Although I believe that the single most powerful concept in the LDS faith is the principle of continuing revelation, I have lately begun to wonder why we have ceased to be a scripture creating people. Certainly, I have heard the argument that we should treat the apostles’ words as scripture, but these words do not appear to me to be granted the same weight within our church as our canonical texts – The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
Yet I feel that before we can explore this question in depth, we need to develop a much richer historical understanding of how Mormons (and other religious groups) have understood their relationships to their holy works. To ask a question about why we do not write scripture now means to first understand both what type of documents the scriptures are and how people have historically written and read them. In other words, we need to ask under what conditions people write and have written scripture in order to better understand whether it is possible to write scripture today.
It appears to me that it would be extremely fruitful to begin an exploration of how the early saints understood their relationship to the evolving canon of scripture and, consequently their own positions in history and to God. Not only did these saints live in a time of immense volumes of revelation, but, because of their historical situation, they also faced the tasks of refining and defining the systems and mechanisms that would authorize some texts and other bits of revelation as truth. Hopefully, if we were to understand the systems through which texts became evidence of truth (rather than taking the text’s content as our starting point), we would understand more clearly what beliefs and principles motivate our faith and govern its daily practices.
Of course, this question presumes a stance that sees our relationship to texts and to scripture as historically evolving and multifaceted. This assumption leads me to wonder if we are not, in fact, writing scriptures in new form today. Although we no longer appear to make canonical books of scriptures, are our own scribbling in our journals, blogs, and magazines that distinct from the histories found in our older scriptures, even if most of those who write are not prophets?
Perhaps there is so much writing today as compared to the church’s origins that it would be impossible and limiting to include all writing within a single volume of scripture – much like it was impossible to include all work within The Bible. Then again, perhaps the point of canonical scriptures is to regulate the sheer volume of writing in order to create uniform and authoritative teachings that give the church a common foundation. Be that as it may, as a blogger, I find the idea that we are writing new scripture today quite appealing. But even if we are not writing scripture, I would appeal to my fellow bloggers to help me identify sources that discuss how Mormons relate to the scriptures so that I can shape this question into a larger project.