Bruce R. McConkie's one and only true testimony . . .


Jan 09, 2007


steve benson


In a previous post, “Makurosu” speculated that Bruce R. McConkie died without a personal testimony of the Mormon
gospel that he peddled and pontificated about for all his years as an authoritarian defender of the Cult:

“Ironically, I don't think he had a testimony when he died.

"Look at his ‘last testimony’:

“Not once does he mention Joseph Smith or anything else specific to Mormonism other than a brief, unnecessary reference to the Nephites. It's all Jesus Jesus Jesus, and he's holding on so tightly to that belief that it makes me wonder if his belief in Mormonism has been shaken up--perhaps after his exchange with BYU Professor Eugene England?

"I could be wrong, but that's how it appears to me.”


Bruce R. McConkie died with a burning testimony on his lips, but it wasn't one of the Mormon Church--or even of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

From personally meeting with him where he laid down the law from his own Mount Sinai, it is obvious to me that when push came to prophet, McConkie was willing to push aside the prophet and proclaim himself the source of all knowledge necessary for salvation.

Of that, he had an undying testimony--of Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.

Not only did he testify regarding own doctrinal perfection in matters where he was at odds even with Mormon Church presidents, he even plagiarized from non-Mormons when declaring his unassailable truths.

Based on my own interaction with him, McConkie ultimately came across as a man who had a testimony of his own perceived personal power and not a testimony of the Mormon doctrinal principle that the LDS Church was led by a living prophet.

That meeting, as recounted here from personal notes I made of our discussion, took place at McConkie's private residence, 260 Dorchester Drive, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, 7 July 1980, from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m.


On the day of, and prior to, my conversation with McConkie, I had visited for approximately three-and-a-half hours, with my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, then-president of the Council of the Twelve, in his Salt Lake City apartment, located in the Bonneville Towers, 777 East South Temple.

We talked, among other things, about the Mormon Church’s official position on organic evolution.

My interest in the subject became increasingly heightened back in the late 1970s, I was a student at Brigham Young University, where I decided to do a research paper on the official LDS position on organic evolution. Much of my effort to write an accurate account on the subject involved repeated, and often frustrating, attempts to solicit answers from the Mormon Church hierachy.

During that preliminary conversation with my grandfather in his apartment, our conversation turned to my evolution research project.

We talked about McConkie's recent 14-stake fireside address, entitled "The Seven Deadly Heresies," which he had delivered five weeks earlier, on 1 June 1980, in Brigham Young University's Marriott Center.

In his sermon, McConkie listed as "Heresy Two" the "false and devilish" notion advanced by "those who say that revealed religion and organic evolution can be harmonized."

Such claims, McConkie told his student audience, did not represent "true science" but, rather, "the false religions of the dark ages . . . some of which have crept in among us."

Moreover, while McConkie noted that "true religion and true science bear the same witness," he declared that the theory of organic evolution could "in no way" be harmonized "with the truths of science as they have now been discovered."

To believe otherwise, McConkie said, ran completely counter to "the saving doctrine" of revealed religion. That doctrine, he said, included "that Adam stood next to Christ in power and might and intelligence before the foundations of the world were laid; that Adam was placed on this earth as an immortal being; that there was no death in the world for him or for any form of life until after the fall; that the fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world; that this temporal death passed upon all forms of life, upon man and animal and fish and fowl and plant life; that Christ came to ransom man and all forms of life from the effects of the temporal death brought into the world through the fall and, in the case of man, from the spiritual death also, and that this includes a resurrection for man and for all forms of life. Try as you may, you cannot harmonize these things with the evolutionary postulate that death existed and that the various forms of life have evolved from preceding forms over astronomiclaly long periods of time."

As proof that "the theories of men"--i.e., the theories of organic evolution--were out of harmony with "the inspired word", McConkie cited 2 Nephi 2:22-26, which he quoted in full:

"And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

"And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

"And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall."

To believe, he said, that "the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the diverse speculations descending therefrom" can somehow be accomdoated by revealed religion denied the very atonement of Christ, which McConkie called "the great and eternal foundaiton upon which revealed religion rests."

According to McConkie, belief in organic evolution rendered the doctrine of the atonement ineffectual for the following reasons:

"If death has always prevailed in the world, there was no fall of Adam which brought death to all forms of life. If Adam did not fall, there is no need for an atonement. If there was no atonement, there is no salvation, no resurrection, no eternal life, nothing in all of the glorious promises that the Lord has given us. If there is no salvation, there is no God. The fall affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself. The atonement affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself."


I asked my grandfather if McConkie's address represented the official position of the Mormon Church on the theory of organic evolution.

In so inquiring, I mentioned to him that my father, Mark A. Benson (Ezra Taft's second son) was seriously considering writing President Spencer W. Kimball to ask the same question.

In response, my grandfather lowered his head, smiled slightly and replied in careful and measured tones that he did not want to say too much, for fear that he "might slip."

He did, however, tell me that prior to its delivery at BYU, McConkie's address had been reviewed by "the Brethren." He said that McConkie himself had offered to make any changes in the prepared text, but that none were requested.

Nonetheless, my grandfather twice noted that "it was understood that the talk represented the views of Elder McConkie."

At this point in our conversation, my grandfather suggested that it might be good for me to speak directly with McConkie on this matter.

Still a true-believing Mormon at the time, I replied that I would consider it to be a great honor to meet a man whom I considered to be one of the greatest living scriptorians in the Church.

I added, however, that I did not want to be an imposition. My grandfather assured me that McConkie would be happy to speak with me, assuming that an appropriate time and place could be arranged.

I told my grandfather I would be available to meet with him anytime, anywhere, and would only want to take a few minutes of his time to clarify in my own mind some of the important questions that seemed (at least to me) to be in need of definitive answers regarding the official position of the Mormon Church on the theory of organic evolution.

At this point (approximately 3:45 p.m.), as I looked on, my grandfather went over to the phone and made a personal call to McConkie, who was still in his Church office.

After chatting with McConkie for a few minutes, my grandfather hung up and informed me that the meeting had been arranged for 5:30 that same afternoon, at McConkie's home.

Once the initial excitement had subsided somewhat, I expressed concern to my grandfather that, in the upcoming question-and-answer session with McConkie, I did not want to appear to be lacking faith and testimony in McConkie's divine calling and apostleship.

In particular, I was somewhat anxious that my inquiries, although sincere, might be misinterpreted and prove offensive to McConkie, who was known for his forthright, umcompromising views--which views appeared to some to reflect a certain degree of sternness and even harshness, when "laying down the line" in areas of Mormon Church doctrine.

My grandfather reassured me that McConkie was "a very gracious man," with sons my own age (I was a 26-year-old BYU student at the time). He encouraged me to be as frank with McConkie in my questioning as I had been with him.

By coincidence, I had already planned to meet my father in downtown Salt Lake City after my visit with my grandfather and be driven to my parents' residence, where I was staying during summer vacation.

When I slid into the front seat of my father's car at 5:15 that afternoon and informed him of the scheduled meeting with McConkie in 15 minutes, he was pleasantly surprised. He offered to take me to McConkie's home, which I hoped he would do, since I had no other means of getting there in the few minutes remaining before the scheduled appointment.

As we drove to McConkie's home, I told my father that while I was not adverse to having him sit in on my conversation with McConkie, I regarded the visit as a unique one-on-one opportunity to ask McConkie whatever questions I felt were necessary to provide a clearer understanding of Mormon doctrinal matters.

My father said he understood and offered to drop me off at McConkie's home, then return to pick me up after our visit was concluded. I did not feel that was necessary and suggested that we "play it by ear."

If McConkie invited both of us into his home, as I expected he would, I felt I would not be inhibited, as long as my father honored my request to be able to interact freely with McConkie, without interruption--no matter how well-intentioned that interruption might be.

McConkie greeted us warmly at the door, presenting (initially, at least) an image quite different from the Bruce the Concrete-Hearted that I, and millions of others, had come to expect from his stiff-as-a-board-for-the-Lord Conference talks.

He was dressed in an open-necked yellow sports shirt, slacks and house slippers. (And all this time I thought he had been born in a dark blue suit).

He turned to me, grinned and asked if there was anything I did not want my father to hear during our conversation.

I said no, at which point McConkie ushered us into his comfortable, sun-lit living room. My father and I sat on a sofa, approximately ten feet across from McConkie, who seated himself in a chair next to a lampstand on which rested his scriptures and some other papers.

His demeanor was relaxed and helped put me at ease. The atmosphere throughout our conversation was open and friendly. McConkie encouraged me, on more than one occasion during our discussion, not to hesitate in asking whatever I wanted.

In keeping with my previous request, my father sat and listened without speaking.


One wonders how much of a true testimony of the Mormon gospel McConkie truly possessed, given how he then demonstrated to me to be less than above-board in his presentation to me of actual Mormon doctrine.

My meeting with him was characterized by McConkie's continual attempts to manipulate, mislead about and reconstruct Mormon doctrine, in order to bring it into line with his own doctrine.

During our discussion, which focused primarily on the subject of the Mormon Church’s official position on organic evolution, attention turned briefly to the Roman Catholic Church.

McConkie had asserted to me that while the Mormon Church, institutionally and as a matter of official doctrine, opposed organic evolution, the Church was not going to say so because McConkie, told me, it did not want to pick fights with its vulnerable members.

He explained, "It's a matter of temporizing, of not making a statement to prevent the driving out of the weak Saints. It's a question of wisdom, not of truth."

He compared it to calling the Catholic Church "the Church of the Devil." He said while such a statement was true, one had to be careful about saying it, so as not to offend Catholics.

I asked McConkie why, in fact, his reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the "Church of the Devil" had been removed from the second edition of his book, “Mormon Doctrine.”

McConkie insisted to me that it was excised not because it was not doctrinally sound but because it was too difficult for people to accept.

That was an untruthful testimony as to actual matters of fact.

But it was McConkie's testimony as to his own assessment of his doctrinal infallibility.

My meeting, in other words, with McConkie was really a testimony meeting conducted by McConkie in which he testified to his own truthfulness.

In essence, McConkie’s explanation for his original reference (as it appeared in the 1958 first edition of “Mormon Doctrine”) to the Roman Catholic Church as the "Church of the Devil" being expunged from in its subsequent 1966 re-publication was, he said, a matter of good manners and sensitivity--and had nothing to do with the theological truth of his claim.

At that point in my early travels through Mormonism's maze of unfolding muck, I didn't know any better but to accept what McConkie told me as being factual.


The trouble was, McConkie’s smiling assertion turned out to be substantially removed from the truth—and the truth that he, himself, knew.

His dishonesty on this point has been convincingly exposed by the emergence of documents which were generated at the highest levels of the Mormon Church during the swirl of controversy that erupted when “Mormon Doctrine” was first published.

Faithful Mormons often cite McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” as an authoritative volume on official LDS doctrine.

The historical record on that matter, however, clearly shows that McConkie’s "Mormon Doctrine" was never cccepted by the LDS Church as official Mormon dogma.

Indeed, its initial publication was not only unauthorized, but met by then-President David O. McKay and other General Authorities with both surprise and objection.

In the wake of its unapproved appearance, McKay directed that a review be made of the book’s contents and a report submitted to him, along with recommendations on how to deal with it problematic publication.

In that ensuing examination, a confidential, top-level analysis of McConkie's book concluded that it was full of misinformation, insults and unauthoritative/unauthoritative claims.

That review of McConkie’s book was undertaken on orders of Church president McKay by Apostles Marion G. Romney and Mark E. Petersen.

The report's conclusion: the book contained numerous examples of doctrinal errors, objectionable language, discourteous tone and questionable claims.

Recommendation was subsequently made that McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” not be republished, that it be repudiated and that in the future no book be published by any of the Brethren without first obtaining First Presidency approval.

McKay agreed with the suggestion that McConkie's book not be republished and directed that restrictions be placed on future independent book publishing by the General Authorities.

The First Presidency also issued a private, face-to-face reprimand to McConkie, whereupon McConkie promised (apparently with less than full purpose of heart) to behave.

What follows below are documents that show what actually happened with regard to McConkie’s book—details of which are completely at odds with what he personally told me.

These exhibits include McKay’s officially-directed report on the book’s contents (authored by Apostle Romney), as well as excerpts from McKay’s contemporary office journal on the controversy surrounding the book and the resolution of the problems its publication had created for McKay and the Church.

(These documents were originally copied with permission of the LDS Church Archivist. The original Romney letter and its attached copy of the Mormon Doctrine manuscript are in the First Presidency’s Office. Reproductions of those copies are in my possession and—as are so many other damning evidences against the Mormon Church—now available on the Internet):

Also provided below are letters authorized by McKay which were sent out to inquiring Church members after publication of McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, declaring that it and other books published by individual General Authorities did not represent the official position of the LDS Church.

(Copies of these letters are also in my possession, as well as available via the so-called "Mormon underground").

The Report from Marion G. Romney to David O. McKay

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Council of the Twelve
47 E. South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah

“January 28, 1959 . . .

“Dear President McKay:

“This is my report on MORMON DOCTRINE, by Bruce R. McConkie, which on January 5, you asked me to read.

“The book is a 776 page work which, in the words of the author, purports to be, ‘the first major attempt to digest, explain, and analyze all of the important doctrines of the kingdom . . . . . the first extensive compendium of the whole gospel—the first attempt to publish an encyclopedic commentary covering the whole field of revealed religion.’

“‘For the work itself,’ the author assumes the ‘sole and full responsibility.’ (Exhibit I) (The exhibits cited in this report consist of printed pages from the book. The statements in point are underscored in red.)

“Preparation of the volume has entailed much study and research. Its favorable reception evidences a felt need for such a treatise.

“The author is an able and thorough student of the gospel. In many respects he has produced a remarkable book. Properly used, it quickly introduces the student to the authorities on most any gospel subject.

“As to the book itself, notwithstanding its many commendable and valuable features and the author’s assumption of ‘sole and full responsibility’ for it, its nature and scope and the authoritative tone of the style in which it is written pose the question as to the propriety of the author’s attempting such a project without assignment and supervision from him whose right and responsibility it is to speak for the Church on ‘Mormon Doctrine.’ Had the work been authoritatively supervised, some of the following matters might have been omitted and the treatment of others modified.

“A. Reference to churches and other groups who do not accept ‘Mormon Doctrine’.

“1. ‘Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ who sometimes refer to themselves as ‘Josephites’. (Exhibit II-1, pages 50, 141, 362)

“2. ‘Christian Churches’ generally. (Exhibit II-2, pages 139, 455)

“3. ‘Catholic Church’. (Exhibit II-3, pages 13, 66, 69, 129, 130, 216, 241, 314-15, 342, 346, 350, 422, 499, 511, 697) [emphasis added]

“4. Communists and Catholics. (Exhibit II-4, pages 26-7, 131) [emphasis added]

“5. Evolution and Evolutionists. (Exhibit II-5, pages 37, 77, 136, 180, 228, 238, 659)

“B. Declaration as to ‘Mormon Doctrine’ on controversial issues.

“1. ‘Pre-Adamites’. (Exhibit III-1, pages 17, 262)

“2. Status of Animals and Plants in the Garden of Eden. (Exhibit III-2, pages 36, 234-35)

“3. Meaning of the various accounts of Creation. (exhibit III_3, pages 157-8, 167-8)

“4. Dispensation of Abraham. (Exhibit III-4, page 203)

“5. Moses a translated being. (Exhibit III_5, pages 206, 445, 466, 727-8)

“6. Origin of Individuality. (Exhibit III-6, page 404)

“7. Defiling the priesthood. (Exhibit III-7, page 437)

“8. Manner in which Jesus was Begotten. (Exhibit III-8, page 494)

“9. Written sermons. (Exhibit III-9, pages 634-5, 716)

“10. Resurrection of stillborn children. (Exhibit III-10, page 694)

“C. Miscellaneous Interpretations (Exhibit IV)

“Frequency of Administrations, page 22

“Baptism in the ‘molten sea,’ page 98

“II Peter 1:19, page 102

“Paul married, page 112

“Status of those ‘with Christ in His Resurrection', page 128

“Consecration of oil, page 147

“Councils and schools among the Gods, page 151

“Limitations on Deity, page 154

“Sunday not a proper day for family reunions, page 254

“Geological changes at time of the deluge, page 268

“The Holy Ghost a spirit man, page 329

“Facing east in temples when giving the Hosanna Shout, page 337

“Details on family prayer and asking the blessing on food, page 526

“Women to be gods, page 551

“Interpretations of the Doctrine and Covenants 93:1, page 581

“Interpretation of "Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning," page 606

“Status of little children in the celestial kingdom, page 607

“Resumption of schools of the prophets, page 613

“Time of beginning of seasons, page 616

“Interpretation of III Nephi 12:20, page 618

“D. Repeated use of the word ‘apostate’ and related terms in a way which to many seems discourteous and to others gives offense. (Exhibit V, pages 123, 125, 160, 169, 212, 223, 383, 538, 546, 548, 596)

“Faithfully and Respectfully submitted,


“Marion G. Romney


“P. S.

“As per my letter to you of January 9, I have promised to contact Marvin Wallin, manager of Bookcraft Company, by the 9th of February about the 4,000 volume edition of MORMON DOCTRINE which he is holding.

“I shall therefore seek to contact you about the matter near the end of next week.


“M. G. R.”

The Office Journal of President David O. McKay

“THURSDAY, January 7, 1960

“10:15 to 12:45 p.m. Re: The book—‘Mormon Doctrine’

“The First Presidency met with Elders Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney. They submitted their report upon their examination of the book ‘Mormon Doctrine’ by Elder Bruce McConkie.

“These brethren reported that the manuscript of the book ‘Mormon Doctrine’ has not been read by the reading committee; that President Joseph Fielding Smith did not know anything about it until it was published. Elder Petersen stated that the extent of the corrections which he had marked in his copy of the book (1067) affected most of the 776 pages of the book. He also said that he thought the brethren should be under the rule that no book should be published without a specific approval of the First Presidency.

“I stated that the decision of the First Presidency and the Committee should be announced to the Twelve.

“It was agreed that the necessary corrections are so numerous that to republish a corrected edition of the book would be such an extensive repudiation of the original as to destroy the credit of the author; that the republication of the book should be forbidden and that the book should be repudiated in such a way as to save the career of the author as one of the General Authorities of the Church. It was also agreed that this decision should be announced to the Council of the Twelve before I talk to the author.

“Elder Petersen will prepare an editorial for publication in the Improvement Era, stating the principle of approval of books on Church doctrine."

“FRIDAY, January 8, 1960

“11:55 to 12:15 p.m.

“The First Presidency held a meeting. We decided that Bruce R. McConkie’s book, ‘Mormon Doctrine’ recently published by Bookcraft Company, must not be re-published, as it is full of errors and misstatements, and it is most unfortunate that it has received such wide circulation. It is reported to us that Brother McConkie has made corrections to his book, and is now preparing another edition. We decided this morning that we do not want him to publish another edition.

“We decided, also, to have no more books published by General Authorities without their first having the consent of the First Presidency. (see January 7, 1960)”

“WEDNESDAY, January 27, 1960

“3:00 P. M. Conference with Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith re: Bruce R. McConkie’s book, ‘Mormon Doctrine’

“At the request of the First Presidency, I called President Joseph Fielding Smith and told him that we are a unit in disapproving of Brother Bruce R. McConkie’s book, ‘Mormon Doctrine,’ as an authoritative exposition of the principles of the gospel.

“I then said: ‘Now, Brother Smith, he is a General Authority, and we do not want to give him a public rebuke that would be embarrassing to him and lessen his influence with the members of the Church, so we shall speak to the Twelve at our meeting in the Temple tomorrow, and tell them that Brother McConkie’s book is not approved as an authoritative book and that it should not be republished, even if the errors (some 1,067) are corrected.’

“Brother Smith agreed with this suggestion to report to the Twelve, and said, ‘That is the best thing to do.

“I then said that Brother McConkie is advocating by letter some of the [one line of words partially cut off on bottom of the photocopied page of journal] . . . to letters he receives. Brother Smith said, ‘I will speak to him about that.’ I then mentioned that he is also speaking on these subjects, and Brother Smith said, ‘I will speak to him about that also.’

“I also said that the First Presidency had decided that General Authorities of the Church should not publish books without submitting them to some member of the General Authorities, and President Smith agreed to this as being wise.”

“THURSDAY, January 28, 1960

“8:30 to 9 a.m. Bruce R. McConkie’s Book

“Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency. I reported to my counselors that I had talked with President Joseph Fielding Smith about the decision that the book ‘Mormon Doctrine’ should not be republished and about handling the matter to avoid undermining Brother McConkie’s influence. President Smith agreed that the book should not be republished, and said he would talk with Brother McConkie. It was decided that the First Presidency should inform Brother McConkie before he learns of our decision from some other source, so Brother McConkie was asked to come into our meeting this morning.

“When he arrived I informed him of the desire of the First Presidency with reference to h is book not being republished, to which he agreed. The recommendation was also made that he answer inquiries on the subject with care. Brother McConkie said, ‘I am amenable to whatever you Brethren want. I will do exactly what you want. I will be as discreet and as wise as I can.’ In answering letters he said that he would express no views contrary to views which the First Presidency has expressed. He said that he would conform in every respect. . . . [emphasis added]

“10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

“Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

“At Council meeting I reported to the Brethren our decision regarding Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s book ‘Mormon Doctrine,’ stating that it had caused considerable comment throughout the Church, and that it has been a source of concern to the Brethren ever since it was published. I said that this book had not been presented to anyone for consideration or approval until after its publication. I further said that the First Presidency have [sic] give it very careful consideration, as undoubtedly have some of the Brethren of the Twelve also, and that the First Presidency now recommend that the book be not republished; that it be not republished even in a corrected form, even though Brother McConkie mentions in the book that he takes all responsibility for it; and that it not be recognized as an authoritative book.

“I said further that the question has arisen as to whether a public correction should be made and a addendum given emphasizing the [bottom line of photocopied page of journal cut off] . . . it is felt that that would not be wise because Brother McConkie is one of the General Authorities, and it might lessen his influence. The First Presidency recommend that the situation be left as it is, and whenever a question about it arises, we can answer that it is unauthoritative; that it was issued by Brother McConkie on his own responsibility, and he must answer for it.

“I reported that the First Presidency had talked to Brother McConkie this morning, and he said he will do whatever the Brethren want him to do. He will not attempt to republish the book nor to say anything by letter, and if he answers letters or inquiries that he will answer them in accordance with the suggestions made by the Brethren, and not advocate those things concerning which question had been raised as contained in the book.

“The Brethren unanimously approved of this.

“I then said that the First Presidency further recommend that when any member of the General Authorities desires to write a book, that the Brethren of the Twelve or the First Presidency be consulted regarding it. While the author need not get the approval of these Brethren, they should know before it is published that a member of the General Authorities wants to publish a book. I said it may seem all right for the writer of the book to say, ‘I only am responsible for it,’ but I said ‘you cannot separate your position from your individuality, and we should like the authors to present their books to the Twelve or a Committee appointed.’ I asked the Brethren of the Twelve to convey this information to the other General Authorities. On motion, this became the consensus of the Council.”

Later Letters from McKay to Mormon Church Members Regarding McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine and Other Books Published by Individual General Authorities

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
47 E. South Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
David O. McKay, President

“February 3, 1959

“Dr. A. Kent Christensen
Department of Anatomy
Cornell University Medical College
1300 York Avenue
New York 21, New York

“Dear Brother Christensen:

“I have your letter of January 23, 1959 in which you ask for a statement of the Church’s position on the subject of evolution.

“The Church has issued not official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution.

“Neither ‘Man, His Origin and Destiny’ by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor ‘Mormon Doctrine’ by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church. . . . [emphasis added]

“Sincerely yours,


“David O. McKay

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
47 East South Temple Street
“Salt Lake City, Utah
David O. McKay
September 24, 1964

“Dr. Lorenzo Lisonbee, Science Consultant
Phoenix Union High School System
District Adminstration Annex
2042 West Thomas Road
Phoenix, Arizona (85015)

“Dear Dr. Lisonbee :

“President McKay, who is recuperating at home under doctors’ orders from his recent illness, has asked me to acknowledge for him your letter of September 8, 1964.

“I have been directed to say that individual General Authorities of the Church publish books on their own responsibility, the publishing of which is not regarded as Church approval of the books. The Church approves only books which have been authorized for publication by the General Authorities of the Church, such as the Standard Works of the Church and authorized textbooks adopted by official action of the Church for the Priesthood and the organizations fo the Church. [emphasis added]

“Sincerely yours,


“Clare Middlemiss
Secretary to:
President David O. McKay”

Thus, in our one-on-one meeting in his home, McConkie failed to acknowledge what really transpired as to the subsequent editing of his book, “Mormon Doctrine,” not to mention the dressing down he received from President McKay over its dubious contents.

Perhaps McConkie's testimony of his book’s alleged truthfulness was hampered by a convenient memory loss.


One wonders further just how far the cover-up goes when his McConkie's own son, Joseph, publicly claimed that McKay supposedly (and, of course, unbeknownst to most) gave his father the greenlight to republish “Mormon Doctrine.”

Keep in mind that the afore-cited report delivered to McKay concluded that McConkie’s book was unacceptably controversial, unauthorized and error-ridden.

While it was republished in reworked, second edition form in 1966, it is a matter of record that McKay was so distressed when McConkie first published the book in 1958 without permission from the Church that McKay ordered it not be republished.

Despite the written evidence from McKay himself, Joseph McConkie's has asserted that the real truth is not known except by him.

That truth supposedly appeared in the form of Joseph McConkie's responses to questions posed to him by the Mormon-friendly “Meridian Magazine" where, in essence, he argued that McKay ended up changing his mind on the matter and giving in:

"Question: Is it true that President David O. McKay banned the book ['Mormon Doctrine']?

“Response: In January 1960, President McKay asked Elder McConkie not to have the book reprinted.

“Question: How is it, then, that the book was reissued?

“Response: On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was assigned to be Elder McConkie's mentor in making those changes.

“Question: Is this generally known?

“Response: I don't think so. I don?t know how people would be expected to know this.

“Question: Haven't you heard people say that Bruce McConkie had the book reprinted contrary to the direction of the First Presidency?

“Response: Yes, but if they would think about it, that assertion does not make much sense. It could also be noted that ‘Mormon Doctrine’ was reissued in 1966, and its author was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1972.

“It takes a pretty good imagination to suppose that a man who flagrantly ignored the direction of the president of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would be called to fill a vacancy in that body.

“Bruce McConkie would have died a thousand deaths before he would have disregarded the prophet?s counsel or that of the Quorum of the Twelve.

“Question: How do you know President McKay directed your father to reprint Mormon Doctrine?

“Response: My father told me that President McKay had so directed him. In addition to that, I am in possession of handwritten papers by my father affirming that direction.

“Question: Did the first edition of Mormon Doctrine cause embarrassment to President McKay?

“Response: Yes. The Catholic bishop in Salt Lake City, Bishop Hunt, communicated to President McKay his displeasure with the book and what it said about the Catholic church.

“Question: So, at least originally, the First Presidency had concerns about ‘Mormon Doctrine’?

“Response: Yes. One of those concerns was the title itself. There was some question about what business a Seventy had declaring the doctrine of the [Mormon] Church. It is interesting to note, however, that no suggestion was ever made that the title of the book be changed.

“Question: Would it be fair to say that the First Presidency gave your father a good horsewhipping for some of the things he wrote in Mormon Doctrine?

“Response: I think their concern was not as much with what he had written as that he had done it without seeking counsel and direction from those who presided over him. This was back in a day before the Brethren did much writing, and there was no established review system for what they did write.

“As to their giving him 'a good horse whipping,' I think we can be confident that they were not shy in voicing their feelings. I have been told that when he met with the First Presidency, my father was invited to be seated but chose to remain standing. I also know that it was his practice (because he told me I was to do the same) when you are getting scolded, you offer no excuses--you just take it.

“After the experience President Moyle observed, 'I've never seen a man in the Church in my experience that took our criticism--and it was more than criticism--but he took it better than anyone I ever saw. When we were through and Bruce left us, I had a great feeling of love and appreciation for a man who could take it without any alibis, without any excuses, and said he appreciated what we said to him.'"


Just how strong, really, was McConkie's testimony in the concept of God's true Church being led by God's singularly-chosen and supreme prophet leader?

The answer is: Not very.

Despite his son's claim that his father undyingly revered and respected the leadership role of the Mormon Church prophet/president, what Bruce R. McConkie told me strongly suggested that his personal testimony as to the supposedly inspired nature of the Church president’s view was far less than rock solid.

What was solid, however, was Bruce R. McConkie’s testimony of Bruce R. McConkie


To understand McConkie’s utter, complete and totally absorbed personal confidence in what he regarded as his persoanl superiority when it came to understanding and defining Mormon Church doctrine (not only for the benefit of Church members but also for the enlightenment of the sitting Church president himself) one only has to hear him attest to his own self-proclaimed insight.

In the most basic of terms, Bruce R. McConkie regarded himself as Mormonism's ultimate doctrinal ruler and reigner.


In my private meeting with him, McConkie first cast himself as an accomplished student of science.

When I asked him if he thought organic evolution was true, not surprisingly, he replied that he did not.

He declared, in fact, that the theory of organic evolution was "logically and scripturally absurd."

And how had McConkie reached these conclusions?

McConkie informed me that he had taken some science classes as a student at the University of Utah "but never felt that they were the ultimate truth."

McConkie then confessed that he would answer final exam questions the way he thought his professors expected, in order to pass the courses, and not because what he was putting down as test answers was true.

That hardly speaks of a resounding personal testimonyial committment to tell the truth, regardless of what others may want or think.

Indeed, I found McConkie’s admission that he essentially wrote what his secular educators expected of him when to be curious, indeed, since it was he--McConkie--who had denounced in such a damnational tirade the secular educational system for supposedly teaching “deadly heresies.”


In the end, however, McConkie saw himself as knowing more than the scientists did--even on matters of science.

When it came to scientific analysis of such topics as one-celled amoebas, dinosaurs, Noah’s Flood and religious scriptures, McConkie considered his own views to rule the day.

He attacked the scientific basis of organic evolution from holy writ, telling me that "Adam was the first flesh of all flesh, more than just the first man."

"Plants," he said, "are created by seeds being planted. If the Lord has made worlds without number, why would He use evolution from a one-celled amoeba?"

On the question of dinosaurs, McConkie claimed that they were probably killed by Noah's Flood, based on the fact that "large concentrations of their bones have been found in mud."


One-celled organisms, bones in the mud and all other physical realities aside, however, McConkie ultimately did not rely on empirical evidence to debunk organic evolution and its defenders but, rather, on Mormon scriptures--at least the Mormon scriptures as he, and he alone, interpreted them.

That his views on scripture were the ultimately correct and singular ones, McConkie had, without a shadow of a doubt, a deep and abiding testimony.

He told me, "I don't attempt to harmonize the theory of organic evolution with revealed truth. I'm not going to talk about the truth or falsity of organic evolution. I'll leave that up to biologists. I accept revealed religion. If science and religion don't harmonize, then I reject and discard science."

In fact, his testimony in his own interpretational gifts was so strong that he asserted to me the Mormon Church didn’t have to issue official doctrinal statements on organic evolution, since it was already evident as to what the truth was, as it was manifested (and, of course, explained by McConkie) in LDS holy writ.

I mentioned to him, however, that several members of the Church, particularly students and professors at BYU, were asking if his 1 June 1980 "Seven Deadly Heresies" fireside address constituted the official position of the Church. In response to my direct inquiry, "Does your talk represent the official position of the Church on the theory of organic evolution?," McConkie said that the Church did not have to submit questions concerning doctrine to its membership in order to make them "the stand of the Church" (the latter was a phrase which he emphasized frequently during our conversation).

In specific reference to his "Seven Deadly Heresies" speech, McConkie said, "This is my view on what I interpret to be the stand of the Church."

As he subsequently built a scriptural case to support his own doctrinal pronouncements, McConkie often used the same phrase: "This is my view," when explaining the doctrinal stand of the Church on the theory of organic evolution.

But despite giving such lip service to what he said was just his view, it was obvious that McConkie regarded his view as the only decent view.

Of that, he had a testimony.

And McConkie seemed particularly pleased that so many people wanted copies of his view.

He mentioned that, in the wake of his "Deadly Heresies" sermon, his office had been inundated with requests for copies, with 35 phone calls received by his secretaries in a single two-hour period. In fact, he said, there was greater interest in this particular address than in all other speeches he had previously given.

He went on to say that while he had not intended for his remarks to appear directed primarily at the theory of organic evolution, judging from the response he perhaps should have devoted his entire speech to the subject.

McConkie was so caught up in his own testimonial conviction of his own superior knowledge on the subject of organic evolution that in our discussion he began dissing sitting Mormon Church presidents, telling me that they either didn’t realize that they knew the truth or were actually wrong when talking about what the truth was.

I asked McConkie, for instance, about the fact that, in my own personal correspondence with then-Church President Kimball on the LDS stand regarding organic evolution, Kimball admitted to me that he was not aware of the official position of the Church as found in a First Presidency statement entitled "The Origin of Man," issued in 1909.

McConkie responded by insisting that Kimball did, in fact, know about it. He said Kimball "just forgot" that he knew.

As to the expressed views of other Mormon president/prophets, McConkie’s personal testimony of his own superceding opinions led him to tell me that even the officially-stated expressions of other LDS Church presidents weren’t actually their views.

I asked, for instance, why President Joseph F. Smith, while prophet/editor of the "Improvement Era," had told inquiring Church members that God had not fully answered how the bodies of Adam and Eve were created.

McConkie informed me that, truth be told, this "was not [Joseph F. Smith's] position." I asked him how he knew that. He said, "Joseph Fielding Smith told me so."

McConkie went on to say, "A prophet is not always a prophet," admitting, "I can be just as wrong as the next guy."

But it was clear that McConkie did not think for a second that he was wrong on organic evolution. Indeed, he said Church presidents—even when speaking as Church presidents---were the ones who were wrong on organic evolution.

"Prophets can be wrong on organic evolution, of course,” he told me. “And have been wrong."

I informed McConkie that David O. McKay, while president of the Church, had told BYU students in a campus speech that organic evolution was a beautiful theory. McConkie responded by saying that if McKay made such a statement, he was "uninspired."

I also told McConkie that McKay and other Church presidents had authorized the sending of letters to inquiring Church members, informing them that the Church had not official position on the theory of organic evolution.

McConkie dismissed such correspondence as "underground letters" and said it differed fundamentally from the First Presidency's 1909 statement on the origin of man.

(About that statement, McConkie, in his "Deadly Seven Heresies" sermon had warned: "Do not be deceived and led to believe that the famous document of the First Presidency issued in the day of President Joseph F. Smith and entitled, 'the Origin of Man,' means anything except exactly what it says").

Over and over again, it was unquestionably apparent that McConkie’s own testimony resided not in any alleged belief that Mormon Church presidents were inspired and correct in their doctrinal teachings but, instead, that he--Bruce R. McConkie--was right and inspired in his, and that Church presidents who disagreed with him were just plain wrong.

McConkie, for example, also criticized President Brigham Young for teaching the Adam-God doctrine, which McConkie told me was "false."

Furthermore, he even criticized his own father-in-law and eventual Mormon Church president Joseph Fielding Smith, telling me that he was "out of his field" in trying to use science against organic evolution in his book, "Man: His Origin and Destiny." McConkie said, "He should have stayed in the areas in which he was trained: scriptures and theology."

McConkie warned me that straying from the scriptures--even if one was a prophet--was to ask for trouble because, he said, people end up "quoting authority against authority."


In the end, he said, "seeking authoritative statements doesn't solve the problem. People are always seeking authoritative statements. Authorities confict."

Besides, he cautioned me, "Cults are created by the endorsement of certain authorities."

But it was McConkie who had a cult-like devotion to his own authoritative statements.

McConkie was a church unto himself and he was its chief testator.


At the foundation of McConkie’s self-constructed “Church of I Know What’s True” was his testimonial conviction that the truth about organic evolution is found in the McConkie-intepreted words of scriptures, not in the words of Mormonism’s top-of-the-chain president/prophets.

If the reliablity of these ruling Church leaders was suspect, then I wanted to know from McConkie where one could turn in order to find the official, authoritative Mormon stand on the theory of organic evolution.

McConkie replied slowly, "This is my view on what I believe to be the stand of the Church: The doctrinal stand of the Church is found in revealed scripture."

With sweeping disapproval, he declared, "Organic evolution does not and cannot account for a paradisical earth, the millennium, an exalted earth and man, the resurrection of man and animals and the pre-existence."

McConkie argued that, ultimately, God's truth was found in the canonized "Standard Works," not in the words of Mormon Church presidents.

He told me that the "Standard Works" are called such because they are the standard against which all other claims are measured, including those made by living prophets.

So, then, I asked McConkie what was the stand of the Church on organic evolution, as found in the scriptures.

He replied by telling me that the Church would never accept the theory of organic evoluiton as being true "as long as it fails to show that there was no death before the Fall of Adam."

I pressed him by asking him to explain for me the actual official Church position on organic evolution.

McConkie responded by letting me in on some inside information.

He said that the First Presidency had been considering whether to issue a statement on the theory of organic evolution for "over a year." Sometime during that period, he said, they had "sat down and listened to the entire 1909 statement."

McConkie said they had also sat and listened to him. He claimed he was asked to write a statement on organic evolution for possible use by the First Presidency.

The directive came, McConkie said, after Kimball walked into McConkie's office carrying a letter I had earlier sent to Kimball, along with enclosures.

(My grandfather confirmed that his episode took place. In a September 1979 phone conversation with me, he said McConkie had been given a copy of one of my letters to Kimball, together with attached statements made by presidents Joseph F. Smith and David O. Mckay on the theory of organic evolution).

McConkie told me that Kimball and one of his counselors, Marion G. Romney, had "personally agreed" to have McConkie draft the statement. McConkie said the remaining counselor, N. Eldon Tanner, "did not participate" in making the recommendation.

McConkie told me he responded by putting together what he called "a special statement prepared for the First Presidency," a 42-page document entitled "Man: His Origin, Fall and Redemption."

(My grandfather, in the same earlier phone conversation, also had told me that McConkie's paper had been "considered favorably by the First Presidency." He said that McConkie had, in fact, discussed his paper with members of the First Presidency on 30 August 1979 and that they "agreed with it").

I asked McConkie what his document included. He said it quoted President John Taylor, whom he described as "definitely anti-evolution."

He also informed me that a scaled-down version of his paper was eventually delivered in the form of his BYU "Seven Deadly Heresies" sermon.

(Following my meeting with McConkie, I wrote him a letter, thanking him for the chance to meet and asking if he might send me a copy of that paper of his, "Man: His Origin, Fall and Redemption," so that, as I told him, I might "more fully understand the scriptural reasoning beind your treatment of these subjects." He never responded).


In my conversation with McConkie in his home, I also asked him if there would be a current First Presidency statement issued on the Church's official stand on the theory of organic evolution.

He answered by insisting that just because the sitting First Presidency had not issued an official statement on the subject did not mean it did not have one.

I asked McConkie why, if the Church actually had an official position on organic evolution, did it not go ahead and make it known?

McConkie said it had not done so because the Church did not want to pick fights with its vulnerable members.

He explained, as mentioned earlier, that "[i]t's a matter of temporizing, of not making a statement to prevent the driving out of the weak Saints. It's a question of wisdom, not of truth."

He compared it to calling the Catholic Church "the Church of the Devil." He said while such a statement was true, one had to be careful about saying it, so as not to offend Catholics.

By now, I was feeling increasingly frustrated.

I pressed McConkie on what he thought the position of the Church on organic evolution might be. He replied, "Don't be deceived. The Church is not neutral. It has taken a stand."

I asked him what that stand was.

He replied, "Henry Eyring's position is President Kimball's position."

He didn't explain what Eyring's position was.

In 1979, however, I had written Kimball, requesting that he tell me the official position of the Church on the theory of organic evolution. In a 24 May 1979 reply, Kimball asked me, "I am wondering if you have read the book of Henry Eyring, 'The Faith of the Scientiest [sic].' Undoubtedly, this book will be found in the library at BYU. I would be glad to hear from you concerning this matter."

I was familiar with the book, having been given a copy by my grandfather some years earlier. I wrote Kimball back, taking him up on his offer to share my thoughts about Eyring's book.

In my letter to him, I noted how Eyring said that science benefits religion by helping it sort fact from fiction.

I asked Kimball just how scientifically reliable the scriptural stories were that proclaimed the earth to be merely 6,000 years old and that declared there was no physical death before Adam. I suggested the Genesis account did not seem to square with strong physical evidence pointing to old rocks, long-dead fossils and evolved humans.

I concluded my letter by telling Kimball that it appeared to me the Church was avoiding taking an official position for or against the theory of organic evolution. I asked him if he would not mind commenting on that observation.

Kimball never wrote me back.


I had about exhausted myself trying to get straight and consistent answers from McConkie.

One thing, however, was certain:

Coming out of that one-on-one encounter with him, I had a clear understanding that McConkie certainly had a testimony: of himself, not of the Mormon Church.


Yet, for all of McConkie’s preening, testimonial strut about his own doctrinal invincibility, he wasn’t always confident enough in his own views to come up with them through his own "revelatory" insight.

In one case, he ended up plagiarizing an unknown Arab author to get his “own” view across.

In eulogizing the by-then-dead McConkie at a BYU fireside, then-member of the First Quorum of the Seventy John K. Carmack offered this glowing tribute to him, comparing the Mormon Church to a steady-as-she-goes caravan moving forward into the eternal realms of glory:

” . . . [A]s an expression of his confidence in the Church, and as a seer whose words light the pathway we must travel as we endure to the end of that path, Elder McConkie saw the road ahead and the kingdom as a moving caravan triumphantly moving to its destiny.”

Carmack was borrowing his in-memorium caravan image from an earlier McConkie sermon entitled “The Caravan Moves On.”

Truth be told, however, McConkie had lifted the caravan metaphor (without attribution, of course) from an old Arab proverb.

McConkie’s sermon (which appeared in the November 1984 issue of the “Ensign”) likened critics of the Mormon Church to dogs yapping at the heels of the caravan of truth as it plodded ahead, undaunted and undeterred by apostate hounds of hell barking in the rear.

Declared McConkie in solemn, cribbed tones:

”The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

”What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

”Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"The caravan moves on.

”Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere.

"The caravan moves on.

”Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"Thank God that the caravan moves on!

”In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”

McConkie, of course, didn’t have to give credit to because, thus saith the Lord, he was an Apostle of the Almighty God who didn't have to give credit to anyone.


Because he knew more than anyone.

In reality, the caravan line has been a popular go-to image used through time to illustrate all kinds of points of view, McConkie’s anti-dog doctrine being just one of them.

In fact, the popularity of this well-known Arab proverb was also illustrated when Russian President Vladimir Putin was mentioned in a news article as "recit[ing] a long list of Russia's economic accomplishments during his presidency, dismissing foreign critics of Russia's worthiness for Group of Eight membership with a proverb: ‘The dog keeps barking, but the caravan moves on.’"

But far from him to give credit to some lowly, brown-skinned Arab.

McConkie did what he always did: he took the glory unto himself, although he's not named in history as the proverb's originator:

Old myths about supposedly inspired Mormon leaders die hard. (As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good prophet).

In a talk delivered at a Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, entitled “Obedience to the Commandments of the Lord,” Kim B. Clark soberly invoked the non-original words of non-inspired McConkie to make a nonsensical point.

" . . . I would like to marry Nephi’s metaphor of the iron rod and the strait and narrow path to another image given us by another prophet, seer, and revelator in our day. I think in so doing we may see new dimensions of the journey and gain deeper understanding of what we must do to obtain eternal life.

"The metaphor I have in mind was given to us by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in a talk he gave in general conference in the fall of 1984. . . .

"Let’s listen to Elder McConkie:

"'The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of ten and captains of hundreds in place.

"‘What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

"'Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"'The caravan moves on.

"'Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, rivers to ford? Such is life in the fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

“'Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"'Thank God that the caravan moves on!'”

Sister Clark’s testimonial tribute notwithstanding, the fact of the faith is that McConkie did not give her that inspiring metaphor.

An anonymous Arab--one long lost to history--did.


What Bruce R. McConkie gave, he gave to himself--and to anyone else who would indulge his self-congratulatory backpats.

And what he gave was this:

That he--Bruce R. McConkie--was the Way, the Truth and the Life--and that no Mormon Church president or lowly LDS member cometh to the Father except by him.

Forget Jesus.

Long live Bruce.

In the end, that was McConkie’s testimony.



Wow, very informative post, Steve. Thanks for the insider's view. [Edited]


Jan 09 00:20



I had a testimony of BRM. I guess you could say I belonged to the Cult of Bruce.

I looked to "Mormon Doctrine" more than I ever did the BoM or Bible or PoGP, especially in the "waning years" of my faith.

Reading "Mormon Doctrine" was sorta like eating tofu--not quite meat, but more than just milk. Considering the book's tone, what you disclosed here is not terribly surprising.

Your post is helpful to my RfM.





I like this quote of Bruce's.


Jan 09 07:19



This is from his talk "All Are Alike Unto God".

It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year (1978). It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the genthes. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles.

Let us forget all about the 1958 and 1966 editions of Mormon Doctrine. Let us forget about all editions of Mormon doctrine anyway!



Thanks, Steve Steve Steve. ;)


Jan 09 09:56



That explains a lot about his personality. I guess I'm not surprised to learn that Bruce Almighty was every bit the arrogant blow hard he seemed to be in his books. I was interested to read about his literary plagiarism. I suppose that's consistent with his narcissism. It isn't as fun to cite the source as to BE the source.

My fondest memory of Bruce R. McConkie though was hearing him pronounce all 23 syllables of the word "themselves." I thought he had a bad accent, and I'm from Indiana.



Impressive post! I never had any one-on-one time with BRM...


Jan 09 10:44



but did meet him in the mission field several times and played a little B-ball with him for a couple minutes at the unveiling of a newly designed chapel years later. But as far as knowing him personally, no I did not in any way.

I would think that anyone who meet him would agree with your assessment that he was definitely full of himself. But I feel that much of your assessment comes from reading between the lines, or from interpolation, and not from what he actually said.

As you noted he frequently said during your interview, 'This is my view." to apparently let you know that he was stating his personal opinion. He also stated that he could be just as wrong as the next guy. Something that he reiterated, with different phraseology, in his famous personal letter to Eugene England primarily concerning Adam/God.

Was he convinced that his view of 'mormon doctrine' was the correct view; obviously so. I was always interested in some of his doctrinal assertions that contradicted those of James Talmage. The Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ are as close to additional standard works as it comes yet BRM felt free to contradict them both in the written and spoken word. And did so without apparent public rebuke from his quorum or from the FP.

I once had a brief conversation with Mark Peterson (who was my Grandfathers mission companion) on a couple of doctrinal points. It was interesting to me at the time to see the difference of opinion he had with BRM concerning the operation of the HG regarding translation of ancient documents and personal revelation. Elder Peterson was honest enough to state that the 12 had a difference of opinion on the matter and let me know that he was stating his personal opinion. But even though he stated that there was a difference of opinion he was adamant that his was the correct opinion. That sounds a little like your interview with BRM.

Bottom line; thanks for the detailed post, I enjoyed reading it. Do I feel that BRM had a huge ego; yes. But do I also feel that up until his last breath he had an all encompassing testimony of the church, its' doctrines, its' leaders, etc. etc.; once again yes. I've seen no evidence to the contrary.



Well, it doesn't take any reading between the lines to understand where McConkie was coming from when he . . .


Jan 09 14:52


steve benson

explicitly declared that sitting Mormon Church presidents or senior apostles were uninspired in their pronouncements, false in their teachings and outside their realms of expertise and responsibility.

There was absolutely no subtlety from McConkie in such assertions of his, nor in his self-promoting declaration of certitude that his interpretation of Mormon scripture, in effect, constituted official Mormon doctrine.

His lip service to private, personal opinion was simply window dressing. He was always ready to dress down Mormon prophets he thought were wrong--and did so ruthlessly.

As to McConkie's repeated assurances to me that he saw himself only as speaking his personal view, the critical factor to remember is that McConkie regarded his personal view to be the one and only true view. Not once, in our conversations, did he admit to being wrong about anything, making his "personal view" caveat ring hollow.

Examinig McConkie in the larger perspective and using his own words (many spoken in candid privacy), paints an unavoidable portrayal, in my opinion, of a man who thought he was Mormonism's doctrinal, scriptural and spiritual king and who was willing and ready to attack even his own administrative leadership if he concluded they were out of step with his own sense of plug-in to the the Divine Will--as he, Bruce R. McConkie--declared the Divine Will to be.

All this talk from his spinmeister son, Joseph, about his father supposedly being devoutly eager to submit to the Mormon prophet is a bunch of historical revisionist hooey.

McConkie considered himself a law unto himself. Period.



Are they all this way?


Jan 09 13:57



I was attending BYU when BRM gave his infamous address ripping into George Pace. Up to that time I revered the man and kept Mormon Doctrine right next to my scriptures. I worked with George Pace's son, and even though he was often at odds with his dad, he took BRM's assault on his family pretty hard. The controversy over which god to have a personal relationship with, really set the wheels in my head a rolling right out of the church.

I have also appreciated your posts in regards to Maxwell's character. I another "apostle" I used to revere. I have my own personal impressions of James Faust. We lived in the same ward and my FIL was his home teacher for a few years. He would take my DH with him on occasion as his companion. I loved his wife, but Faust always rubbed me the wrong way. I thought he was quite full of himself.



Jack Goaslind, of the Seventies, wasn't . . .


Jan 09 16:15


steve benson

He and his wife, Gwen, were personal family friends going back to the 1960s where, as a kid, we lived close to them in Salt Lake City.

When I eventually moved to Arizona, Jack would swing through town on stake conference speaking tours. During one such visit, he came by our home for lunch after conference, where he sat on the couch in the living room and laughed his head off, almost to the point of tears, reading Cal Grondhal's collected cartoon works parodying Mormonism doctrine and lifestyle.

When I finally left the Church, he wrote me a couple of nice letters on official GA stationery, wishing me well, professing that he didn't know any of the details of my departure, but expressing his love, nonetheless.

So, there are human beings at the top of the leadership pyramid whom you can spot, as long as they don't let the Mormon Cult for which they work get in the way of their relationships.

A hard thing to do.

Aside from those couple of letters written to me several years ago, however, I haven't heard from Jack since.




Actually, I appreciate Bruce R. McConkie & his ilk


Jan 09 18:14


Må®v ƒ.

They in no uncertain terms lay out the fact that science and religion (Mormonism at least) are in obvious, intractable conflict, and they cannot co-exist.

Bruce R. McConkie was absolutely right. I wish more LDS leaders would just come out and admit it and make no bones about it. Choose between reality and Mormon fantasy and get it over with. That would help put a lot of LDS liberals out of their futile half-in, half-out misery.

Bruce R. McConkie also highlights doctrinal differences *within* the Church, and points out that not everybody can be right. One may or may not think that Bruce Almighty is right, but at least His Bruceness was trying to nail down what Mormonism is, and is not, rather than leaving Mormon Doctrine as a malleable protean mess.

Bruce leaves you with a clear choice: His Way or the Highway To Hell.

I like that. The choice may be traumatic, but you can make it, move on and save a lot of trees from making more issues of Dialogue.




think of wasting your life like Bruce McConkie


Jan 06 09:41



I gather Bruce was a fairly intelligent fellow. He went to law school, as I recall, and he could read and write. Perhaps he would have been able to think more clearly had he not been raised by his martinet father. I am not sure, and I don't really care.

What interests me about him, and many like him, is the fact that they dedicated their lives to "gospel scholarship." They read the scriptures, studied the "Book of Mormon," and the other writings of Joseph Smith. They read the "Lectures on Faith," and the "King Follett Sermon," and the "Journal of Discourses," and all the other claptrap that has been produced by the church. And its a lot. Mormon leaders are gasbags, and love to hear themselves pontificate.

McConkie then wrote several books--an impressive (and dull) list-- full of keen observations about doctrine, evolution, the nature of God, the pre-existence, the purpose of life on earth, church government, and on and on and on.

In all of his study, he did not learn much. Like his father-in-law, he took the party line, and never asked himself "Is this true?"

He learned that the "Garden of Eden" was in Missouri, he believed in Zelph, the weird world of multiple "first visions," polygamy, blood atonement, racism, and all the rest. And he never questioned the whole thing. I gather he rejected the "Adam/God theory," but he kept the rest.

How can people do this? How can people dedicate their lives to something so questionable? It honestly puzzles me.

I had a seminary teacher who did the same. He poured over the church junk, with a particular love of the "Journal of Discourses," and he believed. He passed much of his "learning" to his students--many of whom thought it was bullshit.

But these people will believe anything. They would laugh at "Thetans," but they believe the church nonsense. It seems incredible to me.

How can people waste their life, entire, with this nonsense? Don't they ever ask themselves if they are full of it? UFOs are easier to believe in. So is bigfoot (not Cain, just bigfoot), "The Little Red Hen," and "Charlotte's Web."



worse than that


Jan 06 10:03


John Andersen

He did all of that instead of developing a close, loving, caring relationship with his children.

This was clear in the biography his son wrote.



Re: worse than that


Jan 06 10:55



I recall that. He certainly did not do much good in his life.

I gather that some look up to him, but there are many more who have no fond memories of him at all, with his stern face, brush haircut, and booming voice.

When he destroyed George Pace, he destroyed much of his reputation.



Ironically, I don't think he had a testimony when he died.


Jan 06 11:03



Look at his "last testimony":

Not once does he mention Joseph Smith or anything else specific to Mormonism other than a brief, unnecessary reference to the Nephites. It's all Jesus Jesus Jesus, and he's holding on so tightly to that belief that it makes me wonder if his belief in Mormonism has been shaken up - perhaps after his exchange with BYU Professor Eugene England?

I could be wrong, but that's how it appears to me.



Re: Ironically, I don't think he had a testimony when he died.


Jan 06 11:05



I got the same impression. When it was time to die, he was just another scared person. No special comfort for him.



Mormonism makes lives meaningless


Jan 06 11:39


John Andersen

McConkie is just one visible example.

It happens all of the time to members across the board.

At the end of the day, they are often just hollow shells of the human being they could've become.



I agree. It's a terrible realization for some.


Jan 06 12:46



My TBM father is nearing the end of his life, and he has told me and some of my siblings that his greatest fear is death. His religion is of little comfort to him, after all that talk about death, resurrection, judgment and "eternal life" for the righteous. If anything, Mormonism has kept him from coming to terms with death, and he's left with the realization that he has pissed away his entire life doing busywork for a thankless corporation. It was hard for me to accept that I'd lost my youth. Imagine losing your entire life. I think that's what Dad is realizing. It's incredibly sad.



I think he was an intense full believer right up till his death.


Jan 06 11:57



After his death his wife made mention that even when very sick due to the cancer and the treatments he would get dressed in his suit and tie every day. Then he would go lay down on the bed.

His wife asked him why he continued to get dressed like he did every day when all he could do was lay in bed. His response was that he wanted to be prepared in case the Lord needed him.

His last public talk and testimony was Jesus and atonement specific; not a general all around testimony. I have seen absolutely no evidence that this man had in any way, shape or form had lost his testimony or become a closet doubter. No public discourse, no private correspondence.

Say what you will about the man and his teachings; he believed till the end.

I still agree with lightfinger's assessment that he wasted his life on Mormon theological trivia. I to wasted much of mine reading the JoD's, Comprehensive History of the Church, History of the Church, every book published by BRM, JFS, etc., etc., etc.

However, my life's outcome is better than BRM's; I did use my meager intellect to discover the fiction of Mormonism. Unfortunately, he did not use his in the same meaningful way.



That was my point.


Jan 06 12:50



At the end, it was all about Jesus. I don't think McConkie believed in the rest at the end. He probably still believed he was an Apostle and that level of narcissism probably demanded it.


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