When I was growing up, I had a triple combination. This was a copy of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Abraham in one book. We studied the Book of Abraham in seminary, the same year as the Old Testament. I remember my seminary teacher actually built a cardboard replica of Urim and Thummim breastplate (and glasses) to bring to our class.
So I was shocked to read the other day that the Book of Abraham is now an “esoteric” work. I know some faithful mormons who would also find that surprising. It’s true, I don’t remember the Book of Abraham being discussed all that often (much like D&C section 132 about celestial marriage/polygamy). But it was still included as scripture, revealed (restored) to Joseph Smith by God.
If it is de-canonized, that certainly makes things easier to explain for LDS leadership and apologists. The Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) doesn’t consider it to be a religious text. The Egyptian from the facsimile and papyri do not translate into the text in the Book of Abraham.
I just think the process of determining what is LDS doctrine is fraught with peril. It would be nice if the LDS church would have a Vatican council (like the Roman Catholic church did) to better define what is and what is not scripture. Until that time, I suppose answers from a public relations specialist for a national news program will have to do (much like “I don’t know that we believe that” about eternal progression with Larry King Live.)