I Love Gellies

Mormonism, Evangelicism and Chaos Theory

Why “Mormon Doctrine” Isn’t Doctrine

After posting an explanation as to why it is incorrect to assign other Christian denominations to the Great and Abominable church, I received a “loving” rebuke from someone accusing me of sinning, through lying, by omission. In fact, I think John W Redelf is trying to the use the same “loving” tactics as some of our loving ex-Mormons. I just find it funny that Redlef’s sin is not knowing where doctrine comes from (it comes to lowly seventy of course, why bother the Prophet, he’s got administration to do).

The assumption this “man” makes is intent. Number one, this man has no way of judging the intent of me or any other human. Two, this man’s form of disputation is a very good example arrogant Mormonism, calling someone a liar because they have viewpoints you disagree with.
I’m going to approach this by first off agreeing with another commenter on a blog. I do respect a lot of the effort Bruce R. McConkie did to study the scriptures. I respect him for trying hard and being wrong in spite of his efforts. It gives me hope that God can still do great things with those who are wrong. But that doesn’t make McConkie infallible. I agree with Geoff J. that Bruce R. McConkie was a man with opinions just like anyone else. Geoff wrote: “Apostles have the right to be wrong on occasion too.”

The reason Redelfs accuses me of lying, is because I have omitted the “real” story of how Mormon Doctrine came to be “authorized” by the church. While Redelf admits McConkie never claimed his book was official church doctrine, Redelf himself insists that somehow the book was “authorized” to be re-published. The problem is how Redelf claims this happened. We have a historical record, written President McKay, where he says he did not authorize any other editions of “Mormon Doctrine.” McConkie, on the other hand, also records his own historical record, where he claims he did have an authorization to produce another edition. How Redelf thinks accusing McKay of lying in order to save McConkie’s skin is a good thing for the church is beyond me. I personally believe McKay’s record, rather than McConkie’s. I mean, McKay didn’t have his own pride to save by writing the record that way, whereas McConkie, and McConkie’s family, certainly does.

Here’s the historian’s comments who wrote the Biography on David O. McKay:

It is clear, from comparing the two simultaneous, first-hand accounts of McConkie’s meeting with McKay, that they portray the meeting in very different light. When McKay’s own account has him saying, “. . . should the book be republished at this time . . . it will not be a Church publication . . .” and McConkie claims McKay “indicated that the book should be republished at this time . . .”, there is a definite disconnect.

Furthermore, Redelf insists that sharing how Elder Mark E Peterson found 1067 errors in the book Mormon Doctrine makes one a liar, because one is “abusing one of [God’s] true prophets.” I’m not sure how sharing an apostle’s findings makes one a liar. Is Redelf really that bold to insist that Elder Peterson, of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles at the time, was lying about and abusing “one of [God’s] true prophets”, when Elder McConkie wasn’t even an apostle when he wrote his book?

Redelf’s final snark is really kind of funny. I’m actually thinking of sending this to his Bishop, just because if his Bishop isn’t aware of this man, he’s missing out on comedic opportunities. “Shame on those saints that spend their lives running down the memory and reputation of Bruce R. McConkie. Those who do it are unworthy to kiss his feet.” I’m glad I can be of some use to Redelf here. While I recognize that he’s too busy reading and defending Mormon Doctrine to read in the standard works (the official teachings of the church), there’s this amazing story in the Revelation of John. When John is confronted with an Angel of indescribable glory, he falls at his feet to worship the angel, and he was forbidden from doing it, because even as an angel, a messenger of God, clothed in God’s authority and power, he was still not a divine being. Like this angel, McConkie was but a fellow-servant, and I will never worship him, and it is blasphemous for Redelf to even use the example, even in jest. Revelation 19:

10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

I’m also going to take the time to rebut some of the arguments put forth by Joseph Fielding McConkie, in an interview at Meridian Magazine.

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.
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….

The problem I have with JFM’s “logic” is that there are a number of possibilities that he doesn’t consider. He doesn’t consider that 1) permission might not have been granted, and 2) BRM thought he had obtained permission. I know in my own life, people tend to hear what they want to hear. While I don’t doubt BRM’s integrity in thinking that he lied about it, I do think he was incorrect. It is clear from the historical record, that McKay did not authorize any other printings. Joseph Fielding McConkie also makes a number of assumptions about how things work when apostles are called. Joseph Fielding McConkie assumes that if Bruce R McConkie had disobeyed a prophet two previous to the time of his call, that he automatically wouldn’t be called as an apostle later on. Maybe not everyone was aware that he HAD disobeyed. It already seems clear he had persuaded himself that he hadn’t done anything wrong. And with McKay’s declining health, we shouldn’t make assumptions about anything not in the historical record, where he clearly did not authorize the second edition. Joseph Fielding McConkie also appears to believe calls to the apostleship are based more on human observations of obedience rather than the will of God. That’s really kind of sad for a religion professor at Brigham Young University. FWIW, I can see Bruce R. McConkie having deluded himself, and being incorrect about whether he could publish, God forgiving him and still having him called as an apostle. But let’s all remember, he was never called as the prophet, the only man authorized to receive revelation for the church, and the only man authorized to exercise all priesthood keys.


October 24, 2009 - Posted by | Religion


  1. So how do you account that Mormon Doctrine continues to be published many years after the death of its author? Are those involved in that publishing effort guilty of the disobedience that you falsely attribute to Elder McConkie? Some “history” tears down the prophets. True history does not.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs | November 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. John R.
    Did you read the part where McConkie’s hand-written account contradicts McKay’s hand-written account?

    Unless you’re accusing McKay of dishonesty?

    I really don’t see why you feel the need to ignore historical evidence in order to protect McConkie at the expense of the person who WAS prophet at the time. Look at the evidence and let the cards fall where they will.

    Comment by psychochemiker | November 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. Easy answer to John’s first question, which is completely unrelated to the second: Mormon Doctrine continues to be printed because, despite several flaws, it is a useful source for basic background information, in much the same way the Wikipedia continues to exist, despite the fact that it is in no way free of errors.

    Also, Mormon Doctrine states quite clearly that it is not an authorised publication of the LDS Church. It continues to be published because people continue to wish to own it.

    Comment by alextvalencic | December 28, 2009 | Reply

  4. Wow, John Redelfs continues his crusade! He was kicked off the FAIR list for calling everyone apostate…

    Comment by Ben | March 26, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thanks for your input here Alex.
    Also Ben, That’s very interesting to know.
    Seriously, I think some bishopss should strongly discourage some people from using the internet! Redelf’s is one of them.

    Comment by psychochemiker | April 8, 2010 | Reply

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