Mormon Scripture (the "Standard Works" ):
The Pearl of Great Price : This short Mormon book claims to be a "selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine" of the LDS Church . It became a standard work of the church (i.e. Mormon scripture) by action of the First Presidency in 1880, and contains:
- Book of Mormon: Mormons claim this book to be a record written on golden plates by prophets of a race who lived in the Americas for about 1,000 years. Joseph Smith said he found these plates in 1823 near Palmyra, NY and executed an 'exact and inerrant translation' of them with the help of an angel, two friends and special instruments.The ancient race was descended from two groups of Hebrews, the Nephites and the Lamanites, who traveled to the New World from Palestine around 600 B.C. and built a great civilization. Another people, the Jaredites, who had arrived in the Americas much earlier, exterminated the Nephites around A.D. 421. The Lamanites supposedly became the principal ancestors of the American Indians. The indigenous people discovered by Columbus are cousins of that race, reputedly cursed with dark skin for having rejected God. A major claim of the Book of Mormon is that Christ appeared in the New World shortly after His resurrection and that His second coming will preceded by a massive conversion of the American Indians to Christ, who will then exterminate gentiles who do not accept it. After that, the believing Indians and Mormons will build the New Jerusalem (in Independence , Missouri ), where Christ will return to live 14 . The Mormon Church claims this book is "another testament of Jesus Christ" that confirms the Biblical dictate to establish every fact by the mouth of two or three witnesses. Importantly, the Book of Mormon also claims that the Bible is incomplete and inaccurate :
- "many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible...wherefore because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written" ( Book of Mormon , 2 Nephi 29:3,10).
The Doctrine & Covenants - A lengthy collection of supposedly "divine revelations and inspired declarations" received mostly by Joseph Smith. Much Mormon Doctrine is derived from this book . The Bible - Mormons accept the Bible as authoritative scripture, with the important caveat "as far as it is translated correctly". This caveat gives Mormon leaders the freedom to alter the Bible to suit their own needs and to be superceded by other Mormon 'scriptures'. Mormon confidence in the Bible is less than that of the three works above due to Joseph Smith's incorrect contention that the Biblical canon is incomplete and inaccurate due to errors in translation and transcription. This has been disproven by many scholars.
- The Articles of Faith - A concise statement of some central tenants of Mormonism,
- The Books of Moses and Matthew - Joseph Smith's translation of Genesis and Matthew,
- The Book of Abraham - Joseph Smith's translation of Egyptian papyri purportedly written by Abraham,
- Joseph Smith-History -Joseph Smith's description of his initial revelation and the formation of the LDS church.
- Mormon Doctrine - written by Mormon Apostle and apologist Bruce McConkie, and published in 1966; this is a widely-used guide to L.D.S. doctrine, found in many households of active Mormons in the USA .
- Doctrines of Salvation -written by Joseph Fielding Smith.
- (A Study of) the Articles of Faith - Principle Doctrines of the LDS church discussed by J.E. Talmage, an LDS apostle. Published by Deseret Book Co. (official LDS publisher), 1st edition in 1899. First given as a series of lectures, then published by the church as The Articles of Faith , the only authorized, book-length explication of Mormon belief.
- Gospel Principles - an LDS church publication used to teach new members the doctrines of their church. Substantial differences exist between the 1978 and 1986 editions, proof that some doctrines are revised and "toned down".
- Gospel Through the Ages - Milton R. Hunter. Published by Deseret Book Co., 1945.
- The Way to Perfection - Joseph Fielding Smith.
- The Miracle of Forgiveness - Spencer W. Kimball.
Transcribed Sermons of Early LDS Church Leaders:
- Journal of Discourses - Sermons delivered by LDS church authorities from Nov. 1, 1853 to May 17, 1886 (26 vols., weekly or semi-weekly). Some leaders proclaimed their sermons to be scripture .
- Times and Seasons - Claims to contain "a compendium of intelligence pertaining to the upbuilding of the kingdom of God with useful information in regard to doctrine of the LDS church". Edited by Joseph Smith and others, 1839-1854, 6 vols., monthly.
- The Seer - Edited by Orson Pratt, 1853-1854, 2 vols, monthly.
- Lectures on Faith - Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, 1854-1855. Published by Deseret Book Co., 1985.
LDS Church History:
- History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - Documents of the early LDS church (by Joseph Smith, 7 vols. ed. by B.H. Roberts, 2nd ed., The Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, 1978). Note: some of these (vol. 1, chp. 1-5; vol. 2, p.235-236, 348-351; vol.4, p.535-542) were later incorporated into the Pearl of Great Price and therefore designated as LDS "scripture".
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 1938)
- A Comprehensive History of the Church - by B.H. Roberts, Church Historian (1857-1933), Deseret Book Co., 1930.
- History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - by B.H. Roberts, 7 vols., 1902.
- Historical Record - by Andrew Jensen.
- Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball - collection of teachings by the 12th LDS President.
- Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson - collection of teachings by the 13th LDS President.
Miscellaneous LDS Publications:
- The Ensign - current and official LDS church magazine.
- Millenial Star - Periodical published by the LDS church, 1840-1970, monthly, semi-monthly or weekly.
- Deseret News - Official LDS church periodical from 1850-1898, 57 vols, 1st newspaper in Utah.
- Tribune - Salt Lake City Newspaper.
- Improvement Era - official LDS church magazine, replaced by the Ensign around 1970.
- Church News - LDS church periodical.
- Sunstone - periodical not officially sponsored or published by the LDS Church, but regularly features Mormon subject matter or Mormon authors.
- What Mormons Think of Christ - LDS tract, Deseret News Press.
- Come Unto Christ - by Ezra Taft Benson.
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism - a 1992 work published under the supervision of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church.
Mormon Prophets and Notable Leaders
Joseph Smith (1805-1844): Founder of the LDS Church, 1st President and Prophet; he led church members to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was killed while imprisoned.
Brigham Young : 2nd LDS President and Prophet; he led church members to Salt Lake City, Utah.
John Taylor - 3rd LDS Prophet and President.
Wilford Woodruff - 4th LDS Prophet and President.
Lorenzo Snow - 5th LDS Prophet and President.
Joseph F. Smith - 6th LDS President.
Heber Grant - 7th LDS President.
George Albert Smith - 8th LDS President.
David O. McKay - 9th LDS PResident.
Joseph Fielding Smith - 10th LDS President.
Harold B. Lee - 11th LDS President.
Spencer W. Kimball - 12th LDS President.
Ezra Taft Benson - 13th LDS President.
Howard Hunter - 14th LDS President.
Gordon Hinkley - 15th and current (9/03) LDS Prophet and President.
Orson Pratt (1811-1881) - LDS Apostle and contemporary of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith.
Bruce McConkie (1915-1985) - Mormon apostle and key apologist of the 1950s-80s. His book 'Mormon Doctrine' can be found in many Mormon households and is a standard reference used by Mormons to talk about church doctrine.
James E.Talmage - Apostle of the LDS church and author of a long and complete description of Joseph Smith's Articles of Faith in 'A Study of the Articles of Faith',1899. It is an authorized, book-length explication of Mormon belief. The Articles of Faith, from the Pearl of Great Price , contain a concise statement of 13 'official' central tenants of Mormonism. While most knowledgeable Christians would disagree with many of these articles (esp. #3,8,10; with #9 opening the door for latter day revelation on par with the New Testament), the most controversial LDS doctrines are not covered therein.
George Q. Cannon - Counselor to presidents Young, Taylor, Woodruff and Snow, former member of the First Presidency.
Heber C. Kimball - First Counselor to Brigham Young.
Milton R. Hunter - First Council to the Presidency.
Sidney Rigdon - (1793-1876): Baptist preacher who converted to Mormonism and played a key role in the birth of the LDS church by serving as Joseph Smith's chief advisor. He ultimately lost faith in Joseph Smith and was excommunicated after accusing Smith of soliciting his daughter. He consistently took a strong anti-polygamy stance despite the 'revelations' of Joseph Smith concerning polygamy and which later appeared in the Doctrine and Covenants .