D&C Section 20 has been called the “Constitution” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While it does not spell out each doctrinal position and each hierarchical position at length, it does touch on many of the doctrines and responsibilities of Church members, along with how the Church was organized and established.
Many outside of the Church have accused Church members of not being Christians, and not believing in many basic doctrines. Section 20 provides a helpful reference for those who are not informed of the basic tenants of the LDS faith. I find this list interesting. It’s in no way comprehensive.
Verse 1: The rise of the Church of Christ:
This is the Church of Christ. We are Christian, because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Verse 2-3: Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ…And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ
Joseph Smith Jr., as the first prophet and President of the Church, was called and ordained, under Apostolic authority. The very keys that the Savior commissioned to Peter, James, and John have been restored. They were also given to Oliver Cowdery, using the pattern the Master established, “by two or three witness” shall all things be established.
Verse 4: And this according to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory, both now and forever.
The grace of Jesus Christ is what saves us, and it is by that grace (love) that the Church was established. Baptism and temple work are important components of our part, but they alone do not guarantee the Celestial Kingdom. We are saved, justified, sanctified, and exalted by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Verse 8: And gave [Joseph Smith] power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. It wasn’t hit genius, a stolen manuscript, a dream, a vision caused by seizure, or any of the other suggestions put forward.
Verse 11: Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true
We believe the Bible. Anyone who declares otherwise is misinformed.
Verse 17: we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.. And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them…And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.
I think that speaks for itself.
Verse 21-27, 29: Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father; That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved— Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life, As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son;
We’re Christians. We don’t believe in a “different” Jesus. We believe in the Savior of the World, who paid for our sins and inadequacies with His blood, and broke the bands of death, that the “sting of death is swallowed up in victory.”
Baptism is essential.
So is enduring to the end.
Verse 28: Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end.
Jeffrey R. Holland: “Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”2 We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance.”
Verse 33: let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;
Verse 35: And we know that these things are true and according to the revelations of John, neither adding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of his book, the holy scriptures, or the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, the voice of God, or the ministering of angels.
I feel like these also speak for themselves.
I’m grateful that the Lord has given us clearly defined doctrines, so that we need not be defined by others, but be defined by articles and commandments that the Lord has set.