A Mormon polygamist family in 1888.
In the Mormon fundamentalist movement, the 1886 Revelation is the text of a revelation said to have been received by John Taylor, third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), that is claimed to restate the permanence of the principle of plural marriage. Along with Joseph Smith, Jr.'s 1843 revelation on plural marriage, the 1886 revelation is one of the primary documents used by Mormon fundamentalists to justify their continued practice of polygamy. The LDS Church, which issued manifestos in 1890 and 1904 to terminate the practice of plural marriage, does not accept the 1886 revelation as authentic. Others have questioned whether the revelation, if authentic, even refers to plural marriage or its continuance.
In 1911, John W. Taylor, Taylor's son and an apostle claimed that he had discovered the revelation among his father's papers after his death in 1887. Unfortunately, his was a copy written in his own hand. Photographs of the original document exist, but the document itself is not extant. Examinations of the photographs have suggested that the document is in John Taylor's handwriting. In 1912, Lorin C. Woolley, a Mormon fundamentalist leader, published a claim that five copies of the revelation had been made and entrusted to LDS Church apostle George Q. Cannon (and four other men who were not LDS Church officials) with the intent of preserving it for posterity.
The text of the revelation is as follows:
- 1886 Revelation
- Given to President John Taylor September 27, 1886
- My son John, you have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant how far it is binding upon my people.
- Thus saith the Lord: All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name unless they are revoked by me or by my authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant, for I the Lord am everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with, but they stand forever.
- Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject? Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law and the keeping of my commandments, and yet have I borne with them these many years; and this because of their weakness—because of the perilous times, and furthermore, it is more pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in regard to these matters. Nevertheless, I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not, and as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph: All those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham’s seed and would enter into my glory, they must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting, and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof; even so, Amen.
- Doctrine and Covenants section 132.
- In an “Official Statement” from the First Presidency of the LDS Church, signed by Heber J. Grant, A.W. Ivins and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., it states: “It is alleged that on September 26-27, 1886, President John Taylor received a revelation from the Lord, the purported text is given in publications circulated apparently by or at the instance of this organization (Fundamentalists). As to this pretended revelation it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such a revelation; the archives contain no record of any such a revelation, nor any evidence justifying a belief that any such a revelation was ever given. From the personal knowledge of some of us, from the uniform and common recollection of the presiding quorums of the Church, from the absence in the Church archives of any evidence whatsoever justifying any belief that such a revelation was given, we are justified in affirming that no such a revelation exists.”
- Questions concerning the 1886 revelation, mormonfundamentalism.com, accessed 2008-05-22.
- 1886 Revelation, fldstruth.com, accessed 2008-05-09.