The Book of Commandments was the first attempt to gather and publish the revelations of Joseph Smith. Work on the volume proceeded very slowly but with high hopes through 1832 until the printing press was destroyed in July of 1833. The surviving galley sheets were gathered and bound as books and distributed as widely as possible to the membership. For the purposes of this study, we are most interested in the original version of the revelations Joseph recorded and published in the Book of Commandments, especially the earliest revelations which he received through the seer stone during the translation of the Book of Mormon. Because in great measure, they represent a pristine view into the world of early Mormonism, before the advent of Sidney Rigdon’s influence on Joseph and the marked changes in church doctrine and direction which followed.
A careful study of documentary evidence discloses that between July of 1833 when the Book of Commandments project was aborted, and August of 1835 when the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was released from the church press in Kirtland, Ohio, that a substantial amount of revisionist history had been written into the revelations published in the 1835 D&C. Those revisionist changes reflect the course the church had taken in response to Rigdon’s overt influence on doctrine and priesthood, and Joseph’s concessions and indulgences to Rigdon. The early revelations were modified to fit the new Mormonism which had resulted. This study proposes to discuss the changes to the revelations in the Book of Commandments as a part of the strong delusion which we have been discussing for many months.
We were aware in the past of some of the significant changes that were made to the Book of Commandments (BOC) when the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) was published. When we read David Whitmer’s “An Address to All Believers in Christ” we became aware of additional changes. We thought it would be a good project to compare these two books and see what else we could find, and in the process, we found other revealing changes. We will show the results of our findings in a few posts. Not all changes are documented–just the ones that we felt were most important. All quotations from David Whitmer are from his 1887 “An Address to All Believers in Christ.” In some cases he said it so well that we have just quoted him. I would venture to say that most members of the church are not aware of what has transpired here. It paints an entirely different picture of what we are led to believe by our current correlated church. It can dramatically change your paradigm of Joseph’s “restoration.” Hopefully this will help people comprehend more fully the Strong Delusion.
2 Thes. 2:
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
|Book of Commandments||Doctrine and Covenants|
|4:1 Behold, I say unto you, that my servant Martin has desired a witness from my hand, that my servant Joseph has got the things of which he has testified, and borne record that he has received of me.4:2 And now, behold this shall you say unto him:–I the Lord am God, and I have given these things unto my servant Joseph, and I have commanded him that he should stand as a witness of these things, nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me, that he should not show them except I command him and he has no power over them except I grant it unto him; and he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.||5:1 Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me;5:2 And now, behold, this shall you say unto him—he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things;5:3 And I have caused you that you should enter into a covenant with me, that you should not show them except to those persons to whom I commanded you; and you have no power over them except I grant it unto you.5:4 And you have a gift to translate 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.|
Here is what David Whitmer had to say about these changes:
I will prove that God called Brother Joseph to translate the Book of Mormon only, and that he was not called to organize and establish the church any more than the rest of us Elders. That God commanded him that he should pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, that God would grant him no other gift.
I will also show by a revelation in the Book of Commandments — afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants — that we were commanded to rely upon the “things which are written” in building up the church; for “in them are all things written concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock. Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, my gospel, and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.” But we did not rely upon the written word in building up the church; but Joseph went “on in the persuasions of men,” — as he did while translating, and heeded Rigdon who showed him that high priests and other offices should be added to “elders, priests and teachers;” and so we did not establish His (Christ’s) church, His gospel and His rock, so the gates of hell did prevail against the church, and it finally landed in Salt Lake in polygamy.
I will also show you by a revelation in the Book of Commandments — afterwards changed in the Doctrine and Covenants — that we had no high priests, etc. in the beginning; as if God had organized his church at first with “elders, priests and teachers,” and after we had preached almost two years, and had baptized and confirmed about 2000 souls into the Church of Christ, then God concluded he had not organized it right, and decided to put in high priests and other offices above the office of an elder. No brethren — God does not change and work in any such manner. This is man’s work. I will prove beyond a doubt that every spiritual office added to the church which is not according to the teachings of Christ to the “twelve” on this land, is the work of man, and not the work of God.
I see that some of you claim that the same power which gave these revelations, had authority to change them, and refer to Jer. xxxvi:32. By reading this passage you will see that the words which were added were “like words;” words which conveyed the same meaning — were added to that book by Jeremiah when he was writing it over again, because it had been burned in the fire by the king. But the words added to the two former revelations are not “like words,” as they change and reverse the original meaning: as if God had commanded Joseph to pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, that he would “grant him no other gift,” and then afterwards God had changed his mind and concluded to grant him another gift. God does not change and work in this manner. The way this revelation has been changed, twenty-two words being added to it, it would appear that God had broken His word after giving His word in plainness; commanding Brother Joseph to pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon, and then the Lord had changed and concluded to grant Joseph the gift of a Seer to the Church.
This part of this revelation in the Book of Commandments reads thus: “And he (Joseph) has a gift to translate the Book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”
But in the Doctrine and Covenants it has been changed and reads thus:
“And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded you 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”.
May God have mercy on the heads of the church for their transgression is my prayer.
It is quite fitting that the first significant change pinpoints the problem with all of the changes. Joseph was to pretend to no other gift but the translation of the Book of Mormon. When you overtly ignore the meaning and intent of the original revelation and start adding things that aren’t commanded by God, the gates of hell will prevail against you. I believe the warning of John is fitting here and should give us much to ponder. This could refer to any book that is being tampered with:
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Out of all of the changes to the BOC, what was done to our current section 5 are the most blatant and egregious giving Joseph everything he needed to be prophet, seer, and revelator and even start a church as we will see as we progress through these first two posts on section 5. And all of this is done contrary to the express will of God.
|Book of Commandments||Doctrine and Covenants|
|4:3 And verily I say unto you, that wo shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth, if they will not hearken my words, for behold, if they will not believe my words, they would not believe my servant Joseph, if it were possible that he show them all things. O ye unbelieving, ye stiffnecked generation, mine anger is kindled against you!||5:5 Verily, I say unto you, that woe shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth if they will not hearken unto my words;5:6 For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men.5:7 Behold, if they will not believe my words, they would not believe you, my servant Joseph, if it were possible that you should show them all these things which I have committed unto you.5:8 Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation—mine anger is kindled against them.|
Notice the addition of Joseph hereafter being ordained. It was not in the original revelation. We will see more of these kinds of changes regarding priesthood and ordination later. Here is what David Whitmer thought about Joseph being ordained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator:
I do not consider that the church was any more organized or established in the eyes of God on that day [April 6, 1830] than it was previous to that day. I consider that on that day the first error was introduced into the Church of Christ, and that error was Brother Joseph being ordained as “Prophet Seer and Revelator” to the church.
The Holy Ghost was with us in more power during the eight months previous to April 6, 1830, than ever at any time thereafter. Almost everyone who was baptized received the Holy Ghost in power, some prophesying, some speaking in tongues, the heavens were opened to some, and all the signs which Christ promised should follow the believers were with us abundantly. We were an humble happy people, and loved each other as brethren should love.
Just before April 6, 1830, some of the brethren began to think that the church should have a leader, just like the children of Israel wanting a king. Brother Joseph finally inquired of the Lord about it. He must have had a desire himself to be their leader, which desire in any form is not of God, for Christ said “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” “He that would be great, let him be your servant.” “For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” A true and humble follower of Christ will never have any desire to lead or be first, or to seek the praise of men or brethren. Desiring any prominence whatever is not humility, but it is pride; it is seeking praise of mortals instead of the praise of God. Joseph received a revelation that he should be the leader; that he should be ordained by Oliver Cowdery as “Prophet Seer and Revelator” to the church, and that the church should receive his words as if from God’s own mouth. Satan surely rejoiced on that day, for he then saw that in time he could overthrow them. Remember, “Some revelations are of God; some revelations are of man, and some revelations are of the devil.” God allowed them to be answered according to their erring desires. They were like the children of Israel wanting a king, and God gave them a king, but it was to their final destruction. He gave the church a leader, but it proved their destruction and final landing of the majority of them in the Salt Lake valley in polygamy, believing that their leader had received a revelation from God to practice this abomination. This was the first error that crept into the church. None of us detected it then. We had all confidence in Brother Joseph, thinking that as God had given him so great a gift as to translate the Book of Mormon, that everything he would do must be right. That is what I thought about it. You see how we trusted too much in man instead of going to God in humility, and to his written word, to see if we were proceeding rightly. It grieves me much to think that I was not more careful, and did not rely upon the teachings of Christ in the written word. But we were then young in years, and all of us were mere babes in Christ. Brother Joseph and myself were only twenty-five years of age.
It is interesting that the people wanted a leader just like Israel wanted a king. Evidently Joseph had the desire also. These desires, which go specifically against Joseph only having one gift to translate the Book of Mormon, can cause people to stumble:
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
Whitmer properly pointed out that having Joseph ordained as prophet, seer, and revelator was the first error committed. So what we have is section 21 being produced on the day of the organization of the church. It is not a valid revelation from God. It was given after he quit using the seer stone. It says we should heed Joseph’s words as if from God’s own mouth. This is much more than just having the one gift to translate the Book of Mormon. Section 21 is put into the BOC. However, it doesn’t agree with section 4 of the BOC (section 5 of our current D&C) so Smith and Rigdon contrived major changes to avoid the very apparent contradictions. When the D&C is published two years later the incongruity between these two sections seems to disappear. However, because the original revelation was published in the BOC the unauthorized tampering is very evident for those who will investigate. You can’t erase the fingerprints and they would be found guilty by any honest jury. We hope by reading these posts you will see it. The unauthorized manipulation of our current section 5 is really the FOUNDATION of everything Joseph does thereafter. It’s important to be informed on this to properly detect the fraud that Joseph perpetrated. What is the outcome of this meddling? When you think you are being led by God but instead you are being led by men, this causes blindness. You begin to put your trust in men which brings a cursed state.
2 Ne. 28:
31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.
The Lord knew we would be in this blind, trusting in men state until the Servant, the Son of God, comes on the scene. Unfortunately, this state will cause many to not recognize him and to deny him.
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Those who will come to him can have their blindness removed:
6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.