When you’re new to the church, it seems like there are so many things to learn you hardly know where to start. One fast way to get some of the basics in your mind is to study the Articles of Faith. These are thirteen statements written by Joseph Smith to John Edward, editor of the Chicago Democrat, who requested information on the church for a friend writing a history of the state. Learning them will give you a foundation on which to build. Choose one each month to memorize and to study, and you’ll find that at the end of the thirteen months, you’ll know a great deal about the gospel.
The articles of Faith are introduced to the children of the church as a way to help them learn the gospel. They are asked to memorize them before they leave the Primary (children’s auxiliary) at their twelfth birthday. L. Tom Perry wrote that when, as an adult, he decided to relearn them, he taped them to the bathroom wall to study as he brushed his teeth and shaved. If you wash dishes by hand, you might also try taping them over your sink. LDS.org has the songs online, as well, and it’s often easier to learn them by singing them. Search for the songs by the number as a phrase: “The First Article of Faith.”
“The Articles of Faith were not the work of a team of scholars but were authored by a single, inspired man who declared comprehensively and concisely the essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They contain direct and simple statements of the principles of our religion, and they constitute strong evidence of the divine inspiration that rested upon the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I encourage each of you to study the Articles of Faith and the doctrines they teach. They are “one of the most important statements of inspiration, history, and doctrine for the Church. … Each article is a positive statement [explaining] the differences between Mormonism and the [beliefs of other peoples of the world]” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, 257). If you will use them as a guide to direct your studies of the Savior’s doctrine, you will find yourselves prepared to declare your witness of the restored, true church of the Lord. You will be able to declare with conviction: “We believe these things.” L. Tom Perry, “The Articles of Faith,” Ensign, May 1998, 22
Although the Articles of Faith can be printed on a simple, small card, you’ll find that delving into them will give you a deep understanding of the foundations of our faith. I will be writing a series of articles on each one, designed for the new member looking for information on better understanding and living his religion.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.