Early Missionary Tools for Preaching the Gospel

Early Missionary Tools for Preaching the Gospel

This article originally appeared in Pioneer Magazine, 1970 Vol. 57, No.1

by Linda Hunter Adams, BYU Professor Emeritus and editorial staff member of Pioneer magazine

Early Missionary Tools for Preaching the Gospel

Because the Book of Mormon was a major part of the restoration of the gospel and provided new scripture from God, the early missionaries of the Church used it extensively in their missionary endeavors. It was their basic proselytizing tool.

They also used pamphlets from early Church leaders, such as:

Some missionaries created their own missionary tracts. For example, (India) and (South Africa), drew heavily on tracts by Orson and Parley P. Pratt, while making their own additions, as did Benjamin F. Johnson, a missionary to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. Those called to non-English–speaking missions created missionary pamphlets in the language of the people where they were laboring, such as in Welch and in French.

One missionary pamphlet, compiled and published in 1851 by Elder Franklin D. Richards, president of the European Mission of the Church and one of the Twelve Apostles, was later adopted as one of the standard works of the Church— The Pearl of Great Price. President Richards, feeling a need for instructional materials for new members of the Church, gathered materials he felt were necessary for the benefit of the English and European Saints.

The “very important articles,” made available primarily in Great Britain, were:

  1. The Book of Abraham, translated from Egyptian papyrus and first printed by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842.
  2. Materials from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, which contained records of Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Moses. These had been published mainly in The Evening and the Morning Star in Independence, Missouri, 1832–33, and in the Millennial Star in Liverpool, England.
  3. Selected portions of revelations given to Joseph Smith, revelations that had previously been published in the Doctrine and Covenants and that dealt with fundamental principles and ordinances of the gospel—baptism (D&C 20:37, 72–74); duties of members after baptism (D&C 20: 68–69); method of administering the sacrament (D&C 20:75–79); duties of elders, priests, teachers, deacons (D&C 20:38–59, 70, 80; 107:11); the order of the priesthood (D&C 107:1–20); duties of the Twelve Apostles and seventies (D&C 107:23, 33–34, 93–100); the second coming of Christ (D&C 27:5–18); and the rise of the Church in the last days (D&C 20:1–36).
  4. Extracts from Joseph Smith’s history—his vision of the Father and the Son, of visits of angel Moroni, of obtaining the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.
  5. Two revelations clarifying certain New Testament scriptures—an explanation of a portion of the revelation of John (now D&C 77) and a revision of Matthew 24, from Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible (JS—M 1).
  6. A revelation of Joseph Smith that had not been published before—the prophecy on war (now D&C 87).
  7. A poem by John Jacques (convert to the Church in 1845) entitled “Truth,” now “Oh Say, What Is Truth?” (Hymns, no. 272, see back cover this issue).
  8. The thirteen Articles of Faith.

The early missionaries used these basic sources, along with their own understanding and testimonies of the Restoration, to preach the restored gospel throughout the world.

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