If you’ve ever argued with a Mormon over their church’s doctrines then you’ve probably come up against the Mormon concept of “modern-day revelation.” The word revelation simply means that something has been revealed, although when used in the context of the gospel it refers to having something been revealed to man by God. Mormons believe that God revealed his word or gave revelations to ancient prophets like Moses, Ezekiel, and Christ’s apostles, and that’s where the Bible came from. They also believe that God gave revelations to other people on the American continents and that this resulted in the Book of Mormon. In addition, Mormons believe there are prophets today, and that Joseph Smith was the first of these in modern times.
But aside from prophets receiving revelations, Mormons believe individuals, whether members of the LDS Church or not, can receive communication directly from God, although they believe in strict limits as to what that revelation can contain. For example, they believe that there is only one Prophet with a capital “P” upon the earth, that this Prophet is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that nobody else can receive revelation for the entire LDS Church. They believe people can receive revelation for those whom they have responsibility for. For example, a Mormon bishop (in charge of a local congregation) can receive revelation regarding his “ward” (Mormon term for a congregation), a Stake president (in charge of several wards and bishops) can receive revelation for his stake, fathers can receive revelation for their families, and individuals can receive revelation for themselves.
This communication with God is central to Mormon beliefs, and everything they believe in is based on revelation. They believe the Book of Mormon was translated through revelation. They believe Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet through revelation. They believe that their church today is guided by revelation. They believe that people join the church because they receive a personal revelation that the church is true. If you take away revelation, then there would be no Mormon church, and that’s why the principle of revelation is so important to Mormons.