For those outside of the church or less active in the church who do not know, for more than a decade the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been publishing a series books called The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church. Each book in the series collects sermons and quotes on selected topics by one of the prophets of the church, prefaced by topical biographical information. Teachings from Joseph Smith through most of the 20th century prophets have been released. It is an ongoing project with more books to come.
Since the series introduction in 1998, the books have been used as the core curriculum for most adult members of the church nearly every Sunday during weekly Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. There was a brief break in the curriculum in 2010-2011, but for 14 of the last 16 years, active members of the church have had regular exposure to these teachings of previous prophets.
The books are not comprehensive, instead the selected quotations represent those teachings of past presidents of the Restored Church that the current prophets and apostles feel are most important and relevant for modern members of the church to know and follow.
I submit that this distillation of prophetic teachings from Joseph Smith and his successors is one of the best, most comprehensive, most accessible representations of what the church considers doctrine and official teachings.
And so, with recent controversies regarding apostasy and trusting the Lord to guide the Church through his prophets and apostles, we can turn to The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church to establish and understand the Church’s teachings related to these issues.
Here are links to entire chapters in the series. As a group, the following texts provide a substantial foundation for understanding what the Church teaches and expects. They can be directly compared and contrasted to the teachings and claims of dissident members of the church to evaluate their understanding and faithfulness to the church and its prophets.
The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church On Apostasy, Following the Prophets, and Submitting to Those with Priesthood Keys
Chapter 27 -Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy / PDF
Chapter 12 – Preventing Personal Apostasy / PDF
Chapter 4 – Obedience, A Sacred Duty / PDF
Chapter 19 – Following the Living Prophet / PDF
Chapter 3 – Lifelong Conversion / PDF
Joseph F. Smith
Chapter 13 – Stand by the Truth Lest You Be Deceived / PDF
Heber J. Grant
Chapter 8 – Following Those Whom God Has Chosen to Preside / PDF
George Albert Smith
Chapter 6 – Sustaining Those Whom the Lord Sustains / PDF
David O. McKay
Chapter 5 – The Blessings of Unity / PDF
Joseph Fielding Smith
Chapter 11 – Honoring the Priesthood Keys Restored Through Joseph Smith / PDF
Harold B. Lee
Chapter 9 – Heeding the True Messenger of Jesus Christ / PDF
Spencer W. Kimball
Shepherds of the Flock / PDF