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The twelve articles of faith from “The New Whole Duty of Man” compared to LDS canon

“The New Whole Duty of Man” is a Christian devotional work that has had a significant influence on Christian doctrine and thought since its publication in the 18th century. Within the text, there are specific articles of faith that outline essential beliefs and practices of the Christian faith.

The new Whole duty of man [&c.].. United Kingdom: n.p., 1777.

The Twelve Articles of Faith are a summary of the core beliefs and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). They were written by Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church, in 1842. The articles were included in a longer letter he wrote to John Wentworth, the editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, who had requested information about the beliefs of the Mormons.

LDS Articles of Faith

“The New Whole Duty of Man Articles of Faith”

Article of Faith #1: “A belief in one God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Article of Faith #2: “We believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, our Lord.”

#3: Christ is consencrated of God for the saving of mankind

#4: “We thankfully profess our belief that this same Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, begotten of his father before all words, God of God, was crucified, died and by the shedding of his blood made satisfaction to God for us”

#5: “We profess to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day”

#6: “Jesus ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the father almighty.”

#7: “Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead”

#8: “We profess to believe in the Holy Ghost which Christ promised to send to his disciples to guide them into all truth, and to show them things to come. Who is the third person in the most holy trinity, distinct from the Father and the Son.”

#9: “We profess to believe in the Holy Catholic Church, because Christ promised to erect a Church, when he said on this rock will I build my church; and we find it mentioned as actually erected in that passage of Acts”

#10: “A belief in the forgiveness of sins”

#11: “A belief in the resurrection of the body”

#12: “We profess to believe that there is a life everlasting that comprehends an everlasting duration, to which all shall be raised after death, the wicked as well as the righteous”

The Lord’s Supper: “Having thus learned and resolved to believe, all the articles of the Christian faith, our next duty is to partake of the Lord’s supper; which is justly recognized as one of the most important actions of our holy religion; whereby we repeat and renew the covenant we made with God in our baptism”

LDS Articles of Faith

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.


Commonalties and Conflicts

A comparison of the 18th century Christian text “The Whole Duty of Man” and the 19th century Mormon “Articles of Faith” reveals shared fundamental beliefs about God, Jesus Christ, salvation, and eternal life. There is agreement on core doctrines like the Trinity, Christ’s atonement, resurrection, ascension, and future return. Both affirm the importance of baptism, scripture, and living virtuously.

However, there are also key distinctions that have led to division. The LDS Articles of Faith reference latter-day revelation, prophets, ordinances, and teachings not found in mainstream Christianity. They assert new scripture in the Book of Mormon alongside the Bible. Views on church authority and organization differ as well.

In the past and in the present, these differences often lead to contention as each group seeks to defend their orthodoxy. I am sure the conflict will continue, as religious beliefs are so emotionally charged. However, wouldn’t it be nice if the focus shifted away from doctrinal squabbles between churches and instead towards addressing sources of real harm in the world – violence, injustice, intolerance? Maybe then faith could make a comeback as a source of real good.

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s insights were remarkably accurate:

Now, as I before hinted, I have no objection to any person’s religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person don’t believe it also.