The Doctrine and Covenants: A Roundtable Discussion, Part 1

By Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, J. Spencer Fluhman, Steven C. Harper, Robert J. Woodford and Grant Underwood

Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Grant Underwood, J. Spencer Fluhman, Steven C. Harper, and Robert J. Woodford, “The Doctrine and Covenants: A Roundtable Discussion, Part 1,” Religious Educator 10, no. 2 (2009): 181–192.

Doctrine and Covenants: A Roundtable Discussion, Part 1

J. Spencer Fluhman, Steven C. Harper, Richard Nietzel Holzapfel, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford

J. Spencer Fluhman (spencer_fluhman@byu.edu) was an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU when this was written.

Steven C. Harper (stevenharper@byu.edu) was an associate professor of Church history and doctrine when this was written and an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (holzapfel@byu.edu) was a professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU when this was written.

Grant Underwood (grant_underwood@byu.edu) was a professor of history at BYU when this was written and an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Robert J. Woodford (robertwoodford1167@msn.com) was an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers when this was written.

A roundtable discussion on The Joseph Smith Papers and the Doctrine and Covenants. Courtesy of Richard B. Crookston.

Holzapfel: Many of you are editors on the Joseph Smith Papers Project. What do you see as the major contributions of this project?

Woodford: The Joseph Smith Papers Project ultimately will not only provide these core documents—these essential documents transcribed with annotations—but also the impact of the revelations in their context. In other words, the Joseph Smith Papers is not only a narrative project but also a documentary that will allow narrative to be written.

Underwood: Our history can be reconceptualized, revised in some ways. The adaptations presented in each volume will help people to walk away enriched. In the volumes that Bob and Bill Hartley and I work with, we cover essentially the first one hundred sections of the Doctrine and Covenants—so the lion’s share of it happens to be in our volumes—and while our annotation touches on and guides readers, it is very lean and crisp. The vision of the project is not to really provide what still will need to be done, which is a genuinely historical commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, but it will provide a wonderful platform to produce it. When people talk about using history to understand the Doctrine and Covenants, it boils down to, “Let’s talk about the setting of the revelation. What was the immediate context and setting?” Much less is done to actually interpret particular passages within the revelation in a historically nuanced way. Some of that is done in these volumes; some of it will be new and fresh and interesting. There’s still more that can be done in the aftermath.

Holzapfel: Could you each tell us a recent discovered insight that you gained regarding the Doctrine and Covenants, something fresh that you’ve come to realize or started to investigate?

Woodford: One thing that I have noticed through the Joseph Smith Papers is that we’re able to date a lot of the revelations with a greater precision than we have ever done before. Not that the dates are off a great deal, but we are able to put them in their historical context, and we have made some great strides. I think there are thirty or forty sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that we can date more precisely.

Holzapfel: Is that because the revelations themselves are mentioned in documents, so you can put a window on the revelation—in other words, it has to be at least by this date or it can’t be before this date?

Woodford: Yes. In fact, some documents include the precise date. William E. McLellin copied four or five revelations and put dates on them.

Underwood: A specific example is the work that Bob and Bill Hartley and I did on the Law, now section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Because of his apostasy, Simonds Ryder bears a black mark for most Latter-day Saints, but there was a period where he was in good faith, and during that period he copied a number of revelations. The theory arose that he stole the revelations while Joseph was gone, but the best analysis now is that his copies were made when he was in good standing. His particular copy includes a little paragraph that is most revealing, that what we call section 42 is a composite revelation—we’ve had some sense of that because the Book of Commandments publishes section 42 in two segments—but the copy that Ryder makes from whatever the manuscript was reveals that the Law proper was given on February 9 and essentially includes up through what is now verse 73. The rest of the revelation, verses 74–98, was a series of instructions, as they phrased it, about how to act upon the Law.

Indeed, if you go back and scrutinize verses 74–78, you can see that these don’t really enunciate new Law, they clarify how to act upon it. What do we do with people who have committed fornication or murder or violated this or that aspect of the Law? How do we handle someone who has abandoned their companion or divorced, or how do we handle public confession or public reprimand or things that like? All of that is how to act upon the Law, and that has disclosed something very interesting. In the earliest version of section 43 was actually given prior to that second segment of what is now section 42. Readers today would not know any of this because there is simply a single date of February 9 attached to section 42, so we have no awareness of that the latter segment was written on February 23. Prior to February 23, section 43 was given, in which a phrase that was subsequently modified or revised invites the twelve elders then present to meet together about how to act upon the Law and to write with a pen that which they have decided and that this would become a law unto them. Days later, presumably in direct response to that now-lost phrase out of section 43, seven elders met on the 23rd to ascertain how to now implement and act upon the Law. So that is just an example of the kind of enrichment that is come by closely engaging these early manuscripts.

Holzapfel: For a long time, biblical scholars have been very interested in trying to get back to the original text, comparing manuscripts for variations. That is what New Testament studies is per se. We are now at the point in the Doctrine and Covenants where we have the sources and the skills to be able to do the same, which will not only enrich but also help us better apply the principles, because if we don’t have the context we miss a lot.

Underwood: I would direct folks to the number of the interesting articles in the Sperry Symposium book [The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context]. Bob summarizes many of the things in his piece that we found in our research about, essentially, what are the new discoveries, and he just lays them out one after another in his piece. The chapter that I wrote on section 42 likewise grows out of the research that we have collectively done and thought through for recent years. So while individual names are tagged to these, it reflects the kind of collective and consensual work of the group of us over a number of years and is well worth consulting if one is looking for when a particular section was written.

Holzapfel: Steve, what is something that you have learned?

Harper: Well, I think if I had to single out one insight that the Doctrine and Covenants gives me, it would be the way that it shows that God uses his omniscience to preserve agency. Most theologians have thought that if God is all-knowing, then there is no such thing as what Latter-day Saints would call individual agency. Calvinists would reject it. Luther would reject it. And the idea there, the presumption is that if God knows everything in advance, then how can anybody be acting, in any way, of his own volition—individual actions are just extensions of God’s will. Speaking in Washington DC, Joseph Smith said, “I reject the notion that foreknowing is the same as fore-causing.” Congressman Matthew Davis heard him say that and wrote it in a letter to his wife because he felt it was profound. And it is a profound insight, especially for Joseph Smith, who was so much less learned than the world’s greatest theologians, but it was an insight from the revelations. And in Joseph Smith’s revelations, we have a God who clearly foreknows—he foresees. Instead of using that foreknowledge to limit our choices, this is a God who seems infinitely capable and anticipates endless permutations. He uses that foreknowledge to preserve individual agency, to make sure that his children can act for themselves independently of his will and to choose of their will, whether to obey or disobey.

Now the example that most comes to our attention may be the loss of the 116 pages and the way section 10 reveals that God thought that might happen and had Nephi prepare an alternative source of knowledge. God inspired Mormon to include that alternative source of knowledge, and he elaborated the whole thing to Joseph Smith in section 10. My favorite line, I think, is in verse 43 where he says, “My wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.” In fact, he says, “I will show unto them,” speaking of these conspirators who have tried to undermine the Book of Mormon project by taking those pages and waiting to see if Joseph would retranslate them, “I will show unto them.” This revelation is remarkable for the way it illustrates that God foreknows and that because He foreknows He can preserve and protect individual agency. He doesn’t have to limit people to narrow options. He is a great God. He is vast. Sometimes as humans, we limit God to our limitations, but the God that Joseph Smith reveals to us is an infinite God.

Fluhman: In my research, I am reminded how non–Latter-day Saints took the revelations in Joseph Smith’s day. It’s an angle that I have tried to pursue to better understand the meaning of the revelations in Joseph Smith’s own time what they might have meant to someone then as a way of kind of coming at it in a different way. I came across a newspaper that was a Universalist’s paper. Universalism was a movement, not a fully realized church, just a kind of coming together as a church in the time of Joseph Smith. It had long been kind of an approach to Christianity—a heretical approach—in New England, for some. Joseph Smith’s father and some of his family had kind of been influenced by this approach to Christianity that really was a rejection of Calvinist orthodoxy. The Universality newspaper editor briefly noted the reception of the section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, and added a comment like, “Heaven help us if the Mormons are now in our camp.” The way he perceived the revelation as reflecting Universalist views got me seeing section 76 with new eyes. Other historians had noted that section 76 rather dramatically reoriented Latter-day Saint perceptions of the afterlife and so on, but this comment did get me wondering about how that section might have looked differently to a Latter-day Saint then than now.

Typically my students focus on the three degrees of glory in section 76, but for me the section is forever different because now with that little insight about how a Universalist saw it, it got me wondering, in what sense would a Universalist have latched on to it? So rather than the multitiered heaven being the big news, perhaps the center or core of the section may be right after the discussion of the sons of perdition that they are “the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power” (v. 37). What follows in the verses immediately thereafter is a stirring statement of the vast reach of Christ’s saving power. For me, that has become the new core of the section, the extent to which Jesus saves because the point of the sons of perdition discussion seems to be that they are the only ones who don’t partake of the salvation of Christ, which was what the Universalists were seeing there. “All the rest,” says verse 39, “shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead.”

Verses 40–44: “This is the gospel . . . , that he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him. Wherefore, he saves all except them.”

For me, this middle part of the section sums up the scope of Christ’s saving mission: he saves more, redeems more, sanctifies more than many of those formerly traditional Christians had thought, and I think that was the real radicalism in the section.

Underwood: Yes, I think your historical context helps because most Latter-day Saints do not have any contact with Universalists, but back then Joseph Smith, his brother, and his father had direct contact, so there was a dialogue going on which Latter-day Saints today do not have. Most of my students do not know what Universalism is. I have to spend time talking about the idea of what a Universalist’s position might be about salvation. If Jesus can save one, He can save everyone. And they’re taken aback because they don’t know that Joseph Smith Sr. was involved at least at some point in Vermont, and they don’t know any Universalists themselves.

Harper: You can see similar dialogues throughout section 20. There is a clear response to Calvinism; for example, the Calvinists believe in the perseverance of the Saints, or as they say, “once saved, always saved.” Section 20 flatly rejects that idea even as it agrees with part of the terminology of Calvinism to some degree. We believe in sanctification through the blood of Christ, we believe in justification, but we reject the perseverance of the Saints. So it behooves Latter-day Saints to know Christianity, to know doctrine well enough to see what the fruits of the Restoration are and to see that we have a lot in common with a lot of good folks out there.

Underwood: Section 19 also clearly engages Universalism and redefines “eternal punishment” or “endless punishment” as not interminable but simply of divine origin and execution. It is a wonderfully sensitive move that positions the Saints much closer to a Universalist sentiment—actually, a subdivision of Universalism called Restorationism, which means restored to God’s favored grace. And there was a subdivision of Universalism where the traditional Universalists would have said, “All suffering for sin takes place in mortality. It is the natural consequence of disregarding divine law. There is no postmortal punishment.” The Restorationists believed there is enough in the Bible to indicate something about afterlife punishment, but they could not envision it lasting forever, so after a period of punishment, the sufferer would be restored to salvation and God’s presence.

Harper: Some members of the Knight family were Restorationists. Those ideas were in the air, and they were in the minds of several Latter-day Saints.

Woodford: It’s probably human nature, but we can be very myopic. We try to apply every revelation to ourselves and think me or my. Sometimes we forget that actually the people who receive the revelations themselves had their own issues. Quite honestly, God wasn’t just speaking to somebody living in the year 2009; he was speaking to people living in the 1830s. Even with prophecies from Isaiah, we think it’s all about our day, that it was all focused on us. Well, God doesn’t send a prophet to talk about something that has nothing to do with the people living, and I think this is a good example where God is speaking through his prophet to real people who live in a real world, and he is in dialogue with them, and they are learning and adjusting their thinking and seeing new insights.

Fluhman: To build on your point, it becomes helpful, then, to a modern Latter-day Saint to see what was being rejected and what was being validated, lest we think that the Restoration, as we understand it, is just an utter rejection of everything that came before. That is simply not the case, so it helps us both see what people believed and then the new revelations, such as the distinctive doctrine of exaltation and a multitiered heaven in section 76.

Underwood: Section 10 was revealed before the Church was restored. And the Lord, in section 10, talks about His Church. He essentially says, “I’m not bringing forth the Book of Mormon to destroy my church. I am doing it to build up my church.” He’s clearly referring to Christianity, and it’s a fascinating discussion. If, as Latter-day Saints, we have the impression that there is nothing useful in Christianity and that the Restoration is starting from scratch, then we’re not thinking along the same lines that the Lord is thinking. He’s trying to save Christianity by restoring the Church. I heard a beautiful metaphor the other day. It drew on the idea of restoring a house. When you restore an old house, you don’t demolish the thing and start over, you preserve the wonderfulness of it. You take care to keep as much of it intact as you can. You don’t want to throw the whole thing away, and similarly the restoration of the Church does that with Christianity.

Woodford: That brings up a good point. Let’s talk about the words elder and apostle, which are ubiquitous through the revelations. Today we use these terms in a certain way, but their meanings were not always so specific. In New Testament times, for example, the term apostle was initially used as a Greek secular word with a specific meaning, but then the Church appropriated it, sanctified it, and created a new meaning for the office. So let’s talk about elder and apostle. How do you discuss these terms so we don’t see them through the lens of today’s terminology?

Underwood: Let’s take elder to begin with. In the Restoration, understanding clearly comes line upon line. One of the really delightful dimensions of engaging the Doctrine and Covenants in its context and the manuscripts and the early version and changes and clarifications is that you see so repeatedly and powerfully the principle of line-upon-line disclosure. One of the matters that we have spent many conversations wrestling with in our work on the Joseph Smith Papers has been this interesting dimension of a deepening, ever-broadening understanding of priesthood. Naturally these early leaders began with the knowledge they brought in to the kingdom—their understandings, perceptions, and conventional usages. In that sense, elder was a synonym for a minister, a church leader. The modern distinction that an elder is an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood took a few years to come into play. So in the earliest revelations, in the early months of the Restoration, there was the sense of elder as a minister and a particular kind of minister, but they hadn’t yet created the taxonomy—the kind of priesthood organizational chart that attaches it as a subset of the Melchizedek Priesthood. That came a few years later and has blessed us ever since, but it was not there in the very first months of the Church’s history, where the term had a more conventional meaning as an ordained minister or also, more generically, as the ministry of the Church.

Fluhman: The word apostle was often used this way in the earliest revelations, in the earliest usage in the Church. John Whitmer’s license to preach has him listed as an apostle. For modern Saints who have a very specialized sense of what apostle meant, the more general usage of the word apostle can be very confusing. Many of those early brethren were called apostle in a more informal way that is often equated with elder. I think in several early documents, apostle and elder are used virtually synonymously. So it is important to recognize that the specialized meanings that we come to attach with these terms were not entirely clear. For example, it took some years to sort out the Protestant definition of priesthood as a group of priests to the more general sense that it is the power or authority given to man.

Woodford: The Prophet equates elder with apostle in section 84: “You are mine apostles, even God’s high priests.” So it gets elevated until eventually we get a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Underwood: The priesthood, in the way that Latter-day Saints now understand it, is a new concept that takes time to understand and review. The word priesthood is not the early term of choice to describe this power or this force, this divine empowering. It first appears in section 84 in the fall of 1832. Now, in these original licenses they use terms like power or liberty or license. The word authority appears once in a while, but it’s not a dominant term. The word priesthood does appears in the Book of Mormon and elsewhere, but in the early months of the Restoration it is used to refer to a group of priests, meaning a group, an association, a hood of priests or high priests. That is the way the term is first used.

In the twentieth century, Church members began to stress the distinction that you don’t refer to a group of men as the priesthood. Priesthood is a thing—it’s a power. There was a period in the twentiety century where we were trying to distinguish that and preserve priesthood solely for that power, force, gift, authorization, and not have it represent a group of men, which was, of course, how it actually began and how it was invoked in the very earliest usages in scripture, but by 1832, we see the beginnings of our modern usage. In 1832 we hadn’t yet clarified through the Prophet the usage of Melchizedek and Aaronic. We talked about priesthood, yes, but not the greater or lesser priesthood, and in the period between 1832 and 1835, those concepts were refined and clarified so that by the revelations in 1835—the classic section 107, for instance—we have clearly put in place the divisions of Melchizedek and Aaronic and Levitical Priesthood.

Harper: Kingdom is an interesting term. The revelations are political, largely. Not necessarily—I’m not sure that was their main intent.

Underwood: You had better define political.

Harper: Well, they deal in power. When these revelations were received and Joseph Smith was received by people as a prophet, he became a political figure. Now, his goal in life was not to become a political figure, but he gained a following, and, in that sense, he gained power. Among other things, he gained economic power. When he received the revelation that said, “Gather to Ohio,” people gathered. It’s remarkable, the power in these revelations. When he received one that said, “Gather to Missouri,” within three years the Latter-day Saints controlled the balance of political power on the western edge of the state of Missouri. That means that these revelations are political. Now, I am not trying to say that was their primary value, but to understand them historically is to recognize that they had powerful influences and still do. We still are trying to obey these revelations, and it makes a huge difference in our lives that we try to act on them, so they are extraordinarily influential, including in political ways. And you can think of that in economic terms too. These are economic documents, a lot of them, and powerfully so. Section 119 may be the least understood and poorest obeyed of Joseph’s revelations, and still it is extraordinarily powerful in the way it generates revenue and loyalty to the Church.

Underwood: Let me give you one other word that does have a different nuance, too, and that is the word wicked. There are several places in the Doctrine and Covenants where the phrase “congregations of the wicked” is utilized. And particularly, in 1831, and to the modern mind that invokes a question like, “What? A church in the red-light district?” The term wicked had a much broader, generic connotation as anyone who was not responding to the will of God. Now, a subset of that would be the degenerate, the morally bankrupt, but that is only a tiny subset. That is what the word has shrunk to mean today, but one must look very sensitively at that in these revelations and not assume that when the Lord talks about the congregations of the wicked in Cincinnati or in some other place, that he is saying these are all morally degenerate people. That was often just a synonym for an unbeliever.

Harper: “Unrepentant” is another close reading of it.

Woodford: And there is one in Webster’s Dictionary that suggests slight or little blame. People used to say “a wicked child.” Well, the “wicked” were people who did not understand the truth. I have often wondered if that was how he used it with Martin Harris, that he just did not understand the program.

Harper: And notice these are people to whom the Lord is sending his word. He was not saying, “Oh, they’re wicked—stay away from them.” He was saying, “Go give them the good word.”

Fluhman: The upshot of this portion of our discussion is that students of the Doctrine and Covenants have the opportunity to watch their own preconceptions at work as they’re reading. Sometimes we will read a word and assume that we know exactly what it means, only to find that the word is more powerful or it has multiple meanings or I has shades of meaning that bring the revelations even more to life, even more vivid, more palpable.

This discussion could keep going. The word seal is that way. The concept of sealing is bigger, grander, more complicated than we ever thought. The word salvation in the Doctrine and Covenants is the same way. Sometimes it’s equated virtually with exaltation. In other times it’s got a much more general meaning. Section 76 is a good example. Salvation in that section does not mean exaltation as we’ve come to understand it. And so I think it’s a good call to action for any student of the Doctrine and Covenants just to be aware that these words are—they’re diamonds! They’re multifaceted.

Woodford: Emma Smith is ordained.

Fluhman: Another great example—ordained has all sorts of meanings.

Harper: There is a list of synonyms that grows out of sections 84, and especially 88 and 93, that we can probably spend the rest of our lives profitably thinking about: light, truth, life, power, intelligence, glory. There is something deep and interesting there. I am sure I have not plumbed the depths of it yet, but it is a useful way to study the Doctrine and Covenants, to think about the meanings of these words.

Fluhman: A practical point, and all of our students have recognized this at one point or the other, because we all have, and that is to slow down. You have to slow down—as a student, as a seeker with these revelations. You cannot browse these particular documents. They are unbrowsable. You can’t do it. They demand more of us.

Woodford: You know, a kind of framing matter that keeps coming up here is the question of interpretation. How does a particular interpretation maintain its relevance over time? So, in other words, I think many of us use, in our teaching, similar mechanisms. I use a Venn diagram, which is very simple. It has a smaller inner circle and then a larger outer circle. When a teacher asks a student, “What does this verse mean?” the student has to ask, “What are you fishing for? Would you like a discussion of the original historical meaning, would you like us to try to reconstruct what that text, what that verbiage, probably meant to Joseph Smith and those immediate recipients of the revelation, or would you like us to explore this much larger arena of the modern application?” To use Nephi’s words, “the likening unto us” (see 1 Nephi 19:23). And I think that that opens up an important point. We are all historians of one kind or another. We cherish and love, and we have devoted years of our lives to that wonderful inner circle, trying to reconstruct what the historical meaning likely was. But the reality is, that should never be seen—we are talking devotionally, behaviorally, personally, spiritually—that should never be seen to trump the modern application of the likening unto us. It may tether, but it should never trump the modern meanings because what that outer realm opens up is the possibility that modern prophets and apostles, under inspiration, can find meaning in those words that was not available to the early audience, that was not necessarily of value and interest to the early audience. One simple, classic example of that is in section 59, where the Lord says, “Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it” (v. 6). Well, we sometimes explain that this society was a rough-and-tumble, violent frontier society. No, let’s just say, “Thou shalt not kill or do anything like unto it.” We are not a violent, maiming, destructive people. Now, what was not discussed ever by Joseph Smith, or understood by any surviving document that we have availability of, is that that had any reference to abortion. And yet we can track interpretations of section 59. At about the middle of the twentieth century, the Brethren begin to see something new and important in that phrase, “or anything like unto it.” And for the last fifty years, we have been blessed and enriched by the further light and knowledge that sees in those words a contemporary problem and how to engage the words. And so we don’t want to close off meaning-making to the 1830s. It really does not matter if the Brethren, under inspiration, are construing a text, or discerning something in it, that there is no way we can say that’s what it meant in the 1830s. Who cares? That is why we affirm continuing revelation, so that we can be open to this much broader and much richer application of the text, under inspiration, to modern circumstance.

Underwood: In a real way, the Doctrine and Covenants is on dead trees—paper—and is made of the words of dead men, so the text is really dead unless you bring inspiration to it. I use a pond analogy. You throw a rock in it and the rock hits at a specific time and place. If I want to come back in ten to fifteen years, I better look for where the impact was, because that is where it is going to be. But, as soon as it hits that pond, emanating from it are these wakes that go over time and space, and that is the application. The other thing I think is important—and I agree with you about not trumping—is to distinguish those two. Because when a student says, “What does it mean?” what do you mean what does it mean? You want to know what they meant at that time? Which is an important endeavor, and I think the Lord challenges us to try to reconstruct this world, to appreciate it, because I think of all the things we have said so far, in the original context, we do appreciate the marvels of the Restoration. It allows us to make connections that enrich our own current spirituality, but then also the application—it is where we assume that it means the same thing. That is the problem where I think we don’t appreciate it as God’s word.

Harper: It strikes me, as I listen to you speak, that section 68 has this definition of scripture embedded in it, which is radical, subjectively radical, because orthodox folks that define what scripture is and then the revealed definition sounds radical by contrast, but this is the definition of scripture, “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” (see D&C 68:4). If you speak under the influence of the Holy Ghost, you can’t but help to speak the mind, the will, the power of God. And that is a distinctive doctrine—that is a doctrine revealed to us through Joseph Smith the Prophet. That is the restored definition of scripture, which is alive. Isn’t that a wonderful idea? The scriptures are alive. They can certainly be alive in our lives.

Fluhman: And those verses connect the Doctrine and Covenants with the later prophetic and apostolic interpretive tradition that Grant talks about. That passage in the Doctrine and Covenants is the bridge between the two endeavors, to understand both moments of interpretation—both then and since. We are called to do it by that very verse.

Woodford: That is a great point, Spencer, because sometimes our students say, “Why haven’t we had a pile of revelations since the early period?” Well we do not need a pile of additional canonical scriptures—we’ve got living scripture spoken to us all the time. Does everything have to become canonical, printed on paper, and sewn into the triple combination scripture? No. We should be wise and attentive to all utterances under inspiration from that which is made in Sunday School class to that which is made in general conference. If we are disciples, we want to attend to whatever will bring us into discipleship with the Lord and take it from whoever speaks under that inspiration. We get new scripture each time we have general conference.