The Articles of Faith — how did we get the Articles of Faith
How did we get the Articles of Faith?: (This information is shared with the permission of Bruce Barton, 1988)
In the early days of the Church, the missionaries wrote their own brief statements of faith and their own missionary pamphlets, called tracts. This created a need for an official statement of the Church’s beliefs. At the invitation of John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, Joseph Smith sent a letter which outlined briefly the history and faith of the Latter-day Saints, subsequently called the Wentworth letter. The letter closed by stating 13 points of faith which are now know as the ARTICLES OF FAITH. Except for some minor changes in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 10th articles, the Articles of Faith used today are the same as appeared on March 1, 1842 in the Times and Seasons. Joseph Smith’s Articles of Faith were widely used but the 13 statements were often expanded to suit the needs of the user. Even a 14th article was later added which read, “We believe in the literal resurrection of the body, and that the rest of the dead live not again until the 1000 years are expired.”
In the 1880’s, the membership voted at General Conference to accept and use only the Articles of Faith as prepared and distributed by Joseph Smith. The publication of The Articles of Faith by Elder James E. Talmage in 1890 helped support the significance of the Articles of Faith. Finally, in General Conference on October 5, 1890, the Articles were formally adopted by the Latter-day Saints as an authorized summary of its principal doctrines. However, they are not to be regarded as a complete listing of Church beliefs because the Church accepts the principle of continuous revelation as an essential feature of its beliefs, as stated in the 9th Article of Faith.
As an interesting side note, Joseph Smith and the Apostle Paul shared a common connection. Joseph Smith in his history spoke of the reaction of the world to an experience he had: the personal appearance of the Savior Jesus Christ and his divine call to spread the gospel to the world. Paul had a similar visitation and calling. Appropriately, Paul’s name appears in the last Article of Faith.
On a humorous note, popular Utah County speaker and Church member, Mary Ellen Edmonds, has suggested that perhaps the following would be an appropriate 14th Article of Faith for the Church: “We believe in meetings. We believe in all meetings that have been held, in all meetings that are currently being held, and we believe that there will yet be held many great and important meetings pertaining to the Kingdom of God. We have endured many meetings, are currently enduring this meeting, and hope to be able to endure all meetings. If there is anything that resembles a meeting, anything that lasts as long as a meeting, or anything that can be easily converted into a meeting, we seek after these things!”