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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Engaging, Readable LDS Church History Book Free for All

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In 1820, a time when religious fervor was sweeping the country, a young farm boy began to wonder.  All the churches in his small New York town claimed to be God's true church, but how could that be?  If they all preached different doctrine, which one was correct?  Directed by a promise in the Bible (see James 1:5), 14-year-old Joseph Smith knelt in a grove of trees and asked his Heavenly Father to help him know which church to join.  The answer changed Joseph's life.  

Young Joseph saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in a vision.  He was instructed by them to join none of the churches.  Instead, he was commanded to translate an ancient record called The Book of Mormon and organize a church based on its teachings, plus the revelations Joseph would continue to receive from God and Jesus.  As overwhelmed and inadequate as this modern-day prophet must have felt, Joseph nonetheless did as he was bid, knowing the Lord would provide a way for Joseph to accomplish everything that had been asked of him.  Despite constant persecution that ranged from name calling to libel to false imprisonment to physical violence and even to his eventual murder, Joseph never wavered in his faith.  To the end of his life, he did everything the Lord asked of him, even sealing his testimony with his own blood.  

Many people across the world were drawn to the infant church, receiving burning testimonies of the Gospel.  Making great personal sacrifices to gather and worship together, the early Saints persevered—through persecution, in-fighting among church leaders, financial crises, forced evacuations, mob violence, controversial revelations, doubt, a tribulation-laden trek to Utah, and much more—to prove their faith and willingness to let God direct their paths.  From those very humble beginnings grew a global church that today has more than 16 million members spread over dozens of different countries.  Like their forebears, modern Church members strive to walk in faith and righteousness, despite continuing persecution and everyday trials.

Whatever your opinion of Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, theirs is an incredible story.  Saints: The Standard of Truth is the first installment in a planned four-volume series about the Church's rich, intriguing history.  Purposely written in an easy-to-read narrative style, the series is geared toward readers of all ages, all backgrounds, and all degrees of familiarity with Church history/doctrine.  Despite its simple style, the book has been painstakingly researched to ensure accuracy.  As evidenced in this first installment, the series explores its subject with a forthright and refreshing honesty that has been somewhat lacking in previous histories.  In fact, The Standard of Truth discusses some of Mormonism's most troubling historical issues—polygamy, pride and power-mongering among Church leaders, Joseph Smith's treasure-hunting, criticism of the prophet, spiritual crises, etc.  Sharing personal, intimate stories of many of the Church's early leaders and followers, the book makes it clear that although the Saints were faithful people doing their best to obey God's will, they were filled with the same human frailties and weaknesses as are we all.  

Although the paperback version of The Standard of Truth weighs in at a hefty 586 pages, it's actually a fast, easy read.  It moves quickly and offers plenty of compelling stories, some of which will be very familiar to members of the Church, others of which will not (even to "lifers" like myself).  The book is available for free online (read it here or download it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, etc.).  The print version is chunky and a bit unwieldly, but it can be purchased for less than $8 at, BYU Bookstore, Deseret Book, and other retailers.  Whether you're a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or not, now is the perfect time to learn more about its history.  You won't be disappointed in this very readable and informative volume.

For additional stories and information from Church history, check out as well as the Saints podcast, which you can find here:

(Readalikes:  The Church has published other histories in the past, but I haven't read any of them.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language and violence (including mention of rape)

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished paperback copy of Saints: The Standard of Truth from the generous folks at The Church Historian's Press.  Thank you!


  1. Susan, when I was in high school my Bible class at church learned a bit about other churches and faiths. I remember that the Mormon Church was one that was included. Thanks for featuring this book. I minored in Bible in college and my favorite parts included church history and also how people the world over worshipped. Anyway, I'll enjoy this.

    1. I'm always interested in other religions - how they started, what the members believe, etc. It's fascinating.

      I don't know my Bible as well as I should, but I am reading The New Testament right now in my personal daily scripture study :)

  2. My brother-in-law did the painting of Nauvoo that's on the cover. (It's my one small claim to fame.) :)


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