Articles of Faith — Australian Style
April 17, 2011 3 Comments
Part of the Latter-day Saint missionary effort in the 19th century was pamphleteering. Certainly, Parley Parker Pratt was champion there. Religious periodicals were another tool commonly used in the new Mormon effort to get the word out. The 1840s and 50s were rich in this stuff with the Mormon apostles leading the way, but not far behind were the 2nd tier Elders.
One of the universal memes of these publications was summary statements of belief. Our canonized version, the “Articles of Faith” was but one among many and for decades it was not the clear winner in the terse-but-just-explanation wars. The genealogy of these belief lists is interesting, but I just want to point out one that I like and wish had gotten more air-play. This one comes from Augustus Farnham, presiding elder in the Australian mission, based in Sydney. Published in 1854 it covers interesting ground:
 We believe in God the eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.
 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions.
 We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
 We believe that these ordinances are:–1st Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 2nd Repentance. 3rd. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. 4th Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit. 5th. The Lords’ Supper.
 We believe that men must be called of God by inspiration and by laying on of hands by those who are duly commissioned to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
 We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, viz:–apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, &c.
 We believe in the powers and gifts of the everlasting gospel, viz: the gift of faith, discerning of spirits, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, wisdom, charity, brotherly love, &c.
 We believe the word of God recorded in the Bible; we also believe the word of God recorded in the Book of Mormon, and in all other good books.
 We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many more great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God and Messiah’s second coming.
 We believe in the literal Gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the ten tribes; that Zion will be established upon the western continent, that Christ will reign personally upon the earth a thousand years, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.
 We believe in the literal resurrection of the body, and that the dead in Christ will rise first, and that the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years are expired.
 We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience unmolested, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how or where they may.
 We believe in being subject to kings, queens, presidents, rulers, and Magistrates, in obeying honouring, and sustaining the law.
 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, temperate, benevolent, virtuous, and upright, and in doing got to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul.
 We believe all things, we “hope all things,” we have endured very many things, and we hope to be able to “endure all things.” Every thing virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report we seek after, looking forward to the “recompense of reward.”
Farnham’s version is surely derived from an 1849 list published in England. I rather like that the resurrection gets some face time, since Joseph Smith put it among the fundamentals on a number of occasions. I rather like the “all other good books” angle too. Also, I think at least in our present usage, article 5 is more coherent. And how about 7?