Preparing the Statement of Principles
By Jeff & Emily Savage and Adrian & Tausha Larsen
You are not excused from writing a statement of principles that I have required at your hands. I forbade my servant David from participating, and again forbid him. But I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, for if you cannot do so you will be unable to accomplish other works that I will require at your hands. When you have an agreed statement of principles I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow. Remember there are others who know nothing, as yet, of my work now underway, and therefore the guide and standard is to bless, benefit and inform them—so I command you to be wise in word and kind in deed as you write what I require of you.
Do you indeed desire to be my people? Then accept and do as I have required.
“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” (African Proverb)
The Lord has said that our collectively writing and mutually agreeing upon a statement of principles is an essential, preparatory step along the path leading eventually to Zion. We feel it important to go about this the right way, by carefully heeding the Lord’s word. In Answer and Covenant, the Lord has made the following clear:
- He requires us to mutually agree upon a statement of principles. Once agreed upon, it is to be added to our scriptural canon to serve as a guide and standard for the Lord’s people, and to bless, benefit and inform those who will come after us.
- Responsibility for this labor falls upon ALL who have accepted the covenant.
- This labor is the beginning of the mission to the lost sheep of Israel. The labor in the vineyard commences with our efforts to produce this statement.
We’ve written at length about the need for this statement, the Lord’s requirements, and a proposed method for performing this labor together. You may find it helpful to review those posts to give context to the present effort. Here are links if you need them:
Statements and Principles, Part 1: The Lord’s Words
Statements and Principles, Part 2: The Lord’s Requirements
Statements and Principles, Part 3: A Path Forward
How it Works
We (and others) have provided the websites where the labor will take place: The Statement Page (this page) and the Forum. Here’s an explanation of each.
The purpose of this page (The Statement Page) is to display the current list of principles as it is built, as well as provide a place for all who desire to submit additional principles to be included in the effort. This page is informational in nature, and allows all who are interested to easily read and consider the principles that have been submitted.
For those who wish to discuss any of the posted principles, a separate forum is provided, with a sub-forum for each principle. This is the area where those who so desire, may make suggestions, submit alternative language ideas, ask questions, and work together to refine the principles. It is the nuts-and-bolts work area, and is confined to those who have accepted the covenant. It is a private forum, and will not be publicly visible.
Everyone who would like to participate will need to register for an account. Each person will need to be approved by the site administrator to ensure the rules are followed of registration. If you do not follow instructions you will be asked to correct whatever is in need of a correction.
You can go to the forum here:
This will help us all understand the process and work together.
Submitting Principles: The area for principle submission is located at the bottom of this page. Anyone can submit any principle they feel meets the Lord’s requirements. Submission guidelines are included in the submission area. This opportunity is open to all, but it also comes with responsibility for that principle through this entire process.
“Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our mights in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good, and the most precious above all other fruit.” (Jacob 3:24 RE)
To use the vineyard analogy, if you are the first person to submit a principle on a given topic, you become a servant in the vineyard, responsible for that particular topic, or for this analogy, for that particular tree. It’s your job to dung it, prune it and nourish it until it bears fruit. This includes the responsibility to shepherd that topic through the editing process in the forum, and hopefully to bring it to mutual acceptance by all covenant holders. This will require a commitment of time, labor, and willingness to hear all voices and work with all interested parties to make the principle statement acceptable to all.
This should not be viewed as being “in charge” of anything, but rather is a position of being a servant to us all in that particular topic.
The size and scope of the “vineyard,” as well as the delicate nature of the work we are engaged in, suggests that no one servant can, or should, attempt to nourish every tree, but should trust in their fellow-servants to nourish their own trees. As we each consider where the Lord would have us serve, we feel the quiet voice of wisdom whisper that we each ask Heaven which tree (principle) we should spend our might nourishing. Due to the nature of the effort required, we think it’s best to limit any person to a single tree, meaning a single principle submission (though all are free to participate in any forums and discussions they desire.) Remember, no matter how full of dung we each may be, we are all limited in our ability to fully nourish just one tree. ;-)
Therefore, we ask that each person only submit one principle, and then be responsible for it from start to finish. This will help spread the work in the vineyard among many servants.
Refining the Principles
The Forum will contain sub-forums, divided by topics. For example, we expect there will be forums for Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and all other principles that are submitted. The moderator of each sub-forum will be the servant who first submitted the principle covering that topic. He or she will be assisted by two other volunteer moderators, so each sub-forum will have three moderators, total.
The purpose of the forum is to allow for respectful discussion, suggestions, alternative wordings, and so forth, considered carefully and discussed in kindness until all can agree on that particular principle.
Let’s walk through an example to illustrate:
Suppose Mahonri Moriancumr feels strongly that marriage is a true principle, and that it should be included and explained. So he goes to work, writes it up, and submits it. If brother Mahonri is the first to submit something on the marriage topic, he becomes the servant responsible for that particular tree. His submission will be posted on the Statement Page for all to see. He will also automatically become the moderator of the sub-forum on the marriage topic, where all conversations and suggestions regarding the marriage principle will take place. He will be assisted by two other volunteer moderators in that forum, and the three will work together to ensure the discussion is respectful and productive.
The goal will be to consider all input and suggestions in the forum, make changes as necessary, and craft a final statement on marriage that all can accept. If there is not agreement in the forum, or eventually agreement among all covenant holders, then the marriage principle won’t make it into the final document. So there’s built-in incentive for all interested parties to work together and succeed in crafting an acceptable statement regarding marriage. There’s also a built-in mechanism for those with differing ideas about the marriage statement to be heard and understood.
Brother Mahonri may feel strongly about other principles as well, and is certainly free to join the discussions in the other sub-forums, add his input, and be involved. But he will only have primary responsibility for his own tree—marriage.
This approach alleviates excessive burdens from any one person, and allows many to participate directly in writing and submitting principles, as well as working to revise them. Any who want to participate are welcome in whichever capacity they choose, whether submitter, moderator, commenter, or observer. Nobody is excluded from laboring in the vineyard.
** UPDATED ** A week has been added to the submission and the editing process.
To move this project forward to completion, we propose the following timeline:
- Submissions: We propose keeping submissions open for three weeks (September 20-October 11), allowing all to submit any principle that hasn’t already been submitted. At the end of three weeks, we propose closing submissions.
- Editing: The next phase, continuing during the following three weeks (October 12 - November 2), is the editing and refining phase. This will allow for all who are interested to offer their ideas and input in the Forum. (Note: we presume discussion and editing will begin in the forum during the submissions phase, as soon as principles are submitted.) At the end of this three-week period, final versions of each of the principle statements will be posted on the Statement Page.
- Acceptance: When the final versions are posted, the website will allow for tallying acceptance or rejection of each of the principles, open for one week (November 3-10). All principles that receive 100% acceptance will automatically make up the final statement. Any principles that come close, and can be satisfactorily resolved between the parties involved, to produce 100% acceptance, will also be included. Principles that cannot be brought to 100% acceptance will be eliminated from the final statement.
The end of this initial process will produce a list of principles, mutually agreed upon by the body of believers. Whether that list is long or short, it will be a victory.
As outlined previously, the next steps will be to add an introduction and conclusion to the document, making it a coherent “Statement.” We will propose a method for that process when the time comes. For now, let’s just focus on principles.
Guidelines for Submissions
Important: Each submission has two parts.
The first part is the principle statement itself. To have the best chance of acceptance, we suggest it meet the following criteria:
- Single: focusing on a single principle of the gospel, rather than being a hybrid statement of several principles.
- Brief: expressed succinctly, without excessive wordiness or lengthy explanation.
- Basic: written in language that is
- Scriptural: based on Christ’s words in scripture, or through His authorized servants.
- Simple: both to understand and to translate into other languages.
- Fundamental: important and foundational to understanding and practicing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Universal: applicable to all people at all times, avoiding cultural biases or assumptions.
- Kind: providing enough information for the reader to understand how to apply and live the principle.
The second part of the statement is the background information. This is a lengthier explanation of sources, reasoning, and rationale behind the choice of principle and its expression and wording. This will help others understand the thought process behind the statement and therefore be better able to offer agreement or constructive input. It should walk the reader through the reasons why the statement is true and properly expressed.
This explanation portion of the statement is only for use as we all seek to understand one another and come to mutual agreement. It will NOT appear as part of the final Statement of Principles added to the scriptures. See the example principle, written below.
The four of us, who have participated extensively in proposing and setting up this opportunity, do not consider ourselves in charge of it, or in any position of authority. We do not intend to submit any principle statements or moderate any forum (though we will work behind the scenes to keep the website functioning and updated.) We hope these steps will eliminate any concerns about us seeking to be important or influential. By setting this in motion, we believe we have done what the Lord has required of us, and we intend now to only participate by commenting, persuading and interacting in the forums, as ALL are welcome to do.
We pray God will make all our hearts right as we turn to Christ, and bless this effort with success.
Accepting the covenant is not the final step. Our choices will determine whether we are bitter or natural fruit—that will decide our fate. Just as the ancient allegory foretold, the covenant makes us servants and laborers in the vineyard (v. 61). We are required to, this is from the covenant, “seek to recover the lost sheep remnant of this land and of Israel and no longer forsake them. Bring them to the Lord and teach them of his ways to walk in them.” If we fail to labor to recover them, we break the covenant. —Denver Snuffer, September 3, 2017
The following is an EXAMPLE PRINCIPLE STATEMENT, designed to stimulate thought and model a potential approach to your own submission:
Faith is the assurance of unseen things that are true. Faith is the primary motivation of action and power, in both mortals and in God. To exercise faith is to act in alignment with correct belief. To have faith in Jesus Christ, we must believe in Him, learn of Him, and act according to a correct understanding of Him. Exercising faith in Jesus Christ will gradually turn action into power, producing unshaken faith in Him.
Explanation / Supporting Materials
Each statement in this principle can be traced directly back to scripture. Here are a few of the sources that support the concepts shared and the words used:Hebrews 11:1, JST
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Lectures on Faith 1:9
From this we learn, that faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen; and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.Alma 32:21 (LE)
21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.Ether 12:6 (LE)
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.Lectures on Faith 1:13
But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth.Lectures on Faith 1:15
By this we understand that the principle of power, which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power, existing in the Deity, that all created things existLectures on Faith 1:Q5
Question 5: What is faith?
It is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen: Hebrews 11:1. That is, it is the assurance we have of the existence of unseen things. And being the assurance which we have of the existence of unseen things, must be the principle of action in all intelligent beings.Lectures on Faith 3:2-5
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
First, The idea that he actually exists.
Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.
Regarding becoming “unshaken”:Enos 1:11 (LE)
11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.2 Nephi 31:19 (LE)
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.Jacob 4:6 (LE)
6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
In writing this principle, we thought it important to emphasize not only what faith is, but also that it must be centered in Jesus Christ. We have attempted to define what it means to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and how to do it. Believing in Him, learning of him to have a correct understanding, and acting according to that understanding is the essence of faith in Jesus Christ. We have attempted to explain this simply, clearly, and in a way that anyone can apply.
We now invite you to:
- Submit a Principle.
- Register on the FORUM.
You do not have to participate if you create an account but you do have to receive or have already received the covenant.
- Observe and participate as you desire.