“The Prophet [Joseph Smith] was occasionally called on to explain the teachings and practices of Mormonism to outsiders. … In the spring of 1842, John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, asked Joseph Smith to provide him with a sketch of ‘the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-Day Saints’ [‘Church History,’ Times and Seasons, Mar. 1, 1842, 706]. … Joseph complied with this request and sent Wentworth a multi-page document containing an account of many of the early events in the history of the Restoration, including the First Vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The document also contained thirteen statements outlining Latter-day Saint beliefs, which have come to be known as the Articles of Faith. …
“In 1851 the Articles of Faith were included in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price[, which was] published in the British Mission. After the Pearl of Great Price was revised in 1878 and canonized in 1880, the Articles of Faith became official doctrine of the Church” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, 256–57).
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve explained:
“What a great blessing it would be if every member of the Church memorized the Articles of Faith and became knowledgeable about the principles contained in each. We would be better prepared to share the gospel with others. …
“The Articles of Faith [declare] comprehensively and concisely the essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They contain direct and simple statements of the principles of our religion, and they constitute strong evidence of the divine inspiration that rested upon the Prophet Joseph Smith” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 28, 30; or Ensign, May 1998, 23–24).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Articles of Faith are inspired declarations written by the Prophet Joseph Smith. They include “simple statements of the principles of our religion” and “essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (L. Tom Perry, in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 30; or Ensign, May 1998, 24; see Articles of Faith).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 256–57.
Pearl of Great Price Student Manual: Religion 327, pp. 66–81.
Suggestions for Teaching
Articles of Faith. The Articles of Faith are inspired declarations written by the Prophet Joseph Smith. They include “simple statements of the principles of our religion” and “essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Note: Prophetic insights on each article of faith are found in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for the Articles of Faith in the student study guide (pp. 227–29).
Invite a student to read the following story, as told by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“Some years ago a young Primary boy was on a train going to California. … A gentleman who also was going to California [noticed that] he was neatly dressed and well-behaved. And this gentleman was quite impressed with him. …
“[The gentleman asked,] ‘Where did you come from?’ and ‘Where do you live?’
“And the boy said, ‘Salt Lake City, Utah.’
“‘Oh, then,’ said the gentleman, ‘you must be a Mormon.’
“And the boy said, ‘Yes, I am.’ There was pride in his voice.
“The gentleman said, ‘Well, that’s interesting. I’ve wondered about the Mormons and what they believe. …’
“And the boy said to him, ‘Well, sir, I can tell you what they believe.’”
The boy then recited the Articles of Faith, much to the man’s surprise. President Kimball continued:
“This youngster relaxed now as he finished the Articles of Faith. The gentleman was clearly excited, not only at the ability of this young boy to outline the whole program of the Church, but at the very completeness of its doctrine.
“He said, ‘You know, after I have been to Los Angeles a couple of days, I expect to go back to New York where my office is. I am going to wire my company that I will be a day or two late and that I am going to stop in Salt Lake City en route home and go to the information bureau there and hear all the things, in more detail, about what you have told me.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 117, 119; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 77–79).
Ask: What impresses you most about this story? Invite students to repeat the Articles of Faith with you, beginning with the first and continuing through the thirteenth. Ask:
How would knowing the Articles of Faith help you share the gospel, answer questions about the Church, or help prepare you to speak in sacrament meeting?
What do you know about the source of the Articles of Faith?
Share with students the introduction to the Articles of Faith above (p. 283). Discuss the following questions:
Why did the Prophet write the Articles of Faith?
When did the Articles of Faith become scripture?
How did Elder L. Tom Perry describe the Articles of Faith?
Why is it important that we learn the Articles of Faith?
Divide the Articles of Faith among students. Have them read their assigned article or articles and look for the principles they teach. Divide the board into 13 sections and number them. As students find doctrines, write them on the board in the appropriate section. Ask:
What doctrines are included in the Articles of Faith that might help you teach a nonmember friend?
What principles do you find in the Articles of Faith that explain why we live and believe the way we do?
How might studying these articles increase your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
What can you do to make them more a part of your life?
Encourage students to study and memorize the Articles of Faith. Share the following statement by Elder L. Tom Perry:
“I photocopied the Articles of Faith from the scriptures and taped them to the wall of my bathroom where I could see them each morning as I was brushing my teeth and shaving. Within a very few days, I again had them firmly in mind. This experience has brought a deep conviction to me that they were given by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. I reached the conclusion that if I studied the content of each of the Articles of Faith, I could explain and defend every gospel principle I might have the opportunity to expound to someone searching for the restored truth” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 27–28; or Ensign, May 1998, 23).