To the members of the church of the Latter Day Saints—
We deem it to be unnecessary to entertain you with a lengthy preface to the following volume, but merely to say, that it contains in short, the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe.
The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work.
The second part contains items or principles for the regulation of the church, as taken from the revelations which have been given since its organization, as well as from former ones.
There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving any thing purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many now extant; but if men believe a system, and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly, the more intelligibly they can present it, the better. It does not make a principle untrue to print it, neither does it make it true not to print it.
The church viewing this subject to be of importance, appointed, through their servants and delegates the High Council, your servants to select and compile this work. Several reasons might be adduced in favor of this move of the Council, but we only add a few words. They knew that the church was evil spoken of in many places—its faith and belief misrepresented, and the way of truth thus subverted. By some it was represented as disbelieving the bible, by others as being an enemy to all good order and uprightness, and by others as being injurious to the peace of all governments civil and political.
We have, therefore, endeavored to present, though in few words, our belief, and when we say this, humbly trust, the faith and principles of this society as a body.
We do not present this little volume with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced, in that day when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed, and the reward of every man’s labor be given him.
With sentiments of esteem and sincere respect, we subscribe ourselves your brethren in the bonds of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith Jr.
Frederick G. Williams
Kirtland Ohio, February 17, 1835
In Volume I of our Church History we find reference to “Lectures on Theology for Publication in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which the committee appointed last September now compiling.” These lectures were published as part one of the first edition (1835) of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants and had a place in that book and in some of their earlier editions sponsored by the Reorganized Church.
In that first edition (1835) the members of the First Presidency published a “preface” from which we quote:
“The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place [Kirtland, Ohio], and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work.”
Through the years occasional references have been made to these “Lectures on Faith” as they were entitled in the book itself, and we frequently have received inquiries about them.
To what extent the views expressed in these Lectures are interpretations under inspiration or otherwise of the prophet Joseph Smith is a matter left to conjecture, because the record is not explicit on that point. What implications may be indulged with respect to the question because those “theological” classes were held as a part of the “school of prophets” is also left to conjecture.
During the Kirtland occupancy references to the work of the “school of the prophets” were found in the Messenger and Advocate, in one of which the Prophet Joseph is quoted as saying:
“During the month of January, I was engaged in the school of the elders, and in preparing the Lectures on theology for publication in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which the committee appointed last September  were now compiling.”
In view of this statement, and the fact that Joseph Smith was one of the committee on selection and publication that arranged and printed the Lectures as a part of the first Doctrine and Covenants, if we cannot with full assurance hold that the Lectures were his interpretations, we must infer, I believe, that they received his approval or endorsement.
In reprinting these Lectures we do so for their historical value mainly and do not present them with any thought that the church has ever expressly or specifically or by implication endorsed everything in them. Let them be read in the light of the facts as above stated.
Israel A. Smith