The Lord revealed section 71 at a time when critics and apostates were making false accusations against the Church. President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“We are continually being tried and tested as individuals and as a church. There are more trials yet to come. … If this Church were merely a church of men and women, teaching only the doctrines of men, we would encounter little or no criticism or resistance—but because this is the Church of Him whose name it bears, we must not be surprised when criticisms or difficulties arise. With faith and good works, the truth will prevail” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 105; or Ensign, May 1981, 79).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Preaching the gospel from the scriptures by the Spirit is the best way to respond to criticism from the Church’s enemies (see D&C 71:1–8; see also Alma 1:16, 25–26; 4:15–16, 19; D&C 42:12–14; D&C 73 heading).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 113–15.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 150–51.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 71. Preaching the gospel from the scriptures by the Spirit is the best way to respond to criticism from the Church’s enemies.
How do you feel when you hear criticisms or falsehoods about the Church or its leaders?
How do you think faithful Church members should respond to such criticism?
Explain that the Saints in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s day had to deal with similar false accusations. Share the background information on section 71 from one or both of the institute manuals (see Church History in the Fulness of Times,
pp. 113–15; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,
How did the Lord command the Prophet Joseph to respond?
What did the Lord promise Joseph?
Tell students that, unless called to do so, Church leaders are discouraged from participating in public debates or forums where the Church’s positions are discussed. The Church cautions members who participate in such forums that they can do much harm if they misrepresent the Church’s positions, and stresses that members who participate do not speak for the Church. (See Dallin H. Oaks, in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 34–39; or Ensign, May 1989,
Share the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball in the introduction to section 71 above. Ask: What hope does this statement give to those who respond appropriately to criticism? Have students read Alma 1:16, 25–26; 4:15–16, 19; Doctrine and Covenants 42:12–14 and look for how these verses relate to the principles being discussed. Invite students to make a scripture chain connecting these scriptures with Doctrine and Covenants 71:7–11. Read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 73 and look for the impact that teaching the gospel had on people who had negative feelings toward the Church.