“The 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was originally a two-part work, as its name would indicate. If we look at the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, we see that the work contains 138 revelations, or sections. In the 1835 edition, the work is divided into two distinct parts. The first part of the work is titled ‘Theology: Lecture First of Faith on the Doctrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ Subsequent lectures are simply titled ‘Lecture Second of Faith,’ ‘Lecture Third,’ and so on. The revelations were included in a second part titled ‘Covenants and Commands of the Lord,’ which begins on page 75. That the seven Lectures on Faith originally comprised the doctrine part of the Doctrine and Covenants there can be no doubt. The revelations in turn comprised the ‘Covenants and Commands’ portion of the work. The two parts, collectively, were called the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
“For many of the Saints in Kirtland, and for Mormons of subsequent generations until 1921, the Lectures of Faith were Mormon doctrine. For the members of the Church in the late 1830s, the Lectures of Faith were the doctrines of the church to which they belonged. The decanonization of the Lectures of Faith brought about a serious revision of Latter-day Saint theology. The Lecture of Faith by 1921 were representative of a theological position that the Church had not held for nearly a century. Their continued inclusion, in post-1921 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, would have presented an additional problem for the Church by providing an older, rejected, theological option for the membership of the Church. Having just resolved the Jehovah-Elohim controversy, a new thorn in the flesh was not needed.
“Scholars have attempted to legitimize the reasons for the removal of the Lectures in 1921. Reasons for the decanonization of the Lectures followed an apologetical line of logic. Reasons such as they contain imperfect doctrines on the godhead, they were not received as revelations by the Prophet, and they were only given as instructions, form the core of the apologists’ arguments. The opinions surrounding the decanonization have never been fully explained. Why were the Lectures originally included as part of the canon? It seems odd that a religious movement that holds to beliefs not contained in its canon (the King Follett discourse) would include in that canon teachings which it did not believe to be authoritative. In what must have been an embarrassing position for the Church to be in, removing part of its canon, reasons for the removal were needed. This was accomplished by arguing that the Lectures were never part of the canon.”
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