John Larsen host of the podcast Mormon Expression said “if there is a smoking gun that the church is not true it is the changes to the doctrine and covenants.”
The book of Mormon gets a lot of criticism due to its 3913 changes however defenders of the Mormon faith will rightfully point out most apart from around 30 are punctuation, however with the Doctrine and Covenants we see a much greater number of significant changes.
For those who don’t know the Doctrine and Covenants (originally called the Book of Commandments) is another book of Mormon scripture containing revelations right from Mormon’s founding days to as recent as the 1970’s. This book contains various revelations given to Joseph Smith and beyond, that are believed to be from God and being relevant to that specific time. As such we see things like Polygamy being revealed in D&C 132 and black people being allowed the priesthood in the official declaration 2 as well as many others.
However in Mormonism’s past there were times when revelations or prophecies came that did not include teachings that were a part of later Mormonism. This is where changes have come in over the years. In this article I want to show some key changes and as ever discuss the implications of these afterwards.
1, Book of Commandments 4:2, p. 10 — and he has a gift to translate the book [of Mormon], and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift. (http://www.irr.org/mit/boc/1833boc-p10.html)
In the Book of commandments as above it states that originally Joseph Smith was to have no gift other than to translate the book of Mormon, this was wrote in March 1829, long before any other Mormon scripture was an issue, maybe at this stage Joseph Smith did not intend to produce anything else and call it scripture, I am not sure however in the Doctrine and Covenants 5:4 which is the same chapter today, it says this:
And you have a gift to atranslate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.
To add to this David Whitmer one of the three witnesses of the book of Mormon plates said this about Joseph Smith when the translation was complete.
So at first Joseph Smith had no intention of what came later as in the Book of Abraham and his revised version of the bible. I have looked around at apologetic responses on this and typically they have said that it was just a matter of wording and because if the confusion that the original revelation left the change was just to make what Smith was saying more clear, however David Whitmer one of the three witnesses of the book of Mormon said this:
After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, early in the spring of 1830, before April 6th, Joseph gave the stone to Oliver Cowdery and told me as well as the rest that he was through with it, and he did not use the stone anymore. He said he was through the work God had given him the gift to perform, except to preach the gospel. He told us that we would all have to depend on the Holy Ghost hereafter to be guided into truth and obtain the will of the Lord (An Address To All Believers in Christ, p. 32).
Smith’s intention and supposed command from God was to do no more than the book of Mormon, was Smith being unfaithful to God in doing more, in which case what He produced after was not from God, or did he make up the original revelation?
2, Now the original Doctrine and Covenants (Book of Commandments) contains revelations from the start of the church up to September 1831, understandably it covers nothing after that as I believe it was after that it became the Doctrine and covenants. However it should have everything in it before that point. D&c section 13 is not included in the original text, in fact there is no mention of the Mormon Priesthood Authority in the original Book of Commandments at all. This concept of Mormon priesthood therefore had to be added to the church’s system of belief after the dates that it was claimed they were given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and therefore may not have been given by biblical personages like John the Baptist.
Again David Whitmer had something to add on this:
“The next grievous error which crept into the church was in ordaining high priests in June, 1831. This error was introduced at the instigation of Sydney Rigdon. The office of high priests was never spoken of, and never thought of being established in the church until Rigdon came in. Remember that we had been preaching from August, 1829, until; June, 1831, — almost two years — and had baptized about 2,000 members into the Church of Christ, and had not one high priest. During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest office in the church.
In Kirtland, Ohio in 1831, Rigdon woudl expound the Old Testament scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon (in his way) to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests, etc. , and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord about this doctrine, and, of course, a revelation would always come just as they desired it. Rigdon finally persuaded Brother Joseph to believe that the high priests which had such great power in ancient times, should be in the Church of Christ to-day. He had Brother Joseph inquire of the Lord about it, and they received an answer according to their erring desires.” (An Address to all Believers in Christ, page 35.)
It is worth noting that from the way Whitmer speaks in his book an address to all believers he very much believed the church to be true still reffering to the church as the “Church of Christ”, he was not an anti-mormon or apostate, however he also saw errors creeping into the church and Joseph Smith being influenced badly by these errors. He states here that in 1831 this was when the Priesthood came into the church not through John the Baptist or Peter, James and John but through Sidney Rigdons persuasion of Smith in 1831. This coupled with the fact that the Priesthood is not in the original book of Commandments makes this worthy of consideration.
3, Again regarding the priesthood in the original Book of Commandments section 27 it says
Todays equivalent chapter is D&C 28 which says this:
2For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shallaeat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my bglory—crememberingunto the Father my dbody which was laid down for you, and myeblood which was shed for the fremission of your sins.
3Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase awine neither strong drink of your enemies;
4Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made anewamong you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.
5Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will adrink of the fruit of the bvine with you on the earth, and with cMoroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the drecord of the estick offEphraim;
6And also with aElias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;
7And also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he a(Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be bJohn, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias;
8Which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first apriesthoodwhich you have received, that you might be called and bordainedeven as cAaron;
9And also aElijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the bfathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a ccurse;
12And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have aordained you and confirmed you to bebapostles, and especial cwitnesses of my dname, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13Unto whom I have acommitted the bkeys of my kingdom, and acdispensation of the dgospel for the elast times; and for the ffulnessof times, in the which I will gather together in gone all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
14And also with all those whom my Father hath agiven me out of the world.
15Wherefore, alift up your hearts and brejoice, and cgird up your loins, and take upon you my whole darmor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able toestand.
16Stand, therefore, having your loins agirt about with btruth, having on the cbreastplate of drighteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the egospel of fpeace, which I have sent mine gangels to commit unto you;
17Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the afiery darts of the wicked;
18And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my aSpirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be bcaught up, that where I am ye shall be calso. Amen.
Between these two we see a total change of direction, the same wording to start with but then the latest version brings in the teaching about Peter, James and John and the talk of keys.
Mormon Apologists will typically say these changes are not important, not significant and are not kept in secret, I would ask how many Mormon members know about this? An ongoing theme that has been developing in my posts is that Joseph Smith was making up new things as he went along, this again backs that up however also shows how he was covering his tracks by adding things in later but putting the date next to it that was earlier.
A question to consider is that if priesthood really did not come to the church until 1831 what about the baptisms and ordnances Smith and others carried out before that point were they invalid? Either way there is much to consider and please look it up for yourself.
There are various other changes to the Doctrine and Covenants and other LDS scriptures, here are some sites for more information on this.
Please do look into this and feel free to discuss anything about this on here.