Changes in the Doctrine and Covenants – Part 8

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2013
Although the “revelation” now known as Doctrine & Covenants Section 13, which explains the ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood, was “revealed” to Joseph Smith on May 15, 1829, it didn’t become LDS scripture until 47 years after Smith received it!

Changes in the Doctrine & Covenants – Part 8

The 1833 Book of Commandments (B. of C.) was the original publication containing the “revelations” that are now in the Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.). Although the “revelation” now known as D. & C., Section 13, was “revealed” to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829, it was not in the 1833 B. of C. or any edition of the D. & C. until 1876. It was in the original 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price (P. of G. P.) on page 46. But, the P. of G. P. didn’t become LDS scripture until 1880, so D. & C. 13 first became LDS scripture in 1876 or 47 years after Smith received it! It is also in the current P. of G. P., Joseph Smith—History 1:69. It is only one verse and is supposed to be what John the Baptist said to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery when he ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. It says,

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

Several things in that LDS verse of “scripture” conflict with what the Bible teaches.

First, the P. of G. P., Joseph Smith—History 1:68 says that John the Baptist laid his hands on Joseph and Oliver and conferred the Priesthood of Aaron upon them. No Old Testament priest was ever ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by laying hands on them. Aaron and his sons were anointed but so was the tabernacle and all the furniture in it (Ex. 30:25-30; Lev. 8:10-12, 30), so did that anointing give the Priesthood to the Tabernacle and furniture too?

The Aaronic Priesthood was called Aaronic because it belonged only to Aaron and his descendants. Not all descendants of Aaron could serve at the same time, so they were assigned certain times with specific duties to perform in the tabernacle and later in the temple. When a priest completed his assigned time, another priest took his place. All priests had to be Israelites of the tribe of Levi and family of Aaron (Ex. 28:1; Lev. 16:32; Num. 3:6-12; 26:58-59). Neither Smith nor Cowdery were descendants of Aaron, so they could not be legitimate Aaronic Priests.

Second, neither the Bible nor history supports the LDS idea that the Aaronic Priesthood had the keys of the ministering of angels.

Third, repentance was the message of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. But the gospel is “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3), and Jesus said “He that believes on Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). That gospel was never taken from the earth as LDS claim. Christ builds His church with people who put their trust in Him (Acts 2:41-47) and He said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Fourth, when Christ came to earth the Aaronic Priesthood was changed and Christ became the Christian’s One and only High Priest (Heb. 3:1; 7:11-12, 24-24; 8:1). In the Old Testament, an Aaronic High Priest offered sacrifices that included the blood of bulls, goats etc. once each year, but in the New Testament Christ offered Himself on the cross “once for all” (Heb. 9:26; 10:10-14).

Fifth, the sons of Levi never offered sacrifices for sin since that was the duty of Aaron and his descendant’s. The Levites assisted the priests in getting sacrifices ready and they took care of the tabernacle or temple and its furniture (Num. 1:50; 3:6-12). Neither the sons of Levi nor anyone else needs to offer sacrifices for sin since Christ is the One Sacrifice for all believers (Heb. 10:10-14) so now “there is no more offering for sin (Heb. 10:18). John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest who married “one of the daughters of Aaron” (Luke 1:5), so John was Aaron’s descendant and knew the Priest’s duties. John also knew Christ and would not say or do anything that contradicted His message! John declared that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), so he would not tell Smith and Cowdery that the “sons of Levi would again offer an offering unto the Lord” when he knew that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many once for all” (Heb. 9:28, 10:10)!

The P. of G. P. Joseph Smith—History 1:68-73 has more details about John the Baptist conferring the Priesthood of Aaron on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. It says after John the Baptist conferred that Priesthood on Smith and Cowdery they were commanded to baptize each other. Verse 71 says, “Accordingly we went and were baptized. I (Smith) baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood, for so we were commanded.”

But, verse 73 also says, “Immediately on coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of the Church and many other things connected with the Church and this generation of the children of men.” Verse 72 says this event happened on May 15, 1829, so that generation all died over a hundred years ago.

Notice that John the Baptist ordained them before they were baptized, which LDS would not accept today! Then they baptized each other after which they ordained each other to the same Priesthood John gave them! Wasn’t John’s ordination good enough? Or, did they lose that Priesthood in the waters of baptism? Verse 71 says Joseph and Oliver ordained each other right after they baptized each other but verse 73 says immediately when they came up out of the water they were filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied. Were they prophesying and ordaining each other at the same time? This confusing event is the origin of all LDS Priesthood!

On many websites there is more information about changes in the D. & C. for those interested in pursuing this subject. We will continue discussing D. & C. changes next time.

Read Part 9

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