Just two weeks ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the first volume of its long-awaited history of the church series, Saints: The Standard of Truth. Written as an engaging narrative, this book covers events in church history beginning in 1815 and concluding in 1846 as the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo and heading to Iowa to prepare to embark the next year on their westward migration.
The book includes like nothing before in official church history many stories about women—of their heroism, brilliant minds, and spiritual depth—who contributed mightily to the establishment and survival of the early church. It introduces many stories of immigrants and black Latter-day Saints, and their faith and successes in helping build and shape the Restoration. This new official church history volume is also especially notable for how it includes many details (often viewed as difficult and faith-dampening) about persons and events that are likely unknown to most Latter-day Saints. These include: an unprecedented-in-church-curricula amount of forthright attention to Joseph Smith’s involvement in treasure seeking, an expanded First Vision depiction that is woven together and harmonized from Joseph’s four first-hand accounts of what he experienced in the grove; a story of the translation of the Book of Mormon that includes his use of a seer stone and a hat in bringing it forth; the failures of the Kirtland Safety Society and Zion’s Camp (referred to in the volume as the Camp of Israel); Joseph’s own personal engagement in polygamous marriages; the Saints’ own sometimes aggressive behavior that fueled escalations of violence against them; questionable decisions regarding calling certain individuals to high positions within the church, as well as choosing to destroy the press that printed the Nauvoo Expositor, which led quite directly to Joseph’s and Hyrum’s martyrdom.
We are thrilled and blessed to have the voices and perspectives of brilliant panelists in this two-part episode. They are the wonderful Megan Burnside, David E. MacKay, Brittney Hartley, and Cristina Rosetti. In Part 1 (Episode 507), they focus on the project itself and the approach to its history the church has chosen to take, their sense of the project’s contributions along with areas in which it falls short, and their takes on what seem to be the church’s primary goals in creating this series and how successful they think they will be met through an effort such as this. In Part 2 (Episode 508), they focus in on specific stories in the volumes and the choices that were made regarding what to leave in, what to leave out, why the church might have chosen to emphasize the reading of historical documents the way they did, over and against other options (some fairly well known but passed over here in favor of others). In every instance and comment, the tremendous intellects and good, good hearts of each panelist shine brightly.
Please listen and enjoy!
To read Saints: The Standard of Truth online, click here
Printed editions are available at Church Distribution Centers and at many bookstores that sell LDS-related items.
To purchase (an overpriced but conveniently shipped copy—ha ha!) through Amazon, you can click here