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The Church of Jesus Christ

Doctrine and Covenants

     On September 24, 1831, at a General Assembly held at Kirtland, Ohio, a committee of four was appointed to arrange the items of doctrine of Jesus Christ for the government of his church for the book to be published as the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants of the church.

      This committee was given almost four years to complete their work, as the general assembly met on August 17, 1835 to accept or reject their work. Each one of the quorums when voting their approval declared it as being, "the doctrine and covenants of their faith", each quorum voted separately and at the end they accepted the book by a unanimous vote. (Doctrine and Covenants, section 108a, RLDS).

     The original committee consisted of Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Frederick G. Williams. The book contained a preface, the Lectures on Faith, the revelations which had been selected, the marriage covenant, and an article on "governments and laws in General". To show the importance they placed in the Lectures on Faith, they were printed in the front of the book following the preface.

     The lectures were printed in each Doctrine and Covenants until 1897, when one of the major factions of the restoration churches declared them no longer essential as a part of scripture. The other major faction printed them until 1921 and then removed them from their book. Today the lectures are looked upon by both churches as being only of historical value. Seventy four pages were removed from the book which was published in the beginning with two hundred fifty seven pages. The lectures teach us step by step what is required of us in order to gain our salvation, and also what salvation is. This committee who compiled the Doctrine and Covenants was instructed to take items from the Bible and the Book of Mormon; this is what the lectures are made up of, scriptural references.

     Joseph explains that only the sacrifice of all earthly things will prepare people for the faith necessary to obtain eternal life. The plan set forth in these lectures applies to all mankind and none are exempt. It is only through living to these requirements that men have gained this power to perform in the gifts that are promised to the church.

     Both copies of the Doctrine and Covenants printed by the two major restoration churches contain the same revelations received by the prophet until his death in 1844. The 1844, 1845 and 1846 Doctrine and Covenants are the same. The 1846 edition is used by the Cutlerites with lectures in the front of the book where they belong. The revelations up to 1835 have be verified against the original manuscript.  The additional seven revelations given to Joseph Smith Jr. from 1835 to 1844 are included in the 1846 Doctrine and Covenants, and are accepted and used as doctrine by the church.

     Joseph Smith received many revelations to direct the church in its doctrine and operations. The church realized the need of combining these instructions into a book that would not only preserve this information, but would make it possible to distribute it as a means of forwarding the gospel to all people.