Where to go now?
I will say I have learned some very interesting things about D&C 20’s history.
From what I understand, originally Oliver wrote some “covenants and church articles” before D&C 20 was revealed/edited by Joseph Smith. In D&C 18. he is told,
3 And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;
4 For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.
5 Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.
It appears then that Oliver wrote out some “covenants and church articles” based on the Book of Mormon. What we have as D&C 20 has some remnants of that. The sacrament prayers are from the Book of Mormon, for example. Oliver went through the Book of Mormon and compiled many things having to do with “building up the church.”
I thought that was fascinating and explained some of the language in D&C 20.
It seems from what looking around Joe’s done for his research (which is where I learned about Oliver & the precursor to D&C 20), that “covenants and Church articles” – a phrase used in D&C 42 – is the standard name for D&C 20. This is very helpful as I keep trying to work though D&C 42. Verse 13 tells the elders they should “observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.” Verse 12 had just talked about teaching “the principles of the gospel from the Bible and Book of Mormon” (which has the fulness of the gospel). I had some question in my mind what the covenants and church articles were, and whether this direction about teaching included them. I now have two more pieces of the puzzle to work with. One: the phrase “covenants and church articles” does refer to D&C 20. Two: D&C 20’s content focuses on the principles of the gospel and even talks about the Book of Mormon. So, if this direction to teach does include D&C 20, it doesn’t seem to change much of their teaching.
So, where now? Back to D&C 42?