Hyrum L. Andrus All rights reserved August 15-18, 1991
Lecture 1 A VOLUME OF MODERN SCRIPTURE
...In a talk by Ezra Taft Benson, in which he is speaking of the Doctrine and Covenants, and he says so well and appropriately what needs to be said that I would like to make this the beginning of our discussion today and also of this Seminar.
“One hundred fifty years ago, when the elders of the Church were assembled in conference to determine whether the revelations should be published to the world,” and that’s the November 1831 conference, “the Lord gave a revelation to the Church which he referred to as his Preface,” now found in Section 1, if I can interpolate that, “referred to as his Preface to the Book of Revelation. This revelation, Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, prepares the reader as a preface to a book should do, with the explanation of the purpose of the author in giving the revelations contained in it. The author of the Doctrine and Covenants, is the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“The Doctrine and Covenants is unique among the standard works of the Church, not only because it contains a divinely authored preface, but also because it is a modern book of scripture.”
President Benson, as you know, has stated very clearly that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. Then later he made it clear that the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone. And we’ll be bringing that point out from time to time as we discuss this valuable scripture.
Just a word or two to begin with about the history of the Doctrine and Covenants, how we got it. You have revelations in there, Section 2, for example, that go back as early as 1823. Section 2, as we know, is the statement of Moroni concerning Malachi’s prophecy--or the restatement, and adds several significant items, and we’ll be dealing with those later in our discussion.
The first official statement that was canonized as scripture, other than the Bible and the Book of Mormon, was a little document called, “The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ.” The Articles and Covenants of the Church originally contained what we now have in Sections 20 and 22. And then later, Section 22 was lopped off, if I can use that term, made a separate document. The Articles and Covenants, then, make reference to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
So, for example, in Section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants, in verse 13, where the Lord in giving us the law of the Church--and Section 42 has that nickname, just like Section 20, is sometimes called “The Constitution.” Section 42 is called “the Law,” and Section 76, “the Vision.” But in Section 42, which we call, “the Law,” he says, “And they shall observe the covenants and church articles, to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.”
The first conference held in the Church was held in June of 1830. In the course of that conference, they presented the standard works of the Church, as of then. This consisted of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ. That’s the way they called them and presented them. So the first thing canonized in this dispensation, other than the Bible and the Book of Mormon, was this little unit that is the nucleus of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Then as later revelations were given, it was finally determined that these revelations be compiled and published under a book entitled, “The Book of Commandments.” If you turn to Section 67, you find the Lord making reference here to this anticipated publication. In verse 6 he says, “Now, seek ye out of the Book of Commandments, even the least that is among them, and appoint him that is the most wise among you....” This has reference to some brethren feeling that these revelations weren’t quite in the most polished form of the Queen’s English, and they wanted to overhaul them. We had an intellectual in the Church in that day who was one of their humble school teachers by the name of William E. McLellin. They selected him out to write a revelation equal to the least of those in this proposed compilation. And he utterly failed. Sometime if you want to try that, just take a clean sheet of paper and write up the words, “Thus saith the Lord,” at the top. And then take it from there. That’s the challenge that they presented him with. That’s the challenge that he failed to meet.
After that conference where it was decided to publish these revelations, they purchased a press and shipped it down to Jackson County, Missouri, because it was there that the Prophet had been the previous summer to dedicate the land of Zion. Oliver Cowdery was there with W. W. Phelps as the printers of the Church, and they began the publication of a Church periodical called “The Evening and… Get the full transcription from www.hyrumandrus.com!