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Continuing Revelation

Latter-day Saints reject a closed canon. The scriptures are God's word, but they are not God's final word. The texts we have are not sufficient to teach us everything God ultimately intends humanity to know (2 Ne. 28:27-30; 29:9-10). Important truths will be revealed in the future that have never been known before (D&C 121:26; A of F 9). This necessarily implies that our present understanding is incomplete and, in the long term, inadequate (Mosiah 4:9).

If, as Isaiah says, God's thoughts are as far removed from ours as the heavens from the earth (Isa. 55:8-9), then we should expect our understanding to change radically as we grow deeper into our divine nature. The end of polygamy and the lifting of the priesthood ban (OD 1 & 2) exemplify dramatic changes in LDS teaching and practice due to continuing revelation. Living on the far side of those changes, we may forget how profoundly many Saints had to alter their thinking about what they had understood until then to be revealed, immutable doctrines.

By the same token, we cannot rule out the possibility that teachings we now regard as fundamental may someday be revised, even abandoned, as God leads the Saints to new understanding. Reliance on the scriptures or teachings of living prophets must be accompanied by the recognition that our understanding of truth is subject to change, even on questions for which God may appear to have given decisive answers.

John Taylor: I presume as we obtain more of the Spirit of God—as we receive faith and intelligence that flow from him and the revelations that he imparts and will continue to impart to those who are faithful, we shall begin to understand things in a very different light from what many of us at the present time understand them.
Journal of Discourses 6:105

B. H. Roberts: Even with the possession of this Spirit to guide us into all truth, I pray you, nevertheless, not to look for finality in things, for you will look in vain. Intelligence, purity, truth, will always remain with us relative terms and also relative qualities. . . . No matter how great or comprehensive your conceptions may be of divine things, the divine things themselves are always greater than your conceptions of them.

Defense of the Faith and the Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907), 1:529; 2:466

John A. Widtsoe: A [person] who loves truth, and seeks it, frequently finds that the new truth is in opposition to his former, cherished beliefs. Then if this love of truth be genuine, he must replace the traditions of his life with the new-won knowledge.

In Search of Truth (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963), 21

Hugh Nibley: True knowledge never shuts the door on more knowledge, but zeal often does.

Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978), 267-268

Hugh Nibley: One does not have faith in propositions, creeds, or institutions, to which one is merely loyal. One has faith in God alone—all else is subject to change without notice. Faith does not seek security by boxing itself in with definite and binding creeds.

The Ancient State (Salt Lake City & Provo: Deseret Book & FARMS, 1991), 332

Eugene England: Even revelation is, in fact, merely the best understanding the Lord can give us of those things. And, as God himself has clearly insisted, that understanding is far from perfect.

"Why the Church Is as True as the Gospel," Sunstone, April 1986, 30

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.