Lesson 76: Doctrine and Covenants 72–74

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

The Church’s expansion into Missouri and Bishop Edward Partridge’s relocation there created a need for another bishop to be called in Ohio. On December 4, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received three revelations, which are combined in Doctrine and Covenants 72. These revelations made known the calling of Newel K. Whitney as the new bishop in Ohio, revealed some of Bishop Whitney’s duties, and gave instructions concerning the gathering to Zion. The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 73, given in January 1832, contains the Lord’s direction to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to recommence their work on the translation of the Bible. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 74 was received in 1830, before the Church was restored. It contains the Lord’s explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14, a scripture that had been used by some people to justify infant baptism.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 72:1–8

The Lord calls Newel K. Whitney as bishop in Ohio

Ask students which Church callings they would consider to be very difficult.

  • Have you ever received a calling or been asked to do something difficult in the Church and felt overwhelmed or incapable of doing it? If yes, why?

Ask students to search Doctrine and Covenants 72:1–2 silently and identify the calling that needed to be made in the Church. (You may need to explain that the phrase “in this part of the Lord’s vineyard” referred to Ohio.)

  • What calling needed to be made in Ohio?

To help students understand why a new bishop was needed in Ohio, ask them to recall who was called as the first bishop in the Church (Edward Partridge; see D&C 41:9). Explain that with the Church’s expansion into Missouri and Bishop Partridge’s relocation to Independence, Missouri (nearly 1,000 miles from Kirtland), the Lord declared that a new bishop was needed in Ohio. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–6. Ask the class to follow along and look for phrases that explain why the Saints in Ohio needed a bishop.

  • According to verses 3 and 5, why did the Saints in Ohio need a bishop? (So they could be accountable to the bishop for their stewardships.)

  • How is this similar to our accountability to a bishop or branch president today?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 72:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify who was called as the new bishop in Ohio and who chose him to fulfill this calling.

  • Who was called as the new bishop in Ohio?

  • Who selected Newel K. Whitney as the new bishop?

  • What doctrine can we learn from verse 8 concerning callings to serve in the Lord’s Church? (Students’ answers may reflect the following doctrine: Callings to serve in Jesus Christ’s Church come from the Savior.)

Ask students to consider how they might feel if they were called to a difficult Church calling. Invite a student to read aloud the following story, which was conveyed by Newel K. Whitney’s grandson Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how Brother Whitney felt when he was called as a bishop and what he learned about where his call had come from.

“The thought of assuming this important responsibility (the office of bishop) was almost more than [Newel K. Whitney] could bear. … He … distrusted his ability, and [felt] incapable of discharging the high and holy trust. In his perplexity he appealed to the Prophet:

“‘I cannot see a Bishop in myself, Brother Joseph; but if you say it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll try.’

“‘You need not take my word alone;’ answered the Prophet, kindly, ‘Go and ask Father for yourself.’

“Newel … determined to do as [the Prophet] advised. … His humble, heartfelt prayer was answered. In the silence of night and the solitude of his chamber, he heard a voice from heaven: ‘Thy strength is in me.’ The words were few and simple, but they had a world of meaning. His doubts were dispelled like dew before the dawn. He straightway sought the Prophet, told him he was satisfied, and was willing to accept the office to which he had been called” (“The Aaronic Priesthood,” Contributor, Jan. 1885, 126).

  • What helped Newel K. Whitney to willingly accept his call to serve as a bishop?

  • What can we learn from his experience that can help us if we feel overwhelmed by a calling or assignment in the Church?

  • How can understanding that callings to serve in the Church come from the Savior help you accept and diligently strive to fulfill your callings?

Consider sharing an experience that has strengthened your testimony that callings to serve in the Lord’s Church come from Him.

Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–26

The Lord explains the duties of a bishop

Write the following truth on the board: Bishops and branch presidents manage the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Church in their wards and branches. (You may want to explain that temporal refers to things pertaining to physical life. For example, bishops and branch presidents manage Church property, Church funds, and the use of items in bishops’ storehouses.)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–26 by explaining that these verses describe some of Bishop Whitney’s duties. Explain that the duties of a bishop described by the Lord in this revelation primarily pertain to the bishop’s role under the law of consecration. During this period, the Church was not divided into wards with bishops presiding over each ward as it is now. At that time there were only two bishops: Bishop Whitney was the bishop for the Saints in Ohio, and Bishop Partridge was the bishop for those in Missouri.

Doctrine and Covenants 73

The Lord directs Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to continue the translation of the Bible

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 73:1–2 by explaining that the Lord instructed that the elders who had been preaching were to continue doing so until the next conference, which would be held in two weeks. The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been preaching to help combat misinformation about the Church resulting from the publication of Ezra Booth’s letters. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 73:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to focus on after the conference.

  • What did the Lord ask Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to focus their efforts on? What “work of translation” was the Lord referring to? (The revision of the Bible.)

Doctrine and Covenants 74

The Lord explains the meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:14

Invite students to imagine that they are serving as full-time missionaries for the Church. While speaking with a married couple who is investigating the Church, they learn that they had a son who died when he was only a few months old. The couple was told by their religious leader that the child was not able to be in heaven because he had not been baptized before he died. The parents feel intense sorrow because of the loss of their child and their belief that their baby has lost his salvation.

Ask students to think about how they would respond in this situation, and inform them that they will have the opportunity to respond later in the lesson.

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 74 contains the Lord’s explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14. Invite a student to read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 74:1, which is the Apostle Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 7:14. Inform students that this verse in 1 Corinthians has been used to support the practice of infant baptism. (You may also want to explain that the word unbelieving in verse 1 refers to Jews who had not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was not saying that a person could be saved by his or her spouse’s righteousness but that the conversion of one spouse could bring a sanctifying influence into the family.)

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 74:2–6. Ask the class to follow along and look for problems that had developed in the Apostle Paul’s day when one spouse in a marriage converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the other spouse still practiced the law of Moses.

  • What difficulties were being experienced in these types of marriages? (Spouses contended over whether their children would be taught to believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ or the law of Moses [see verse 3]; children who were raised obeying the law of Moses grew up not believing the gospel of Jesus Christ [see verse 4].)

  • How can different religious beliefs within a marriage affect that couple’s family?

Explain that the Atonement of Jesus Christ fulfilled the law of Moses and circumcision was no longer required. However, the Jews who followed the law of Moses believed a male child was unclean unless he was circumcised. This belief caused problems in families in which one parent believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the other believed in the law of Moses. Similar conflicts in religious beliefs and practices may occur today in families in which one spouse is a member of the Church and the other spouse is not.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 74:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught about little children.

  • What did the Lord teach regarding little children? (Students may use different words, but their answers should reflect the following: Little children are holy, being sanctified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You may want to suggest that students mark this doctrine in their scriptures.)

Remind students of the missionary scenario presented earlier in the lesson. Invite students to write Moroni 8:8–12 and Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–50 as cross-references next to Doctrine and Covenants 74:7. Assign students to read Moroni 8:8–12 and Doctrine and Covenants 29:46–50 with a partner and then discuss the following question together:

  • Using what you learned about the salvation of little children in Doctrine and Covenants 74:7 and Moroni 8:8–12, what would you teach the married couple who felt their deceased child was not able to be in heaven?

Invite one or two partnerships to explain what they would teach. Conclude by testifying of the power of the Savior’s Atonement to redeem little children.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 72:13. Bishop Whitney served under the leadership of Bishop Partridge

Bishop Edward Partridge was called as the first bishop of the Church. Bishop Newel K. Whitney acted under the leadership of Bishop Partridge. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:

“The bishop in Kirtland [Newel K. Whitney] was to ‘hand over’ to the bishop in Zion [Edward Partridge], the record of the stewardships, where the permanent records should be kept. For this responsibility Newel K. Whitney was called to act as bishop. He was to keep the Lord’s storehouse in Kirtland, and to receive funds in that part of the vineyard, and to take an account of the elders as he was commanded; to administer to their wants, all those who should pay for that which they received, inasmuch as they have wherewith to pay. These funds received were to be consecrated to the good of the Church, ‘to the poor and needy.’ If there were any who were unable to pay, an account was to be made ‘and handed over to the bishop in Zion, who shall pay the debt out of that which the Lord shall put into his hands’” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:270). (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 152–53.)

Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–26. The law of consecration in Ohio and Bishop Whitney’s duties

The law of consecration was never fully practiced in Ohio in its complete, community-wide form. It was attempted with the Colesville Saints in Thompson, Ohio, but they were unsuccessful due to various factors, including Leman Copley’s withdrawal of his offer to allow the Colesville Saints to live on his property (see D&C 54). However, principles and practices of the law of consecration were still lived. Some members held stewardships, and a storehouse was in place to help care for the poor and needy as well as the temporal needs of the Church. Bishop Newel K. Whitney was to oversee and manage these elements of the law of consecration along with other temporal affairs of the Church in Ohio. This included the responsibility to manage the Church’s properties in the area.

One of Bishop Whitney’s primary responsibilities was to help care for the poor and needy. One way he did this was by distributing food given by members who held “fast meetings” for the purpose of providing food for those in need. In his calling, Bishop Whitney contributed his skills as a businessman and sacrificed many of his temporal resources for the Church and for the care of others. He served faithfully in his office as bishop to the end of his life—a period of nearly 19 years—during which time he also served as Presiding Bishop to the Church, filling the position originally held by Edward Partridge.

Doctrine and Covenants 72:20–22. The Literary Firm

Following the November 1831 conference in Hiram, Ohio, six men were called to consecrate their time and efforts in managing the publishing, printing, and distribution of Church publications, including the scriptures (see D&C 70:3–4). This group of men—Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and William W. Phelps—became known as the Literary Firm. The Lord authorized these men to request assistance for sustenance from the bishop (see D&C 72:20), with the intent that this publishing business would eventually produce enough income to become self-sustaining. Members of the Literary Firm were to be supported by the proceeds of the business, while any surplus profits would be consecrated back to the Lord’s storehouse (see D&C 70:5–8). Although the Literary Firm did not last more than a handful of years, it made a significant contribution to the world by publishing the Book of Commandments and its successor the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as Church newspapers, such as the Evening and the Morning Star. (See Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, vol. 2 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], xxv–xxvi).

Doctrine and Covenants 74:4–6. False traditions

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided counsel for dealing with traditions or customs that are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“Appreciation for ethnic, cultural, or national heritage can be very wholesome and beneficial, but it can also perpetuate patterns of life that should be set aside by a devoted Latter-day Saint. …

“[President Howard W. Hunter said]: ‘I suggest that you place the highest priority on your membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. Measure whatever anyone else asks you to do, whether it be from your family, loved ones, your cultural heritage, or traditions you have inherited—measure everything against the teachings of the Savior. Where you find a variance from those teachings, set that matter aside and do not pursue it. It will not bring you happiness’ (“Counsel to Students and Faculty,” Church College of New Zealand, 12 Nov. 1990)” (“Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 85).