The statement by Pres Joseph F. Smith while under oath to the Senate that I wrote about a few weeks ago (here)got me to thinking, what is revelation, and what do the current Q15 think it is? Just to refresh your memory, JFS said when asked about revelation: “”I have never pretended to nor do I profess to have received revelations” (1). Later he said there had been no revelation excepting the “manifesto” for at least 20 years, going back to 1882 when John Taylor received revelation on two new apostles.
It appears by these statements, that JFS believed “revelation” was something that came directly from God, and carried a “Thus saith the Lord” type of verbiage. Do the current Q15 believe this? Or do they have a more nuanced view of what constitutes revelation?
Joseph Smith would add revelations at the drop of a hat for every item that needed attention in the early church. The D&C if full of them; sending people on missions, building temples, etc.
So my question is why doesn’t the current Prophet add revelation to the D&C? Why couldn’t Pres. Hinckley have added a D&C section that said something to the effect of:
“I the Lord desire that the Holy ordinances of My House be available to all members of My church. It is meet that small temples be built to cover the earth. They need not be large grand buildings like have heretofore been constructed in this dispensation. “
What about deleting sections that are no longer applicable (section 132) , or have been changed by “modern revelation”? The Word of Wisdom in section 89 could be entirely re-written, with words like
“A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the entire church, to be used as a commandment and constraint, for entering my Holy House. Given for a principle with promise, for all saints who desire entry there in. “
In 1930, under the direction of Pres Grant, James Talmage (then Senior Apostle) removed 95 sections of the D&C, and parts of 21 others. The church authorized its printing as Latter-day Revelations: Selections from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day. Section 132 (Plural Marriage) was omitted in its entirety , which so enraged the fundamentalist, that they accused the church of changing the scriptures. In response, Grant, ordered the work immediately withdrawn from sale and the remaining copies shredded to avoid further conflict with the fundamentalists (2).
So why do you think we don’t update the D&C like was done in the early church? Do we have different criteria for what is consider worthy to put in the book? Have we changed the definition of Revelation as understood by Joseph Smith up to and including Joseph F. Smith? Are we afraid of enraging the fundamentalist and give further ammunition to the Snufferites and other such groups? What changes do you think need made?
(1) Page 99 of the Congressional record, Vol 24, 1906
(2) Newell G. Bringhurst, “Section 132: Contents and Legacy” in The Persistence of Polygamy, (Independence: John Whitmer Books: 2010), 83-84.