that I personally consider revelatory on that are not found in the Pearl of Great Price and will never be. Yet I contend Joseph Smith is responsible for those concepts and I stand by that.

  8. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Hey Nick,

    You bring up a excellent point. I have not read much C.S. Lewis but i agree with you that he is one of the most, if not THE most quoted non-LDS Christian around. He is so well regarded in LDS circles that his Temple work must have been done countless times…. 🙂

    I know that both James Talmadge and Bruce R. McConkie were heavily, heavily influenced by Alfred Edersheim in their writings, almost bordering on the “P” word.

    So no, negatively coming from me on this. I agree with you….

  9. Aaron R.
    August 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

    The complexity in our canon, as noted above in various types of texts that have been included, makes it very difficult to decide what scripture actually is. This is the first reason that, I believe, that we have not seen more canonisation. The second is that scripture, in my view, is based in part in how a community responds to certain of texts. When that collection becomes formalised it can help to solidify the community; making additions to that collection de-stablise that community. Hence the desire to avoid rocking the boat, I’m sure, has made some leaders sceptical of making such additions. The third reason is that, I suspect, a lack of harmony has very often prevailed regarding what is scripture within the leading quorums.

    With this in mind I think the Proclamation upon the family and the Living Christ are both very likely to be canonised at some point.

    In addition I suspect that ammendments to or the removal of D&C 132 is also very likely.

    However, I would be surprised if the former two would be canonised while any of those who have signed either are still alive.

  10. August 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

    the move to the block meeting schedule was the result of intense study and prayer and consideration and persuasion. Interesting that some might say that anything that looks like common sense can’t be revelation or involve any similar process. The Block schedule was the first step in a move away from the Mormon entity as a seperate cultural community inside of the larger community.

    George — what lawsuit? Do you have a citation or something I could check on Westlaw? Thanks.

    Nick Literski — interesting point, though there was a movement by people who actually printed up copies of ETB’s talk, broken down into verses with footnotes, for inserting into D&Cs and handed them out in meetings.

  11. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 9:57 am

    George,

    “The plan to design and build small Temples put in place by President Hinckley, This makes no sense.”

    I am only going by what President Hinckley himself said about it:

    “The concept of small temples came, I believe, as a direct revelation. I have spoken at various times on how this occurred. The resultant blessing to our people with the erection of these smaller temples has been remarkable.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Quorum of the First Presidency,” Liahona, Dec 2005, 36–40)

  12. Clark
    August 20, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Joseph needed lots of revelations to get the Church rolling. Now that it’s underway, only minor “course corrections” are needed.

    Sports provide a useful analogy: Basketball underwent significant transformations in the first decades while the players “worked out the kinks,” but there have been very few changes to the rules in the past 50 years.

    While I believe “the Lord will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God,” I think the era of adding to the canon is over. I don’t believe the PoF will be canonized. The FP&Q12 have issued half a dozen proclamations in this dispensation, and none are in the scriptures. The trend is to REMOVE items from the canon (See Lectures on Faith) and Sec. 132 is a prime candidate.

    On the other hand, it may be that we get what we deserve when it comes to revelation.

  13. Clark
    August 20, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I should add, lest I be thought as a pessimist, that I believe Elder Maxwell when he said, “Presently you and I carry our scriptures around in a ‘quad;’ the day will come when you’ll need a little red wagon.”

  14. Hawkgrrrl
    August 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I hope the PoF doesn’t get canonized until the wording is adjusted because the preside but equal thing is illogical. I think canonizing it will only cause later generations to say “what the heck is this supposed to mean?” But that hasn’t stopped us before. I agree with Aaron R. that we get into trouble when we canonize. Only I say it with a “z” instead of an “s.” Somehow it looks cooler when he says it.

  15. larryco_
    August 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    “The trend is to REMOVE items from the canon”

    How heretical yet interesting is that idea! My candidates also would be D&C 132 (especially the mean stuff about Emma), Abraham, ch. 1 & 2, and half of the Old Testament, including all of Joshua except the “as for me and my house” verse. I’d also like to throw out chunks of “Praise To the Man”, i.e. earth must atone, etc.

  16. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 11:07 am

    “the day will come when you’ll need a little red wagon.”

    For those who believe the Ensign is scripture, that day is here! 🙂

  17. SkepticTheist
    August 20, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Well, actually, that is probably why the Lord gave us PDFs and e-readers. 🙂

  18. August 20, 2010 at 11:36 am

    And the Community of Christ guy will sit here quietly in the corner.

  19. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Firetag,

    I was kind of hoping you might describe the old process of canonization within the CoC and the newer method……

  20. Holden Caulfield
    August 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

    “the move to the block meeting schedule”

    I remember as a missionary in Brazil, the members in the small city we served in 1973 sacrificed to get to church three times a day PH, SS & Sac mtg. Attendance was poor. My comp and I decided to combine all meetings into one “block”. Attendance went up, the people loved it. Unfortunately, we informed our mission president of our success.

    He told us that we were to “make the church look like the church”. We were to go back the the three separate meetings. We did. Attendance went back down.

    I guess the mission president didn’t think it was revelation, inspiration or even a good idea.

  21. August 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Hi,

    #10: George — what lawsuit? Do you have a citation or something I could check on Westlaw? Thanks.
    I’ve only heard rumor on the lawsuit. It would make perfect sense as the former activities at the veil that were removed in 1990. I never felt comfortable with that and my wife felt VERY uncomfortable.

    #11:
    “The concept of small temples came, I believe, as a direct revelation. I have spoken at various times on how this occurred. The resultant blessing to our people with the erection of these smaller temples has been remarkable.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Quorum of the First Presidency,” Liahona, Dec 2005, 36–40)

    This above statement is one of the main reasons I think that it is not revelation. Don’t you thing that after reading sections and sections of D&C and Church History that the very Prophet, Seer, Revelator would know what is revelation? Why the “I believe”. If Pres Hinckley doesn’t know when he received revelation, why should we? Wouldn’t he as a faith-promoting leader of the church say “Thus Saith the Lord on this matter… Build smaller buildings”.

    Now… I’ll go along with the “I believe” statement was him saying that is feeling on the matter is that it was revelation, and I’d be willing to make that concession. That he honestly thought/believed he had a revelation. I’m good with that. It just doesn’t have the same impact as the revelations given in the early church. Also, I just don’t see with all the major things going on in the church, that the Lord would give a direction on which size of temple to build.

    I do not buy into any current revelations unless you count logic, planning, and good ideas as revelation. Which if that were the case, every other good idea in the world is by revelation as well?

  22. August 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Jeff:

    Three posts I’ve written on the process in the CofChrist are here at MM They are accessable from the FireTag link in the left-hand author’s menu, but the comment editor will spam this if I try to link them directly, so I’ll just give the titles:

    After Action Report: The Community of Christ Did WHAT?

    CofC to Tackle Major Issues at April Conference: Gay Marriage & Baptism

    Canonizing Modern Revelation — A Tourist Guide

  23. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Ok, I remember that NOW!

    We’ll do some links.

  24. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    “I do not buy into any current revelations unless you count logic, planning, and good ideas as revelation. Which if that were the case, every other good idea in the world is by revelation as well?’

    Ok, George whatever you say…..

  25. DrPepper
    August 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I think George raises a good question. Are today’s decisions and pronouncements considered revelation because theyre about Church related stuff or because they reflect God’s opening of the windows of heaven to transmit his mind and will in a more exceptional way?

  26. MH
    August 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Why did certain sections get included in the first place? For example, what is different about sections 12, 15, 16? they are all missions calls, and none are materially different than D&C 4. They’re “just” mission calls. There is nothing inherently special about them. For example, when was the last time you read the sections and had some big flash of inspiration? If these count as canonized revelations, then the bar should be much lower for canonization.

  27. hawkgrrrl
    August 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Sorry – note on the comments – more than 2 links gets a comment stuck in moderation.

  28. Clark
    August 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    MH, perhaps this is another case of “raising the bar.” 🙂

    My limited understanding of how revelations were selected for the D&C indicates that the process was almost as messy as selecting the books for the Bible.

    RE#21 “unless you count logic, planning, and good ideas as revelation.” I think this DOES count as revelation, and occurs to members and non-members alike rather constantly. However, there’s a difference between revelation (aka inspiration) and doctrine-changing Revelation that deserves to be canonized.

    I, for one, believe that while the 3-hour block and small temples may be inspired, they fall short of Revelation. Otherwise, why was it implemented as a limited “pilot program?” If its truly Revelation, there’s no reason not to go all out from the beginning. (e.g. There was no “pilot program” when Blacks began receiving the priesthood.)

  29. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    “There was no “pilot program” when Blacks began receiving the priesthood”

    It started in 1830 but was discontinued about mid-1844.

  30. August 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I would count pilot programs as a part of studying it out in your mind in accordance with the D&C’s advice.

  31. Jeff Spector
    August 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Stephen,

    I had the same thought…. The other thought was that most revelation came in answer to a specific inquiry to the Lord. There doesn’t seem to be as much “out of the blue” except in emergency situations. The Lord wants us to figure it out for ourselves and then ask most of the time.

  32. Tom
    August 21, 2010 at 3:11 am

    re: #28

    I think we’re getting somewhat lost in the definitions here. There’s a huge difference between “inspiration” and “revelation”. Though some might conflate “revelation” (little ‘r’) with “inspiration,” it might be useful to just stick to the two terms as is.

    Revelation is: “The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them; appropriately, the disclosure or communication of truth to men by God himself, or by his authorized agents…”

    Inspiration is: “The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin.”

    Now, as to the original list given, I’m surprised to see the temple ceremony on there, or the small temples. The smaller temple idea had been suggested/requested by Hinckley since the time he was an apostle. Initially it was shot down numerous times by the Qof12 because of the great expense it would add to the church’s income statement. Only when he became president did it then get approved. That doesn’t speak to either revelation/inspiration, just that it had been on Hinckley’s plate for a lot longer than people think.

    As for the temple ceremony, there are many (as most of you probably know) who firmly believe that the 1990 changes were a step in the wrong direction. The altering of ordinances – especially the temple ceremony – for the sake of convenience or whatever is something that shouldn’t be treated lightly. We do treat it lightly because we’re not very well versed in symbolism and understanding the mysteries of God, but that doesn’t excuse the behavior itself. Joseph Smith stated, “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.” (TPJS, p. 308.)

    As to the rest, I think we’d do well to distinguish between inspiration and revelation. Was the block schedule really God revealing something to us that we previously hadn’t known? Or the the proclamation – was that God revealing something we previously hadn’t known?

  33. carlos
    August 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

    “why we do not have more canonized revelations”

    I think answer #1 here explains it well, as to why many revelations aren’t canonized. It does require voting in general conference to add a section to D&C

    But there are many revelations everyday and they’re ongoing.

    Every time mission presidents and area presidents and others are called and set apart we could have repeats of sections 114 or section 15 or even sec4 covering the call and blessings given when setting apart. Or when a new church historian is set apart we would have a repeated section 47. But obviously the size of the church and the many repetitions involved which make it unlikely that these new revelations will ever be added nor should they be.

    About new doctrine, I think that the PoF could be and should be added to D&C as “Official Declaration 3” because there are important concepts in there, like eternal parents, ie a mother and father in heaven, eternal gender or unchangeable gender and so on. jmho

  34. August 21, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Dave P, George, and Tom above have crystallized the difference between what we think (or assume) is revelation, and what actually is.

    We can attempt to shoehorn policy decisions into the definition of “revelation” until the cows come home, but unless certain criteria are met, we are simply rationalizing the absence of true revelation.

    The sad and simple fact is that while personal revelation is alive and well among the membership, institutional revelation ceased long ago. This is consistent with LDS prophecy which few seem to wish to accept.

    J.J. Dewey presented an excellent imaginary conversation between a member boasting of the abundance of revelation present in the church today, and a person asking to see even one example. I reprinted it in my entry here:

    http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-general-conference-is-so-dang.html

    To find it, scroll down to the section in bold font.

  35. August 21, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Regarding Ezra Taft Benson’s plagiarism in “Beware of Pride”:

    It’s possible he didn’t know that C.S. Lewis was the source of many of his quotes, otherwise I’m sure he might have attributed them.

    As the story goes, on a visit to his son Reed’s home, his daughter-in-law showed him her notes on a talk she was planning on pride. He asked to borrow those notes, and then used them himself in conference. In all likelihood, he thought he was plagiarizing his daughter-in-law and had no clue those thoughts were not her own.

    Re the temple changes, I don’t believe there was any actual lawsuit, but there was concern over the possibility of one or more arising.

    Complaints had been received from some younger women regarding what they reported as being a little too huggy and feely from some of the older men during the five points of fellowship at the veil. Apparently some of these geezers were taking it upon themselves to add a sixth point of contact. (In the old days, the temple endowment “washing” included an actual head-to-toe washing in a tub. I can’t imagine many people putting up with such a ritual today.)

    As for the source of the concerns over a lawsuit, it may have been discussed in the same issue of Dialogue that the poll appeared in. At any rate, I recall it was only months after the poll was published in Dialogue that the changes were announced.

    The purpose of the poll, if I recall correctly, was to find out why people weren’t going to the temple as often as it was thought they should. Aside from disturbing elements of the ritual, the biggest obstacle was that sessions were too dang long. Cutting out all the weird stuff shortened it to a mere two hours.

  36. carlos
    August 21, 2010 at 9:31 am

    RE #34 Rock,

    VCS is a good example of a blind man when it comes to revelations and the LDS member is a good example of the believer who receives one revelation after another -revelations which are all ‘foolishness’ to that blind VCS because of this reason or that…

  37. August 21, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Well, Carlos, I don’t see how you reached that conclusion. Either what one claims to be a “revelation” meets the criteria of a revelation or it does not.

    I suspect most of us would be just as stumped as Jared here if put on the spot to come up with an example:

  38. August 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Rock Waterman #34-

    “This is consistent with LDS prophecy which few seem to wish to accept.” Please direct me to your source. Thanks.

  39. carlos
    August 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Rock,

    The difference we are missing here is in the difference between the publication or canonisation of a revelation and the actual revelation. The “criteria for revelation” is actually only that it comes from God via the Holy Ghost to the first presidency for it to be an institutional revelation (like everytime they call a GA or mission president etc) but the canonization of a revelation has a different criteria: new and unique, voted for and accepted by the majority in general conference etc.

    A clear example is also when a missionary is assigned to a particular mission [http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1207-18,00.html]. There is a revelation which is similar to several already in D&C but we just don’t add that ‘revelation of where to labour’ because they are simply too many. D&C would be bigger than any federal tax code if we added all the current day-to-day revelations to it.

    However there is room to add another declaration or two or to do a bit of editing with D&C, for example, converting the official declarations into sections.

  40. Arnster
    August 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Some of these posts sounds like they are coming from sign seekers.

    Revelation is commonplace in the church, so much so that it is taken for granted. Why hasn’t anything been added to the scriptures? I don’t know, only a few people can make that call. In the Book of Mormon when Jesus came and spoke to Nephi he asked him why the words of Samuel hadn’t been added to the scriptures. I found that interesting.

    What’s the difference between preaching which is suitable for inclusion in the scripture and what isn’t? I don’t know either, again, only a few people can make that call. Why is there all this census related material in Numbers, and poetry and proverbs in the scriptures? Beats me. Of course this kind of stuff typically doesn’t find itself in modern day scripture.

    Why would the Lord send a “revelation” if simple “inspiration” or a “good idea” will meet the same objective? It sounds like some people don’t think the church leaders are very connected to the spirit.

  41. Jeff Spector
    August 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    “Re the temple changes, I don’t believe there was any actual lawsuit, but there was concern over the possibility of one or more arising. ‘

    A lawsuit about what? i can’t imagine a true Temple Going Saint would file a lawsuit against the Church. Especially back then. But I can always be surprised….

  42. Jeff Spector
    August 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    #32,

    I think there is a huge difference between inspiration and revelation that a dictionary definition does not satisfy. One can be inspired by just about anything, scenery, music, a thought, a speech, whatever. And will I think we can be inspired by the HG, it can come in many ways. True revelation is from the HG and takes on totally different importance depending on who receives it and for whom it is received.

    I think you sell the GAs short when you attribute a change to some long ago thought that could finally be realized. Who is to say it is not revelation when the one receiving it says it is?

  43. Michael
    August 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I say this with the utmost respect. From the comments on this blog it is clearly evident that many members confuse inspiration with revelation. The definitions are of these two terms is straight-forward and clear. Most of what we confuse with revelation is simple inspiration.

    I don’t think it belittles our belief in continuing revelation when we recognize most of what church leadership and members receive is inspiration from the Holy Ghost instead of revelation.

    Revelation comes when church leaders and members are shown eternal truths in their personal communications and meditations that illuminate and reveal.

    Inspiration is when ideas or promptings come to us that lead us to act.

    It is not difficult to understand the difference.

  44. species373
    August 21, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I think many claims of revelation dealing with every day good ideas are just that. Smart men in positions of power who are able to make things happen. No divine revelation or inspiration needed. God gave us all brains and talents. I think he expects us to use them. FOr the most part, I’d like to refer to the book “The Book of Mammon: A Book About A Book About The Corporation That Owns The Mormons” written by Daymon Smith. He lays out excellently the reality of a world wide church and the pseudo-corparate culture that runs it.

    http://mormonstories.org/?p=980

    Some people blame correlation for a more recent lack of Revelation.

    I, personally think that too many Apostles, Prophets, Seers, and Revelators hide behind the kitschy phrase “experiences too sacred to repeat”. Was it too sacred when Joseph and Sidney saw Jesus in the temple? When the brother of Jared saw Jehovah? Isn’t that the point of a prophet? To be able to directly quote the Lord because you just talked to him face to face?

    Joseph wasn’t shy asking the Lord some deep doctrines and sharing the answers. So…forget the small petty stuff, quibbling about small temples or big temples, I want to know why don’t we get any more “thus saith the Lord” revelations?

    …and if any one cops out and says because we already have all the answers can go join the rest of Christianity that thinks the Bible is enough. There are plenty of questions out there that could be cleared up.

    Bring on the “Thus saith the Lord”‘s. I know I got questions.

  45. August 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    #38 JA Benson,

    Regarding the falling away of the latter-day Saints, see 2 Nephi 28 & 3rd Nephi 16, among others.

    If the Gentiles reject the gospel it will be taken from them. It will not be taken from the earth however, so the gifts of the spirit would continue to manifest through other sources, possibly the Body of Christ as represented by the rank and file membership.

    I don’t really know, I can only speculate.

    It’s possible that the pure gospel of Christ (unconditional love, free agency of the individual, etc.) may have been supplanted by an authoritarian doctrine that demands obedience to the institutional church. This would constitute a rejection of the gospel and would explain why heaven has withdrawn direct communication from the institution, while individual revelation remains alive and well. Again, who knows?

  46. August 21, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Rock:

    It is important to note that these prophecies speak about the behavior (agency?) of the “gentiles” as a whole, and not on the behavior within the church. So one can believe we’ve got a problem coming our way without condemming the church or church leaders individually. The movements of God toward the Kingdom of Zion are global in nature: think. for an additional example, of D&C 1.

  47. August 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    #39 Carlos,

    I respectfully disagree with your interpretation. The examples you give are “inspiration”. I did not expect the Prophet to receive a specific communication from God in order to assign me my particular mission call, but I do like to think it was “inspired”.

    Policy decisions such as the building of temples, the calling of individuals to office can be corporate decisions that may or not be the result of inspiration, but a revelation is by definition the “revealing” of something heretofore unknown. Most of the D&C is clearly in the words of the Lord (or as closely as man can approximate).

    I don’t insist that all revelations be canonized or compiled in a collection, but they must at least be written down and presented to the membership. Unless the members can see or hear the actual revelation, they have no way of getting the witness of the Holy Ghost as to the validity of it.

    If the Prophet is not receiving even occasional revelations, and by that I mean direct marching orders from the mind of God himself, then we are not getting infusions of new guidance, we’re simply running on fumes.

    Witness the average conference session where the brethren quote either scripture or each other ad infinitum. I can do the same thing in a Sacrament meeting talk, and no one would claim I was giving revelation.

  48. August 22, 2010 at 1:05 am

    #44 Species373,

    Well said. The Book of Mammon is required reading for anyone interested in understanding the connection between the Corporate Church and what we commonly think of as The Lord’s church.

    I believe the corporate takeover of the Church is a prime reason the Church is no longer led directly by the Lord. How can it be, given the inferior position of the church relative to the corporation?

    Readers of that book will learn that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” no longer exists as a legally recognized entity. The name is now a mere a trademark owned by the Corporation of the President. The “Church” is subservient to the Corporation. Which raises the question of how a “legal fiction” owned and run by men can have supremacy over an organization directed by God.

    #46 Firetag,

    It’s clear from Moroni’s warnings that when he is addressing himself to “the Gentiles” he is referring to those of us in the future who will “receive these things”, not to those in the general population who will have rejected the Book of Mormon. Context makes it clear he is addressing us in the LDS church, and lamenting that sometime after we receive the Book of Mormon we will “pollute the Holy church of God” (Mormon 8:38).

    “Pollution” implies contamination. What better way to contaminate the church than to mix it in and confuse it with a man-made corporation?

    God’s admonition against adultery is often thought to refer only to sexual sin. But His inclusion of that prohibition in his top ten warnings has a deeper meaning than that. To “adulterate” is to dilute, diminish, or weaken, and God was commanding his people not to allow themselves to be so debased.

  49. August 22, 2010 at 2:42 am

    From my understanding of the standard works, their are limited examples of scripture being produced without the blessing of hindsight. We have scriptural account that have been canonised years and decades and centuries after the actual events.

    Perhaps there will be some “Mormon, or Moses or Luke” who will write a historical account of our histories complete with all the revelations the Lord would have us recognise today if we would only Listen.

  50. August 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Rock:

    I certainly do not want to dispute you on whether or not the LDS went off the rails somewhere; I am Community of Christ, after all, and I grew up making some of the points you make. 😀

    Nevertheless, I don’t read Moroni as being just limited to those that hear; certainly that was not the experience of the Nephites themselves.

    III Nephi is actually written to contain if-then clauses about HOW certain things happen, but the gospel is eventually to be led by the descendents of those to whom Jesus was then speaking. The Gentiles either get with the program, so to speak, or suffer the consequences. Placing the Book of Mormon alongside scriptures in the Bible and the D&C suggests this falling away is seen in a world-wide context. The Restoration was not just about (and maybe not even primarily about) personal salvation. The establishment of the Kingdom on earth in a concrete form were essential from the beginning as well.

    I’ve studied the growth and decline statistics for the RLDS movement since the Reorganization in 1860 pretty thoroughly, and what stands out overwhelmingly is the utter lack of effect, good or bad, on ANYTHING we do to change those trends. Our growth doesn’t determine what happens in society; what happens in society determines our growth.

  51. August 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Rock- I agree with some of your assertions, but I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of Mormon 8. The following scriptures foretell the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon:

    23 Search the prophecies of Isaiah. Behold, I cannot write them. Yea, behold I say unto you, that those saints who have gone before me, (Nephites and Lamanites) who have possessed this land, shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord; and as the Lord liveth he will remember the covenant which he hath made with them.
    24 And he knoweth their prayers, that they were in behalf of their brethren. And he knoweth their faith, for in his name could they remove mountains; and in his name could they cause the earth to shake; and by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth; yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word. (more about faith of Lehi’s people)
    25 And behold, their prayers were also in behalf of him that the Lord should suffer to bring these things forth.
    26 And no one need say they shall not come, for they surely shall, for the Lord hath spoken it; for out of the earth shall they come, (record of Lehi’s people) by the hand of the Lord, and none can stay it; and IT SHALL COME IN A DAY when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and IT SHALL COME even as if one should speak from the dead.
    27 AND IT SHALL COME IN A DAY when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.
    … (he doesn’t change time periods)
    31 Yea, IT SHALL COME IN A DAY when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.
    32 Yea, IT SHALL COME IN A DAY when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

    The subsequent verses tell of the day the Book of Mormon coming forth out of the “Great Apostasy” in a larger world context than the Church.

  52. Geoff @ A
    August 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

    It is my perception that revelations given to Joseph were God speaking and the reception was not filtered through the receivers culture or preconceived ideas. I see the declaration on the family and even many of the concepts repeated by the GAs in this light. That the world is more wicked now than it was in the past, that the world out there is wicked, for example.

    Related to whether Present day Prophets should recieve revelation as in earlir times is whether they should perform miracles as they previously did. Post 51 above v24 “And he knoweth their faith, for in his name they could remove mountains…”

    In our Old Testament study it seems obvious that the government came to the Prophet (because he/she had a reputation for action) when things needed doing. Why would it not be apropriate for the President of the USA to ask the Prophet to stop the oil flowing into the gulf of Mexico, for example. Why couldn’t the Prophet do it? The old Testament Prophets did it to convince people of Gods support as much as anything else, why would that be wrong now? It would certainly be impressive!

    The only answer I’ve had to this question seemed pretty weak. It was that the Lord had to do miracles then because individual people had no power but now because we have democracy we can influence ourselves.

  53. August 23, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I’m actually with Jan Shipps on the thought that correlation made a dramatic step forward. Even more, the important modern movement is pruning core belief from speculation.

    For the most part, even with prophets, we are like the blind men and the elephant. I think it is important for us to pare away the places where we’ve all seen only a part of the whole, allow people their personal insights and knowledge without trying to codify everything and become, as a people, ready for more revelation.

    MrQandA — I read a lot of “old” material (sermons and such from the 1940s and on) and it struck me how many times the brethren tried to communicate that women were not property and were to be treated as equals and how often people just did not get it. That made me wonder what we were not getting today.

  54. Dave P.
    August 23, 2010 at 7:06 am

    #53, your response to MrQandA reminded me of something.

    My Book of Mormon professor at college summed it up pretty well when we were talking about how the same talks were given at every General Conference:

    “How can you expect us to be ready to receive the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon when men are still beating their wives?”

  55. Jeff Spector
    August 23, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Rock,

    “Witness the average conference session where the brethren quote either scripture or each other ad infinitum. I can do the same thing in a Sacrament meeting talk, and no one would claim I was giving revelation.’

    And no one is expecting or asking you too.

  56. DrPepper
    August 23, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Right, but we are expecting THEM to. And THEY expect us to treat THEM as if they have, when in fact it’s not obvious that THEY have.

  57. Dave P.
    August 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

    What I wonder is, do THEY expect to? I’ve heard many stories where the speakers aren’t assigned their topics, but end up becoming inspired with what to write about. That gets back into the inspiration vs. revelation discussion though.

  58. Thomas
    August 23, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I doubt very much that Ezra Taft Benson’s “Beware of Pride” talk will be canonized, Jeff. While I think it’s fair to say it was the summit of ETB’s ministry, its origins are under a bit of a cloud, in that it’s remarkably similarity to segments of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I don’t know that there’s any point in detailing those similarities here, but suffice it to say there are several statements in ETB’s talk which appear to quote, or nearly quote, Mere Christianity.

    I’d frankly be fine with canonizing the better part of that whole book…

  59. Jeff Spector
    August 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I think there is a lot of hair splinting going on here with definitions of Inspiration versus Revelation and who is entitled to it and when it happens.

  60. Hebron
    September 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    In my studies I have come to this simple definition of revelation:
    Anything revealed to a person through the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Through my study I have concluded that any person is eligible to receive revelation, though with regard to the priesthood one will not receive revelation for someone higher than him in the priesthood. I believe that the church has distorted and squashed revelation over the years where revelation was encouraged in the early church. I also believe that the current first presidency only approach does not hold fast to the scriptures.

    Was Lehi the president of the church in his day? Certainly not. Nor was he the only prophet in his day. His ministry in Jerusalem overlapped the time period of Jerimiah and Ezekiel. Look at Abinadai preaching to the church and the priesthood of their wrongs, he was clearly an outsider. My point is that God calls prophets, they are not voted upon by the people.

    God has promised that there will be more. Just the records that are promised in the scriptures that are still to come forth give one pause to think of all that is not yet revealed.

    The book of Enoch
    The sealed portion of the BOM
    The fulness of the account of John the Revelator
    The other ten tribes records
    The book of the generations of Adam

    I am skeptical of declarations that state “to whom it may concern”, what happened to “thus sayeth the Lord”? I believe it will make a return, in the mean time I seek the best understanding I can personally receive and keep searching for the return of old school Joseph Smith style revelation.

    • Jacob Andersen
      February 8, 2015 at 3:53 am

      Hebron – I couldn’t agree more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *