1886 Revelation Given to John Taylor

Many Mormons may not know that third LDS President John Taylor claimed to have had a revelation given directly to him by God. While it is has been cited numerous times by polygamists groups, the LDS Church does not hold that this was an authentic revelation.

Taylor’s son, John W., said he discovered the revelation among his papers after his father died in 1887. Photographs of the original copy show that the revelation was penned by Taylor himself. The following is the text from the hand-written revelation, which can be seen by clicking here:

1886 Revelation

Given to President John Taylor September 27, 1886

My son John, you have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant how far it is binding upon my people.

Thus saith the Lord: All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name unless they are revoked by me or by my authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant, for I the Lord am everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with, but they stand forever.

Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject? Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law and the keeping of my commandments, and yet have I borne with them these many years; and this because of their weakness—because of the perilous times, and furthermore, it is more pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in regard to these matters. Nevertheless, I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not, and as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph: All those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham’s seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof; even so, Amen.

It was just four years later that Taylor’s successor, Wilford Woodruff, released a press dispatch explaining the church’s first “manifesto”—a second one came in 1904–that banned plural marriage. In “Declaration 1,” future president Lorenzo Snow wrote that “we accept (Woodruff’s) declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”

We wonder, did God speak to Taylor, as his own handwriting attests? If so, then the Mormon God must be very fickle if he didn’t know he would change his mind just four years later. And if Taylor received this as a revelation, why doesn’t the LDS Church accept this in the Standard Works. Or was Taylor just laying out his own hope and desire that the winds of politics would not blow down a doctrine that the LDS leadership considered vital? Either way, this 1886 revelation ought to be disconcerting for those Mormons who hold that God can speak to their prophet.

For additional information on plural marriage, see The Polygamy Dilemma: Is Plural Marriage a Dead Issue in Mormonism?