Dallin H. Oaks teaches that the Church believes in continuing, not continuous revelation; Church leaders are often left to work out problems for themselves without revelation.

Mar 1997
Dallin H. Oaks

Dallin H. Oaks, "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign (March 1997), accessed November 3, 2023

Dallin H. Oaks
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Revelations from God—the teachings and directions of the Spirit—are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening to the still, small voice, the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit.

To illustrate that point, consider what happened to our first parents after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden and shut out from the presence of the Lord. The Lord had given Adam a commandment that he should sacrifice the firstlings of his flocks for an offering unto the Lord. Adam obeyed. Did the Lord communicate with him immediately? The scripture says: “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam” (Moses 5:6; emphasis added).

William E. Berrett, one of our finest gospel teachers, said this about the matter of continuous revelation:

“Those who pray that the Spirit might give them immediate guidance in every little thing throw themselves open to false spirits that seem ever ready to answer our pleas and confuse us. … The people I have found most confused in this Church are those who seek personal revelations on everything. They want the personal assurance from the Spirit from daylight to dark on everything they do. I say they are the most confused people I know because it appears sometimes that the answer comes from the wrong source” (quoted in The Holy Ghost, 29–30).

I also agree with the following comment: “There are great dangers associated with those who profess a constant outpouring of the spirit of revelation. Frequently, those so professing place themselves above the need to listen to the counsel and direction of their priesthood leaders. Often they are above correction. It is natural for those who suppose they are having regular conversations with angels and diverse exalted beings to be a little bemused at the counsel of bishops and stake presidents. With but a bit of polish, such an attitude ripens into the cultist’s mentality in which one is above the laws of both church and state” (The Holy Ghost, 31).

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