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Question 11
Lack of Current Revelations

If the President of the Church receives revelations, why haven't there been any additions to the canon of Scripture since 1847, especially since the Church now has in its possession the original papyri to complete the translation of the Book of Abraham?  If the supposed answer to this question is that the "revelations" consist of the teachings of the General Authorities (especially at conferences), why then do the current leaders of the Church repudiate the concepts of Adam-god, individual blood atonement, and rebaptism of the membership, and ignore the many false prophecies given in the last century by the (then) General Authorities?  A final thought on this subject comes from Orson Pratt, who continually taught in many of his speeches and written works that the prima facie evidence of the Christian church's apostasy was the fact that they hadn't added any more books to their canon of Scripture.  Well, neither has the LDS Church for almost 130 years, which is 89% of the time that the Church has existed.   By analogy, doesn't this tend to bring an indictment of apostasy against the LDS Church?

Response by John A. Tvedtnes (FARMS)

This question misstates the facts.  The year 1847 was not the cut-off date for revelations being published in latter-day scriptures of the Church.  The 1867 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants added 26 new sections, now numbered 2, 13, 77, 85, 87, 108-11, 113-18, 120-23, 125, 126, 129-32, and 136.  The Pearl of Great Price was canonized in 1880.  In 1890, members of the Church approved what later was published (beginning in 1908) as Official Declaration 1 at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants.  What are now sections 137 and 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants were first canonized in 1976, when they were added to the Pearl of Great Price.  In 1981, they were moved to a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.  At the same time, Official Declaration 2, which announced a 1978 revelation to President Spencer W. Kimball, was appended to the Doctrine and Covenants.  A number of other official declarations and proclamations have been issued by the First Presidency and/or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1845 without being added to the official canon.  The most recent of these is "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (1995).  At no time has the restored Church been left without divine guidance, which continues to our day. 

Some of the concepts included in the criticism are not found in Latter-day Saint scriptures, so it is natural that various authorities might disagree with them - or at least to the interpretation given them by some people.  It is also incorrect to say that the Church now possesses the "original papyri . . . of the Book of Abraham."  The small papyrus fragments obtained by the Church in 1967 were cut and mounted on paper backing in 1835, yet for many years after that time Joseph Smith - and later his mother-showed a rather long scroll as the source of the Book of Abraham.  One witness described the roll as some 15 feet in length, while another said that when extended to its full length it had to be unrolled through the door and into the next room.  As far as we know, this long roll was among the Egyptian artifacts sold to Colonel Woods for his museum in St. Louis after the death of the prophet Joseph's mother.  Woods later removed his museum to Chicago, where its contents perished in the great fire of 1871.  For more information, see John Gee, A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Provo: FARMS, 2000).