Was Jesus Christ born on April 6th? What do LDS Church leaders say about this topic? Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 appears to indicate that the Savior was born on April 6th, 1,830 years to the day before the Church was organized, but is this verse to be read literally?
The following quotes from Church leaders, official Church publications, and other Church members in official magazines discuss this subject.
Quotes from Latter-day Church Leaders
President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“In a few days comes the promise that spring will come again and summer will return, as it has through all the millennia that men have been upon the earth. It is no wonder that in ancient times Christmas, commemorating the birth of the Christ child, was celebrated at this solstice season. Men had no knowledge of the time of His birth, and so they came to bond the celebration of Christmas with the celebration of the return of the sun. While we now know through revelation the time of the Savior’s birth [April 6], we observe the 25th of December with the rest of the Christian world.”
(“Christmas Devotional with First Presidency,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 74–75)
President Harold B. Lee:
"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. Joseph Smith wrote this, preceding a revelation given at that same date:
“The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being 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.) (Harold B. Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, Jul 1973, 2; Address delivered Friday morning, April 6, 1973)
President Spencer W. Kimball:
"My brothers and sisters, today we not only celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the organization of the Church, but also the greatest event in human history since the birth of Christ on this day 1,980 years ago. Today is Easter Sunday."
(Spencer W. Kimball, “Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign, May 1980, 54)
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)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
“Apparently Christ was born on the day corresponding to April 6 (D&C 20:1), but the saints nevertheless join in the wholesome portions of the Christmas celebration. Christmas becomes to them an ideal opportunity to renew their search for the true spirit of Christ and to center their attentions again on the true doctrine of his birth as the Son of an Immortal Father.”
(Mormon Doctrine, pp.132-33)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
"We do not believe it is possible with the present state of our knowledge—including that which is known both in and out of the Church—to state with finality when the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually occurred."
(Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 349, n. 2)
Elder N. Eldon Tanner:
"April is truly a historic month in which we commemorate two of the most important events in the history of mankind: the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the reestablishment of his church and kingdom here upon the earth in these, the latter days. Members of the Church also believe that Christ was born on April 6 in the year 1 b.c. (See D&C 20:1.)"
(N. Eldon Tanner, “Resurrection and Restoration,” Ensign, Apr 1971, 2)
Quotes from Other Church Publications
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Manual:
"Doctrine and Covenants 20:1—Why the Sixth of April? The Lord gave 6 April 1830 as the day to formerly organize His Church. President Harold B. Lee spoke of the significance of this date: “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 Latterday Saints in this dispensation, but also the anniversary of the birth of the Savior, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 4; or Ensign, July 1973, 2).
(Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Seminary Student Study Guide, Page 32)
Quotes from Other Church members
Richard O. Cowan, Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University:
"First let us review how we know the Savior was born in April. As directed by revelation, the Church was organized on April 6, 1830 (a Tuesday), which was “eighteen hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh.” (D&C 20:1.) Thus we schedule general conference sessions on April 6 each year; we are not only marking the anniversary of the Church’s organization, but we are commemorating the Lord’s birth as well."
(Richard O. Cowan, “Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Dec. 1974, 10–11)
John P. Pratt, (see entire article; here's an excerpt):
"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.)
"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)
"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.)
"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.
(John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter,” Ensign, Jun 1985, 59)