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Why is The Journal of Discourses not scripture, and why do some say what's recorded in it is unreliable?

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Why is The Journal of Discourses not scripture, and why do some say what's recorded in it is unreliable?

G.D. Watt, the transcriber, published the Journal in England, far from the source of his material. Only when a copy of the book was brought back by an immigrant (or missionary) from England, did the General Authorities see what it was they had "said".

Keep in mind that Brother Watt, while trained in stenography, was not an infallible recorder. I know that highly trained stenographers will sometimes have to have their source repeat a phrase. Brother Watt did not have that luxury, so he would have had to interpolate from time to time. And, at best, he wrote what he heard, not necessarily what the speaker said.

Here's the introduction from volume 1. Please note it was not published by the Church, and does not carry the signatures of the Brethren.

To the Saints abroad.

This Journal of Discourses appears in a semi-monthly sheet of sixteen pages, upon good paper, and in plain round type that aged persons can read with ease, and forms a Volume of nearly four hundred pages.

It affords me great pleasure in being able to put in your possession the words of the Apostles and Prophets, as they were spoken in the assemblies of the Saints in Zion, the value of which cannot be estimated by man, not so much for any great display of worldly learning and eloquence, as for the purity of doctrine, simplicity of style, and extensive amount of theological truth which they develop.

Realizing the moral and intellectual benefit the Saints at home derive for them, I have earnestly desired the time when you also would be enriched by the same incalculable treasure.

To those who are unacquainted with the Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are mantled in the darkness of ages, whose minds are sunk in the almost impenetrable shades of error, uncertainty, and doubt, but who sincerely desire to know the truth, these Sermons will prove a source of light, information, and joy. And, according to the vocation which belongs to the Eternal Priesthood, all authorized ministers of God will hail their publication with gladness, for such an embodiment of doctrine will greatly accelerate the grand object they have in view-the salvation of souls, the instruction of Saints, and the building up of Zion in these last days.

Particularly to the Elders who are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, far from those who alone can instruct them in the more exalted branches of the Everlasting Gospel, these Sermons will be most valuable, as a gauge of doctrine, a rule of rectitude, and a square to life, furnishing at the same time an extensive repository of historical information.

May the Lord prosper every department of His work, and every laudable effort of His servants to instruct the ignorant, build up and establish the faithful, and gather the honest in heart from among all nations home to Zion.

In the bonds of the New and Everlasting Covenant, I remain your brother and fellow-labourer.,

G.D. Watt

Brigham Young famously said that he'd be pleased to call any of his talks "scripture", providing he'd had a chance to review and correct them. This was not granted, largely because of the distances.

Moreover, the content of these talks often did not meet a "scripture" threshold. They spoke of treating Indians or defending against Johnston's Army, or whatever. While useful for Saints in Deseret in the mid XIX, they are not very helpful for us in the early XXI.

What the Brethren said in 1862 may be useful in many cases, but we have more recent oracles, for instance, just this past week. These are more attuned to our needs than what John Taylor would have said.

Finally, I believe that we do not deserve more scripture. I know of many Saints who have not read the Book of Mormon in years, who haven't touched the Doctrine and Covenants for a decade or more, and who may never have read the Pearl of Great Price in their lives. Even the Bible is a stranger to them. We haven't been faithful to the scriptures we already have, and having more would be a curse.

Lehi

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Finally, I believe that we do not deserve more scripture. I know of many Saints who have not read the Book of Mormon in years, who haven't touched the Doctrine and Covenants for a decade or more, and who may never have read the Pearl of Great Price in their lives. Even the Bible is a stranger to them. We haven't been faithful to the scriptures we already have, and having more would be a curse.

Lehi

This is a wise statement indeed =/.

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G.D. Watt, the transcriber, published the Journal in England, far from the source of his material. Only when a copy of the book was brought back by an immigrant (or missionary) from England, did the General Authorities see what it was they had "said".

Keep in mind that Brother Watt, while trained in stenography, was not an infallible recorder. I know that highly trained stenographers will sometimes have to have their source repeat a phrase. Brother Watt did not have that luxury, so he would have had to interpolate from time to time. And, at best, he wrote what he heard, not necessarily what the speaker said.

Here's the introduction from volume 1. Please note it was not published by the Church, and does not carry the signatures of the Brethren.

Brigham Young famously said that he'd be pleased to call any of his talks "scripture", providing he'd had a chance to review and correct them. This was not granted, largely because of the distances.

Moreover, the content of these talks often did not meet a "scripture" threshold. They spoke of treating Indians or defending against Johnston's Army, or whatever. While useful for Saints in Deseret in the mid XIX, they are not very helpful for us in the early XIX.

What the Brethren said in 1862 may be useful in many cases, but we have more recent oracles, for instance, just this past week. These are more attuned to our needs than what John Taylor would have said.

Finally, I believe that we do not deserve more scripture. I know of many Saints who have not read the Book of Mormon in years, who haven't touched the Doctrine and Covenants for a decade or more, and who may never have read the Pearl of Great Price in their lives. Even the Bible is a stranger to them. We haven't been faithful to the scriptures we already have, and having more would be a curse.

Lehi

Excellent post Lehi.

"Let us not remain under condemnation, with its scourge and judgment, by treating lightly this great and marvelous gift the Lord has given to us. Rather, let us win the promises associated with treasuring it up in our hearts". Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4

We are promised new scripture, but we will never receive it under condemnation for not making the Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion.

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Moreover, the content of these talks often did not meet a "scripture" threshold. They spoke of treating Indians or defending against Johnston's Army, or whatever. While useful for Saints in Deseret in the mid XIX, they are not very helpful for us in the early XIX.

On occasion we will have comments across the pulpit about not forgetting our irrigation turns, honouring the local volunteer fire department, helping out with the local literary program at the library or getting ready for the Pioneer Day parade (small town, church is very active in community activities). I could see if our leaders' talks were all recorded in the same way as the Journal of Discourses and read worldwide, there would be a lot of 'huh's going on, lol.

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Why is The Journal of Discourses not scripture, and why do some say what's recorded in it is unreliable?

Because it's simply not published by the Church which is the stamp of official doctrine (and scripture) and that makes the issue of "unreliability" moot. However, it is extensively quoted in works published by the Church and those particular quotes can be taken as official doctrine in context like anything else the Church publishes.

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Finally, I believe that we do not deserve more scripture. I know of many Saints who have not read the Book of Mormon in years, who haven't touched the Doctrine and Covenants for a decade or more, and who may never have read the Pearl of Great Price in their lives. Even the Bible is a stranger to them. We haven't been faithful to the scriptures we already have, and having more would be a curse.

There will always be people in the Church who will not have "read the Book of Mormon," or something along those lines. By that criterion, we will never qualify for more scripture! I think we always deserve more scripture; and when the time is right the Lord will reveal them to us.

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There will always be people in the Church who will not have "read the Book of Mormon," or something along those lines. By that criterion, we will never qualify for more scripture! I think we always deserve more scripture; and when the time is right the Lord will reveal them to us.

I think there needs to be a "critical mass" of people who study and feast on the words in the Book of Mormon. Once that's reached, I think we will see some interesting things in the Church. For now, as long as you are doing your part, the Lord will not withhold anything from you as an individual.

Yours under the unlimited oaks,

Nathair /|\

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I think there needs to be a "critical mass" of people who study and feast on the words in the Book of Mormon. Once that's reached, I think we will see some interesting things in the Church.

While I am inclined to agree with that, I don't see that "critical mass" necessarily as a "majority". It could mean a very righteous and faithful minority.

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While I am inclined to agree with that, I don't see that "critical mass" necessarily as a "majority". It could mean a very righteous and faithful minority.

You may well be right on that. I also suspect that a cm of Brother -of-Jareds would be smaller than one of DCPs,as great a man as he is.

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The use of reports of sermons as scriptures seems pretty odd to me, first of all. Second, the Journal of Discourses (as well as the accounts of Joseph Smith's sermons) clearly are not verbatim records of what the speakers said and there is no way to check their accuracy. This and this do a good job of explaining this.

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