The Wentworth Svithe


If John Wentworth had never asked Joseph Smith about Mormonism, would Joseph Smith ever have written the Articles of Faith?

And if he had never written the Articles of Faith, how would our self-perception differ today?

The AofF as originally written:

    We believe in God the eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

    We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    We believe that the first principle and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz.: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

    We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.

    We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

last week's svithe


  1. I think he would have written it at some point. All churches have creeds; Joseph Smith was surely familiar with at least two or three of these.

  2. .

    Yes, but one thing he seemed to be quite proud of what that we did not have a creed. I worry that looking at the AofF as a "creed" per se, makes them something they are not. That they resemble sure, but ultimately are not.

  3. Really? A creed is a statement of belief. Please elucidate.

  4. .

    I suppose by the dictionary definition, yes, but "creed" has come to mean (in our distinctly LDS context) something like the Nicene Creed --- religious statement defined by committee rather than revelation.

  5. .

    (also the idea that there's a specific set of things one must swear to in order to be accepted into the religious community)

  6. "If John Wentworth had never asked Joseph Smith about Mormonism, would Joseph Smith ever have written the Articles of Faith?"

    Good question. If Emma hadn't asked about chewing tobacco, would we have the Word of Wisdom? If Pres. Kimball hadn't pleaded with the Lord for the restriction of the priesthood to black members to be overturned, would it have been? What about the various covenants between God and prophets that seem to have been given in response to the prophet's prayers and requests?

    I tend to think that the "ask and it shall be given unto you" thing extends beyond just personal supplication. To some extent, I think that we, as a church and as a people, get what we ask for (as long as we ask in the right way). The requests of our leaders matter.

    This is another reason I believe that there is a place for discussion, debate, and even dissent in church regarding our policies. I'm not saying that we should question everything, but just that we are not a static church, and I think that much of our continuing revelation comes in response to us (or our leaders) asking for direction or pleading for change.

  7. (I am about to enter the fray most inelegantly I'm afraid.)

    Fascinatingly--and uniquely--the pseudo-creed of the AoF comes with its own "click here to expand" hyperlink (or some other unsuitable metaphor): AoF #9.

    AoF #9 is wonderfully humbling. We don't claim to be stewards of all truth--rather, we explicitly recognize that we don't yet have it all. We may be blessed with relatively more than others (depending on the context), but we would be grievously unjustified in glorifying in ourselves over this.

    At the same time, AoF #9 is empowering and reaffirming. Whereas other creeds (I'm looking at you, Athanasian) struggle with eternal incomprehensibilities (which, really, are only to be expected during a Great Apostasy), we have hope that more light and knowledge are to come.

    In this light, the AoF as a list of core beliefs will always be incomplete. My guess is that this is why Joseph was proud that our religion does not profess a "creed".

  8. .

    I agree. Although we do not always come off this way, we as Mormons are characterized by our intellectual humility and curiosity.

    And to Satsuki, I feel you're doctrinally sound. But the application and interpretation gets tricky. (Ergo, the further need for asking God and discussion amongst ourselves.)