The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Standard of Truth

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.

The last 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 of Truth".

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 the missionaries.

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, emphasis added.)


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