Understanding the early Saints helps modern Church members understand themselves as a people and as a church. In The Heavens Are Open, Brigham Young University and the Church Educational System have produced the latest in their series of annual Sperry symposia essays. The essays employ Church origins to provide an insightful look at several modern-day revelations and doctrines.
The Heavens Are Open contains essays addressing, among other topics, the restored gospel's contribution to an understanding of the Fall and the Atonement; the importance of loving the gospel, being loyal to it, and following living prophets; the value of being curious about each person mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants; and the benefits that resulted from several different experiences of Zion's Camp.
Other essays describe celestial spouses' opportunity for eternal parenthood, give examples of personal revelations received in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and show the consequences of subtle flaws in the leadership of Thomas B. Marsh when he was president of the Twelve.
The Lord's strict requirements for missionaries in the latter days are examined, and a fresh look at Joseph Smith's poetic version of section 76 is given. An especially helpful essay summarizes all references in the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price about the last days and warns against the use of sources other than modern revelation to obtain information on this topic.
Another essay focuses on how the doctrine and Covenants expands knowledge about Christ's many roles and allows readers to hear Christ's voice. An account of the revelation of June 1978, which made the priesthood available to all worthy males, is moving. The "elect lady" revelation (section 25) is clearly analyzed. The meaning of the phrase "restoration of all things" is discussed.
Helpful advice is given on how to avoid being spiritually deceived, reasons for suffering are enumerated, and comfort is offered to those who suffer. The explosive growth in family history fueled by technological advances is also reported. A final essay shows how human weaknesses and failings can be positive traits that may prove useful as mortals progress toward godhood.