“True to the Faith: Offering Simple Insights to Gospel Principles,” Liahona, Oct. 2008, N1–N3
When Robert Lund, a bishop in Kaysville, Utah, USA, encounters any gospel-related question or concern, one resource he always turns to is True to the Faith.
“If someone comes to me with a question, I’ll say, ‘Let’s see what True to the Faith says,’” said Bishop Lund, referring to the companion reference to scripture study and the teachings of latter-day prophets.
First published in 2004, True to the Faith takes a topic-by-topic approach in its simple explanations of gospel subjects. While the reference was designed to be especially mindful of youth, young single adults, and new converts, True to the Faith’s underlying purpose is to help all readers strengthen their efforts “to draw near to the Savior and follow His example,” stated the First Presidency in the introduction.
Bishop Lund is not alone in his enthusiastic opinion of the book. Members across the world are finding ways to use True to the Faith to enhance their personal gospel study, build stronger foundations of gospel knowledge, apply gospel principles in their lives, and prepare to share or teach the gospel.
Donna Heßling, from the Münster Branch, Dortmund Germany Stake, uses True to the Faith to gain a broader understanding of the restored Church and its teachings.
“The entries are clear and intense, and each topic has enlarged and substantiated my testimony of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Sister Heßling said.
True to the Faith contains approximately 170 entries on topics listed alphabetically from Aaronic Priesthood to Zion. In addition to teaching gospel principles in a simple yet inspiring way, each entry also contains scriptural references for further study of any topic.
Mark Ellison and his family, from Saratoga Springs, Utah, USA, often use True to the Faith to focus on a topic while studying the gospel at home.
“When our children participate in family home evening by teaching the lesson, they will choose a topic and use True to the Faith for a good summary,” Brother Ellison said. “Sometimes we’ve picked a topic and asked each member of our family to state one thing they know about that topic. Then we go to True to the Faith and see what it says in there, and what we may have overlooked.”
His children’s ages span from 7 to 18, yet Brother Ellison said True to the Faith provides information that meets the interest and levels of gospel knowledge for each member of his family.
“It’s simple but contains the most essential information,” Brother Ellison said. “I think my family really understands that it is a gospel resource they can go to if they ever have a question or need to prepare to teach or share thoughts on any topic.”
Throughout 2007, 17-year-old Jake McKell in the Grandview 21st Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake (USA), along with his peers and leaders, participated in a challenge issued by their bishop to read True to the Faith from cover to cover during the year. David Tueller, the ward Young Men president, says the ward saw a positive response to True to the Faith.
“It has been a wonderful blessing to read the doctrine taught in that book in such a straightforward, pure, and easy-to-understand manner,” Brother Tueller said. “Throughout the ward there is a greater awareness of the power and use of that book for talks, personal scripture study, and helping to share the gospel with others.”
In the Allentown Branch, Reading Pennsylvania Stake (USA), Tracy Norton, the Young Women president, and the young women in her ward used True to the Faith while studying the Articles of Faith, a project they hoped would give them confidence to share the gospel by helping them better understand the Church’s basic points of beliefs.
“I try to use True to the Faith for my lessons as much as possible and encourage the young women to use it with their questions,” Sister Norton said. “True to the Faith covers many topics relating to the struggles the youth face and offers the Church’s stance on those and other important topics. I believe it’s important to introduce a source they can go to for answers.”
Sister Norton believes that because they were able to focus on individual topics, the young women she teaches were better able to understand each principle.
“Using True to the Faith helped increase my understanding of the gospel and helped me have a stronger testimony,” said 14-year-old Genesis Felix, a member of the Allentown Branch. “I keep the book with my scriptures now and often use it to look up topics I don’t completely understand.”
Reading, learning, and then living the gospel has become a familiar process for Daniel Jauslin of the Pratteln Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake, who said True to the Faith is one of his favorite books.
“I have found this book so helpful,” said Brother Jauslin. “You read it, you gain or strengthen a testimony of what it says, and you get something out of it. This really is a guide on how to live the gospel.”
For example, Brother Jauslin mentioned the section on the scriptures and the counsel to study them individually and with family members.
“I know reading the scriptures every day might be tough for a lot of members throughout the world, but … True to the Faith tells us we need to do it daily, we need to make a plan, and we need to continue to find meaning in what we read,” he said.
Legrand Laing, a seminary teacher in Springville, Utah, USA, said he has seen True to the Faith play a valuable role in helping individuals learn and then apply the gospel in their lives.
“True to the Faith offers thoughts and encouragement on real-life application of the doctrines and principles being taught,” Brother Laing said. “Certainly this can be found in many other resources provided by the Church and of course in the scriptures themselves, but True to the Faith provides these things readily, easily, and clearly—all in one place.”
In 2004 True to the Faith became an official part of the missionary library, along with Preach My Gospel.
“During the development of Preach My Gospel, it was determined that the missionary library should be simplified and updated,” said Greg Droubay from the Church’s Missionary Department. “True to the Faith was chosen as a simple, short, easy-to-use reference that would assist a missionary in his or her gospel study.”
While True to the Faith is emphasized as a secondary resource to the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, missionaries across the world have found it useful in studying and sharing the gospel.
“On my mission I often used True to the Faith to study for talks or lessons,” said Paul Epperson from Woodbridge, Virginia, USA, who served in the Belgium Brussels/ Netherlands mission. “Preach My Gospel provided a great start to studying the topics, but I also looked in True to the Faith for more detailed, but still simple, explanations of various terms and ideas.”
True to the Faith has also found its place in student manuals used for institute and religion classes.
“We are continually updating the institute and seminary manuals and believe True to the Faith is an excellent source because it has not only been approved but is also recommended and very accessible,” said Brian Garner, manager of college curriculum for the Church.
As the manuals used for institutes and religion classes are put together, Brother Garner said one thing the writers work toward is a worldwide focus—creating something that anyone can find and turn to.
“Almost everyone has access to True to the Faith,” he said. “People can see the reference, turn to the book, and read the information. It’s accessible and it’s reliable.”
True to the Faith is published in 46 languages, reaching members from Spain to Finland to Cambodia. Copies are available through Church distribution at ldscatalog.com or through local priesthood leaders. An English version may be downloaded at LDS.org by selecting Gospel Library, Media Formats, PDF, and then selecting True to the Faith.
While Bishop Lund was joking when he said that he wishes True to the Faith were attached to the back of the standard works, he is confident the resource can be used in a variety of ways and offers something for everyone’s questions or concerns.
“Baptism, receiving the priesthood, modesty, forgiveness, repentance—they’re all in there,” said Bishop Lund, listing some of the topics included in True to the Faith.
As stated in the introduction, the First Presidency hope that as members study and apply gospel principles, they will use this resource and continue finding strength.
“As you learn gospel truths, you will increase in your understanding of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan,” they said. “With this understanding as a foundation for your life, you will be able to make wise choices, live in harmony with God’s will, and find joy in living. Your testimony will grow stronger. You will remain true to the faith.”