34 Ways the Mormon Church Doesn’t Follow the Doctrine & Covenants

Salt Lake Temple in Autumn

As I began to actually read the Doctrine & Covenants instead of just proof texting it for Sunday school class, I began to see more and more instances where the modern Mormon church doesn’t follow their own book of scripture. Some are quite obvious, and many others require some background knowledge which is difficult to explain without some advanced level of study. I want to however present the more simple and obvious ways that the modern LDS church has diverged from the scriptures they claim to hold sacred. I also certainly tried to not be subjective as I know some things can be left up to interpretation.

The reason that I think this is significant is because if God says his kingdom should operate in a specific way or we should do a specific thing then of course we should do that. If God revels something to us then that is his will until he tells us otherwise. We can’t just ignore something God told us because we no longer find it convenient. God of course could change things as circumstances permit, however if he gave us a written revelation to begin with then why not a written revelation for the subsequent change?

  1. Lectures On Faith – A lot of people argue about the authorship of the Lectures on Faith however that ultimately doesn’t matter. It was accepted as scripture in the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine & Covenants which Joseph Smith published. The Lectures on Faith were even referred to as the doctrine portion of the Doctrine and Covenants. It however didn’t fit the changing doctrines of the church and so was removed by a committee of church leaders in the 1921 revision. This committee had no authority to make that change and the change was never proposed to the members through a vote of common consent. We cannot drop scripture simply because we don’t like what it says.

  2. Lecture 5, Godhead – In this lecture the Godhead is described as being composed of only 2 personages, the Father, and the Son. The Son is a physical manifestation of the Father and thus a representation of the Father in our sphere of existence. The Book of Mormon itself is also very consistent in this regard. However some may be confused because in 1837 Joseph added the phrase “the Son of” in numerous places. For instance, 1 Nephi 13:40 originally read “the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father”. Today the modern Mormon church represents the Godhead as being composed of 3 distinct individuals with Christ being a god in training essentially, to eventually replace the Father, and the Holy Ghost being a spirit entity that doesn’t have a physical form for some reason.

  3. Lecture 5, Holy Spirit – In this lecture the Holy Spirit is not defined as a separate entity but as the shared mind of God. This shared mind is the ever-present ether of reality that fills the immensity of space. The mind of God is essentially truth and truth is the fabric of reality. It is not a separate spiritual entity that is somehow operating in and through us. It is God and the connection to the source of God’s power which is truth. When we align ourselves with truth then we are aligning ourselves with God. We don’t need a separate entity to confirm truth to us as truth is independent of all things according to D&C 93:30.

  4. D&C 1:30 – God says that the church on November 1st, 1831, was “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”. However today the church interprets that verse to mean that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in fact the true church. This logically doesn’t make sense because it would mean that they are incapable of error and not becoming God’s “true church”. The church today is drastically different from the church previously. So many things have happened between today and November 1st, 1831.

  5. D&C 1:38 – In this verse God says that what he says is going to be fulfilled regardless of what else happens, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”. The current church interprets this verse to mean that what the current church leaders speak is the same as if God is speaking it. This of course is problematic because it doesn’t say that. It mentions that the servants are operating under the guidance of God to fulfill his words. Who then are the servants? The section itself was given on November 1st, 1831, which was well before the quorum of the 12 apostles were organized or even before the First Presidency was organized. It would seem logical to conclude then that the servants are not the leadership of the church but something else. D&C 70 was received 11 days later and lists the servants as Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and William W. Phelps. The Doctrine and Covenants as a whole refers to several people as servants. However, it never gives an open-ended definition so that anyone with a leadership calling now is dictating God’s will. Therefore, these servants are the ones who assisted with building up the early church and not anyone with a leadership calling.

  6. D&C 5 – In the 1833 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants there were particularly interesting verses that were later removed from the 1835 edition. The reason why they were removed is a different discussion however they are very clear as to the state of the church and its relationship to God. The verses themselves state that “if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them … like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old”. We saw this with the establishment of the church itself and how God was pleased with the church itself in D&C 1:30. However, the verses also state that “if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan”. The modern church teaches that this was not possible. The church could not fall and was spiritually immune from anything like this. If God said it was possible then how is it not possible?

  7. D&C 13 – This verse says that the Aaronic priesthood “shall never be taken again from the earth”, which the modern church interprets to mean that the LDS church can’t lose the priesthood and is therefore permanently true. This does refer to the Aaronic priesthood only so that is one issue. However, it also does assume a rather simplistic view of the Aaronic priesthood. We know that John the Baptist was able to baptize without a traditional ordination, Alma was able to do so also, and there are groups of pure Levites today who are continuing the rites of Aaron. Would these groups not have the Aaronic Priesthood by birthright? Therefore, the Aaronic priesthood is far more than just something someone receives to pass the sacrament in the LDS church.

  8. Articles of the Church of Christ – This was a revelation to Oliver Cowdery and was used by the missionaries to help organize the early church. It was received as a “commandment from God unto Oliver Cowdery how he should build up his Church”. Today it is ignored because Joseph Smith didn’t write it however it is quite clear that Joseph and the others used it as a guiding document. Most of it is similar to what we do today however there are a few key differences. The first is that “the Elder or Priest shall minister [the sacrament] and after this manner shall he do he shall kneel with the Church”. This is also confirmed with D&C 20:75. The early church knelt together while praying and partaking of the sacrament. Today we certainly don’t kneel together, and I have even heard of cases where leaders tell people not to kneel if they felt inclined to do so. Another difference is that we “shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily”. This used to be done more specifically however most times the sacrament is given to anyone who wants it in the chapel, the halls, or other places.

  9. D&C 20:37 – Section 20 was first introduced at the Jun 9th, 1830, conference and was later published twice in “The Evening and Morning Star” newspaper of the time. It contains the basic operating instructions for the church and has a wealth of information as we will see. In the church today a person is interviewed by the missionaries or the bishop and then approved for baptism. These questions are all simple, standard, and frankly probably don’t need to be asked in the first place. However, verse 37 makes it clear that the individual should witness before the church that they have repented. In the early church this was a public confession of sorts and a public witness that you were changing your life. Today however the “witness before the church” is changed to a “witness before your leader”. Some may think that the leaders can represent the church however God is clear that his church is his people. Today church is hearing from your leaders however in the past church was growing together towards Christ.

  10. D&C 20:38 – “An apostle is an elder”. This is very clear and easy to understand. An apostle is a travelling elder and a witness to the name of Christ or Christ himself if they have had a personal experience. However today we treat apostles as if they are higher than elders which is clearly not true since they are in fact elders. This is a result of the changes that Brigham Young did so he could wrestle political power away from William Marks who was the Nauvoo Stake President.

  11. D&C 20:50 – This one is honestly pretty easy to miss unless you look at it in a visual form. However, it clearly mentions that when an elder is present then priests should not administer the sacrament. Priests are allowed to do everything else when an elder is present than when an elder is not present. During the early church the leaders themselves would administer the sacrament and not sit on the stand and be administered to like they do today. In the church today essentially the only thing the Aaronic priesthood actually does is administer the sacrament even though in almost every meeting there is at least a single elder present. Today we have it completely backwards.

  12. D&C 20:61 – This verse mentions that the “conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time”. This seems quite foreign to members today because when we attend conference, we don’t do any business and are instead told what the business is as it has already been decided. The business was also conducted through common consent by the voice of the church. Members today are almost never given any decision-making power. However, in the early church that is exactly what they did. They gathered together and hashed out differences and made decisions that would impact the various churches. They certainly were not told about the changes and then asked to “sustain” them.

  13. D&C 20:65-67 – This verse mentions that no one is to be ordained without a vote of the church. It doesn’t mean you are told of the change and asked to “sustain” it. It also mentions that the President of the church or bishops should be ordained by a vote of the standing high council of the stake or a general conference. Today this is not followed in the slightest. In some cases, we are given the opportunity to “sustain” the person however this is not a vote and anyone who pretends that it is, is unaware of how the church works. In other cases the person is ordained and then we are told after the fact. This is quite evident with the President of the church. I have never voted once for a President of the church however have been given the opportunity to “sustain” them which is not the same. The President is also always the senior apostle at the time. There is never a vote ever. Councilors to the President are also always chosen without a vote. This is totally contrary to the word of God.

  14. D&C 20:68 – This verse mentions that when someone is baptized into the church they should be given sufficient time to learn the doctrines of the church before they partake of the sacrament or are confirmed into the church. Today this is not followed at all. In the early church the sacrament and confirmation were very sacred ordinances and the new members had to understand what was happening. However converts today are typically taught lessons, baptized on Saturday, and then confirmed the following Sunday when they partake of the sacrament. There is no time given to “expound all things” as the scriptures require. In some cases the members will take the new convert and continue to fellowship with them. However, in a lot of cases this doesn’t happen, and the new covert eventually fades away as the missionaries leave and they no longer have any social connections.

  15. D&C 20:75-76 – This was previously mentioned briefly while discussing the Articles of the Church of Christ, however it is worth another brief mention for completeness reasons. The elder or priest administering the sacrament was told to kneel with the church. This means the person saying the prayer is kneeling while the members are kneeling also. How much more sacred would be approach the sacrament if we all knelt together as a church? Today only the elder or priest kneels while the congregation remains sitting. This of course doesn’t follow the scriptures.

  16. D&C 20:78 – In the early church the sacrament was administered using wine. This was consistent for many years without any general variation. While I know that D&C 27:2 says that it doesn’t matter if you use wine or water, there is deep symbolic reasons to use wine instead of water. Even after D&C 27 was received, Joseph continued on his journey to procure wine and used that for the sacrament. He certainly didn’t return and use water. The church as a whole also continued to use wine until the prohibition movement put a stop to that and changed the leader’s opinions. Today of course using wine would be quite shocking however wine has always represented the blood of Christ while water is representative of the cleansing power of Christ. The sacrament is use consuming the blood of Christ and making it apart of us. We are changing our physical natures not just washing away the impurities in them.

  17. D&C 20:81-84 – This is somewhat similar to some of the previous verses however it mentions that the church of Christ is composed of separate churches which send representatives to conferences. These conferences were also “by the elders of the church” which is telling considering the office of elder is far larger than we think. The teachers that are to be sent are also mentioned as being able to vouch for the good standing of members who move to new areas. This is strange to us today because churches, or wards as we would call them, are not autonomous at all, and we would never send a 14-year-old to represent the church in any kind of official capacity. In the early church however, teachers were grown men with families and would typically be quite capable of duties like this.

  18. D&C 26:2 – This verse states that “all things shall be done by common consent in the church”. This is such an amazing and simple way of governing the church. It allows people to be heard and concerns to be voiced. This also means that members should not be presented with a change and then asked to “sustain” that change with the outcome already guaranteed. If the members disagree with something then it shouldn’t happen in the first place there is no question. A perfect example of this is the baptism restriction for children of LGBT parents. This policy was not by common consent and was quite unpopular. The leaders eventually realized this and repealed the change, again not by common consent but by decree. The members had no say either way which was contrary to this verse in every way. There are other examples such as the 1982 temple recommend questions about “unnatural, impure, or unholy practices” between married couples which was quickly overturned. The early church would meet and discuss things however today we are just presented with the change and then have the opportunity of “sustaining” the change.

  19. D&C 28:13 – This is another instance where God says that “all things must be done … by common consent in the church”. The church today is certainly very orderly, however it does nothing by common consent. Story about Hiram Page, which section 28 is about, is certainly interesting. However, I don’t think it means that the members have no say, and we should just listen to the leaders. The leaders can be wrong and scripturally we can see they are wrong. Certainly, the early church didn’t feel like the leaders couldn’t be wrong. There were a number of instances where the members openly disagreed with the leaders about key issues and the result was altered accordingly.

  20. D&C 41:9 – Edward Partridge was called to be a bishop of the church “by the voice of the church” and to “spend all his time in the labors of the church”. In the early church the calling of bishop was a full-time calling focusing on the temporal needs and concerns of the members. Bishops were supported by the members and sought out ways to help them. (D&C 42:73) Today being a bishop is certainly a demanding calling however it certainly is also not a full-time one. Bishops are much more passive in that members come to them for their guidance and assistance. It does seem a little backwards that we don’t support bishops, who typically need it, and support the top leadership, who typically don’t need it.

  21. D&C 68:15-21 – These verses are incredibly interesting for a few reasons. First, all bishops should be modelled after the first bishop which was Edward Partridge. Second, bishops should be appointed by the “First Presidency of the Melchizedek Priesthood” which today is done at the Stake level instead. Lastly, if someone was a firstborn son of Aaron then they have a legal right to the office of bishop and don’t need to be appointed at all. A gentile bishop would therefore be operating only as a temporary steward until a Levitical bishop who was a descendant of Aaron could be found. Today of course this never happens. If I was a firstborn descendant of Aaron I could demand my right to the office of bishop however the church would politely tell me to go take a hike.

  22. D&C 68:22 – This verse clearly states that a bishop or high priest must be tried before the “First Presidency of the church”. This was because previously these were incredibly elevated positions of spiritual trust. Being a high priest wasn’t something that just automatically happened because you were an “old man” in the church. Today if a bishop or high priest is to be disciplined it is almost always by the stake president and certainly not the First Presidency.

  23. D&C 81:1 – During the ministry of Joseph Smith his counselors in the First Presidency were always chosen by revelation. It is also very important to realize they were never from the quorum of 12 apostles. There was not concept of ascension or apostolic succession. Today the counselors are always from the quorum of the 12 apostles and are chosen by the president. Someone could certainly make the case that he chooses them by revelation. However how much revelation if he can only pick from 14 people?

  24. D&C 84:86 – A lot of people have debated whether missionaries should or should not be provided for by the church or should support themselves. They do this by saying that God has a different way in the “olden” times and such. However, in this verse God is saying clearly that he is establishing a commandment to all in “the ministry, from this hour” that they should not “take purse or scrip”. Purse would be money and scrip would be ancillary things like clothing and such. Therefore, God is saying that missionaries from that time forward should rely on God and no one else for their support. Today the church certainly doesn’t follow this and instead requires the missionaries to support themselves. It takes far less faith to pay for your own groceries than it does to know that God will provide for your needs. How much different would missionary work have been if instead of memorizing lessons, your life became the lesson?

  25. D&C 102:9 – This verse specifically mentions that the president of the church should be “appointed by revelation” and “acknowledged in his administration by the voice of the Church”. While I can admit that the modern practice of “sustaining” members do, is a form of acknowledgment, I however can’t agree that the president is chosen by revelation at all. The president is always the senior apostle at the time, and this is actually even legally required according to the Corporation Sole structure the church was organized under.

  26. D&C 102:12-19 – This is a particularly interesting one and shows the orderliness and fairness of the Kingdom of God. These verses describe the proceedings during a disciplinary council and say that an accused member “has a right to one-half of the council” to ensure that the proceedings are fair and accurate. Verse 19 also describes that any member of the council can veto the decision of the president and ask for a rehearing. This is incredibly fair and certainly should lean toward impartially. The church today however does things quite different. Section 32.9.2 of the handbook says that the high council should typically not participate, unless requested, by the member and then it is still up to the president to decide. This certainly contradicts verses 12-15 which says that a portion of the council should always participate. Section 32.10.3 of the handbook mentions that in step 9 the president asks those in attendance to “sustain” his decision. If there is a disagreement, then no one has the power to veto the decision and rehear the evidence. This certainly contradicts verse 20 which explicitly states that any member of the council can call for a rehearing. Asking those in attendance to sustain a decision is totally pointless if only the decision of the president matters.

  27. D&C 102:27 – This verse is related to the process of a disciplinary council as described previously and is specifically pertaining to an appeal of the decision. The verse itself mentions that either party of the council may appeal to the First Presidency “and have a re-hearing”. This seems pretty fair in that case of an unjust initial trial. The church today however doesn’t do anything similar. Instead according to Section 32.13 of the handbook, the participant has an opportunity to appeal by giving a written letter to their stake president who then forwards that to the First Presidency. I would assume the letter is accompanied with a corresponding response by the stake president as to why the appeal shouldn’t happen. There is no mandatory rehearing as verse 20 says there should be. The way this is setup also greatly benefits the stake president as his version of things becomes the final authoritative version of things. The member essentially has no power in the council or the appeal process.

  28. D&C 107:15-17 – This is another reaffirmation of D&C 68:18 which was discussed previously. A “literal descendant of Aaron” has a legal right to the office of bishop and can of course displace a non-literal descendant which is quite possibly all current bishops. It does though stipulate that this individual needs to be called by the presidency of the church which section D&C 68 did not. This is likely to differentiate between people with a legal right that were not worthy or capable of the calling.

  29. D&C 107:23 – The quorum of the Twelve Apostles are always referred to as a quorum of traveling elders or traveling councilors. This quorum was to essentially be permanent missionaries “of the name of Christ in all the world”. This was a very special calling with a lot of responsibility in organizing and setting up the stakes of Zion. Once the stakes were setup, Joseph was clear that they no longer had any authority in the stake. The stake was to be overseen by the stake president. On May 2nd, 1835, Joseph mentioned “the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion, or any of its stakes, and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof”. Today however things are totally reversed. The Twelve Apostles certainly travel however their responsibility is almost entirely administrative in nature, out of Salt Lake City, and they have complete control of the stakes of Zion.

  30. D&C 107:82-84 – “The prophet will never lead the Church astray“. This is an official teaching of the modern church and was originated through a statement made by Wilford Woodruff when he stopped polygamy. However, this verse specifically mentions that if the President of the church transgresses then a council of high priests can try him “and their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him. Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God”. If the president of the church can be tried and possibly excommunicated, then it is very difficult to see how he can’t lead the church astray in the process. This is a very liberating concept, and it means all are alike to God. No one is above God’s law, and all are accountable for their actions. I would honestly be worried if the president of the church was not capable of error or was somehow immune from the consequences of their actions. This does however require us individually to understand the scripture so we can each make an informed decision on things.

  31. Article on Marriage – This was Section 101 of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants until Brigham Young had it removed, without a vote of common consent, in 1876. This was accepted by a unanimous vote and adopted as the law of the church. Thus, it was and still is canonized scripture. This article mentions that marriages should be performed in a “public meeting” and that “inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife”. Today this obviously is not followed. Marriages are not public, but performed in an LDS temple away from scrutiny and men can have more than a single wife. Today polygamy is not allowed in the church however it is still a core doctrine of the church and could theoretically return at any point if the President of the church decided to do so.

  32. D&C 124:28 – This verse mentions that as of January 19th, 1841 the “fulness of the priesthood” was lost from the church and there was nowhere to restore it again. The discussion about why this was is certainly a bit involved however God certainly mentioned it as a fact. If the fulness was removed in 1841 then when was it returned? How do we know this? Where is the record? The church today certainly don’t hold this as true however God does.

  33. D&C 124:31-33 – The church was given another chance to build a temple to God and be accepted by him however they were clearly warned that if they failed to do so they would be “rejected as a church, with your dead”. This is an incredibly serious statement and should not be approached lightly. The church certainly put some effort into the temple and Nauvoo house, however they put a lot more effort into the Nauvoo Masonic lodge which was dedicated in April 1844. On February 21, 1843, Joseph is reported to have said that the salvation of the church depends upon the Nauvoo House and Temple being built. Historically we know that the church did not build the Nauvoo temple or Nauvoo house in time and were cast out. Since they were cast out it would make sense to conclude that they were also rejected which God said would happen. Lyman Wight echoed this sentiment in a November 1851 statement. In a prayer dated February 8th, 1846, the Twelve Apostles prayed that they could “some day to finish the Temple, and dedicate it to him, and we would leave it in his hands to do as he pleased”. On October 9, 1848 the Nauvoo temple was destroyed by fire and then on May 27th 1850, the remaining structure was struck by a tornado.

  34. D&C 128:1-5 – These verses state that the recorder for the Baptisms for the Dead should “be very particular and precise in taking the whole proceedings” and should include “the date, and names, and so forth, and the history of the whole transaction; naming also some three individuals that are present”. This administrative burden was quite heavy however the revelation stated it was “only to answer the will of God”. This recording requirement was adhered to until 1989 when the church deemed it to be too excessive. A First Presidency letter was issued stating that the names of all individuals in the ordinance no longer needed to be recorded. Now no ones name is officially recorded as part of the ordinance. This of course is quite different from the recording requirement of the revelation which was declared the will of God.

I will firmly admit that I may have misinterpreted one or two of the previous items. However, the sheer number of differences between the scriptures and the modern Mormon church makes it incredibly difficult to think that things are correct. If things are not correct, then why not and what can we do about making them correct? If they are correct, then where are the revelations instructing the church that they can do things contrary to the written revelations?

Author: Patrick