This work on Mormon Doctrine is unique—the first book of its kind ever published.
It is the first major attempt to digest, explain, and analyze all of the important doctrines of the kingdom.
It is the first extensive compendium of the whole gospel — the first attempt to publish an encyclopedic commentary covering the whole field of revealed religion.
True, there are many Bible commentaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias; but they all abound in apostate, sectarian notions. Also, there are many sound gospel texts on special subjects.
But never before has a comprehensive attempt been made to define and outline, in a brief manner, all of the basic principles of salvation—and to do it from the perspective of all revelation, both ancient and modern.
This work on Mormon Doctrine is designed to help persons seeking salvation to gain that knowledge of God and his laws without which they cannot hope for an inheritance in the celestial city.
Since it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance of God and his laws and since man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, it follows that men are obligated at their peril to learn and apply the true doctrines of the gospel.
This gospel compendium will enable men, more effectively, to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom”; to “be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient” for them “to understand.” (D. & C. 88:77-78.)
For the work itself, I assume sole and full responsibility. Observant students, however, will note that the standard works of the Church are the chief sources of authority quoted and that literally tens of thousands of scriptural quotations and citations are woven into the text material. Where added explanations and interpretations were deemed essential, they have been taken from such recognized doctrinal authorities as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, and Joseph Fielding Smith.
Two persons have been particularly helpful in the actual preparation of the work: 1. Velma Harvey, my very able and competent secretary, who with unbounded devotion and insight has typed manuscripts, checked references, proofread, and worked out many technical details; and 2. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., my brother-in-law, who both set the type and made many valuable suggestions as to content and construction.
Abundant needed and important counsel has also come from Milton R. Hunter, my colleague on the First Council of the Seventy; Marvin Wallin, of Bookcraft; and Thomas S. Monson, of the Deseret News Press.
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 1, 1958
—Bruce R. McConkie