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President Harold B. Lee
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
John Franklin Hall
by President Harold B. Lee
April 6, ... is a particularly significant date because it commemorates not only the anniversary of the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation, but also the anniversary of the birth of the Savior, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
by Elder Bruce R. McConkie
On the false assumption that Christianity had its beginning with our Lord's mortal ministry, his birth was chosen to mark the beginning of the so-called Christian Era. Though there is considerable controversy and uncertainty among scholars of the world as to the actual year of Christ's birth, the revelation given on the day the Church was organized in this dispensation apparently intends to convey the thought that he was born April 6, B.C. 1. (D. & C. 20:1.)
Mormon Doctrine, p.131
by John Franklin Hall
April 6, 1830, is the date on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. The Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely authorized to reestablish the Church of Christ on this day (see Restoration) and it may be the anniversary of the Lord's birth on earth (D&C 20:1). The Church commemorates the importance of April 6 by scheduling its annual General Conference on or near this day.
Concerning the date of Christ's birth, one of the earliest known references to December 25 was in the third century A.D. (Hippolytus, Commentarii in Danielem, 4.23.3). Scholarly consensus recognizes that early Christians probably appropriated December 25 from pagan festivals such as the Dies Natalis Invicti, established by the Emperor Aurelian (cf. Hoehner, pp. 11-27). Controversy, ancient and modern, regarding that date has had little influence in the LDS community (see Christmas). Presidents of the Church, including Harold B. Lee (p. 2) and Spencer W. Kimball (p. 54), have reaffirmed that April 6 is the true anniversary of Christ's birth, but have encouraged Church members to join with other Christians in observing Christmas as a special day for remembering Jesus' birth and teachings.
Some discussion has centered on the actual year of Jesus' nativity. Some argue that the phrase "one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh" (D&C 20:1) should be interpreted to mean that Christ was born exactly 1,830 years before April 6, 1830 (Lefgren). This view has been both challenged (Brown et al., pp. 375-83) and supported (Pratt, pp. 252-54). Others assert that the phrase was not intended to fix the year of Christ's birth but was simply an oratorical mode of expressing the current year.
Attempts to determine the exact date of Christ's birth or death are complicated by a dearth of pertinent historical information and multiple dating systems. The present dating system derives from the determination that Christ was born in 753 a.u.c. (ab urbe conditafrom the founding of the city [of Rome]), made by the Scythian monk Dionysius, commissioned by Pope John 1 in A.D. 525 (1278 a.u.c.). The accuracy of Dionysius' system stands at the center of all discussion concerning the date of Christ's birth (Hoehner, p. 11).
John the Baptist's ministry began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1), the only precise date in the New Testament. The fifteenth year would have begun in September A.D. 28 and ended in September A.D. 29. On this basis alone the dates of Christ's life can be reckoned from the New Testament.
The LDS Church has not taken an official position on the issue of the year of Christ's birth. Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle, offers what for the present appears to be the most definitive word on the question: "We do not believe it is possible with the present state of our knowledgeincluding that which is known both in and out of the Churchto state with finality when the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually occurred" (Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 349, n. 2).
Brown, S. Kent, et al. Book Review of Lefgren's April 6. BYU Studies 22 (Summer 1982):375-83.
Filmer, W. E. "The Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great." Journal of Theological Studies 17 (1966):283-98.
Hoehner, H. W. Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1977.
Kimball, Spencer W. "Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings." Ensign 10 (May 1980):54.
Lee, Harold B. "Strengthening the Stakes of Zion." Ensign 3 (July 1973):2.
Lefgren, J. April Sixth, Salt Lake City, 1980.
McConkie, Bruce R. Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 349, n. 2. Salt Lake City, 1979.
Pratt, J. "Afterwords" (Letter to the Editor). BYU Studies 23 (Spring 1983):252-54.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, April 6
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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