Subject: Inside the mind of a GA: Elder McConkie's private (now public) correspondence to Eugene England .....
Date: Sep 26 16:40 2003
Author: Rollo Tomasi

The post below led me to revisit Elder McConkie's infamous letter to Eugene England, a full text of which can be found at

Some of the statements are very telling of McConkie's mindset as an apostle -- his arrogance, lack of humility, spiritual ambition ... in general, a real prick. The following are some quotes from the letter, and my thoughts:

1. The first sentence of the letter reads: "This may well be the most important letter you have or will receive." Yep, Bruce is real puffed-up in his importance. What a crappy way to start a letter.

2. Bruce states that he's writing this letter "out of respect for your parents, G. Eugene and Dora, and for your own personal well-being and for your guidance where your teachings and discussions with others are concerned." More condescending tripe.

3. "I shall write in kindness and in plainness and perhaps with sharpness." There is no tone of kindness in the entire letter, imo.

4. Further in the letter, Bruce goes on to declare that Brigham Young taught false doctrine regarding the Adam-God Theory and the belief that God is progressing in knowledge and understanding: "As it happens, I am a great admirer of Brigham Young and a great believer in his doctrinal presentations. He was called of God. He was guided by the Holy Spirit in his teachings in general. He was a mighty prophet." AND HERE COMES THE BIG "BUT" .... "Nonetheless, as Joseph Smith so pointedly taught, a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Prophets are men and they make mistakes. Sometimes they err in doctrine." Has Bruce committed heresy here?! Aren't we taught that prophets will never lead us astray?! I would think that whether God is Adam or the very nature of God would qualify as pretty fundamental doctrines, the falsity of which God would never allow a prophet to teach as doctrine before striking him down! These were not mere boo-boos by Brother Brigham. Brigham basically demoted Orson Pratt in the 12 after Orson repeatedly challenged BY on these two doctrines that Bruce now admits were false. Why wasn't BY stopped?

5. "This is one of the reasons the Lord has given us the Standard Works. They become the standards and the rules that govern where doctrine and philosophy are concerned. If this were not so, we would believe one thing when one man was president of the Church and another thing in the days of his successors. Truth is eternal and does not vary. Sometimes even wise and good men fall short in the accurate presentation of what is truth. Sometimes a prophet gives personal views which are not endorsed and approved by the Lord." So, in other words, prophets CAN lead us astray? And just a year before this letter was written, Ezra Taft Benson gave his famous talk on the "14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" and the second fundamental was that the living prophet is more vital than the Standard Works. This seems to directly contradict Bruce? Who is right? These days it seem the prophet trumps the scriptures (look at the pedestal that GBH is put on), but Bruce had it the other way around.

6. "Yes, Brigham Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists [he's talking about Fundamentalists here] ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel." According to whom? How could Brigham the prophet teach false doctrine without leading the people astray? Bruce goes on to say that Brigham Young also taught the opposite (that Adam is not God), but clearly history shows BY believed and preached the Adam-God theory (and busted Orson Pratt for not going along).

7. "If we choose to believe and teach the false portions of [Brigham Young's] doctrines, we are making an election that will damn us." So ... WHY THE HELL DO WE HAVE A PROPHET?!?!

8. Speaking of BY's mistakes: "We are all mortal. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes." So ... tell me again, Bruce, why do we have a prophet if he CAN lead us astray?

9. "We do not solve our problems by getting a statement from the president of the Church or from someone else on a subject. We have been introduced to the gospel; we have the gift of the Holy Ghost; we have the Standard Works and it is our responsibility to get in tune and understand properly what the Lord has revealed and has had us canonize." Well, there you have it folks -- Bruce admits we really DON'T need prophets! All we need are the scriptures, the Holy Ghost, and our good sense. I like this, but unfortunately, it's heresy that you won't see in the Ensign any time soon.

10. Here's a classic: "[I]t is my province to teach to the church what the doctrine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent." This sounds familiar ... oh, yeah, that's what Lucifer promoted during the War in Heaven! But, Bruce, we don't need you ... you just told us all we need are our scriptures! Decide, already!

11. "You do not have a divine commission to correct me or any of the Brethren. The Lord does not operate that way. If I lead the Church astray, that is my responsibility, but the fact still remains that I am the one appointed with all the rest involved to do so. The appointment is not given to the faculty at Brigham Young University or to any of the members of the Church. The Lord's house is a house of order and those who hold the keys are appointed to proclaim the doctrines." But, Bruce, you just said prophets are not all that important so long as us peons have the Holy Ghost, our good sense, and our scriptures.

12. "If they [the GA's] err then be silent on the point and leave the events in the hands of the Lord." Isn't this how that Nazi minions defended themselves at Nuremburg? I just did what I was told, sir. Again, it appears that Lucifer is Bruce's hero.

13. The nastiest part of the letter: "Perhaps I should tell you what one of the very astute and alert General Authorities said to me when I chanced to mention to him the subject of your letter to me. He said: 'Oh dear, haven't we rescued him enough already?'" That was below the belt, Bruce.

14. Bruce states that until Gene can agree with what Bruce has said, "you will remain silent on those where differences exist between you and the Brethren." This is the third time in the letter that Bruce tells Gene to shut up. Enough already!

15. The final threat: "I am taking the liberty of so speaking to you at this time, and become thus a witness against you if you do not take the counsel." In other words, do as I say or you are going to Hell.

Well, those are the parts I pulled that seemed to show what's going on in McConkie's head. It's scary. This guy obviously took himself far too seriously. I hope he was just an aberration, and that most GA's are not like Bruce, but I fear many are.

Subject: Re: Is Eugene England this Eugene England ? .....
Date: Sep 26 16:53
Author: TAK

Eugene England is Writer in Residence and Director of Academic Study Abroad at Utah Valley State College, where he is directing a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore the development of Mormon Studies in Utah higher education. He is a founding editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and presently on the Board of Trustees. He has published many essays on Mormon literature, culture, and thought, as well as poetry and personal essays. His latest book is a collection of essays, Making Peace.

Author: Rollo Tomasi

He was at BYU for many years, but retired from BYU a few years ago (rumor has it he was forced out because of his liberal leanings). He died 2 or 3 years ago from brain cancer. I never had him as a teacher, but I hear he was one of the greatest teachers to grace BYU's campus. In the years before his death, he taught at UVSC and started the Mormons Studies program there.

Subject: Re: Inside the mind of a GA: Elder McConkie's private (now public) correspondence to Eugene England .....
Date: Sep 26 16:53
Author: Harry

The first sentence of the letter reads: "This may well be the most important letter you have or will receive."

Interesting that that's the way get rich quick spam mail starts;-)

Subject: Re: Inside the mind of a GA: Elder McConkie's private (now public) correspondence to Eugene England .....
Date: Sep 26 17:13
Author: fairwinds

thank you for digging that up, rollo. gene england was a personal friend of mine from palo alto days. i just needed to know who it was who had been so unreasonable. i hadn't realized it came in the form of a letter as well as the public admonishment. what a creep, mcconkie.

Subject: Ode to Bruce
Date: Sep 26 17:32
Author: bbs

Bruce R. McConkie,
A self-righteous donkey,
Called everything heresy.
What a damn Pharisee!

Subject: "he permits false doctrine to be taught in and out of the Church and that such teaching is part of the sifting process of mortality"...
Date: Sep 26 17:39

I find it so interesting the McConkie makes this statement when his own statement could be applied to everything in the letter. So if God allows false doctrine to be taught in the church, how do we know it is not McConkie doing the teaching?


Subject: Re: "he permits false doctrine to be taught in and out of the Church and that such teaching is part of the sifting process of mortality"...
Date: Sep 26 23:53
Author: missinglink

When I first read this letter (also found on somewhere) and was struggling to make sense of it all, I took some small amount of comfort from this statement. However, Rollo has given an excellent analysis of the many problems with BRM's line of reasoning. TBMs recall him with such fondness and more especially b/c of his last conference address. Funny thing about the latter, it can be read as implying that BRM had never had the expected face-to-face with JC that makes the Qof12 "especial witnesses"...

Subject: God, isn't it great that we don't have to bow down to such arrogant, self-absorbed, megalomaniacs as
Date: Sep 26 18:18
Author: Socrates

Bruce R. McConkie? What a relief that we no longer have to even care what delusions various GAs have. Let them condescend, brow beat, and threaten all they want. What they think is simply no longer relevant in my life. I sincerely feel sorry for those true believers who actually think these arrogant pricks are men of god.

Subject: His arrogance has always been quite well-developed
Date: Sep 26 23:37
Author: Hopping Through

Bruce R. McConkie's letter is amazing.

He argues out of both sides of his mouth in every issue raised in these discussions. Also, he seems very confident in his warning to Eugene England about the status of his soul in the afterlife.

With an unbelievable arrogance, he quotes himself with such consistency and predominance it would be an embarrassment to anyone capable of seeing his own true status in the world.

Apparently, no one -- not even prophets -- can be believed in everything . . . except himself. Every citation of his own preaching is cited as authoritative and as though it comprised the end of all other discussion or opinion.

"Because I say it, it is so."

Galling, really.

Subject: I just read the entire letter aloud to my husband.
Date: Sep 27 03:04
Author: melissa

It really helps to read it aloud. I don't think I've ever read anything so evil in my life. I swear to Gawd, it makes the Inquisition so real to me, I feel like I am sitting in front of some Inquisitor being asked, okay, is God omnipotent omnipresent omniphosphorent or omninfinite? and I'm peeing my pants expecting to be burnt.

Seriously, it's completely terrifying. That anybody's job would hinge on the indulgence of such a mind saddens me, enrages me, frightens me....I think this letter says more about the character of Brigham Young's legacy than anything I have ever heard. It shows that the intimidation and power of the leaders is no laughing matter for believing Mormons.


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