“Lesson 26: Doctrine and Covenants 71–75,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 26,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
In the fall of 1831, former Church members Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder tried to discredit the Church and its leaders and dissuade people from joining the Church. They did so by speaking in public meetings against the Church and actively publishing anti-Mormon criticisms in local newspapers, leading to widespread antagonism. On December 1, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 71. In it, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to defend the Church and dispel falsehoods by proclaiming the gospel from the scriptures as guided by the Spirit.
The rapid growth of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, coupled with Bishop Edward Partridge’s relocation to Missouri, necessitated calling a new bishop to serve in Ohio. On December 4, 1831, Joseph Smith received the three revelations now combined in Doctrine and Covenants 72. In these revelations, the Lord called Newel K. Whitney to serve as bishop in Ohio and outlined his responsibilities.
After a month of preaching the gospel to dispel the falsehoods spread by Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon returned to Hiram, Ohio. On January 10, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 73, wherein the Lord instructed Joseph and Sydney to resume their translation of the Bible.
At a Church conference held on January 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the two revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 75. In these revelations, the Lord instructed the elders concerning their missionary duties and assigned them mission companions.
Doctrine and Covenants 74 was received.
- October 1831
The Ohio Star newspaper began publishing nine letters from apostate Ezra Booth denouncing the Church and its leaders.
- November 1, 1831
A Church conference passed a resolution to publish the revelations of Joseph Smith as the Book of Commandments.
- December 1, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 71 was received.
- December 4, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 72 was received.
- January 10, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 73 was received.
- January 25, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 75 was received.
Ask students to consider when their beliefs have been challenged or criticized. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.
What can be difficult about having our beliefs challenged or criticized?
Invite students to look for a principle as they study Doctrine and Covenants 71 that will help them know how to respond when others criticize the Church and its teachings.
To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 71, ask a student to read the following paragraph aloud:
Beginning in October 1831, a newspaper called the Ohio Star published nine letters criticizing the Church and its leaders. These letters were written by Ezra Booth, a former preacher who joined the Church after reading the Book of Mormon and witnessing the Prophet Joseph Smith miraculously heal Alice (or Elsa) Johnson’s rheumatic arm. He traveled to Missouri as a missionary but became disillusioned when he couldn’t perform miracles to convince others of the truth. After returning from Missouri, he began criticizing the Prophet. In his letters, Ezra Booth denounced Joseph Smith as an imposter, claiming that his revelations were a ploy to defraud people of their money. Symonds Ryder, another disaffected member, also criticized Joseph Smith publicly in an attempt to discourage people from joining the Church. The agitation caused by Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder led some people to become hostile toward the Church and its leaders.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 71:1–3, 7–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord counseled Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do.
What did the Lord instruct Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do to calm the critical feelings toward the Church?
What principle can we learn from verse 1 about how we can respond when people criticize the Church and its leaders? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: When others criticize the Church, we can respond by sharing truths from the scriptures and following the guidance of the Spirit.)
Why do you think it is important to respond to criticisms of the Church by sharing truths from the scriptures and following the guidance of the Spirit?
Testify that following the Spirit’s guidance can help us respond to criticism while avoiding contention, which drives away the Spirit and often hardens others’ feelings.
Display the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).
Invite students to think about a time when they, or someone they know, relied on the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Ghost to respond to criticism of the Church and its teachings. Ask a few students to share their experiences with the class.
Encourage students to seek the Spirit’s guidance and to share truths from the scriptures when responding to those who criticize the Church and its teachings.
Explain that on December 3, 1831, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon traveled from Hiram, Ohio, to Kirtland to fulfill the Lord’s commandment to proclaim the gospel in order to dispel falsehoods about the Church. While in Kirtland, the Prophet met with some elders and Church members who wanted to know their duties. The Prophet received three revelations (verses 1–8, 9–23, and 24–26), now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 72. Because the Lord called Bishop Partridge to relocate to Missouri, the Saints in Ohio were without a bishop. Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 72:1–2 by explaining that the Lord declared the need to call a new bishop in Kirtland.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–5 silently, looking for why the Saints in Ohio needed a bishop.
According to these verses, why did the Saints in Ohio need a bishop?
What do you think the phrase “to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity” in verse 3 means?
Remind students that in the early days of the Church, a stewardship referred to funds, land, or responsibilities given to Saints living the law of consecration. God required these Saints to give an accounting, or report, regarding their assigned stewardships. While we are not given stewardships under the law of consecration in the Church today, the Lord does give us spiritual and temporal responsibilities.
What truth can we identify from Doctrine and Covenants 72:3 about the responsibilities the Lord gives us in mortality? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The Lord holds each of us accountable for the responsibilities He gives us.)
How can remembering that we are ultimately accountable to the Lord influence our attitude toward our responsibilities and callings?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 72:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who was called to serve as bishop in Ohio. Invite students to report what they find.
Explain that as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–26, the Lord outlined Newel K. Whitney’s responsibilities as bishop and provided instructions for those Saints gathering to Zion.
Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 73. Summarize this section by explaining that the Lord commanded the elders to continue preaching the gospel in the Kirtland area until the next Church conference. He also instructed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to resume translating the Bible and to continue until finished.
Explain that section 74 is out of order chronologically. This occurred because editors of previous editions of the Doctrine and Covenants believed that the revelation recorded in this section was given in 1832. However, evidence shows that it was received in New York in 1830 before the Prophet moved to Ohio. Summarize this section by explaining that it is an explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14, a passage used in Joseph Smith’s day to justify infant baptism.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 74:7 silently, looking for a truth the Lord taught about little children. Ask students to report what they find.
Write the following words on the board, and ask students to consider which words describe their feelings about sharing the gospel with others: excited, uneasy, awkward, eager, fearful, hesitant, and willing.
What factors can influence how we feel about sharing the gospel with others?
Ask students to look for principles as they study Doctrine and Covenants 75 that can encourage them in their efforts to share the gospel.
Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 75. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the reason the Lord gave the two revelations contained in this section (verses 1–12 and 13–36). Explain that in these revelations the Lord instructed elders concerning their missionary duties and assigned them mission companions.
Divide students into groups of three. Assign each student in each group one of the following references: Doctrine and Covenants 75:2–5; Doctrine and Covenants 75:6–11, 27; Doctrine and Covenants 75:13–14. Display the following questions, and ask students to read their assigned verses silently, looking for the answers to the following questions:
To whom was the Lord speaking?
What counsel did the Lord give these missionaries that can help us effectively share the gospel?
What blessings did the Lord promise them if they faithfully proclaimed the gospel?
After sufficient time, invite students to share their responses within their groups. Ask the class:
Based on what you discussed in your groups, what principles can we learn from the Lord’s promises to those who faithfully proclaim the gospel? (Students should identify principles similar to the following: If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Lord will bless us with honor, glory, and eternal life. As we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Lord will be with us.)
How do you think understanding these principles can encourage us as we proclaim the gospel?
Display the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud. Ask students to listen for how the Lord will be with us as we diligently and prayerfully seek to proclaim the gospel:
“I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them [see D&C 84:85; 100:6]. Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles” (Neil L. Andersen, “It’s a Miracle,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 78–79).
When have you felt that the Lord was with you in your efforts to share the gospel with others? (You might also consider sharing an experience of your own.)
Conclude by encouraging students to prayerfully consider who they can share their testimony of the gospel with.