Prophets in Mormonism/Part 30

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2009
How and why did an article that was an appendix in the Doctrine and Covenants become a revelation? Did these “revelations” contradict other teachings from Mormon prophets?

In the original Doctrine and Covenants published in 1835, there were four articles in the Appendix. The first article in that Appendix in 1835 had no introduction or heading except “Section C, Appendix.” In 1921 it was moved into the main part of the Doctrine and Covenants where it became Doctrine and Covenants 133 as stated in our last installment. Although this article had no introduction in 1835, the current edition of Doctrine and Covenants 133 introduces it with these words, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Hiram, Ohio, November 3, 1831.” If it was a revelation in 1831, why wasn’t it put in the main part of the Doctrine and Covenants with Smith’s other revelations instead of in the Appendix? If it wasn’t a revelation in 1831, how did it become one 90 years after Smith said he received it? Most people don’t consider an Appendix to be as important as the main part of the book and many never read it. So, is that the best place to put a revelation?

The only heading for the second article in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Appendix was “Section CI, Marriage.” That article was read to the General Assembly of LDS who met in Kirtland, Ohio on August 17, 1835 and they voted unanimously to accept it and have it published in the Doctrine and Covenants. That was the same meeting and the same LDS people who also voted unanimously to accept the Doctrine and Covenants as “the doctrine and covenants” of their faith. But the article on “Marriage” was entirely deleted from all new editions of the Doctrine and Covenants after the Mormons moved to Salt Lake City under Brigham Young’s leadership. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie explained that the article on “Marriage” was deleted because it was written by Oliver Cowdery in the absence of Joseph Smith and did not reflect Smith’s views. He also said that “It was clearly understood by all concerned, however, that the article on Marriage was not a revelation” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 52). But there is nothing in the article on “Marriage” or in the History of the Church to indicate that Cowdery wrote it. And if everyone clearly understood that it was not a revelation, why did they vote unanimously in 1835 to accept it and include it in the Doctrine and Covenants with Smith’s revelations?

The 1835 article on “Marriage” clearly did not teach the same thing as Smith’s 1843 “revelation” in Doctrine and Covenants 132 which taught polygamy. The article on “Marriage” stated that “All marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting.” But after Smith’s 1843 “revelation” in Doctrine and Covenants 132, LDS have taught that the most sacred marriages are performed in LDS temples where the public cannot enter! The “Marriage” article also says “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached for the crime of fornication and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman should have one husband, except in the case of death.” The article on “Marriage” was published in 1835 which was eight years before Smith’s 1843 revelation on polygamy was published. But, apparently some LDS were doing things by 1835 that caused others to think they might be involved in immorality or polygamy!

The third article in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Appendix was entitled “Of Governments and Laws in General.” That article was also read at the LDS “General Assembly” meeting in Kirtland, Ohio on August 17, 1835. After it was read, the same LDS who had voted unanimously to accept the article on “Marriage” as well as the entire Doctrine and Covenants, also voted unanimously to accept the article entitled “Of Governments and Laws in General” and to have it published in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section CII. It was placed in the Appendix of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants right after the article on “Marriage” where it remained until 1921 when it was moved into the main body of the Doctrine and Covenants and became Doctrine and Covenants Section 134. The heading in the original 1835 edition stated: “That our belief, with regard to earthly governments and laws in general, may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same.” That is still part of the heading in the current edition. This article has 12 verses which are the same today as they were in the 1835 edition. Verse 12 declares: “We do not believe it right to interfere with bondservants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their master.” In the New Testament, Onesimus was a slave who belonged to Philemon, but had run away and then became a Christian. The Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon urging him to accept Onesimus back and treat him as a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:10-18). The biblical gospel is for all men according to Mark 16:15 and Galatians 3:28.

The fourth and last article in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Appendix was actually the minutes of the General Assembly meeting held on August 17, 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio. It was published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants Appendix under the title “General Assembly” and is found on pages 255 through 257 of that volume. But like the article on “Marriage,” the minutes of that “General Assembly” on August 17, 1835 were deleted from all future editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is easy to see why the article on Marriage was deleted, but why was the one entitled “General Assembly” deleted? Was it because it shows that the Mormons who voted unanimously on August 17, 1835 to accept the article on “Marriage” and put it in the Doctrine and Covenants were the same Mormons who voted unanimously at that same meeting to accept the Doctrine and Covenants as their “doctrine and covenants”? If they were wrong to accept the article on “Marriage,” could they also have been wrong to accept the Doctrine and Covenants as scripture? Why were two of the original articles in the Appendix of the 1835 Doctrine and & Covenants dropped from future editions of the Doctrine and Covenants while the other two became LDS scripture along with Smith’s revelations? Who made those changes and why was it done?

More changes in the Doctrine and Covenants can be found in my book, Mormon Claims Answered. Next time we will discuss more of the content in Doctrine and & Covenants Appendix.

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