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Standard Works


LDS editions of the scriptures from 1979 (King James Version of the Bible) and 1981 (Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl of Great Price). Latter-day Saints accept these four books as "standard works" containing the word of God.

by Clyde J. Williams

Standard works are the books accepted by Latter-day Saints as scripture: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. In early Latter-day Saint usage, the term apparently included more writings than the scriptures. In 1874 George A. Smith described "standard works" as the scriptures and other works published by the Church that illustrate "the principles of life and salvation made known in the gospel of Jesus Christ" (JD 17:161; cf. 11:364). By 1900, however, the phrase "standard works" came to refer only to the scriptures (Smith, pp. 363-65; AF, p. 7).

Anciently, the Lord declared to the prophet Nephi1 that the words of his seed, joined with the Lord's words, would be declared "unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people" (2 Ne. 29:2). In this sense, a standard is a rule for measuring or a model to be followed. The scriptures contain the doctrine and principles that serve as the rules and models by which Latter-day Saints are to live. Hence, they become the standard by which spiritual and other matters are to be judged or measured.

The standard works are different from other writings in the Church, for they have been formally accepted by the Church as revelation and are viewed as containing the word of God. It is his voice that has given them through his prophets (see D&C 18:34-36). Latter-day Saints accept the Bible as the word of God, but recognize that some errors and omissions have occurred in the processes of transmission and translation (A of F 8). The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, brought forth in modern times by the Prophet Joseph Smith, are likewise accepted as the word of God (see MD, p. 364).

Although THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints accepts the present scriptures as "standard works," the canon of scripture is not closed. "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (A of F 9). Latter-day Saints also esteem the words of the living prophets of God as scripture, for when they "speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost," they speak the will, mind, and word of the Lord (D&C 68:3-4). Latter-day Saints are encouraged to study and ponder all these in connection with the standard works and to apply them to their own lives, that all "might be for our profit and learning" (1 Ne. 19:23).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page; Scriptural Writings home page)


Smith, Joseph F. GD.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Standard Works

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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