Question: What does the Church say on the propriety of Church members publicizing personal revelations, dreams or visions?

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Question: What does the Church say on the propriety of Church members publicizing personal revelations, dreams or visions?

"No member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve"

Church News, "Five Ways to Detect and Avoid Doctrinal Deception"

Church News,  Church News, (17 September 2013)
On the final day of BYU Campus Education Week, Robert L. Millet, an author and BYU professor, gave a presentation outlining five points Latter-day Saints can use to avoid doctrinal deception in the Church. He said that red flags should go off in members’ heads when they encounter things that are not doctrinally sound.

One Saturday morning, Brother Millet said, he received a call from Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Maxwell was concerned about a book that had received a lot of attention and had gained somewhat of a cult following. He asked Brother Millet if he knew about it and what he thought about it. Brother Millet said, “Elder Maxwell, frankly, it has a lot of doctrinal problems.”

Elder Maxwell said, “It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be. Our lack of doctrinal sophistication makes us an easy prey for such fads.” Brother Millet then explained that Latter-day Saints ought to pore over the scriptures constantly to learn the doctrines, lest they be deceived.

Sooner or later someone comes along claiming a new revelation, a new doctrine, or some new way of life, said Brother Millet. He asked how members can determine if something is from God. He proposed five questions that a person might ask to determine if something is false.

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First Presidency

It ought to have been known, years ago, by every person in the Church-for ample teachings have been given on the point--that no member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve. There is but one man upon the earth, at one time, who holds the keys to receive commandments and revelations for the Church, and who has the authority to write doctrines by way of commandment unto the Church. And any man who so far forgets the order instituted by the Lord as to write and publish what may be termed new doctrines, without consulting with the First Presidency of the Church respecting them, places himself in a false position, and exposes himself to the power of darkness by violating his Priesthood.

While upon this subject, we wish to warn all the Elders of the Church, and to have it clearly understood by the members, that, in the future, whoever publishes any new doctrines without first taking this course, will be liable to lose his Priesthood. [1]

The history of the Church records many pretended revelations claimed by imposters or zealots who believed in the manifestations they sought to lead other persons to accept, and in every instance, disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom

When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift or inspiration conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. Also they should understand that directions for the guidance of the Church will come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for themselves, their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained to preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable. [2]

Joseph Smith

Let us be faithful and silent, brethren, and if God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves. [3]

Nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the spirit of God. [4]

The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them. [5]

Brigham Young

The adversary presents his principles and arguments in the most approved style, and in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes; and he is very careful to ingratiate himself into the favour of the powerful and influential of mankind, uniting himself with popular parties, floating into offices of trust and emolument by pandering to popular feeling, though it should seriously wrong and oppress the innocent. Such characters put on the manners of an angel, appearing as nigh like angels of light as they possibly can, to deceive the innocent and the unwary. The good which they do, they do it to bring to pass an evil purpose upon the good and honest followers of Jesus Christ. [6]

If the Lord Almighty should reveal to a High Priest, or to any other than the head, things that are, or that have been and will be, and show to him the destiny of this people twenty-five years from now, or a new doctrine that will in five, ten, or twenty years hence become the doctrine of this Church and kingdom, but which has not yet been revealed to this people, and reveal it to him by the same Spirit, the same messenger, the same voice, and the same power that gave revelations to Joseph when he was living, it would be a blessing to that High Priest, or individual; but he must rarely divulge it to a second person on the face of the earth, until God reveals it through the proper source to become the property of the people at large. Therefore when you hear Elders, High Priests, Seventies, or the Twelve, (though you cannot catch any of the Twelve there, but you may the High Priests, Seventies, and Elders) say that God does not reveal through the President of the Church that which they know, and tell wonderful things, you may generally set it down as a God's truth that the revelation they have had, is from the devil, and not from God. [7]

Now I want to tell you that which, perhaps, many of you do not know. Should you receive a vision of revelation from the Almighty, one that the Lord gave you concerning yourselves, or this people, but which you are not to reveal on account of your not being the proper person, or because it ought not to be known by the people at present, you should shut it up and seal it as close, and lock it as tight as heaven is to you, and make it as secret as the grave. The Lord has no confidence in those who reveal secrets, for He cannot safely reveal Himself to such persons. It is as much as He can do to get a particle of sense into some of the best and most influential men in the Church, in regard to real confidence in themselves. They cannot keep things within their own bosoms.

They are like a great many boys and men that I have seen, who would cause even a sixpence, when given to them, to become so hot that it would burn through the pocket of a new vest, or pair of pantaloons, if they could not spend it. It could not stay with them; they would feel so tied up because they were obliged to keep it, that the very fire of discontent would cause it to burn through the pocket, and they would lose the sixpence. This is the case with a great many of the Elders of Israel, with regard to keeping secrets. They burn with the idea, "O, I know things that brother Brigham does not understand." Bless your souls, I guess you do. Don't you think that there are some things that you do not understand? "There may be some things which I do not understand." That is as much as to say, "I know more than you." I am glad of it, if you do. I wish that you knew a dozen times more.

When you see a person of that character, he has no soundness within him. If a person understands God and godliness, the principles of heaven, the principle of integrity, and the Lord reveals anything to that individual, no matter what, unless He gives permission to disclose it, it is locked up in eternal silence. And when persons have proven to their messengers that their bosoms are like the lock-ups of eternity, then the Lord says, I can reveal anything to them, because they never will disclose it until I tell them to. Take persons of any other character, and they sap the foundation of the confidence they ought to have in themselves and in their God. [8]

Joseph F. Smith

We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known his mind and will to the world. [9]

Joseph Fielding Smith

It seems that periodically it becomes necessary to call attention to the true order the Lord has given us in regard to revelation. During the past three or four months I have received a number of communications, coming from various parts of the Church, asking if certain purported revelations or dreams or purported visions are reliable and have the endorsement of the Authorities of the Church. . . .

Now, the Lord will give revelations to this Church, and he will give commandments to this Church from time to time…but always in accordance with his own law; and we do not have to run around and invite individuals who are without authority to relate to us purported visions, or revelations or commandments, for the guidance of this people….

If a man comes among the Latter-day Saints, professing to have received a vision or a revelation or a remarkable dream, and the Lord has given him such, he should keep it to himself. It is all out of order, in this Church, for somebody to invite him into a sacrament service to relate that to the Church, because the Lord will give his revelations in the proper way, to the one who is appointed to receive and dispense the word of God to the members of the Church. . . .

Now, these stories of revelation, that are being circulated around, are of no consequence, except for rumor and silly talk by persons who have no authority….When you know God's truth, when you enter into God's rest, you will not be hunting after revelations from Tom, Dick and Harry all over the world. You will not be following the will-o'-the-wisp of the vagaries of men and women who advance nonsense and their own ideas. [10]

When a revelation comes for the guidance of this people, you may be sure that it will not be presented in some mysterious manner contrary to the order of the Church. It will go forth in such form that the people will understand that it comes from those who are in authority, for it will be sent either to the presidents of stakes and the bishops of the wards over the signatures of the presiding authorities, or it will be published in some of the regular papers or magazines under the control and direction of the Church, or it will be presented before such a gathering as this at a general conference. It will not spring up in some distant part of the Church and be in the hands of some obscure individual without authority, and thus be circulated among the Latter-day Saints. Now, you may remember this. [11]

There have been individuals, from time to time, who have been invited to go into the wards, in the sacrament meetings, priesthood classes, Sunday Schools and Mutual Improvement organizations, and at times, for their special benefit, cottage meetings have been held where they might come and relate remarkable visions or revelations claimed by these individuals to have been given to them. All this is wrong. . . .

Now, the Lord will give revelations to this Church; and he will give commandments to this Church from time to time, and as it is necessary; but always in accordance with his own law; and we do not have to run around and invite individuals who are without authority to relate unto us purported visions, or revelations or commandments, for the guidance of this people.

Everything in the Church is done in order. Everything pertaining to the kingdom of God is in order, because it is obedient to law.

If a man comes among the Latter-day Saints, professing to have received a vision or a revelation or a remarkable dream, and the Lord has given him such, he should keep it to himself. It is all out of order, in this Church, for somebody to invite him into a sacrament service to relate that to the Church, because the Lord will give his revelations in the proper way, to the one who is appointed to receive and dispense the word of God to the members of the Church. [12]

Boyd K. Packer

We always know who is called to lead or to teach and have the opportunity to sustain or to oppose the action. It did not come as an invention of man but was set out in the revelations: “It shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church” (D&C 42:11; emphasis added). In this way, the Church is protected from any imposter who would take over a quorum, a ward, a stake, or the Church. [13]

Neal A. Maxwell

There is a difference between a spiritual impression and a personal obsession. The latter may merely mask a long-held drive to be heard or to be vindicated, and aging does not automatically improve such views. [14]


Notes

  1. Published proclamation of the First Presidency of the Church and the Twelve, Oct. 21, 1865) - [President Brigham Young, Elder Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Amasa M. Lyman, Ezra T. Benson, Charles C. Rich, Elder Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards, George Q. Cannon]
  2. Joseph F, Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, in Messages of the First Presidency, 4:285.
  3. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 91. off-site
  4. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 205. off-site
  5. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976). off-site
  6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:238–239 (3 June 1866).
  7. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:318.
  8. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:288.
  9. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939), 42.
  10. Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report (April 1938), 65–67.
  11. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 287.
  12. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 288.
  13. Boyd K. Packer, "The Weak and Simple of the Church," Ensign (November 2007), italics in original..
  14. Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 110.