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Authority of LDS Non-Scriptural Writings

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Authority of LDS Non-Scriptural Writings

This section focuses on the authority of certain LDS non-scriptural writings. It shows that works like Journal of Discourses, and Lectures on Faith were considered a source of divine revelation and doctrine in the early years of the LDS Church. Mormon leaders upheld the accuracy and relevancy of these writings for the Church and recognized the importance of checking them for errors and false doctrine before allowing them to be published (see quote by Brigham Young to this effect at the end of this section).

"The Journal of Discourses is a vehicle of doctrine, counsel, and instruction to ALL people, but especially to the Saints." — Brigham Young

These sources are generally not viewed as authoritative by Mormons today. This is understandable, since in many cases, these works contradict what is taught today. Early LDS leaders recognized the truth that God does not change in His character and they therefore rightly realized that the principles of the true gospel also do not change. It is unlikely they imagined some of the radical shifts the Mormon gospel would undergo later (like the abandonment of polygamy and blacks getting the priesthood).

Click on links below to see scans of actual documents.

Journal of Discourses

  • Brigham Young - Brigham Young endorses the work of Elder George D. Watt in compiling the Journal of Discourses. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. v (1853)
  • George D. Watt - Journal of discourses contains the words of Apostles and Prophets and will prove a source of light, information and joy. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. vii (1853)
  • Orson Pratt - "We are privileged to present to the Saints and the world, the Third Volume of the Journal of Discourses, containing the principles of the Gospel of salvation delivered to this generation through the Apostles and Prophets of the Most High, by the power of the Holy Ghost." Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. iii (1856)
  • George Q. Cannon - "Read the discourses of the first Presidency and the Twelve, and you will see that they are filled with revelation, with light, with knowledge, with wisdom, and with good counsel unto this people. ... There has not been a single minute that this people has been left without the voice of God." Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 345 (1864)
  • Brigham Young - "The Journal of Discourses is a vehicle of doctrine, counsel, and instruction to ALL people, but especially to the Saints. It follows then, then, [sic] that each successive volume is more and more valuable as the Church increases in numbers and importance in the earth." Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. iii (1867)

Lectures on Faith

  • Joseph Smith - "The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged then into the following work.
        "... The church viewing this subject to be of importance, appointed, through their servants and delegates the High Council, your servants to select and compile this work." Doctrine and Covenants, p. iii (1835 ed.)

The Seer by LDS Apostle Orson Pratt

  • Orson Pratt - "The pages of the Seer will be mostly occupied with original matter, illucidating [sic] the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as revealed in both ancient and modern Revelations.
        "... And we say to all nations, subscribe to the Seer, and we promise you a True and Faithful description of all the principle features, characterizing this great and last 'dispensation of the fulness of times." The Seer, p. 1 (1854)
  • Orson Pratt - "This certifies that Professor Orson Pratt of the University of Deseret, one of the Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is appointed by us, with the sanction of the special Conference ... to write and Publish Periodicals, Pamphlets, Books &c, illustrative of the principles and doctrines of the Church." Statement signed by "Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards - Presidency of said Church" The Seer, p. 2 (1854)

True Gospel Never Changes

  • "When the Lord commands us to become like Him, He really intends that we shall do so. But since He never changes, and since human nature is always the same, identical conditions are required to bring that human nature into harmony with the unchangeable God.
        "For that reason, the Gospel must always be the same in all its parts.
        "To say that the Gospel may be changed is to say that either God has changed, or that human nature is no longer human nature.
        "It is obvious, therefore that no one can change the Gospel, and that if they attempt to do so, they only set up a man-made system which is not the Gospel, but is merely a reflection of their own views. And since only God can save, only His Gospel can save, and if we substitute 'any other Gospel,' there is no salvation in it." Editorial - Church News, p. 16 (June 5, 1965)

No Transmission of Incorrect and Unsound Doctrines

Brigham Young - "We do not wish incorrect and unsound doctrines to be handed down to posterity under the sanction of great names, to be received and valued by future generations as authentic and reliable ... Errors in history and doctrine, if left uncorrected by us who are conversant with the events, and who are in a position to judge of the truth or falsity of the doctrines, would go to our children as though we had sanctioned and endorsed them." Millennial Star, vol. 27, p. 659 (1865)