The 128th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an interesting and somewhat peculiar reference at verse 24:
24 Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.As a genealogist, the reference to "a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation" has bothered me for some time. This is especially true when I view the huge disparity in accuracy and completeness in both my own genealogy work and that of others. This becomes a problem when I am confronted with members who submit faulty, incomplete and even fraudulent genealogy to online family tree programs especially FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. Does the quote from the Doctrine and Covenants have any meaning in the day to day context of doing family history and genealogy work? Are there or should there be any standards that will assure that the work that is done is "worthy of all acceptation?"
In this regard I would quote a statement made by President Ezra Taft Benson in the October 1978 General Conference:
“… We are introducing a Churchwide program of extracting names from genealogical records. Church members may now render second-mile service through participating in this regard in extracting these names in this program supervised by the priesthood leaders at the local level.” (“The True Way of Life and Salvation,” Ensign, May 1978, p. 4.)
This announcement will make sweeping changes in the mechanics of genealogical research and name submission for temple ordinance work. To determine the effect on us individually and collectively as family organizations, let us consider what has and what has not changed.
First, I mention some things which have not changed:
1.The Lord’s mandate given in section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants has not changed: “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? …
“Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple … a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” (D&C 128:22, 24.)
2.Our responsibility to keep a journal and to write our own personal histories and those of our ancestors, particularly those who belong to the first four generations of our pedigree, has not changed.
3.Our responsibility to make certain that all living family members have the opportunity to receive the ordinances of the temple has not changed.
4.Our responsibility to compile our books of remembrance, including the submission of the names of our ancestors for at least the first four generations, and to have the temple ordinances performed in their behalf has not changed.
5.Our responsibility to organize our families at the immediate family level begins when a couple is married. The grandparent family organization develops as children from the immediate family marry and have children. Through such family organizations, every family in the Church should become actively involved in missionary work, family preparedness, genealogy and temple work, teaching the gospel, and cultural and social activities. These vital responsibilities certainly have not changed.I note especially the first point made by President Benson. Over the intervening years since President Benson made his statement, the programs of the Church have certainly changed but the injunction concerning the need to prepare a record worthy of all acceptation has not changed. I will quote from the current Member's Guide to Temple and Family History Work at page 16:
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the importance of record keeping. He declared: “Let us present in his holy temple . . . a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation” (D&C 128:24). The records you preserve of your ancestors’ lives and of your own life—including journals, personal histories, and other family history records—can bless your ancestors, descendants, extended family members, and others.I believe that the members of the Church are under an obligation to expend the effort to make sure that any genealogical research work that they do comes up to this standard. One question that arises frequently in my discussions with members about the Family Tree program is whether or not we have any obligation to add sources or correct the entries? I suggest that the answer is clear and always has been from the time of Joseph Smith to the present. We have an obligation to make the work as perfect as we can with our limited abilities. The work needs to be up to the standard of the Temples.
We have now been given the tools that will enable us to create a record worthy of all acceptation but we are presently only barely beginning the task.