A Firm Foundation: The History of Church Organization and Administration (Hardcover)

by Arnold K. Garr (Editor), David J. Whittaker (Editor)


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How can a multimillion-member religious organization succeed while relying almost entirely upon a lay ministry? It is unprecedented among world religions today.

The business of creating organizational and administrative structure in the Lord's work began at least as early as the time of Moses. Later, in New Testament times, the Apostle Paul described a higher level of Church organization when he wrote to the Corinthians, "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:28). This organization was established by God to deliver saving ordinances and covenants and to promote order, service, learning, and the personal development of Church members.

Although Joseph Smith was acquainted with the biblical record of Christ's Church, he and subsequent prophets in this dispensation required contemporary revelation to know how to proceed with the organization of the restored Church. John Taylor explained that "God has taught us how to organize His Church. Had He not taught us we should not have known anything about its organization."

The Lord deals in matters of Church government, as he does in all other categories of truth and knowledge, by giving his followers "line upon line, precept upon precept" (D&C 98:12). Moreover, he provides refinements and innovations in Church organization and administration according to the needs and circumstances of the times.

The Church has been built on a foundation laid down by the prophets. There is great security in this firm foundation, but there is also a living dimension to the Church's organization and administration. God's hand is always outstretched, his Spirit is ever ready, apostles and prophets continue to speak, and the destiny of his Church and people in these changing and often calamitous times is therefore secure.

Some of these inspired developments in the restored Church are chronicled by the skilled historians who have contributed the chapters in this book.

Product Details

  • Size:  6x9
  • Pages:  720
  • Published:  07/2011

About the Authors

Arnold K. Garr received a BA from Weber State College, and an MA from Utah State University, both in history. He also earned a PhD in American History with a minor in LDS Church History from BYU. A co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, he is also the author of Joseph Smith: Presidential Candidate. He has also served on the Church Correlation Committee.

David J. Whittaker is currently University Archivist of the Mormon Experience at BYU. He received his BA from BYU, his MA from California State University at Northridge, and his PhD from BYU. He has published widely in Church periodicals and professional journals.


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