Mormon Scripture – Doctrine and Covenants/Part 10
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2013
|Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed that the God of the Bible gave him the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, but many of them have been changed. Did God change His mind and amend His revelations?
Changes in the Doctrine & Covenants – Part 2
The Bible declares that God’s word is final and unchangeable. Isaiah 44:8 says, “The word of our God shall stand forever” and Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” The apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:23, “The word of the Lord which lives and abides forever.” First Peter 1:25 also says, “The word of the Lord endures forever.” Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed that the God of the Bible gave him the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.), but many of them have been changed. Did God change His mind and amend His revelations? Is that possible in the light of the above Bible texts? Or, did Smith fail to record the revelations correctly so that they needed to be corrected? Either option raises questions about the reliability of LDS scripture.
Some LDS excuse the differences in Smith’s revelations by saying they are no different than the different translations of the Bible. But the original documents of the Bible still exist and have not been changed. When several translators independently translate any document into another language they use different words to convey that document’s message in the target language. So, different Bible translators use different words when translating the biblical message. That is also true when LDS scripture is translated into another language. But Smith said God “revealed” the D. & C. in English, so the changes were not caused by translation. Smith’s revelations were first published in the 1833 Book of Commandments (B. of C.) and then, beginning in 1835, those revelations and some new ones were published in the D. & C. Content, date and place that Smith said he received them show that they are the same “revelations.”
These articles will compare some of Smith’s revelations in the 1833 B. of C. with the 1835 and current D. & C. To do that we will quote the current D. & C. text and insert the words deleted from the B. of C. in bold type with a line drawn through them. Then we will italicize and highlight the words added in the D. & C. that are not in the B. of C.
Smith said he received D. & C. Sec. 3 (B. of C. chapter 2) in July 1828, in Harmony, PA before the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) was published. It is about Smith’s gift of translation, his loss of 116 pages of his B. of M. translation and God’s reaction to that loss. Doctrine & Covenants 3: 9-11 is in the first part of B. of C. 2:6. Notice the changes in it: “Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done and He will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season, which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work; and Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.” Those 3 D. & C. verses added nine new words and deleted 13 other words! The B. of C. also refers to God as “He” (3rd person pronoun), while the D. & C. refers to God as “I” (first person pronoun).
More changes are in D. & C. 3:16-18 which is also in the first half of B. of C. 2:6. It says, “Nevertheless, my work shall go forth, and accomplish my purposes, for inasmuch as the knowledge of a Savior has come unto the world, through the testimony of the Jews, even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come unto my people—And to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers—And this testimony shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites, which who dwindled in unbelief because of the iniquities iniquity of their fathers, who have been whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites, because of their iniquities and their abominations.” Those three D. & C. verses added 25 words and deleted nine others!
Doctrine and Covenants 4:6-7 (B. of C. 3:2) says, “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.” Six new characteristics are added to the D. & C. that weren’t in the B. of C. Did God forget them when He inspired the B. of C.? The heading over this revelation in the B. of C. says, “A Revelation given to Joseph, the father of Joseph in Harmony PA, February 1829.” But the heading in the D. & C. says, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to his father, Joseph Smith, Sen., at Harmony PA, February 1829.” The heading in the B. of C. sounds like the revelation was given to the father of Joseph Smith, but in the D. & C. it sounds like Joseph Smith received it and gave it to his father. These textual changes in the D. & C. were made two years after they were first published! The Bible hasn’t had that kind of change in 2,000 years, yet LDS say the Bible is only accepted as far as it is translated correctly while the D. & C. is accepted without qualification!
Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2, contains photocopies of both the 1833 B. of C. and the 1835 D. & C. for any who want to compare them. We will continue this study next time.