Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo | BYU Studies

Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo

Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo
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Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo

Larry C. Porter
Milton V. Backman, Jr.

On January 8, 1841, Joseph Smith announced that a temple would be built in Nauvoo, "constructed as to enable all the functions of the Priesthood to be duly exercised, and where instructions from the Most High will be received, and from this place go forth to distant lands." Prophetically, he described the community of Nauvoo and its temple as the place where the Lord would reveal to his Church ordinances and other crucial matters, "things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times" (D&C 124:40–41).

In Nauvoo Joseph introduced many uniquely Latter-day Saint teachings, doctrines not only new to the Prophet's Christian contemporaries outside the Church, but mostly not taught to the Latter-day Saints prior to 1839. Innovative theological precepts revealed in Nauvoo include some of Mormonism's most central doctrines and Practices: celestial marriage, the familial relationship of God the Father and of his Son Jesus Christ to humanity, the character of God, the materiality of spirit, a more comprehensive understanding of the keys of the priesthood, premortal existence, the plurality of gods, ordinances for the dead, and the endowment. These precepts represent Joseph Smith's key Nauvoo teachings, the list of which reads like a summary of the most distinctive aspects of Latter-day Saint religion. The precise date Joseph Smith learned these further truths is difficult to determine. He was not always able to disclose revealed principles immediately. They may have been made known to Joseph prior to 1839. Sometimes he received revelation years in advance of recording them, as was the case with portions of D&C 132. It is possible that his six-month incarceration in Liberty Jail helped galvanize these ideas for him into one great whole.

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