Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What Constitutes Scripture

There is a worthwhile discussion going on at Times and Seasons.org regarding the nature of, and what constitutes, scripture. I thought I would add here what I posted there.

The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: Priesthood, the Word of God, and the Temple” by Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, Ensign, Feb. 1989, 7, we read the following:

“In addition to restoring ancient principles, Joseph Smith added new revelations to the body of scripture: the volume of sacred writ was not to be closed. Many of these revelations were communicated during regular conferences, then printed in official reports. Significantly, these revelations stand as scripture itself: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, … my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)

“Thus, by experience and revelation, Joseph learned and taught (1) that scripture is nothing more or less than the word of the Lord, (2) that the book of God’s word is not closed, (3) that God speaks to all dispensations, (4) that scripture must be correctly understood through the spirit of truth, and (5) that the words of the Lord’s servants when moved upon by the Holy Ghost are scripture, too. (See 2 Pet. 1:20–21; D&C 68:4.)”

D&C 68:4 “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

It is interesting to note the attitude of those living in some states at the time Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. “These doctrines came into Joseph Smith’s world as radical ideas. Joseph’s Christian contemporaries accepted as scripture only the books of the Bible. They considered that volume to be a single, complete, and absolute source to be understood quite literally. Thus, the laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony described the Old and New Testaments as “containing in them the infallible and whole Will of God, which he purposed to make known to Mankinde,” the denial of which was punishable by fines, whippings, banishment, or death. (ibid.)

“The Palmyra Reflector warned Oliver Cowdery that he might be sent as a convict to the Simsbury Mines if he dared to proclaim [the Book of Mormon] message in ‘the principal cities of the Union.’” (ibid.)

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