Foreword to Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Craig K. Manscill (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004).
Over the past three decades, the annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium on the scriptures has been sponsored by Religious Education and the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University. These symposia honored Dr. Sperry for his forty years of faithful service and thoughtful scholarship.
Of the thirty-two Sperry symposia, five were devoted to the study of the Doctrine and Covenants: 1979, 1984, 1989, 1992 and 1996. From these symposia, outstanding papers and presentations were published, offering valuable and delightful information to those seeking understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants and the events of the Restoration.
Unfortunately, most of these excellent Sperry publications of the Doctrine and Covenants are no longer readily available for public use. This had left a void. In addition, an important objective of the Religious Education Center is to promote sound scholarship that will enhance understanding of the scriptures and the history of the Church. To advance this objective and to fill this void, we have compiled a treasury of significant articles from past Sperry symposia on the Doctrine and Covenants, including a few new chapters that fill in historical gaps. Much like the preceding volume on the Book of Mormon, this compilation provides valuable information to Church members in their study of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is hoped that this collection of articles will motivate learning toward, increase understanding of, and strengthen testimonies of this powerful book of scripture often referred to as the “capstone”—the Doctrine and Covenants.
The articles in this volume are, for the most part, arranged in the order that the revelations came forth. These articles are selected with the intended purposes of helping the reader gain a better understanding of the historical context of the discussed revelation and of deepening the reader’s general understanding of doctrine, gospel principles, and application. All articles reflect sound scholarship and faith.
Three of the first five articles in this volume are keynote addresses given by General Authorities at the Sperry symposia. The other two pieces originally appeared in other settings; Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave his address on revelation at a Brigham Young University devotional, and Elder John K. Carmack first published his piece on Fayette in the Ensign Magazine.
Within the context of this compilation, it is important to understand that it is not practicable or possible to provide a comprehensive study of all doctrines, gospel insights, historical backgrounds, and applications for each revelation. However, it is hoped that these classic addresses and articles will bring the reader to a greater understanding of the precious truths in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Readers will note that a scripture index is provided, linking verse and section numbers to the page numbers in the book. The use of such an aid allows readers to review multiple entries of a scripture reference throughout the book.
We are pleased to help make these timeless articles accessible to all who are interested, realizing as we do that the Doctrine and Covenants carries with it the message to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand” (D&C 88: 77–78).