The Joseph Smith - Prepared Approved and the Now Abandoned Fifth Lecture on Faith was in the Doctrine and Covenants
by steve benson Jan 2012
Summary - this 1835 lecture makes a sharp distinction between the Elohim and Jesus concerning physical natures. The Father is described as a 'personage of Spirit,' in contrast with the Son who is said to be a 'personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man. The obvious clash between this view of the Godhead and later statements by Joseph Smith [1838 version of the first vision] himself has been offered as a possible explanation for the 'Lectures on Faith' eventual removal from post 1921 editions of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.'
What evidence is there that Joseph Smith actually did not believe or teach that he had seen God the Father and Jesus Christ with separate physical bodies in what Smith calls his "First Vision" experience?
What does this evidence do the foundational claims of the Mormon Church with regard to the nature of God?
Answer: It totally contradicts and destroys the fundamental underpinnings of official Mormon claims regarding the supposed physically tangible body of God the Father--thus destroying the central elements of Smith's "First Vision."
Below are the devastating details:
Joseph Smith declared that he personally met (face-to-face, no less) with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in 1820. Based on that alleged encounter, he further declared that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ both had separate and distinct bodies of flesh and bones.
Making no mistake about that fact of Mormon faith is the official website of the LDS Church--wherein reference is made to Lesson 3 of the "Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual," under the heading “I Had Seen a Vision" (p.11).
There it explicitly states that “[m]any truths were revealed in the First Vision," including that "[t]he Father and the Son are real, separate beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bones."
("The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," at: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=84010fd41d93b010VgnVCM100000... , [enter "I Had Seen a Vision" in the search bar, then click on "Lesson 3" for its online text under the heading, "Lesson 3: 'I Had Seen a Vision,' Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member Study Guide, What are some of the truths we can learn from the First Vision?"]; see also, “'I Had Seen a Vision,' Lesson 3 – Joseph Smith—History 1:1-26; 'Our Heritage,' pgs. 1-4, at: http://www.neumanninstitute.org/dc3.html)
Moreover (again on the Mormon Church's own official website under the general heading "The Scriptures"), LDS canonized doctrinal teaching regarding the physical bodies of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ are described as found in the current and duly-noted "Official Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"--namely, the “Doctrine and Covenants"--Section 130, verse 22:
"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."
("The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Section 130," at: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/130)
Yet, a photographic copy of p. 53 of the 1835 edition of the then-equally official version of the Mormon Church's "Doctrine and Covenants" states in no uncertain terms that God the Father does NOT have a body of flesh and bones but, rather, is a personage of spirit.
Without any ambiguity whatsoever, this officially Joseph Smith-sanctioned version of the LDS "Doctrine and Covenants" declares the following about the entities of "the Father and the Son," comparing and contrasting their individual--and in this case, different--forms:
"The Father being a PERSONAGE OF SPIRIT, glory and power, possessing all perfection and fullness; The Son who was in the bosom of the Father, A PERSONAGE OF TABERNACLE, MADE OR FASHIONED LIKE UNTO MAN, or being in the form or likeness of man, and in his image; . . ." (emphasis added).
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "The Godhead," Chapter 7, in "The Changing World of Mormonism," at: http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech7.htm ; for a complete version of the 'Fifth Lecture,' see "Lecture Fifth of Faith, Section V," at: http://www.centerplace.org/hs/dc/lec-005.htm)
What has subsequently happened to this "Fifth Lecture on Faith" (along with all the other lectures in that official doctrinal series), which originally appeared in virtually all the early editions of the the Mormon Church's canonized "Doctrine and Covenants"?
The answer can be found (among many places) in Jerald and Sandra Tanner's book, "The Changing World of Mormonism":
" . . [I]n 1921 they [the 'Lectures on Faith'] were completely removed and have not appeared in subsequent editions."
Why did this happen? Explain the Tanners:
"John William Fitzgerald, who wrote his [Masters] thesis at BYU, asked Joseph Fielding Smith why they were removed from the 'Doctrine and Covenants.' One of the reasons given was that they were not complete as to their teachings regarding the Godhead.
"Actually, these lectures were considered complete with regard to their teachings concerning the Godhead at the time they were given.
"On page 58 of the 1835 edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' the following question and answer appear: 'Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation? A. IT DOES.'" (emphasis added)
So, what, then, is the logical explanation for the officially doctrinal "Lectures on Faith" being subsequently and in wholesale fashion excised from the present, officially canonized scriptures of the Mormon Church?
The reason is as plain as the non-fleshly nose on the original-but-now-surgerized Mormon Father God's face:
"The truth of the matter is that they [the 'Lectures on Faith'] contradict what is presently taught by [Mormon] Church leaders with regard to this subject.
"To avoid 'confusion and contention' over the Godhead the Mormon leaders slyly removed the 'Lectures on Faith' from the 'Doctrine and Covenants.'
"This was done in spite of the fact that Joseph Smith himself had considered them important enough to include. Since these lectures were about 70 pages long, this amounted to a major deletion.
"On page 345 of his thesis, 'A Study of the Doctrine & Covenants,' Mr. Fitzgerald supplies this information:
"'The 'Lectures on Faith' were voted on unanimously by the conference assembled August 17, 1835, to be included in the forthcoming book of doctrine and covenants. The writer could find no documentary evidence that they were voted on by a General Conference of the Church to be omitted in the 1921 and all subsequent editions of the 'Doctrine [and] Covenants.'"
(Tanner and Tanner, "The Godhead," Chapter 7, in "The Changing World of Mormonism," at: http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech7.htm)
The Tanners amplify on the makeover of Mormonism's Father God in their book, "Mormonism: Shadow or Reality":
"In 1835 the 'Lectures on Faith,’ which were originally delivered before a class of the Elders, in Kirtland, Ohio, were printed in the 'Doctrine and Covenants.' In these lectures it was definitely stated that God the Father was a personage of spirit.
"In the 'Fifth Lecture' we find this statement about the Godhead:
"'. . . [T]he Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power, possessing all perfection and fulness, the Son . . . a personage of tabernacle . . .' ('Doctrine and Covenants,’ 1835 Edition, p. 53) . . .
"President Joseph Fielding Smith admits that Joseph Smith helped prepare these lectures:
"'Now the Prophet did know something about these "Lectures on Faith," because he helped to prepare them, and he helped also to revise these lectures before they were published . . . ' ('Doctrines of Salvation,' Vol. 3, p. 195).
"These 'Lectures on Faith' were printed in all of the early editions of the 'Doctrine and Covenants,' but they have been removed from recent editions.
"John William Fitzgerald, in his thesis, 'A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants,' states as follows:
"'The reasons for the omission of these 'Lectures' from the 'Doctrine and Covenants' beginning in the 1921 edition and all the subsequent editions as given to the writer by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith were as follows:
"'(a) They were not received as revelations by the prophet Joseph Smith.
"'(b) They are instructions relative to the general subject of faith. They are explanations of this principle but not doctrine.
"'(c) They are not complete as to their teachings regarding the Godhead. More complete instructions on the point of doctrine are given in section 130 of the 1876 and all subsequent editions of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.'
"'(d) It was thought by Elder James E. Talmage, chairman, and other members of the committee who were responsible for their omission that to avoid confusion and contention on this vital point of belief, it would be better not to have them bound in the same volume as the commandments or revelations which make up the 'Doctrine and Covenants' ('A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants,' M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, p. 344).
"The reasons Joseph Fielding Smith gave John William Fitzgerald as to why the 'Lectures on Faith' were removed from the 'Doctrine and Covenants' are very interesting.
"Reason (a), that they 'were not received as revelations,' could hardly be considered at all. If every section that is not a revelation was removed from the 'Doctrine and Covenants,' it would be a much shorter book. There are a least nine, if not more, sections from the 'Doctrine and Covenants' that are not revelations; they are Sections 102, 113, 121, 123, 128, 131, 134 and 135.
"Reason (b), that they were not doctrine does not agree with the statement on page 256 of the 1835 edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.' This statement reads as follows: '. . . [T]he lectures were judiciously arranged and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine . . . .'
"Joseph Smith himself signed a statement which was printed in the preface to the 1835 edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.' In this statement we read: 'The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of 'Lectures' as delivered before a theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important DOCTRINE OF SALVATION, we have arranged them into the following work.' (emphasis added)
"Reason (c), 'that they are not complete as to their teachings regarding the Godhead' is getting much closer to the truth than the first two reasons. A more correct way of wording this, however, might be, 'they contradict what is now taught concerning the Godhead in the Mormon Church.' . . .
"Reason (d), that to avoid 'confusion and contention on this vital point of belief, it would be better not to have them bound in the same volume,' is probably the true reason they were left out. Certainly it would cause confusion and contention in the Mormon Church if one of the elders started to teach that God is a personage of spirit . . . , as the 'Lectures on Faith' taught."
(Tanner and Tanner, "Lectures on Faith," in "Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?," pp. 166-67, at: http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/lecturesonfaith.htm)
Such blatant, fundamental and deceptive revision by the LDS Church of its official doctrine on the very essence of the Mormon God Elohim has not gone unnoticed by non-LDS scholars.
James E. Walker, in his article "Re-imagining Elohim: Rethinking the Mormon Doctrine of God for the 21st Century," observes:
"Today the Mormon Church maintains the Father has a body of flesh and bones. Consequently, these 'Lectures on Faith' have been removed from recent editions of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.'"
Walker explains their removal as part of the Mormon Church's phased-in re-making of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in ways that "could be described as experimental, temporary or transitional."
"In 1834-35, less than five years after the publication of the 'Book of Mormon,' the 'Lectures on Faith' were delivered to the School of the Elders in Kirtland, Ohio.
"The lectures, probably written by Joseph Smith, were printed as the first part of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' in every edition of that LDS scripture from the first edition in 1835 to 1921, when they were removed.
"The fifth lecture teaches that Christ is a distinct and separate Person from the Father. . . .
"Also, the lecture makes a sharp distinction between the Elohim and Jesus concerning physical natures. The Father is described as a 'personage of Spirit,' in contrast with the Son who is said to be a 'personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man.'
"The obvious clash between this view of the Godhead and later statements by Joseph Smith himself has been offered as a possible explanation for the 'Lectures on Faith' eventual removal from post 1921 editions of the 'Doctrine and Covenants.' ['Encyclopedia of Mormonism' author and LDS apologist] Larry E. Dahi writes:
"'Many have pointed to the content of 'Lecture 5' concerning the Godhead, suggesting that it contains incomplete, if not erroneous doctrine--doctrine which was corrected or clarified in 1843 by Joseph Smith (D&C 130:22-23).
"'The argument is that the 'Lectures' were removed to avoid these inconsistencies. Some have claimed that the removal of the 'Lectures' from the 'Doctrine and Covenants' constitutes decanonization of material once affirmed by the Church as scripture.'
" . . . [T]he fact that they [the 'Lectures on Faith'] were printed with the 'Doctrine and Covenants' for over 80 years coupled with their subsequent removal and relative obscurity raises interesting questions.
"Did the 1921 change in the 'Doctrine and Covenants' reflect an earlier re-imagining of Elohim?
"A strong case can be made for this hypothesis."
(James K. Walker, President, Watchman Fellowship Lecture, "Re-imagining Elohim: Re-thinking the Mormon Doctrine of God for the 21st Century," delivered at CESNUR 2004 International Converence, "Religious Movements, Conflict and Democracy: International Perspectives," Baylor University, Waco, Texas, 17-20 June 2004, at: http://www.cesnur.org/2004/waco_walker.htm)
Indeed, the "Fifth Lecture on Faith" was written before a finalized, LDS Church-approved version of Joseph Smith's "First Vision" was even available to the early Mormon Church membership at large.
As one critic points out:
"In 1835 the 'Doctrine and Covenants' was printed at Kirtland, Ohio, and its preface declared that it contained 'the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe.' Included in the book were the 'Lectures on Faith,' a series of seven lectures which had been prepared for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland in 1834-35.
"It is interesting to note that, in demonstrating the doctrine that the Godhead consists of two separate personages, no mention was made of Joseph Smith having seen them, nor was any reference made to the first vision in any part of the publication. . . .
"The 'Lectures on Faith' were written in 1834 as part of Joseph Smith's curriculum for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, and they were included in the 1835 edition of the 'Doctrine & Covenants.'
"So, why is Joseph Smith saying [in the Fifth Lecture] that God is a spirit, but Jesus Christ has a body? If Smith had seen the First Vision 12-15 years earlier, he would have said they both have bodies, right?
"The reason is because the final version of the 'First Vision' story had not been written yet. It also corroborates the fact that the membership hadn't heard the story either."
("Early Mormons Didn't Know About the First Vision," by "Deconstructor," posts on Recovery from Mormonism bulletin board, under "NO EVIDENCE That Early Church Members Knew About the First Vision," 27 January 2004, and "More Problems with Your Apologetics," 27 January 2004, at: http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon317.htm)
Former Mormon Bill Kempton, in his article, "Dear Bishop--I'm Leaving the Fold," explains how the "Fifth Lecture on Faith" completely undermines Joseph Smith's "First Vision" story:
" . . . [A]ll 'Doctrine and Covenants' before 1921 contained the doctrine of the 'Fifth Lecture on Faith' that was bound in scripture as doctrine in 1835. The 'Fifth Lecture' basically stated that the Father is only a spirit, that only Jesus has a body, and the Holy Ghost is not a person but the same Mind (or essence) of the Father and the Son; and the Father and the Son are not two gods but one Deity, which is very similar to the Catholic Trinity . . . . How could Joseph Smith bind this doctrine in scripture if he really saw two flesh and bone persons in 1820? . . .
"I decided to research this matter further . . .
"The earliest LDS members held in their hands the 'Doctrine and Covenants,' which contained the doctrine of the 'Fifth Lecture' until 1921. LDS members believed that only Jesus had a body of flesh and bone, and the Holy Ghost was not a person!
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I had found the murder weapon with finger prints on it, a video of the crime taking place, and a taped confession. It was the final nail that was hammered into the coffin of my Mormon testimony.
"I learned that the foundation of Mormonism, the First Vision, was unfounded. This led me to realize that like a house on a bad foundation, the LDS church was founded on fiction, suspicious hearsay, and supported not by facts but subjective emotionalism."
(Bill Kempton, "Dear Bishop--I'm Leaving the Fold," posted 6 August 2006 (updated 2009), at:
As Kempton asks in an earlier article (no longer Internet-provided) entitled, "The First Vision: Fact or Fiction?":
"Is the early Mormon's testimony of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' (that stated that the Father is only a spirit . . .) any less valid than the Mormon testimony today regarding the true nature of the Godhead?
"If the first Mormons believed in the 'Fifth Lecture on Faith,' that was doctrine in scripture for decades, what guarantee does the Mormon today have that what they believe to be absolutely true doctrine won’t be changed tomorrow?"
The answers to those inquiries are quite simple and historically undeniable:
Reworked, reinvented Mormon Church "history" is, at its corrupted and bedrock core, totally invalid.
Re: Mormonism's God the Father Has NO Physical Body: The Joseph Smith-Prepared/Approved and Now-Abandoned "Fifth Lecture on Faith" Blows Apart Bogus Smith's "First Vision" Claims . . .
Even today, mormon's teachings on the Godhead and physical bodies makes little sense imo. Even to some of the members themselves. I remember in a seminary lesson the topic came up, and nobody, even the teacher, could get their head around this. There's two mormon teachings that say:
1. To become a god, you need both a body and a spirit.
2. All three members of the Godhead are gods.
If those two things are true, then the following about the Godhead and physical bodies just doesn't make sense:
1. The Holy Ghost is a member of the godhead, yet he doesn't have a body (it says in the scriptures that he doesn't have a body so that he can dwell within it, which makes sense, but it would also make him not a god yet).
2. Jesus Christ is the god of the Old Testement. But he only obtained his physical body at the beginning of the New Testement (when he was born). So Jesus would've also been a god without a body, which doesn't make sense.
Re: Mormonism's God the Father Has NO Physical Body: The Joseph Smith-Prepared/Approved and Now-Abandoned "Fifth Lecture on Faith" Blows Apart Bogus Smith's "First Vision" Claims . . .
Interesting info, Steve, thanks.
I think this is a pretty big deal. It's clear cut and obvious. There's no apology for this, not even a bad one.
Ex Nihil, Nihil Fit
The problem with Mormonism is Mormonism itself.
"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"