On the Doctrinal Validity of Joseph Smith Papers, Journal of Discourses, “Saints” Histories, Etc.

Brigham Young taught that his sermons and those of his brethren were to be taken as scripture, just as much as those in the standard works. This of course is true when it holds true to the doctrines established in the standard works. Living oracles are indeed more important than written scripture, as relying only on written scripture from the past has often resulted in apostacy from truth and light.

Here is the quote:

“I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom . . . I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).


It could be said of the Journal of Discourses like we say of the bible: it is true as far as it is translated (recorded) correctly. JD by and large is scripture, but some have said the scribes who recorded those sermons were sometimes in error. The church said that they see the JD as having error. Brigham Young did say that his sermons were to be taken as scripture if he could review the recording of them. Some were taken in short hand and later expanded, some were better note takers than others. All of this said, I find the JD to be extremely valuable and to be held in high esteem. Antis hold up some things from JD to poke at the church, and we are aware that there is a possibility of error.

JSP: Joseph Smith papers are edited by unbiased liberal academics who sometimes leave out important topics. They also include many bad sources. Just because someone says something is from JSP doesn’t mean its correct.

Saints: This history often has dots (…) between things. What was between those dots? It is often things which the liberal church historians don’t want said. Some things taught by Joseph Smith simply don’t match with the current narrative, such as the condemnation of evolutionary theory, the place of Book of Mormon geography being in the modern day USA, the doctrine of plural marriage being the celestial standard, etc.

Private Journals: It is common knowledge that Joseph Smith didn’t get to teach everything he wanted in public. A review of journals shows his private teachings to many which expound upon his public teachings in significant detail and give the reader a much better view. Hyrum Andrus is one who has had an advantage of a more careful study of these journals.

The scripture says we ought to wear out our lives in searching for truth, surely this search takes us beyond the standard works. We cannot claim ignorance of these resources in our age of ease of access to these materials, and our wealth (dishwashers, laundry machines, indoor plumbing, running water, electricity, automobiles) which enable us to be the generation who has greater doctrinal understanding than any past generation. Are we living up to this duty? Of course not. Few to none do. The way to life is narrow indeed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *