Understanding both the secular and spiritual history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is important for many members of the LDS Church.
In a BYU Education Week class titled “The 100 Most Important Events in Latter-day Saint History,” BYU professor of church history Casey Paul Griffiths explained some of the events that have had a great impact on Latter-day Saints. He encouraged the audience to ask questions and engage in a discussion to determine what is most important about specific events in church history.
“Many of these topics help underline what the church is about and how it functions,” Griffiths said.
The emphasis in Wednesday’s class was the church’s move from Nauvoo, Ill., to the Great Basin, and the important events that helped shape that movement. Griffiths listed 25 events that were important in that era, but focused on five events that he believes were the most important at that time.
The first topic was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s time in Liberty Jail, and the revelations that he received while imprisoned there. Griffiths discussed the trials of the Saints at that time, and how Joseph Smith and the others were treated in the jail. “The importance of this time is not the revelations to improve the structure of the church,” Griffiths said, “but how the members of the church can better serve and love one another,” Griffiths said.
Using Jeffrey R. Holland’s quote that said, “Everyone of us is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail,” Griffiths said that episode is important to church members because it best helps them understand the nature of trials.
The revelation of temple ordinances in Nauvoo was the second important event discussed. Even though the temple Latter-day Saints built in Nauvoo was the second temple built in the modern era, it was the first location where all temple blessings, such as eternal marriage, were given to worthy members.
According to Griffiths, the temple and the nature of its teachings make Latter-day Saints and their culture unique from other Christian faiths.
The third and forth events presented by Griffiths were the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, and the Brigham Young’s service as the second church president. Griffiths shared details of how Joseph Smith and his brother were killed, and how the death of the Prophet affected the church at that time.
The last topic discussed was the movement of the church to the Salt Lake Valley. According to Griffiths, the Great Migration is one of the most important events in LDS history. The move to what would become Salt Lake City laid a foundation for the church to grow worldwide and impact millions of people, he said.
Griffiths’ class is a preview of a new BYU religion class titled, “Foundations of the Restoration.” Griffiths and other church history professors are publishing a book highlighting the 100 most important events in LDS history.