Mormonism on the Birthday of Jesus

John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter”, Ensign, June 1985, 59

http://lds.org/ensign/1985/06/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-1-dating-the-first-easter?lang=eng

The Savior’s Birth Date     

Since the organization of the Church on 6 April 1830, many members have believed that Jesus was born on 6 April 1 B.C. This belief is based on a revelation stating that the Church was organized “one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.” (D&C 20:1.)     UAdd a Note 

The wording used does not make it clear whether this verse was intended to mean that the day 6 April 1830 was precisely 1,830 years since the birth of Jesus, or whether it was simply a formal way of stating that the year was called 1830. Some Church leaders have argued for the literal interpretation that Jesus was born on 6 April 1 B.C.37 They often note that the Lord pointed out “the precise day … to organize His Church.” (D&C 20, section heading.) Other Church leaders have not felt bound to accept Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 as accurate to the very day because “the Church has made no official declaration on the matter.”38 (D&C 20:1)     UAdd a Note 

Recently, two Presidents of the Church affirmed their belief that this verse does imply that April 6 (on our calendar) is the anniversary of the Lord’s birth. On 6 April 1973, President Harold B. Lee noted that that day was “the anniversary of the birth of the Savior” and then quoted Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 as a reference. (Ensign, July 1973, p. 2.) Then on 6 April 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball stated that Jesus was born on “this day 1,980 years ago.” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 54.)     UAdd a Note 

While these statements may not have been intended as declarations of doctrine, they do add to the impression that the literal interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 is generally accepted in the Church, favoring the acceptance of 6 April 1 B.C. as the Savior’s birthdate, consistent with Option C above.

 

The D&C student manual (section on D&C 20, p. 40) includes 3 quotes to support the April 6 date — Lee, Kimball and J Smith.

The Life and Teaching of Jesus and his Apostles Course Manual, p. 22 says,

(3-4) Luke 2:1-12. Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem, April 6, 1 B.C.

…”We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1.” (Jesus the Christ, p. 104.)

“This is the annual conference of the Church. April 6, 1973, 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. [Quoted D&C 20:1 ]” ( CR, Apr. 1973, p. 4.)