D&C 38 – helpful in thinking D&C 42?


Thinking D&C 42 is such a mess for me right now. Too many angles. Too much to be done. Too much historical work to do. So much to read, so much to research. Much has been done, but is it good? So much has been done that is overdetermined and trying to answer questions outside of the text. I need a really good study group night to work through some of these verses! (Where we can force each other to stay focused on one thing at a time and really make some headway!)

How do you think a “law” of a church? Do you look at every other time in scripture where a “law” has been given for a people? But what if it isn’t called that? Why in the world is this called a “law” but other commandments in revelations are not? Or are they? How much work would it take to figure that question out?

It says D&C 42 was given in fulfillment of a promise. I believe that is D&C 38. Here are the verses in D&C 38 that announce that a law will be given. Notice how much of it foreshadows D&C 42:

32 Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high;
33 And from thence, whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand.
34 And now, I give unto the church in these parts a commandment, that certain men among them shall be appointed, and they shall be appointed by the voice of the church;
35 And they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer; and send them forth to the place which I have commanded them;
36 And this shall be their work, to govern the affairs of the property of this church.
37 And they that have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left or rented as seemeth them good.
38 See that all things are preserved; and when men are endowed with power from on high and sent forth, all these things shall be gathered unto the bosom of the church.
39 And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.
40 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and also member, go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.
41 And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.
42 And go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Even so. Amen

There are obvious differences, but some general themes are the same. In fact I really like the perspective this section gives on riches. And the warning!

It talks about going forth, but to all nations (whereas D&C 42 talks about the westward regions). It tells them they will receive direction on how to teach, with is fulfilled in D&C 42. V.41 talks about the warning voice, which is not mentioned in D&C 42 but here we’re talking about their neighbor, not going forth, so I suppose that’s not really so connected to D&C 42 afterall.

Anyway, obvious differences, but obvious similarities as well.

My question is, what makes D&C 42 so special? Why is it set off as an important “law”? Why don’t we just consider ourselves bound to all commandments anyway? We can’t just say it’s because it has consecration, because that is talked about so much in scripture – here, there is the makings of it, and then after D&C 42 the Lord keeps giving direction about it. And yet none of these other places are gathered up into some revised version of D&C 42. It stands as the law. Why?

The only clue I have so far (and I really wish I could enlist the help of our Study Group) is that in D&C 38, the verses talking about Ohio and the law also talk about being “endowed with power from on high.” If we are connecting this given of law with a temple experience, then that may very well explain why this law is set off from other passages of scripture.

Laws are definitely connected with the temple.

So what is the relation, timewise, of these two events: the giving of D&C 42 and the dedication of the Kirtland temple?

Temple dedication: March 27, 1836
D&C 42: February 9, 1831

Wow, quite the gap. So that doesn’t answer it. Was there some other way they were “endowed with power from on high”?

A search for “endowed with power” came up with just D&C 38, D&C 43 (interestingly, we skip over D&C 42) and D&C 105. Both D&C 43 and 105 are pointing forward to a time when they will be endowed with power. D&C 105 uses the word endowment, even. D&C 43 tells them to sanctify themselves so that they can be endowed with power.

A search for “endowed from on high” does also add in D&C 95, which specifically mentions the building of the temple. It seems apparent to me that this phrase could and ought to be considered in relation to the temple, but how much do we connect D&C 38/42 with it?

Could we see then D&C 42 as a preparatory law for the temple? As a way to sanctify the people in preparation? Or, also, as a preparation for those laws they would receive there? How much of my own temple experience can I bring into this – I think it’s safe to say that there are laws given there, I think that much has been said in conference, etc. But are these at all related to their endowment? Things change, as I understand. Is this fair, then?

Please, any help appreciated!

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6 responses to “D&C 38 – helpful in thinking D&C 42?

  • Karen

    [From Joe]

    “Oh! What about the June 1831 endowment?”

    The what? I asked.

    “Yah, we read all about it in Rough Stone Rolling”

    Okay, need to go read that!

    “And see the section heading for D&C 52. Says it is instruction to the high priests, but it’s talking about the endowment.”

    Okay! I’ll start with Bushman and see what I come up with!

    “Lots of other sources on the endowment, but Bushman is a good place to start.”

  • Kim Matheson

    I like the connections with the temple. Obviously. It’s me.

    And I *would* like to know where else in scripture “law” is used. I’m wondering if we can find a parallel the law of Moses being preparatory to bring Israel into God’s presence (temple), but they never achieved that ultimate goal.

    And how does law differ from commandment? “Law” to me suggests an immediate (relatively–in this life, at least) consequence. It has a more political connotation, more associated with the affairs of this life and the temporal concerns of the kingdom (which appear to be prerequisite to any sort of temple experience). A “commandment,” on the other hand, need not have immediate consequences associated with it. I can do my visiting teaching for the rest of my life, but I may not receive a ‘reward’ for it until judgment day…

    (“Judgment” day… Now I want to look at judicial metaphors in scripture…)

    But Joe wins with the June 1831 endowment.

  • Karen

    I did some research on the June 1831 endowment in Rough Stone Rolling. I had heard of the event but hadn’t known it by this name – same for others, perhaps? It is the time when Joseph gathers some elders (and priests and teachers) together but so-in-so is possessed by an evil spirit and jumps around the room, so-in-so can’t talk, etc., and Joseph has to cast out Satan several times.

    So, here’s what I learned. Joseph had gathered them together to give them the high priesthood, or perhaps to make them high priests (it’s a bit ambiguous). It seems they were expecting to have an outpouring of spiritual gifts, so that when things started happening some wondered if they were from God, or not. Joseph prays to find out and the casts out the evil spirit. But even though he continues to ordain more men, more evil spirits come and unsettle the meeting. Some people leave feeling comforted that Joseph had power over the evil spirits, while others leave thinking that the priesthood must be evil. (How unfortunate!)

    So their “endowment” here meant receiving priesthood, and Satan trying to interfere. That is interesting, for several reasons. It makes sense that Satan would be trying to stop such an event from happening. That does follow the pattern of the First Vision. And, from my perspective, it does match up with some of the events in our endowment too. Obviously not what I would have picked out to call an “endowment” myself, though!

    Hmm. Joe suggested that this was a “failed endowment” and that the original “law” failed as well. (Or, better, that the Saints failed in living it.) He suggested that you can take the original law and endowment as paired, and a later version of (what is now) D&C 42 and the Kirtland temple experience as paired. Hmmm.

    Any thoughts on where to go next?

  • Roberta

    I wonder if the law in D&C 42 is for those who have been endowed? I mean, the law of the Tithe is given to fulfill part of the purpose of D&C 42 but when a person has been endowed, that person not only lives the law of the Tithe but also the Law of Consecration…which non-endowed members don’t live under covenant…and it seems to me that endowed members have the “higher law” that is displayed in D&C 42… maybe…

  • Karen

    Roberta-
    Yah, hey, Joe and I were just talking about something similar yesterday!
    The D&C is so odd because it’s part historical documentation and part scripture. For example:
    1. D&C 42 revealed
    2. D&C 78 revealed, which changes storehouse etc.
    3. D&C 104 revealed, which changes things again
    4. somewhere in here D&C 42 is “updated”
    5. D&C 119 is revealed (tithing) – but even here it seems like you give up all your surplus first and then give 10% annually…
    6. there are several temple experiences over the years, but the “Nauvoo endowment” (closest to ours) is given after all these revelations
    7. now it does seem consecration is for those who are endowed (and now it is an individual covenant, not a city-wide project)
    8. But Brigham Young sets up economic systems in Utah that are called United Orders that all the saints are involved with?
    9. Those are dissolved eventually

    BUT 10 – we have consecration in our own temple experience! We were talking about how if it weren’t in the temple nowadays, the word “consecration” would be just a trivia question for Mormon History lovers!

    But the way we have things now, yes, only those who are very committed end up receiving the law of consecration. And one thing I really liked thinking about yesterday, that you also mentioned, is not only do those who go to the temple know about it, they covenant to live it. A very different thing than just reading about it in the scriptures!

    While we should live all the commandments, it is a different thing to covenant to live a very specific way. And I think it’s confusing to read the D&C and decided exactly how this or that “applies” to me, because it is specific revelations for specific groups at specific times. And yet, it is scripture, and we are bound to live by it. I think it gets somewhat confusing! But in the temple, we are told how WE are to live this law, which also makes a big difference!

    So I agree – though originally D&C 42 was given for a whole community, before anyone had received their endowment (besides Joseph and Oliver perhaps), today it is something that has been handed over to the temple. Complex history! But I think it does shed a lot of light on the law when we see where it is received and who receives it today.

  • Karen

    I also think it’s interesting that the “law” in D&C 42 is more than the law of consecration, just like in the temple we have more that just that. In both cases there are several types of laws connected together, given in relation to each other.

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