A Firm Foundation: The History of Church Organization and Administration

5059501 firm foundation

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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.


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