The Doctrine and Covenants, usually abbreviated to “D&C” for short, is part of the scriptural canon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon).
Though the Community of Christ (RLDS) has adapted the Doctrine & Covenants for its own uses, this article only discusses the D&C as it is used in the LDS Church.
Canon of the LDS Church – Books of Mormon Scripture
The scriptural canon of the LDS church is comprised of four books: the Bible (both Old and New Testaments without the Apocrypha,) the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
Whereas the Bible, Pearl of Great Price, and Book of Mormon all claim to be translations of ancient religious texts, the Doctrine and Covenants a compilation of revelations Mormon founder Joseph Smith reported receiving between the years 1823 and 1843.
The D&C also includes a handful of official statements and declarations by subsequent LDS church presidents regarding Mormon doctrine and changes in LDS church policy.
Author of the Mormon Doctrine & Covenants (LDS)
The Doctrine and Covenants was accepted by a unanimous church vote and first published in 1835 as The Book of Commandments, with subsequent editions being printed as new material was added.
The vast majority of the LDS D&C was recorded or dictated by Joseph Smith, who says he translated the Book of Mormon and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in response to a series of divine visitations directing him to do so.
Contents of the Mormon D&C
The LDS Doctrine and Covenants is divided into sections and verses, one revelation to a section. Most are written in the first-person voice of the Lord. The LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants prefaces each section with a brief historical background, which is often helpful in understanding its content.
Some of the sections are directed to specific individuals in LDS history, while others are direct responses to a question asked of God by the prophet Joseph Smith as he translated and published the Book of Mormon and managed the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
LDS Doctrine in the D&C
The Doctrine and Covenants echoes familiar religious values like faith, charity, repentance, and forgiveness, but it also informs uniquely LDS teachings on the second coming of Jesus Christ, the three degrees of heaven, vicarious temple work for the dead, and the eternal nature of families.
Also recorded in the D&C are reports of heavenly visits from ancient Christian figures such as the apostles Peter, James and John; John the baptist; and Elijah. They were said to give Joseph Smith and other church leaders the authority to perform in various priesthood capacities in the church.
Readers of the Doctrine and Covenants will also find information on the strict Mormon health code, church leadership organization, and the correct procedures for baptizing, confirming, and blessing and passing the sacrament to members of the LDS church.
Visit the Mormon Beliefs Main Page for more on the contents of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, the afterlife, temples, and Jesus Christ.