Changes in the Doctrine and Covenants – Part 1
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2012
|The Doctrine and Covenants is one of four books that are official LDS books of scripture or “Standard Works.” The Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants says it is “unique because it is not a translation of an ancient document but is of modern origin and was given of God through His chosen prophets for the restoration of His holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days….”
Changes in the Doctrine and Covenants – Part 1
The Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) is one of four books that are official LDS books of scripture or “Standard Works.” The Explanatory Introduction to the D. & C. says, “The Doctrine and Covenants is unique because it is not a translation of an ancient document but is of modern origin and was given of God through His chosen prophets for the restoration of His holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days…and the work that is initiated herein is preparatory to His second coming.”
The D. & C. has 138 revelations in that number of “Sections.” Almost all of the revelations were reportedly given to Joseph Smith, Mormonism founder, but a few revelations are from his successors, along with two Official Declarations. The Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual says on page vii, “These revelations contain the truths necessary to save you. They reveal the doctrines of salvation, the principles that will bring men to a fullness of joy.” Therefore, this book is very important to Mormons.
Few modern Mormons know that many of the revelations that are now in the D. & C. were first published by the LDS Church in the Book of Commandments (B. of C.) in 1833, which was two years before the first edition of the D. & C. was published in 1835. The B. of C. was published in Independence, MO, when the Mormons and Missourians were in conflict with each other and as a result most copies of the B. of C. were destroyed. But a few copies survived, and many copies have now been made from them.
By comparing the revelations in the B. of C. with the same revelations in the D. & C., it is obvious that some have been changed. Some are only minor changes, but others change the meaning completely. We will only discuss the more important changes. Revelations in the B. of C. are in “chapters” instead of a “sections” like the D. & C., and each verse in the B. of C. become several verses in the D. & C.
When chapter 1 in the 1833 B. of C. became Section 1 in the 1835 D. & C., only minor changes were made in it. That “revelation” was written as a Preface to all of the revelations in the B. of C. and the D. & C., so its content is very important. D. & C. 1:4-7, which is part of B. of C. 1:1-2, says,
And the voice of warning shall be to all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them. Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth. Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled.
Notice that it says “I the Lord” chose my disciples in these last days and they shall go forth and none shall stay [stop] them. The introduction to this revelation in the current D. & C. says Joseph Smith received this revelation on November 1, 1831. All of the LDS disciples living in 1831 died long ago even though “the Lord” said their mouths would give a voice of warning to all people “in these last days.” They didn’t share that message with “all people” before they died. Many on earth today still haven’t heard the LDS message! Yet, even the portion of this revelation just quoted says that “what I the Lord have decreed in them [revelations] shall be fulfilled.”
D. & C. 1:11-14, which is in B. of C. 1:3, says,
Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all who will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.
But the “ends of the earth” still has not heard the LDS message! Where and how has the Lord’s sword fallen upon earth’s inhabitants any more than it has upon LDS? And how have those who have not heeded the words of the LDS prophets and apostles been “cut off from among the people”?
D. & C. 1:24 is in B. of C. 1:5, and it says, “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” All nations did not speak English in 1831 when this “revelation” was received. And no Americans spoke the King James English of 1611 in 1831 except some Quakers. So, why was the B. of C. and D. & C. written in 1611 English when God said it was revealed “after the manner of their language” (referring to Smith and those with him)? Words like “ye,” “cometh,” “doeth,” “willeth,” etc., were NOT words used in America in 1831, so these revelations were not given in our language!
D. & C. 1:37-38 is in B. of C. 1:7 which say, “Search these commandments for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Keep this revelation in mind as we look at changes made in later revelations.
Those who want to see the B. of C. so they can compare it to the D. & C. can find a copy online. Next time we will look at some changes between the B. of C. and D. & C.