Changes to the Doctrine and Covenants.

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. (

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:

Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, August 1830 (see History of the Church, 1:106–8). In preparation for a religious service at which the sacrament of bread and wine was to be administered, Joseph set out to procure wine. He was met by a heavenly messenger and received this revelation, a portion of which was written at the time and the remainder in the September following. Water is now used instead of wine in the sacramental services of the Church.

1–4, The emblems to be used in partaking of the sacrament are set forth;5–14, Christ and his servants from all dispensations are to partake of the sacrament; 15–18, Put on the whole armor of God.

1Listen to the avoice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is bquick and powerful.

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 bglorycrememberingunto 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;

10And also with Joseph and aJacob, and bIsaac, and Abraham, your cfathers, by whom the dpromises remain;

11And also with Michael, or aAdam, the father of all, the prince of all, the bancient of days;

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.


6 thoughts on “Changes to the Doctrine and Covenants.”

  1. Hi, again. I’ve been too sick to pay much attention to the blog (unfortunately), or even read the various comments above, but I feel I should point out at least a few things (which may have already been mentioned):

    The Melchizedek priesthood (higher priesthood) has two levels, called “offices”: Elder, and High Priest. Basically, the authority from God is almost identical, but the office of High Priest is conventionally given only to those who possess a lot of life experience, and who are married (or widowed). Typically, this falls into the realm of senior citizens. The main difference (and arguably the only practical one) is that Bishops, Stake Presidents, and so forth, up the chain of Church command, are only comprised of High Priests. Basically, they hold the same authority from God as do the Elders, but are entrusted with greater responsibility, such as for tasks and callings that would be generally unsuitable for someone as young as 18 years. I’m unclear from the article above, as to whether you were referring to the office of High Priest (as in old guys), or the Melchizedek priesthood, when you refer to the changes made. If it’s the former, then the discussion is really pretty moot, since “High Priests” exist principally by way of convention (albeit very sensible convention by decree of the Church “high command”), to ensure that a bunch of young idiots don’t get stuck running things (so far as I can tell). We all know some pretty unwise young people, right?

    The Melchizedek priesthood, on the other hand, is not just convention, but is viewed as being handed down by God, at the hands of ancient apostles. There are plenty of Biblical references to that kind of “high priest” (those endowed with the higher priesthood), although I don’t really have the energy to go about quoting those references. The basic point of it is that those with only the lower priesthood (such as Aaron and the other Israelites [principally of the tribe of Levi] in the Old Testament–except for Moses, who had the higher priesthood) were unable to perform the kinds of miracles that we normally attribute to Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament. There were prophets in the old testament who received this higher priesthood from God, directly (perhaps by way of angels, although we don’t generally know the exact mechanisms employed), who were able to do those sorts of amazing things, but generally speaking, the people of Moses’ time, until Jesus, rejected the higher law, and were denied this higher priesthood. They could perform the rites and rituals as directed in the Law of Moses, but beyond that, they were without the priesthood authority to perform miracles and the like.

    So, one common view of the New Testament, as opposed to the Old, is that the Christians in the New had some authority and power of God that was generally not present in the congregations of the Old. By convention, this is called the high(er) priesthood, or Melchizedek priesthood, after the priest to whom Abraham paid tithes (who held this authority), back in Genesis. Thus, it is said that this priesthood has been “restored” multiple times over the course of both ancient and modern Christianity. Therefore, since it can be said (depending on beliefs and perspective, of course) that this high priesthood has been “restored” in millennia past, why, then, should it not be restored to the “modern” Church? Sidney Rigdon had this question, so he asked the one whom he saw as a prophet to ask God about it. To me, anyway, this makes perfect sense.

    There is another important distinction between the authority of the lesser priesthood (called the Aaronic, after Aaron, the companion of Moses), and the greater/higher priesthood: what ordinances could be performed by the priest holding one or both of them. The Elder (also called a “high priest,” despite the confusion that may cause in light of the conventional office of High Priest) can do everything that the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods allow. The Priest (which conventionally refers to those with full authority in the Aaronic priesthood, but no authority in the Melchizedek) can only carry out the ordinances of the lower priesthood. These are ordinances explained below:

    A Priest (Aaronic) is able to: baptize, bless and administer the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and ordain other priests to the same or lower office (including Deacons, Teachers, and Priests–all of the Aaronic priesthood).

    A high priest (Melchizedek, whether in the office of “Elder” or “High Priest”) is able to: do everything that a Priest can do, plus: give blessings of healing and comfort to the sick and afflicted, give the gift of the Holy Ghost (a.k.a. “confirmation”), consecrate olive oil for blessings, bless newborn babies (giving them names before the congregation in the process), sanctify graves, bless homes, give Father’s Blessings (such as did the patriarchs in the Old Testament, like Jacob/Israel and Abraham), and ordain other high priests to the same office that they hold, or lower.

    The key point is that the high priesthood was not necessary for performing baptisms. Notably, however, there is evidence in the New Testament that a baptism by water alone is only “half a baptism.” Jesus promised to baptize the converted with “fire and the Holy Ghost” after they had been immersed in water. This is not possible without the authority of the higher priesthood. Thus, those who were baptized before the “restoration” of that priesthood were still lacking an important element in their ordinance work (which–ordinance work–was, and still is an important aspect of the Latter-Day Saint faith). So, all the people who had previously been baptized had to be “confirmed,” or given the gift of the Holy Ghost before their previous baptism would be “complete.” Since record keeping at that time was not quite the precise and reliable thing that is now, in the computer/industrial age, many (all?) of the people who had been previously baptized were re-baptized in order to ensure that nobody was given the gift of the Holy Ghost without first being baptized by water, as stated by Jesus in the Gospels (first water, then fire, to summarize). Some have used this series of re-baptisms to “prove” that the original priesthood claimed by Church members was essentially false, or that the new one was made-up. As far as I can tell, it was just a method to ensure, in a time of shoddy record-keeping, by those who took their religion very seriously, that the ordinances were done in the proper order and that nobody “slipped through the cracks.”

    As for the fact that the D&C was changed, this is quite a lot fewer changes (revisions) than our current Bible has undergone, and as far as I can tell, no malice can be proven by the analysis of these changes (although they may well seem suspicious). While it can be a useful exercise to question the origins of whatever we call scriptures, just be sure to point that gun at ALL the scriptures, or you’ll almost certainly end up with a half truth, which historically has created much more convincing deceptions than any outright lie. (For evidence of this, re-read the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “…thou shalt not surely die…” was only true in that the couple didn’t immediately experience death of the physical body as a result of eating the forbidden fruit; they did, however experience a remarkably fateful spiritual death [separation from God]–for better or for worse–and not until about 1,000 years later, eventually died in terms of mortality.)

    I can’t make any guarantees about responding to any responses to this post (as my health generally doesn’t permit it), but I do encourage any interested parties to discuss it as desired.



    1. Dane,
      The main difference (and arguably the only practical one) is that Bishops, Stake Presidents, and so forth, up the chain of Church command, are only comprised of High Priests. Basically, they hold the same authority from God as do the Elders, but are entrusted with greater responsibility, such as for tasks and callings that would be generally unsuitable for someone as young as 18 years. I’m unclear from the article above, as to whether you were referring to the office of High Priest (as in old guys), or the Melchizedek priesthood, when you refer to the changes made. If it’s the former, then the discussion is really pretty moot, since “High Priests” exist principally by way of convention (albeit very sensible convention by decree of the Church “high command”), to ensure that a bunch of young idiots don’t get stuck running things (so far as I can tell). We all know some pretty unwise young people, right?

      This is simply not true! The last Bishop of the ward I’m in was in his 20’s! Several Bishops in the Stake are in their 20’s or early 30’s. I don’t think any of them would appreciate being called “a bunch of young idiots” as they run things.


  2. Kate,
    You should note well that I didn’t say anything like “without exception,” with regard to all young people being idiots. Of course, it would be a hasty refutation via a single counter example (a logical fallacy) to assume that I meant to say that all young people are “idiots.” Just a lot of them.

    I am aware of instances of Bishops being chosen from younger folks who are not high priests, and perhaps I should have included that exception in the above text. It would be quite difficult, however, for you to prove (in any logical sense of the word) that it is not just an exception, however. I have known some such bishops and stake presidents, especially (although not entirely) from congregations that include military bases, or otherwise lack a lot of elderly people. Some of them have been quite good in their callings.

    Still, as a person of 28 years, myself, I must say without hesitation that most (perhaps even a greater majority) of people younger than their thirties (perhaps beyond…) are quite foolish. I can’t say with absolute confidence that I’m not one of them, of course (in all honesty), but I still don’t hesitate to say that my own generation and those younger aren’t generally up to snuff in terms of wisdom or experience when it comes to handling the massive responsibility of a bishop, stake president, or other such officer. Some of my friends have managed such callings impressively, but my point remains.

    It would be good to remember that in a topic so potentially volatile as this one (emotionally speaking), statements like:

    “This is simply not true! The last Bishop of the ward I’m in was in his 20′s! Several Bishops in the Stake are in their 20′s or early 30′s. I don’t think any of them would appreciate being called “a bunch of young idiots” as they run things.”

    should be carefully measured against what is actually being said (not what you or your emotions are assuming they say), and considered in terms of reasonable and logical correctness before being posted. You don’t want to get a “flame war” going, do you? In the future, I’ll make a better effort to explicitly state notable exceptions in the text as appropriate.


  3. “Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations – command them to print them in His Book of Commandments – and then afterwards command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? As if God had changed his mind entirely after giving his word? Is it possible that man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in such a manner?” David Whitmer, Saint’s Herald, Feb. 5, 1887

    Good point Mr. Whitmer.

    Think about it: Instead of being the unchangeable God whose Word stands forever, the God of Mormonism is constantly changing His mind and His word. He gives Joseph one revelation and later apparently directs Joseph to go back and make changes to it. God also pronounced the Book of Mormon translation “correct” and later Joseph and the church go back and make numerous changes to the Book of Mormon (many that change the substance and doctrine). God gives one revelation to His prophet but changes the directive to a later prophet (e.g., Adam-God doctrine; Blacks shall never hold the priesthood in this life; Polygamy is an eternal principal and requisite for salvation; the temple endowment shall never be changed, etc.). What a Mormon prophet declares one day to be eternal doctrine that shall never be changed is later changed. How can this be? Maybe the all powerful God likes the prerogative of being able to change His mind and his doctrines whenever He wants to? Where does that leave us then? Exactly where Mormonism teaches – follow the prophet – otherwise we’re sunk, because if Mormonism is true we can’t count on God’s past words or even past prophets because any or all of it may change at any time. It seems a rather precarious place to be, but if Mormonism is true the prophet is apparently the ONLY place that we can really rest our faith.

    Can the prophet really not lead us astray? What about Joseph Smith’s declaration that some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil? How do we know the difference? Was Joseph acting as a prophet when he married other men’s wives? Was he acting as a prophet when he married a 14 year old girl? If not, do we still follow the prophet who is running amock? Was Brigham acting as a prophet when he declared that Adam was God, when it is required of us to shed the blood of someone that has committed certain offenses to atone for their sins? A precarious position indeed to put our faith in a man proclaiming to be a prophet when the words of that man conflict with the Word of God.


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