Missing Revelations

The question of why the Community of Christ version of the Doctrine & Covenants is missing several sections comes up often enough that I thought I’d put together the following explanation, as many Mormons, when reviewing the Community of Christ version of the Doctrine and Covenants notice that several sections from the era of Joseph Smith Jr. are missing, which naturally results in them wondering “why did you remove them?”  Some Mormons seem quite disturbed by the fact that we, as they see it, rejected these revelations.  So, why did we set them aside?

The truth is quite simple.  We didn’t.  Consider the following.

A handy list on page 104 of the book Latter Day Saint Beliefs, by Steven L. Sheilds (Herald Publishing House, 1986) informs us that there are 26 sections in the LDS Doctrine & Covenants that are not found in the Community of Christ Doctrine & Covenants, from the era of Joseph Smith Jr.   A chart can also be found in Wikipedia, in the entry for “Doctrine & Covenants”.

They are as follows:

Section 2, dated 1823; Section 13, dated 1829; Section 77, dated 1832; Section 85, dated 1832; Section 87, dated 1832; Section 108, dated 1835; Sections 109 – 111 dated 1836; Sections 113 – 118, dated 1838; Section 120, dated 1838; Sections 121-123, dated 1839; Sections 125-126, dated 1841; Sections 129-132, dated 1843; and Section 137, dated 1836

None of these sections were included in the Doctrine & Covenants as originally published in 1835.  For some of them, this makes sense, given that they were received after it was published in 1835, as can be seen by the dates above.  But for others, the dates are early enough to have been included in the 1835 edition.  But, for some reason, they were not, and we shall explore those reasons below.

Eventually, the church leaders began to work on a new edition of the Doctrine & Covenants, which was published in 1844.  This was the third and final compilation of revelations that Joseph Smith was involved with (the first being the Book of Commandments).

None of the above sections made it into the 1844 edition either.  Of the above list, Sections 2 through 87 failed to be included twice.  I think that is very noteworthy.  There were two opportunities, under the supervision of Joseph Smith for those sections to have been canonized, but they were excluded each time.

In fact, in terms of being included in a compilation of revelations, they were excluded under Joseph Smith’s supervision three times, because Sections 2 through 87 were also old enough to have been included in the Book of Commandments, but they were not.  So, in Joseph Smith’s lifetime, three efforts were made to compile his revelations, and these particular sections were excluded each time.

And the rest are dated early enough that they easily could have been added to the 1844 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants; but none of them were.

Again, we shall explore why below.

But first, I want to clarify the following: *all* the revelations that were included in the first two editions of the Doctrine and Covenants (and the only two that Joseph Smith was involved with), did indeed make it into the Community of Christ version.  We omitted nothing.

When we began printing our own version of the Doctrine & Covenants, we did not include any from the above list because they had never been included in any prior version.  We only omitted the ones that had always been omitted. In fact, its more correct to say that we did not omit anything, since they had never been part of it.

It is apparent that many Mormons believe that their own version of the Doctrine & Covenants has always existed in it’s current form, but that is not the case, and the alleged “missing” revelation were not always part of the LDS edition.  They were added years later.

It was not until 1876 that the above sections were added to the LDS edition of the Doctrine & Covenants.  Except for Section 137, which was added in 1981.

I think it is very curious that the LDS church did not move to canonize these revelations until the year prior to Brigham Young’s death.  If they were all authentic revelations from God, all needful of canonization, why was action not taken on them before, in all the years of Brigham Young’s administration?  If it was needful to canonize them why did Joseph Smith Jr. exclude them?

What do we know of these 26 “missing” sections?  Five are letters: Sections 85, 123, 129, 130 & 131.  Two are prayers (109 & 121).  Three are excerpts from Joseph’s history (2, 13, 110).

That leaves 16 items that were presented as revelations.  Clearly, we have not ignored “scores” of Joseph Smith’s revelations (as is sometimes alleged).  Not even one score.  What are these omitted revelations?  Well, they are as follows:

Section 77 (Explanation of verses in Revelation)
Section 87 (Prophecy of war and calamity)
Section 108 (To Lyman Sherman)
Section 111 (temporal needs of the church)
Section 113 (answers to questions on Isaiah)
Section 114 (Concerning David W. Patten)
Section 115 (Name of the church; stakes; Far West temple)
Section 116 (Adam-ondi-Ahman)
Section 117 (Concerning specific people; property; sacrifice)
Section 118 (Vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles filled)
Section 120 (Counsel on the Disposition of the Tithes)
Section 122 (Destiny of Joseph Smith)
Section 125 (Saints in Iowa)
Section 126 (To Brigham Young)
Section 132 (Plural marriage; celestial marriage; sealing power; exaltation)
Section 137 (Salvation of little children)

As I noted above, the first 15 were added to the LDS D&C in 1876.  1 year before the death of Brigham Young and 32 years after Joseph Smith died.  The last one was added in 1981, 137 years after Smith died.

Several of the above, while not in our Doctrine & Covenants, can be found in our history books, as noted in the aforementioned book Latter Day Saint Beliefs (again on page 104).  As an example, the story of the sacred grove is not in our Doctrine & Covenants, but it is in our history books.

The sections which are not in our Doctrine & Covenants, but which are in our history books, are as follows:

87, 108, 113, 115, 116, 118, an d 137.
Section 117 is noted as being partially mentioned or referred to.

That leaves us with 9 sections that are not in either our Doctrine & Covenants, nor our history books:

Section 77 (Explanation of verses in Revelation)
Section 111 (temporal needs of the church)
Section 114 (Concerning David W. Patten)
Section 117 (Concerning specific people; property; sacrifice)
Section 120 (Counsel on the Disposition of the Tithes)
Section 122 (Destiny of Joseph Smith)
Section 125 (Saints in Iowa)
Section 126 (To Brigham Young)
Section 132 (Plural marriage; celestial marriage; sealing power; exaltation)

And again, all of the above (and, indeed, all 26 extra LDS sections) are dated early enough that they could all have been included in the 1844 edition, and some of them could have been included in the 1835 edition and in the Book of Commandments.  So, some were excluded by Smith once, others as many as three times.  The fact that he excluded some three times seems like a good indicator that if he did not deem them warranting canonization and that principle then holds true for those that came after 1835 and were excluded from the 1844 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants.

The whole point of creating the Doctrine & Covenants was to compile God’s will for the church.  Obviously, there were reasons for excluding that which was excluded.

So, in fact, Community of Christ is in harmony with what Joseph Smith intended, with regard to these “missing” sections.

This view is substantiated by the 1844 Doctrine & Covenants itself:

“THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS;  CAREFULLY SELECTED FROM THE REVELATIONS OF GOD.”

The above statement seems to suggest that only some revelations needed to be canonized (clearly, the vast majority of them, but, ultimately, only some of them).

For others, it was apparently sufficient that they were circulated via other means.
Writing on this topic, Orson Pratt stated:

“Joseph, the Prophet, in selecting the revelations from the Manuscripts, and arranging them for publication, did not arrange them according to the order of the date in which they were given, neither did he think it necessary to publish them all in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but left them to be published more fully in his History.” –The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star; No. 17, Vol. XIX, Saturday, April 25th, 1857, pg. 260.

So from all of this, it can be seen that Community of Christ has *not* rejected a whole bunch of revelations from Joseph Smith Jr. We are simply keeping true to what Joseph Smith intended.

In conclusion, I would say that the real question is not “Why did Community of Christ reject some of Joseph Smith’s revelations?” but rather, “Why did the LDS church canonize revelations that he passed over, once, twice or even three times?”

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One comment on “Missing Revelations

  1. mark agee gibson says:

    LDS members might be referring to the Sections dealing with baptism for the dead (RLDS 107/109/110) as being “rejected” by the Community of Christ. They were in the RLDS D&C until 1970; when they were moved to the appendix at the back of the book. Then in 1990 the appendix was removed completely.

    These sections were not part of a D&C in Joseph’s lifetime, but no one denies that they originated with him, and he taught the doctrine to the Church.

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