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