Doctrinal Developments in Nauvoo

Church History in the Fulness of Times Teacher Manual, (2001), 40


  1. 1.

    In August 1840 the Prophet Joseph Smith introduced baptism for the dead as part of the Restoration of the gospel.

  2. 2.

    The endowment and celestial marriage were revealed as ordinances that pertain to eternal life.

  3. 3.

    Some of the basic teachings and practices of the Church were set forth by the Prophet in the Wentworth Letter.

  4. 4.

    The book of Abraham was published in the Times and Seasons during the summer of 1842.

  5. 5.

    During the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith gave many doctrinal discourses of importance to the Church.

    Suggested Approaches

  • Begin by reading the final paragraph of chapter 20 in the student manual (p. 261) and discussing it with students.

  • Read and discuss the time line of temple doctrine revealed to the Church between 1823 and 1843 (see margins of student manual, pp. 254–55). Point out that each of these truths came line upon line over an extended period of time.

  • Study the suggested sources, and prepare an outline of the various doctrines revealed in the Nauvoo period. Help students see that this was in many ways the high point of Joseph Smith’s administration. He had laid the foundation, and his work in mortality was coming to an end. Although the Prophet’s ministry was brief, his accomplishments and influence are eternal. Through the revelations he received and the sermons he delivered, most of the major doctrines, practices, and ordinances of the Church were introduced. Read Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 with students.

    Theme Sources

  • History of the Church, 4:207–12, 226–32, 358–60, 424–29, 535–41, 553–64, 571–81, 595–99, 602–8; 5:1–3, 26–32, 256–62, 289–91, 339–45, 360–62, 423–27; 6:50–52, 249–54, 302–17.

  • Comprehensive History of the Church, 2:69–77, 90–92, 126–39.

  • T. Edgar Lyon, “Doctrinal Development of the Church during the Nauvoo Sojourn, 1839–1846,” Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1975, pp. 435–46.

    An examination of seven areas of Latter-day Saint doctrine as taught by Joseph Smith, including concepts of God and man, the eternal nature of priesthood covenants, and eternal progression. These doctrines were not presented all at once but came as the Saints proved their willingness to accept and live them.

  • Donald Q. Cannon, “The King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith’s Greatest Sermon in Historical Perspective,” Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1978, pp. 179–92.

    Provides the reader with the historical setting for the King Follett address. Gives a biographical sketch of King Follett and reviews those events that prompted the Prophet to give this sermon.

  • John W. Welch and David J. Whittaker, “‘We Believe. …’: Development of the Articles of Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 1979, pp. 51–55.

    Gives the historical background of the Articles of Faith and why it was important that Joseph Smith make an official statement of Church beliefs.

    Additional Sources

  • Richard O. Cowan, Temples to Dot the Earth (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), pp. 44–57.

    Describes the restoration of temple ordinances.

  • Dean C. Jessee, “Joseph Smith’s 19 July 1840 Discourse,” in James B. Allen, ed., “The Historians Corner,” Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1979, pp. 390–94.

    Explains the sources for Joseph Smith’s statement that the constitution would hang by a thread.

  • Van Hale, “The Doctrinal Impact of the King Follett Discourse,” Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1978, pp. 209–25.

    Documents the impact that the King Follett sermon had on Latter-day Saints, apostates, and the non-Mormon populace of Illinois.