"PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT: Joseph Smith and the Restoration of Doctrine," by Robert L. Millet, Deseret Book, $29.99, 475 pages (nf)
Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
Years ago as a group of Latter-day Saint professors and academics from other Christian faiths discussed Joseph Smith and the validity of his claims, one Christian man cited the New Testament where Jesus warns to beware of false prophets.
Robert L. Millet, former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University and professor emeritus of ancient scripture, acknowledged the comment, but countered with what the Savior teaches in the next verse of Matthew: "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16).
In his new book, "Precept Upon Precept: Joseph Smith and the Restoration of Doctrine," Millet offers a view of Joseph's "fruit" in terms of restored doctrine.
"The culture. The way of life. The community. The influence. They are indeed some of the fruits of our faith, sweet fruits of the work Joseph Smith set in motion," Millet wrote in the book's introduction. "In this volume, I have chosen to address what seems to me to be foundational to the culture, what makes Latter-day Saints behave and act as they do. What we believe affects what we do; what we profess affects what we become. Stated simply, the success and surprising influence of the Latter-day Saint community is due principally to our theological foundation, the doctrines we believe."
"Precept Upon Precept" explores the doctrines of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — from the First Vision until the martyrdom — in the context of what was happening in Joseph Smith's life when they were revealed and taught.
The 475-page volume also includes a doctrinal chronology, an appendix of doctrines found in the Book of Mormon and a collection of tributes to the prophet by his successors.
"Clearly some of the strongest evidences of Joseph Smith's prophetic call … are the doctrines that came to him and through him," Millet wrote in the introduction. "As we open the church's doctrinal treasure chest, it is my earnest hope that the reader will in fact see that light and feel that warmth as we sample some of the sweetest fruits of the restored gospel."
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