Question: Did Brigham Young state that everything he said could be considered "scripture"?

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Question: Did Brigham Young state that everything he said could be considered "scripture"?

Brigham made it clear that his previous statement should not mean that anything he said was scripture, but only that which he had the opportunity to correct and send to the Saints as scripture

Brigham Young made a statement which is often misrepresented:

Well, brethren and sisters, try and be Saints. I will try; I have tried many years to live according to the law which the Lord reveals unto me. 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, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. 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. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this [discourse] go to the people with "Thus saith the Lord," and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them. But if they are plead with, and led along like children, we may come to understand the will of the Lord and he may preserve us as we desire.[1]

Brigham here says that his remarks are "scripture." The Church statement notes that "isolated statements are often taken out of context." That is true in this case. Here is Brigham's own explanation of this comment:

Brother Orson Hyde referred to a few who complained about not getting revelations. I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations—that Brigham Young has said "when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture." I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.[2]

Brigham made it clear that his previous statement should not mean that anything he said was scripture, but only that which he had the opportunity to correct and send to the Saints as scripture. This provides a good example of why this rule exists at all: what a prophet may intend to convey may not be what his listeners hear, or what scribes recorded. Thus, teachings must be approved by the author and submitted as binding scripture in order for them to be considered such.

Notes

  1. Brigham Young, "Latter-Day Saint Families, etc.," (2 January 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:95-95.
  2. Brigham Young, "Texts for Preaching Upon at Conference—Revelations, etc.," (6 October 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:264-264.