Episode 170: D&C 70 – Section 94

August 12, 2017


Episode 170: D&C 70 – Section 94

In either April, May, or August 1833 Joseph tells us that Zion is in Kirtland, so apparently Zion isn’t in Missouri? Kirtland gets an office building and a temple, Joseph and two of his BFFs get houses.
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5 Comments on “Episode 170: D&C 70 – Section 94”

  1. The Mocking Bard Says:

    You can’t understand the operations of the LDS Church, either in the 1830s or today, if you don’t understand the concept of a “stake.” The “center place” of Zion was established in Independence, Missouri (D&C 57:3). Kirtland was established as a stake of Zion (or “city of the stake of Zion,” as it is phrased) in verse 1 of Section 94. The term comes from Isaiah’s use of the term stake in a tent metaphor (Isaiah 33:20 and especially 54:2). Congregations that are set up away from the center place of Zion are organized around stakes. In 1833, Jackson County, MO, was the center place of Zion (it may still be), while Kirtland, OH, was one of its stakes. There is no contradiction here.


    • My Book of Mormon Says:

      Fascinating. So… hmmmmm…. all I can come up with as a visualization of this is from the board game Pandemic when an outbreak happens, but that’s a bit of an extreme example since we’re discussing a religion, not a disease.


      • The Mocking Bard Says:

        I know a few people who might actually compare the growth of Mormonism with a spreading disease, and this video from the church itself could have the unintentional effect of making it look rather pandemic in nature:


      • My Book of Mormon Says:

        That… that’s way too similar to Pandemic than I anticipated. I laughed when there was a sudden explosion of stakes in South American in 1978. Gee, wonder why. 😛


  2. Gottfried TheHirsute Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with The Mocking Bard’s definition and explanation. Much of the confusion comes from the term “Zion” in LDS vernacular variously (and often simultaneously) meaning 1) the ‘old’ Jerusalem in Palestine, 2) the New Jerusalem which will descend from heaven onto Jackson County, Missouri, at the Second Coming, 3) the City of Enoch (which will also descend from heaven at the Second Coming), 4) any group of righteous people who are unified and “pure in heart” (e.g. the City of Enoch or the people described in 4 Nephi), and/or 5) the central place where Latter Day Saints are gathered. Oh, and Joseph also once stated that “the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south”. It’s all about context and subtext!

    The context of Section 94 begins in May 1830 with the passage of the Indian Removal Act, in which a number of tribes of Native Americans were forcibly relocated from east of the Mississippi River to western lands. Coming as this did, shortly after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and considering Oliver Cowdery’s prior interest in the book View of the Hebrews, I’m sure the time seemed propitious for a mission to the ‘Lamanites’. And this was soon commanded by revelations in September and October 1830 (D&C Sections 28,30 & 32). By January 1831, Oliver, along with others, arrived in Independence while at the same time Joseph was relocating from New York to Kirtland.

    In the early months of 1831, Joseph made some statements which implied that Kirtland was Zion, at least in the context of a gathering place (Definition 5). At the same time, he was receiving letters from Oliver reporting not so much the success of the mission (what? you mean we needed permission from the Federal government to proselyte in Indian territory?) but that the land in Missouri was so fruitful that you barely had to do anything to grow food and the climate was so pleasant and healthful and best of all, land was CHEAP! (especially in comparison with Kirtland). So with land and money both being in short supply in the original gathering place and with more members arriving all the time, it became apparent that Kirtland’s status as Zion would be temporary. And this is confirmed by Joseph’s revelation of May 20 (Section 51). The context of D&C 51 is all wrapped up in the story of the Colesville Branch and the Leman Copley land deal gone sour and the Colesville members being sent ahead to Missouri sight unseen – but as usual, that’s another story. (Take it from there, Bryce. 😉 )

    In July, Joseph went to Missouri and on August 2, declared Independence and Jackson County to be “Zion” (D&C 57). However – and I’ll admit to a bit of speculation on my part at this point – I think Joseph was less than impressed. I think he was initially caught up by Oliver’s (over)exuberance, but after seeing the rough frontier town in person, and realizing the amount of work that would be needed to hack a new town out of the wilderness (and Joseph had a long track record of not being especially fond of hard physical labor) he probably was having second thoughts. But the Colesville Saints and others had already arrived, and most were destitute, so there was no way they could go back the 800 miles to Ohio at this point. And then, on his way home, his canoe tipped over (the infamous “Destroying Angel Upon the Waters” incident) which I’m sure did nothing for his desire to return to Missouri. Besides, the members were building him a house in ‘civilized’ Kirtland.

    So how do you resolve the conundrum of having changed Zion from one place to another but then wanting to go back? Make them BOTH Zion! 🙂 Section 94 is the first instance of this solution, but without the context, it is a confusing section indeed. Adding to the confusion is that fact that some sources don’t consider that Kirtland was ‘officially’ established as the first “Stake of Zion” until February 1834 when the High Council was organized (D&C 102). A minor point to be sure, but God’s house is a house of order – and quite often, pedantry. 😀 By the way, the second official stake was… Nope, not yet. Spoilers!

    Oh, and Marie – religion IS a disease. Read “The Religion Virus: Why we believe in God” by Craig A. James. It’s on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0046A9JMA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 or you can go to his website http://www.thereligionvirus.com Thought provoking reading. 🙂


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