Seriously, I Get You… Concerning D&C 20. What gives you the right to change scripture, right? Take a look at a brief history, and consider the quote: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
At the time of the restoration came an amalgamation of the Cambellite movement, already long underway. At the time of Christ, the title “Christian” was a derogatory term for people who called themselves “Followers of the Way.” To the LDS, the world has given us a similar title because of our Book of Mormon, calling us Mormon. The nickname that has been given to those who believe as I do, is offensive in my opinion. They call us “Snufferites.” It represents an outside opinion that we have substituted following one man, to follow another man. At the time of what was known as The Restoration Movement, one of the most predominant leaders was named Alexander Cambell (1788-1866, over lapping Joseph Smith), and the label people gave those who followed his teachings was “Cambellite.” To them it was derogatory, as they sought only to follow Christ. This group was committed to restore primitive Christianity.
Sidney Rigdon was a baptist preacher, influenced by Alexander Campbell. Rigdon journeyed to meet Campbell in the summer of 1821, to learn more about the Baptist who was encountering opposition to his idea that the New Testament should hold priority over the Old Testament in the Christian church. The Restoration Movement sought to align with Christ’s original organization in the New Testament, and what they lacked was a real prophet. Rigdon found what he was looking for in Joseph Smith in 1830.
Parley P Pratt was originally a member of Sidney Rigdon’s Baptist congregation. After becoming an LDS member, Pratt was sent to preach to the Native Americans. The Native Americans were the original target, but Pratt was unable to persuade any Natives, and ran into Sidney Rigdon stirring up The Restoration Movement, without a real prophet. Rigdon was baptized in October 1830, a month after Pratt. Rigdon brought all the people. He converted hundreds of members of his congregations, who were active within The Restoration Movement. In December 1830, Rigdon traveled to New York, where he met Joseph Smith.
Oliver Cowdery arrived before Pratt or Rigdon. Cowdery heard that Joseph had ancient Native American records. Cowdery was known to seek buried treasures using a divining rod. He was a school teacher. And when he heard of gold plates with Native American records, he immediately sought participation. Prior to Cowdery’s arrival, Joseph Smith lost the 116 pages with Martin Harris, and translation was at a dead stop. Cowdery arrives a year before the church was established (1829), and helps Joseph complete translation of the Book of Mormon before establishing the church in 1830.
The stage is set with Sidney Rigdon and Parley P Pratt influenced by The Restoration Movement at the establishment of the church in 1830 and Oliver Cowdery influencing the direction of the church in 1829. The introduction to D&C 20 reads:
Revelation on Church organization and government, given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at or near Fayette, New York. Portions of this revelation may have been given as early as summer 1829. The complete revelation, known at the time as the Articles and Covenants, was likely recorded soon after April 6, 1830 (the day the Church was organized). The Prophet wrote, “We obtained of Him [Jesus Christ] the following, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to His will and commandment, we should proceed to organize His Church once more here upon the earth.”
The LDS church inserted this introduction in the 20th century with additional formatting of pages and footnotes, for the ease of scanning the section, without having to read it. It can be seen by the introduction that there are uncertainties of when the revelation was given, portions “MAY” have been given as early as 1829, and “LIKELY” recorded “SOON AFTER” the organization of the church.
Joseph Smith addressed in the restoration Christians seeking a Restoration Movement. He initially set out to seek out the Native Americans, but ended up with Campbellites. The organization Joseph used echoed back to Christ’s first presidency, quorum of the 12 apostles, and quorum of the 70.
Christ addressed in the restoration Jews who claimed to be of Abraham. Christ used The Restoration Movement of His time tying back to Abraham. He used Peter, James and John to symbolically represent Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Q12 represented the 12 tribes of Israel. And the Q70 to represent the 70 members of Israel’s family entering into Egypt. The presidency, Q12, and Q70 all represent the same thing, it represents the family of God, through the patriarchal order.
Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ and Abraham pointed back to the beginning, the patriarchal order. First shall be last and last shall be first is a prophesy that it all must go back to Adam and the original patriarchal order, the birthright, or the original family tree of life. However, Joseph was unable to persuade the saints to things that challenged their traditions before the people fell to pieces like glass. The apostasy from Christ’s dispensation happened extremely quick. Less than 100 years after Christ left, all the apostles are killed, and John walks away. The house of order will be restored, but it doesn’t reach back to the meridian of time. Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ were pointing back to the original fathers, the patriarchal fathers, the fathers through whom the covenant was established from the beginning.
While I recognize D&C 20 as revelation, I also recognize what the saints were unable to perform maintaining inequality established in offices. The little authority, as they suppose, has been the source of so much unrighteous dominion, that Zion cannot be established within it’s offices. Those offices must be removed in order for agency to survive, so all men can be left to govern themselves, according to the dictates of their own conscience.
Conclusion: Seriously, I Get You… Concerning D&C 20. I will not try to force you one way or another. All I can do is deliver a message. You are responsible to judge the matter, if it is truth or not. This is a restoration in the last dispensation of the fulness of times. Where “last” is used to mean latest, rather than final. The heavens have testified of it. The Earth is responding to it.
Four years ago, we went to Canada to visit family. Upon our arrival as storm came through flooding the reservation. Today, I am on my way to Canada to purchase a house on the reservation, and have just learned that houses surrounding the house we are buying have burned, due to fires started by neighboring farmers burning trash. The strong fall winds have kicked up the flames, causing the fire to jump the river, and my in-laws have been evacuated for safety.
The faith required in all dispensations is required now. All are judged by their ability to recognize and receive light when it is offered. We cannot see the faith of the ancients, looking back from our current position, thinking that it is obvious to spot Lehi the prophet, Nephi the prophet, Abinadi the prophet, or Alma the prophet. Looking back, it seems so obvious.
We must place ourselves in Jerusalem with Lehi, when Lehi is preaching against the elders of the church, and Nephi cuts off the head of Laban, who was the keeper of the scriptures. We must place ourselves in the courts of King Noah and his wicked priests, to hear Abinadi preach the truth against the accepted leaders of both church and state at the time. We must consider if we would hear truth and light, recognize it as such, and make the difficult choice to go to the light, despite the unknown consequences of the reaction of the majority. The faith required in all dispensations is required now.