Revelation is readily defined as communication from God to man. It comes in many forms ranging from promptings of the Holy Ghost, to visions, to visitations from angels, etc. Revelation is one of the key doctrines that the restored gospel is built on, for that is how we have the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. We also have knowledge of a Heavenly Mother, temple ordinances, “as man is, God once was,” and numerous other doctrines and principles.
One of the key differences between canonized scriptures (BoM, Bible, D&C, and PoGP) and other revealed truths such as those mentioned above are that the canonized scriptures are simply canonized revelation while the other truths are not.
LDS.org defines canon as “the authoritative collection of sacred books of scripture, known as the standard works, formally adopted and accepted by the Church and considered binding upon members in matters of faith and doctrine.”
The process by which revelation becomes canonized scripture is carried out by presenting revelation to the body of the church and receiving an affirmative vote on the matter. As such, the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are canonized revelation while revelations such as Heavenly Mother, temple ordinances, etc. are simply revealed truths.
My purpose is to show you the obligation we, as individuals, have to accept non-canonized revelation as truth whether it is canonized scripture or not. But, hold on you say. We, as individuals and as a church, already do this, right? I mean, the above mentioned teachings prove just that.
I say yes we do. But my question then is why are we so inconsistent in this matter? For example, there are plenty of revelations given through Joseph Smith that we accept as revealed truths yet they are not canonized scripture (above examples). We accept The Family: A Proclamation to the World as a revealed truth, yet it is not canonized scripture. Doctrine and Covenants 132 was accepted as a revealed truth before it became canonized scripture. On the other hand, there are several revelations given through Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and others that we simply ignore or push aside. What logic is there to accept one but not the other? Are we not commanded to live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God? Instead of accepting all revelation as truth, we’d rather accept uninspired words (Songs of Solomon) or revelations that we have never even read (Official Declaration 2) as canonized scripture. Just because it’s not canon does not mean it’s not true. Did Joseph Smith not have a vision of the Father and the Son until it was canonized into the Pearl of Great Price? (Hint: the Pearl of Great Price didn’t even become canon until after Joseph’s martyrdom.) Was Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead not a revealed truth until it was voted on by the membership of the church? Is truth really determined by a majority vote? Perhaps we should take that into consideration when reading the words of the early leaders of the church.
The church has stated that, “although the decisions were made in the past as to which writings are authoritative, that does not mean that the canon of scripture is complete and that no more can be added. True prophets and apostles will continue to receive new revelation, and from time to time the legal authorities of the Church will see fit to formally add to the collection of scripture.”
Before we start adding more to the collection of canonized scripture, maybe we need to start accepting the revealed truths and non-canonized scripture we already have.