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Citations on Revelation

The following are sections out of Bill McKeever’s book In their Own Words: A Collection of Mormon Quotations. The full book of 400 pages is available at Mormonism Research Ministry or

Joseph Smith

“Some revelations are of God; some revelations are of man; and
some revelations are of the devil” (David Whitmer quoting Joseph
Smith, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints 1:163).

2nd President Brigham Young

“Let every man and woman know by the whispering of the Spirit
of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path
the Lord dictates or not” (Brigham Young, January 12, 1862, Journal
of Discourses 9:150).

“Brother Orson Hyde referred to a few who complained about
not getting revelations. I will make a statement here that has been
brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not
here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in
the councils of the nations-that Brigham Young has said ‘when he
sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.’
I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they
are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want
to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of
God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to
another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here
or there” (Brigham Young, October 6, 1870, Journal of Discourses

6th President Joseph F. Smith

“It is not my business nor that of any other individual to rise up
as a revelator, as a prophet, as a seer, as an inspired man, to give
revelation for the guidance of the Church, or to assume to dictate
to the presiding authorities of the Church in any part of the world,
much less in the midst of Zion, where the organizations of the
Priesthood are about perfect, where everything is complete even
to the organization of a branch. It is the right of individuals to be
inspired and to receive manifestations of the Holy Spirit for their
personal guidance, to strengthen their faith, and to encourage
them in works of righteousness, in being faithful and observing
and keeping the commandments which God has given unto them;
it is the privilege of every man and woman to receive revelation
to this end, but not further. The moment an individual rises up
assuming the right to control and to dictate or to sit in judgment
on his brethren, especially upon those who preside, he should be
promptly checked, or discord, division and confusion would be
the result” (Joseph F. Smith, June 21, 1883, Journal of Discourses
24:189-190. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F.
Smith, 1998, p. 366).

“Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct
revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order
and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an
imposter” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1986, p. 42. See also
Ensign (Conference Edition), “Beware of False Prophets,” November
1999, p. 62).

“I will say this, Mr. Chairman, that no revelation given through
the head of the church ever becomes binding and authoritative
upon members of the church until it has been presented to the
church and accepted by them” (Joseph F. Smith, Reed Smoot Case,
1:96, 1904).

“The spirit of inspiration, the gift of revelation, does not belong
to one man solely; it is not a gift that pertains to the Presidency of
the Church and the Twelve apostles alone. It is not confined to the
presiding authorities of the Church, it belongs to every individual
member of the Church; and it is the right and privilege of every
man, every woman, and every child who has reached the years
of accountability, to enjoy the spirit of revelation, and to be possessed
of the spirit of inspiration in the discharge of their duties as
members of the Church” (Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of
the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 1998, p. 266).

“How shall we know that [the counsel we receive from Church
leaders] is right? By getting the Spirit of God in our hearts, by
which our minds may be opened and enlightened, that we may
know the doctrine for ourselves, and be able to divide truth from
error, light from darkness and good from evil” (Joseph F. Smith,
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 1998, p. 270.
Brackets in original).

8th President George Albert Smith

“It is unique these days to belong to a church, wherein those who
are members believe that the Lord speaks through their leaders.
When we are instructed by the President of this Church, we believe
he tells us what the Lord would have us do. To us it is something
more than just the advice of man” (George Albert Smith,
Conference Reports, October 1930, p. 66).

10th President Joseph Fielding Smith

“I want to say to the Latter-day Saints that it is our duty to put
our faith in the revealed word of God, to accept that which has
come through inspiration, through revelation unto his servants
the prophets, both ancient and modern. And whenever you find
any doctrine, any idea, any expression from any source whatsoever, that
is in conflict with that which the Lord has revealed and which is found in
the holy scriptures, you may be assured that it is false; and you should
put it aside and stand firmly grounded in the truth in prayer and
in faith, relying upon the Spirit of the Lord for knowledge, for
wisdom, concerning these principles of truth” (Joseph Fielding
Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:321. Italics in original).

11th President Harold B. Lee

“Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve once told of
a discussion he had with a group of stake officers. In the course
of the discussion someone said to him, ‘Brother Widtsoe, how
long has it been since the Church received a revelation?’ Brother
Widtsoe rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said in reply, ‘Oh, probably
since last Thursday’ ” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places,
pp. 132-133).

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It
may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social
views. It may interfere with your social life.…Your safety and ours
depends upon whether or not we follow.…Let’s keep our eye on
the President of the Church (CR October 1970, pp. 152-153.)”
(Harold B. Lee, as cited in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 139.
Ellipses in original).

13th President Ezra Taft Benson

“In our day we are blessed with the Doctrine and Covenants, modern
revelation. The words of the prophets, particularly the living
President of the Church, are crucial reading and can give direction
and comfort in an hour when one is down” (Ezra Taft Benson,
Conference Reports, October 1974, p. 92).

“The Prophet Does Not Have to Say ‘Thus Saith the Lord’ to Give
Us Scripture. Sometimes there are those who haggle over words.
They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not
obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the
Lord says of the Prophet, ‘Thou shalt give heed unto all his words
and commandments which he shall give unto you.’ (D&C 21:4.)”
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the
Prophets,” BYU Devotional given February 26, 1980, Press Copy,
p 6. Underline in original).

First Presidency

“When the word of God is given through His servants, as for instance,
this morning through President Taylor making a certain
promise; that promise is just as binding as if written. If we live
for it, it will be fulfilled, just as much as if it were written. God
has bestowed the spirit of revelation upon His servants. In fact,
no man, no matter what his office may be, whether it be Deacon,
Teacher, Priest or Elder, Seventy or High Priest, or Apostle, has the
right to teach the people unless he does it by the light of the Holy
Ghost, by the power of God. He should not attempt to teach the
people that which he may have framed in his own heart to say to
them” (George Q. Cannon, October 29, 1882, Journal of Discourses,

“UNWRITTEN REVELATION BINDING. Though we do not receive
written revelations (the men who have held the keys have
not always felt led to write revelations as the Prophet Joseph did),
the servants of the Lord do receive revelations, and they are as
binding upon the people as though they were printed and published
throughout all the Stakes of Zion. The oracles of God are
here, and He speaks through His servant whom He has chosen to
hold the keys…. We have been blessed as a people with an abundance
of revelation. Some have deceived themselves with the idea
that because revelations have not been written and published,
therefore there has been a lessening of power in the Church of
Christ. This is a very great mistake, as we will find out sooner or
later” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of
President George Q. Cannon 1:328. Ellipsis in original).

“This Church has been continually led by the spirit of revelation.
The spirit of revelation has been here in our conference. The addresses
that have been delivered have been made under the inspiration
of the Holy Ghost, and they are the word of God unto
this people, binding upon them, and they will be judged by these
words that we have heard. If we do not listen to these instructions
and counsels and abide by the word of God as it is given to us from
time to time, we shall be held to a strict accountability” (George
Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George
Q. Cannon 1:329).

“Revelations from the prophets of God are not like offerings at the
cafeteria, some to be selected and others disregarded” (James E.
Faust, “Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief,” Ensign (Conference
Edition), November 2003, p. 22).

“The question is, how shall we know when the things they [the
Brethren] have spoken were said as they were ‘moved by the Holy
Ghost?’ I have been giving some thought to this question, and
the answer thereto so far as I can determine, is: We can tell when
the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we,
ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ In a way this completely
shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when
they so speak” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Teachings of the Living Prophets,
1982, p. 21. Brackets in original).

“There are those who insist that unless the Prophet of the Lord
declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ the message may not be taken as a
revelation. This is a false testing standard. For while many of our
modern revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants
do contain those words, there are many that do not.” (Church
News, July 31, 1954, p. 10.)” (J. Reuben Clark, as cited in Teachings
of the Living Prophets, 1982, p. 21, and Neal A. Maxwell, Things As
They Really Are, p. 70).


“The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to
be printed in a book. They do not do things because God told
the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything
because of instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites. Whatever
is done by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in
our day, has commanded this Church to do it. No book presides
over this Church and no book lies at its foundation. You cannot
pile up books enough to take the place of God’s priesthood, inspired
by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the constitution of
the Church of Christ. If we use water instead of wine in the sacrament
of the Lord’s Supper, it is because Christ has so commanded.
Divine revelation adapts itself to the circumstances and conditions
of men, and change upon change ensues as God’s progressive
work goes on to its destiny. There is no book big enough or good
enough to preside over this Church” (Orson Whitney, Conference
Reports, October, 1916, p. 55. See also Teachings of the Living Prophets,
1982, p. 20 and Ensign, March 2015, p. 80 ).

“No book is good enough to preside over the Church of God and
direct its activities. Books are not a sufficient guide for a progressive
people on their way to the celestial kingdom. They are good as
far as they go, but they do not go far enough. We have something
better – a living, heaven-inspired Priesthood, with the restored
Gospel, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the principle of immediate
and continuous revelation. Other churches are built upon
books, traditions, decrees of councils and synods, private interpretations,
man-made doctrines, maybe-so’s and peradventures.
But the Church of the Living God stands where He has placed it,
upon the Rock of Divine Revelation, and the gates of hell cannot
prevail against it” (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Reports, October
1925, pp. 104-105).

“Revelations given of God through his prophets, however, are not
subject to an approving or sustaining vote of the people in order
to establish their validity. Members of the Church may vote to publish
a particular revelation along with the other scriptures, or the
people may bind themselves by covenant to follow the instructions
found in the revealed word. But there is no provision in the Lord’s
plan for the members of the Church to pass upon the validity of
revelations themselves by a vote of the Church; there is nothing
permitting the Church to choose which of the revelations will be
binding upon it, either by a vote of people or by other means”
(Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 150).

“We could be saved without the Bible, but we cannot be saved
without latter-day revelation” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Bible: A
Sealed Book,” a BYU speech given to LDS Seminary and Institute
teachers, August 1984).

“The scriptures did not come so much from Joseph Smith as they
did through him. He was a conduit through which the revelations
were given. He was otherwise an ordinary man, as were the prophets
in ancient times and as are the prophets in our day. Some have
alleged that these books of revelation are false, and they place in
evidence changes that have occurred in the texts of these scriptures
since their original publication. They cite these changes, of
which there are many examples, as though they themselves were
announcing revelation. As though they were the only ones that
knew of them. Of course there have been changes and corrections.
Anyone who has done even limited research knows that.
When properly reviewed, such corrections become a testimony
for, not against, the truth of the books. The Prophet Joseph Smith
was an unschooled farm boy. To read some of his early letters in
the original shows him to be somewhat unpolished in spelling and
grammar and in expression. That the revelations came through
him in any form of literary refinement is nothing short of a miracle.
That some perfecting should continue strengthens my respect
for them. Now, I add with emphasis that such changes have been
basically minor refinements in grammar, expression, punctuation,
clarification. Nothing fundamental has been altered. Why are they
not spoken of over the pulpit? Simply because by comparison they
are so insignificant, and unimportant as literally to be not worth
talking about. After all, they have absolutely nothing to do with
whether the books are true” (Boyd K. Packer, “We Believe All
That God Has Revealed,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1974,
p. 94).

“Furthermore, President [Reuben J.] Clark said that among
those of the Twelve and the Presidency, ‘only the President of the
Church, the Presiding High Priest, is sustained as Prophet, Seer,
and Revelator for the Church, and he alone has the right to receive
revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to
give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding
on the Church, or change in any way the existing doctrines
of the Church” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign,
September 2005, p. 17. Brackets mine).

“Shortly before his call as an Apostle, Dallin H. Oaks explained:
‘Our Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order. … Only the
President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire
Church. … The person who receives revelation for the ward is the
bishop. … Individuals can receive revelation to guide their own
lives. But when one person purports to receive revelation for another
person outside his or her own area of responsibility—such
as a Church member who claims to have revelation to guide the
entire Church or a person who claims to have a revelation to guide
another person over whom he or she has no presiding authority
according to the order of the Church—you can be sure that
such revelations are not from the Lord’” (Dallin Oaks, Doctrine
and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual,
1999, p. 29. Ellipses in original. See also “Revelation,” New Era,
September 1982, pp. 45-46).

“It is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the
Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority,
higher than themselves” (L. Tom Perry citing Joseph Smith,
“We Believe All That God Has Revealed,” Ensign, November 2003,
p. 86).

“Revelation from God is always compatible with His eternal law. It
never contradicts His doctrine. It is facilitated by proper reverence
for Deity” (Russell M. Nelson, “Ask, Seek, Knock,” Ensign (Conference
Edition), November 2009, p. 83).

“Every Latter-day Saint may merit personal revelation” (Russell M.
Nelson, “Ask, Seek, Knock,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November
2009, p. 83).

“As we receive the inspiration of the Holy Ghost for ourselves, it is wise to remember that we cannot receive revelation for others. I know of a young man who told a young woman, ‘I’ve had a dream that you are to be my wife.’ The young woman pondered that statement and then responded, ‘When I have the same dream, I’ll come and talk to you’” (Robert D. Hales, “The Holy Ghost,” Ensign, May 2016 (Conference Edition), p. 106).

“The Church in its divine mission and we in our personal lives seem to face increasing opposition today. Perhaps as the Church grows in strength and we members grow in faith and obedience, Satan increases the strength of his opposition so we will continue to have ‘opposition in all things.’ Some of this opposition even comes from Church members. Some who use personal reasoning or wisdom to resist prophetic direction give themselves a label borrowed from elected bodies—‘the loyal opposition.’ However appropriate for a democracy, there is no warrant for this concept in the government of God’s kingdom, where questions are honored but opposition is not (see Matthew 26:24)” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Opposition in All Things,” Ensign, May 2016 (Conference Edition), p. 117).


“Just as each prophet in times past left scripture as evidence of the
divinity of his calling, so we offer to the honest in heart today additional
scriptures, both ancient and modern. These additional revelations
form the scriptural basis for the doctrine of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (A. Theodore Tuttle, Conference
Reports, April 1964, p. 9).

“There are those who would assume that with the printing and
binding of these sacred records, [and he was speaking here of the
four standard works] that would be the ‘end of the prophets.’ But
again we testify to the world that revelation continues and that
the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which
come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is,
since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last,
a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue
to interpret the mind and will of the Lord” (Merrill C. Oaks, “The
Living Prophet: Our Source of Pure Doctrine,” Ensign (Conference
Edition), Nov.1998, p. 82. Brackets in original. Speaking of
Spencer W. Kimball).

Other Sources

“A most important key to understanding John’s work is the spirit
of revelation and prophecy. This is centered in the living apostles
and prophets and is found in modern scripture. As the Saints
hearken to both the living prophet and the Standard Works, the
Lord will reveal his will line upon line and precept upon precept”
(Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the
Revelator, p. 18).

“Revelation through living prophets provides a significant foundation
for the faith of the Latter-day Saints. Modern-day divine communications
began with the personal appearance of the Father
and the Son to Joseph Smith in the early spring of 1820 and have
continued to guide the Church ever since” (Milton V. Backman,
Jr. and Richard O. Cowan, Joseph Smith and the Doctrine and Covenants,
p. 1).

“The standard works themselves testify that the written word
of God, although canonized and universally binding upon the
Church, is insufficient and incomplete in conveying to man the
mind and will of the Lord to all generations of his children on
earth. One of the first principles taught to Joseph Smith and the
early Saints was the need for continual revelation-living scripture
through living prophets… Numerous other canonized scriptural
statements also attest to the ongoing need for additional revelation,
through living oracles, that may expand or constrict previously
revealed principles and programs and provide interpretations
and applications of canonized scriptures to modern-day
needs and circumstances” (Brent L. Top, Larry E. Dahl, and Walter
D. Bowen, Follow the Living Prophets, pp. 109-110. Ellipsis mine).

“Biblical teaching, while true and accepted, has been imperfectly
preserved and can be fully reconstituted only through supplemental
revelation. This is not because New Testament Christianity was
defective, but because New Testament Christianity is only partially
preserved in the modern Bible” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 1:401).
“Our blessing is that we believe in personal revelation. Our curse
is that we believe in personal revelation. That’s the honest fact
for me. There is a risk associated with the position we take toward
God’s ability to speak to you and me” (BYU Professor Emeritus
Robert L. Millet, “From faith to fanatic delusion,” Deseret News,
March 16, 2003).

“Which is of greater importance to you people, the living prophet
or the standard works (another way of describing our scriptural
canon)?I think most Latter-day Saints would be prone to answer
this by pointing out the value and significance of living oracles,
or continuing revelation, or ongoing divine direction through
modern apostles and prophets, and thus to conclude that living
prophets take precedence over canonized scripture” (BYU Professor
Emeritus Robert L. Millet, Claiming Christ, p. 31).

“We do not need to seek new revelation where the Lord or His
servants have already spoken on the matter. However, we may seek
confirmation of its truthfulness, as we do in other aspects of a testimony”
(Gerald Lund, Hearing the Voice of the Lord: Principles and
Patterns of Personal Revelation, p. 190).

“The fact that Joseph Smith made changes to revelations shouldn’t
be cause for embarrassment but a cause of celebration, according
to Grant Underwood, a professor of history at Brigham Young
University. ‘Well folks, let us celebrate the reality of ongoing revelation,’
Underwood said at the Sidney B. Sperry Symposium last
week. ‘It is manifest in the revisions. Let us try to savor and understand
what was going on.’” (BYU Professor Grant Underwood,
“Sperry Symposium: A witness of ongoing revelation,” Deseret News
Mormon Times, October 29, 2008)

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