Doctrinal Personal Revelation

What should one do if they receive some clear, specific, and unique doctrinal personal revelation? This has never happened for me, and I am not really expecting anyone to share anything along those lines, but what would you do?

I feel that I have received personal revelation, but I would not describe it as being doctrinally specific and unique. I have felt like I know what to say in general while giving a blessing. I have had things like God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the priesthood is restored, the Book of Mormon is true type of revelation. I have also had the feel good about doing this, feel good about saying that, your sins are forgiven type experiences. But these things do not seem like unique doctrinal revelation.

Can common members of the church, or any individual for that matter, receive unique doctrinal revelation – stuff that has not been revealed (or at least made public) by the prophets? It seems like they could. Joseph Smith has said some strong things about how much revelation would be given to the saints in the last days. Here are some possibilities to through out about what one might do if they get such revelation:

– Keep it to yourself.

– Write it in a private journal.

– Tell your spouse and kids.

– Tell your bishop and/or Stake President.

– Tell the prophet.

– Declare it in a testimony meeting.

– Post it on a blog.

– Submit it to the Ensign.

– Publish it in a local newspaper.

So what would you do? Would God tell you what to do with the information?

For me, unless I was instructed otherwise, I would keep it to myself and maybe tell my wife. Personally I would not feel it was my place to do or say anything more. The prophet is the one to declare such things, not me.

I have sought such revelation recently, through study, prayer, and fasting. This is partly the result of some significant disagreements I have had regarding some fundamental teachings of the church. As far as you know, I have not had any answers yet 🙂 .

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16 Responses to “Doctrinal Personal Revelation”


  1. 1 m&m November 14, 2006 at 12:32 am

    The scripture that comes immediately to mind is Alms 12:9:

    9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

    And from Pres. Packer:
    Describing the promptings from the Holy Ghost to one who has not had them is very difficult. Such promptings are personal and strictly private! 13 [13. See 1 Ne. 14:28–30; 2 Ne. 32:7; Alma 12:9–11.]

    Had I the time, I would find a quote from either JS or BY that talks about the fact that God would trust us with more revelation if we would learn to keep secrets and not tell anyone. I can identify one time in my life when I received insights that I felt fell into the category of keep-it-quiet kinds of things. I have not shared them with anyone (not even hubby, and not specifically in my journal, although I recorded the general experience of “wow!”) in an explicit way, although there is enough that points to what I learned that sometimes I send people to the current teachings that could give someone the opportunity to experience what I did.

    We are told we can know all things, until we know them in full. We don’t have to receive all doctrine through the prophet, but as you said, we had better not be teaching anything that doesn’t come from the prophet first. And I tend to hold onto that quote. I’m trying to practice keeping a secret with that one insight, that one experience of “pure intelligence’ that was so different from anything I had ever experienced….like scales being taken off my eyes. I figure that maybe someday, if I keep seeking and studying and keep that “secret” I might be able to learn a little more of the mysteries (things understood through the Spirit.)

  2. 2 Doug Towers November 14, 2006 at 2:19 am

    The Alma quote was what first hit me also. It is a difficult one. The first obvious response is to tell people of this wonderful occurrence. Then there is the problem that you hate hearing “baby” doctrine. You look at members you know and feel they would understand. But they don’t. I so often think of Moses out there with those spiritually backward Israelites of the time. He had to keep his mouth closed for 40 years. Can you imagine talking of such a vengeful God when you know he is nothing like that? God is full of love and you have to talk about him in such rotten ways. When you know God to hear people talk of him like that is painful. You just want to speak out. But everything you say is taken the wrong way. And many you just wouldn’t say it to.

  3. 3 Eric Nielson November 14, 2006 at 7:37 am

    M&M and Doug:

    Thank you for reminding me of the Alma quote, it is perfect.

  4. 4 mistaben November 14, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the post, Eric, and M&M, your comment is perfect.

    Eric,
    There have been a couple of times when I’ve checked out, as it were, Church policies/suggestions with the Lord, and every time (once against what I wanted at the time) I’ve learned that it was for me to follow the guidelines laid down by those in authority to do so. In the one case, it wasn’t very easy to accept, and it took several days to reconcile my will with His.

    There have been other personal (or couple) revelations that have come unbidden. These were accompanied by “pure intelligence,” exactly as M&M described. I don’t think I can say I’ve ever received additional doctrine, per se, but some truths that have come have doctrinal implications that build onto the Gospel as I understand it.

    Thank God for the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson November 14, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Mistaben:

    Thanks for your comment. I hope everyone understands that I do believe these types of revelation are possible. Just not very likely (doctrinal that is).

    I often feel that if I want to talk to God I pray, if I want know what God has to say, I read the scriptures.

  6. 6 Jacob November 14, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Eric,

    I would keep it to myself. The only experience I have with this involves a doctrine which is unsettled, so I feel free to argue for what I believe is right without any sense that I am going against the church’s position (the church doesn’t have one). I would never advance my position as something that was revealed to me because that seems inappropriate to me. I haven’t ever told anyone or written it in my journal, but the journal is an interesting idea (I don’t keep a journal, though, so it would require effort). I was very clear in my requests that I could keep my mouth shut, so I didn’t need God to tell me to keep it to myself–that was part of the agreement from before I got an answer.

  7. 7 m&m November 14, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    The other thing I just thought of was that once in a while, I will try to share some insight that I have received. Often, the person I am trying to share with will smile and nod and maybe say, “cool.” But because it is the Spirit that really teaches, not the words that are heard or read, it’s very, very difficult to share spiritual insights in a way that can allow the person to really understand. It’s incredibly disappointing, and a solemn reminder about how personal personal revelation is.

  8. 8 ed42 November 14, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Default: Don’t share unless commanded. Preferred: Beg to share with wife, or have wife independently enlightened.

  9. 9 Bored in Vernal November 14, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    M&M #7: Amen!

    Eric: Do you include doctrinal understandings that have been revealed relating to the scriptures? If so, I’ve had many–but I’m sure I’m not very unique in this. Most anyone who ponders and prays about the scriptures is likely to have experienced it.
    Have I shared my insights? I would if asked, but no one seems to want to hear about my doctrinal revelations on Isaiah…

  10. 10 Doug Towers November 14, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    Almost all of the revelations that the Spirit gives me he backs up with scripture quotes. Nextly, while reading something I find some past GA has said the same thing, in the vaste majority of cases also. So these experiences not only serve to answer my questions but give a testimony to revelation within the church.
    I have a tendancy to express, what I consider, the simplest of these things. But, unfortunately, I rarely get away with it. So I have had to learn distrust of people. This goes against my grain. I consider these things wonderful and want to tell all. Fortunately Heavenly Father is very patient with me. So while I agree with you in principle about shutting up it takes skill I’m still obtaining.

  11. 11 Bookslinger November 15, 2006 at 12:08 am

    As I read the scriptures my first couple years in the church, the Spirit would sometimes enlighten my understanding and explain the meaning. Imagine my amazement, grattitude, and increased confidence in the Lord and his Spirit when I read those very same “explanations” later on in Institute manuals when I started taking Institute classes.

    Now that I know some explanations are in the correlated Institute manuals, I can share those insights and point to the manuals to back them up. However, before I found the documentation to back it up, I believe it was incumbent upon me to keep those things to myself, or if shared at all, only to put them forth in an “I think it means…” context.

    It’s amazing how much personal “spin” people put on scriptural passages, especially people who have not studied anything beyond the basic youth and adult sunday school manuals.

    I think one reason that the church does not have more than one level of adult Gospel Doctrine Sunday School class is that we don’t go a good job of living the basic doctrines. If we were taught even higher doctrines, we’d only be under more condemnation.

    However, those higher doctrines are in the scriptures for those who seek them.

    And even if you can’t take Institute classes, or they don’t have “Adult Religion” classes for those over 30 in your area, you can still order the CES Institute manuals on the http://www.ldscatalog.com web site, and study them on your own.

    I’m afraid I’m too much of a blabber-mouth at times. But as someone once advised me, if the Spirit can reveal something to you, he can also reveal whether or not you should share it. Some revealed things are for our edification, but sometimes revealed things are to empower us to serve others.

    The bottom line is that only the prophet and apostles have the right to promulgate doctrine. Even though Correlation is often decried on the bloggernacle, it is actually a good thing; because now, we have a mechanism for knowing what is “official” and “currently promulgated” doctrine.

    As to the questions about sharing it:

    – Tell your spouse and kids?
    Not unless the Spirit indicates.

    – [Privately] Tell your bishop and/or Stake President?
    If so, stating it only in the form of a question, asking if they can confirm or deny the doctrine. Not stating it as a fact or revelation.

    – Tell the prophet?
    No!

    – Declare it in a testimony meeting?
    No!

    – Post it on a blog?
    Either, a) only by command of the Spirit, or b) stating it in the form of opinion.

    – Submit it to the Ensign?
    No. But the Ensign has plenty of faith-promoting stories about personal revelation of a non-doctrinal nature, or spiritual confirmation of doctrine that has already been promulgated through official channels.

    – Publish it in a local newspaper?
    No!

  12. 12 m&m November 15, 2006 at 12:29 am

    So while I agree with you in principle about shutting up it takes skill I’m still obtaining.

    I don’t think we have to be quiet with things that are already there, especially if they are talked about by our current leaders. What Alma warns against is sharing things that aren’t given as the portion of the word given to the children of men. IMO. Although I agree with bookslinger that unless we know it’s been shared at a general level, we should be careful.

    And even if you can’t take Institute classes, or they don’t have “Adult Religion” classes for those over 30 in your area, you can still order the CES Institute manuals on the http://www.ldscatalog.com web site, and study them on your own.

    They are also available on line here, or orderable on CD at the lds catalog site.

  13. 13 m&m November 15, 2006 at 12:50 am

    BiV,
    If I lived by you, I would love to sit and talk about Isaiah! I love hearing what people learn from the scriptures!

  14. 14 Eric Nielson November 15, 2006 at 7:54 am

    Jacob

    Thanks for your comment. That is good advice – commit to keeping your mouth shut before seeking such revelation.

    M&M

    Another good point – the ‘feeling’ is often more profound than the specific content I guess.

    BinV

    I was mostly thinking about unique revelation other than confirming revelation given to others. I guess significant insight to the scriptures would qualify, depending on how ‘out of the box’ the insight was.

    Doug

    Great thoughts here. Revelation should be consistent with what has been previously given to others. But then I wonder how unique such revelation is. Is this not confirming revelations? I guess if you were not aware of things until after the fact it would be unique to you.

    Bookslinger

    Excellent comments ans always!

  15. 15 Doug Towers November 15, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the references to Institute manuals. And you are right in the assumption that I can’t get to Institute. That is a great program. And those going there have more desire to learn.
    In regard your comments, Eric, I wouldn’t tend to claim that the things I have recieved confirmed generally held opinions (in many cases). In fact quite the opposite. Yet they are consistent with scripture. But this would depend on your interpretations of such things as “I am a jealous God” sometimes. Also the quotes of past GAs that I find recieving the same information generally aren’t consistent with present concept either. Then there is information which is much deeper understanding, not being in conflict with any opinion particularly – there being no definite answer to these questions. So the revelation is unique enough. Not that I don’t get burnings etc in confirmation of things the prophet has said when I’ve questioned them. But I have been referring to new information.


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