“Preface,” Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 (2018)
“Preface,” Saints, Volume 1
True stories well told can inspire, caution, entertain, and instruct. Brigham Young understood the power of a good story when he counseled Church historians to do more than simply record the dry facts of the past. “Write in a narrative style,” he advised them, and “write only about one tenth part as much.”1
What follows is a narrative history designed to give readers a foundational understanding of Church history. Every scene, character, and line of dialogue is founded in historical sources, which are cited at the end of the book. Those who wish to read these sources, better understand related topics, and discover even more stories can find links to additional resources online at history.churchofjesuschrist.org.
This book is the first of a four-volume history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together, the volumes tell the story of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ from the earliest days of the Church until now. They are written in an engaging style that is accessible to the Saints throughout the world.
The Church has published two multivolume histories in the past. The first was a documentary history begun by Joseph Smith in the 1830s and published beginning in 1842. The second was written by assistant Church historian B. H. Roberts and published in 1930.2 The global reach of the restored gospel since then, and the Lord’s command to keep the history continually for “the good of the church, and for the rising generations,”3 signal that it is time to update and include more Saints in the story.
Even more than previous histories, Saints presents the lives and stories of ordinary men and women in the Church. It also provides new detail and insight into better-known people and events from Church history. Each chapter will help readers understand and appreciate the Saints who have made the Church what it is today. Woven together, their stories create the rich tapestry of the Restoration.
Saints is not scripture, but like the scriptures, each volume contains divine truth and stories of imperfect people trying to become Saints through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.4 Their stories—like the stories of all Saints, past and present—remind readers how merciful the Lord has been to His people as they have joined together around the globe to further God’s work.