Near the peak of
Joseph Smith's career, John Wentworth, owner of The Chicago Democrat,
asked Joseph to write an article for his paper about the faith and history
of the Latter-day Saints. In response, Joseph produced what is
arguably the best piece of writing attributed to his name:
the Wentworth Letter.
section of the Wentworth Letter has been canonized in the Pearl of Great
Price as The Articles of Faith.
What could be considered the preamble to the Articles of Faith is an
exceptionally stirring paragraph known among missionaries as "The Standard
13 years earlier, before the church was organized and The Book of
Mormon was published, Joseph Smith's father asked him what he could do to
help with Joseph's labor. The young Joseph received a revelation
that was later canonized as Section 4 of The Doctrine and Covenants.
The Standard of Truth and Section 4 are often quoted by church leaders
when they talk to missionaries to motivate them and emphasize the grandeur
of missionary work. In my
mission, the two passages were welded together into a single creed that we
memorized and recited
it in unison every time we met.
To the missionaries who take their callings seriously, these quotes can
also boost feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The promise that "the
field is white, already to harvest" implies that non-Mormons are ready to
be converted to Mormonism and are simply waiting for a diligent missionary
to show up and tell them the good news. The question isn't whether
or not non-Mormons will find the message compelling. Rather, the
question is whether or not the missionaries will be sufficiently faithful
to be lead by God to those who would be receptive. When the
missionaries fail to find these people who are waiting for the
missionaries to show up, the blame is laid squarely on the shoulders of
Without further comment, here is...
The Missionary's Creed
Our missionaries are going forth to
different nations….1 The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed
hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may
combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God
will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every
continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every
ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah
shall say the work is done.
Now behold, a marvelous work is about to
come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the
service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and
strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; for
behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in
his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth
not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity and
love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly
kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall
receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
1. Without the ellipses it says, "Our missionaries are going forth to different nations,
and in Germany,
Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the
Standard of Truth has been erected..."(History of the Church, Vol.4, Ch.31, p.540,