Under the Church's doctrine of continuing revelation (see Articles of Faith number 9), the Church has an open scriptural canon which thus far includes the Bible (the King James Version in English-speaking countries), The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price, including The Articles of Faith. These scriptural writings comprise the Standard Works of the Church. This belief in additional scriptural canon makes them unique among Christian religions.
Many of the pronouncements of general authorities, particularly the president of the Church, are also often viewed as uncanonized scripture—particularly official written pronouncements signed by the First Presidency and/or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, such as "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (1995), which defined the Church's vision of the ideal family (which resembles the typical nuclear family), and "The Living Christ" (2000), which commemorated the birth of Jesus. Latter-day Saints are also encouraged to accept the most recent statements from prophets and general authorities as modern-day scripture. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to pray to know the truthfulness of the doctrine contained in their various scriptures, especially if they have trouble living a certain principle.
English-speaking members typically use the King James Version of the Bible; Joseph Smith also translated a version of the Bible, known as the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (or Inspired Version), and although this Bible translation is not generally used by members of the Church, the Bible issued by the Church contains cross references to the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), as well as an appendix containing major excerpts from it. Though it is part of the canon and members believe the Bible to be the word of God, the Church also acknowledges that numerous omissions and mistranslations occured in even the earliest known manuscripts, though the relative majority of what remains is believed to be correct. These errors have led to incorrect interpretations of the meaning of certain passages.
The introduction of The Book of Mormon describes the book as follows:
- "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C.E., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.
- The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of Jesus Christ among Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come."
According to his record, Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God through the Urim and Thummim. Eleven witnesses signed testimonies of its divine authenticity, which are now included in the preface to the Book of Mormon. Three witnesses testified to having seen an angel present the gold plates, and to having heard God bear witness to its truth. Eight others stated that they had handled the plates when Joseph Smith, Jr. showed them to them.
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of revelations, policies, letters, and statements from Church presidents, starting with Joseph Smith. This record contains Church doctrine as well as direction on Church government.
The Pearl of Great Price contains: (1) excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of Genesis, called the book of Moses, and of Matthew 24, called Joseph Smith—Matthew; (2) Joseph Smith’s translation of some Egyptian papyrus that he acquired in 1835 (and subsequently lost, although some pages were purportedly rediscovered in 1967), called the "Book of Abraham"; (3) an excerpt from The Documentary History of the Church containing a letter written by Joseph Smith in 1838, called Joseph Smith—History; and (4) an excerpt of another of Joseph Smith's letters called the Articles of Faith, thirteen statements of belief and doctrine.
Latter-day Saints believe literally in the principle of revelation from God to his children. Individual members are entitled to divine revelation for confirmation of truths, gaining knowledge or wisdom, and meeting personal challenges. Parents are entitled to revelation for raising their families. Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the president of the Church, who is viewed by Latter-day Saints as a prophet in the same sense as Abraham, Moses, Peter and other biblical leaders.
See also: Scriptures online.