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11.2007 Mormon Doctrine

Mormon Doctrine

By Bruce R. McConkie

Preface from Mormon Doctrine:

This work on Mormon Doctrine is designed to help persons seeking salvation to gain that knowledge of God and his laws without which they cannot hope for an inheritance in the celestial city.

Since it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance of God and his laws, and since man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, it follows that men are obligated at their peril to learn and apply the true doctrines of the gospel.

This gospel compendium will enable men, more effectively, to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom”; to “be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient” for them “to understand.” (D. & C. 88:77-78.)

For the work itself, I assume sole and full responsibility.
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 1, 1958
Bruce R. McConkie

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Alison Moore Smith November 4, 2007, 5:44 pm

    I’m not really suggesting a cover-to-cover of this book, but please post some parts that you find interesting or less-known.

  • facethemusic November 5, 2007, 7:30 am

    Once I get ANOTHER copy, I’d love to discuss this! I’ll have to pop by our local LDS bookstore sometime this week!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 7, 2007, 10:13 am

    I’m looking through the book. Mine is a 1966 edition! Whew, great fun, not to mention proof of the non-doctrinal nature of the book. :devil:

    Found a passage you all might have input on:

    Second Change Theory:
    There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation by accepting the gospel in the spirit wold after spurning, declining, or refusing to accept it in this life.

    I realize that we can debate what constitutes a “first chance,” and that we cannot judge exactly when that has occurred but I do think sometimes we, as members of the church, get into some fantasyland about “everything working out in the end” as if that means there really is no eternal consequence at all for our choices here.

    My grandparents were not married in the temple. In spite of my grandmothers wishes, Grandpa had zero interest in going. None. About 14 minutes after he died (OK, a slight exaggeration) everybody rushes off to the temple, does his work with my uncle (his son) as proxy, and seals everyone together as a happy, eternal family.

    This happened long before I was born, but I remember hearing the story and thinking, “Huh?”

    In the same way, I have had more than one active, LDS friend who has chosen to marry outside of the temple (usually to a nonmember) and then has later said things like, “He is a good man. I just can’t believe a loving God would keep us apart.”

    What do you all think?

  • davidson November 7, 2007, 12:54 pm

    I’m giggling, Alison, and I hope you are, too? I always laugh when I see your devil icon. (You’re baiting me, aren’t you.) (On a big, hot button that fits squarely over my heart!) Okay, I’ll take the bait, and I have already decided that nothing you say is going to offend me! and I hope all of the rest of you will make that decision if you join the discussion, too! (I already know from other discussions that not only is my nightie long enough to get into a knot, there would be extra fabric left over to make another nightie. :devil: :wink:) This reminds me of Bill Cosby saying that when he was a kid, his Dad would tell him, “Go outside and get me a stick to beat you with.” He said he would go to the yard and find the smallest twig he could find.

    Here I come, twig-armed. :bigsmile: I think lots of people are avoiding this particular discussion because they’re concerned about the size of the stick you have hiding behind your back. ( Laugh, Alison, because I am!)

    You’ve already given the nod to the thought that what constitutes a “fair and just opportunity” to receive the gospel could be debated. That tiny phrase is important; therein lies my hope. I have this wonderful dad. He has already told me he has no interest in the Church and will never join. He has thrown missionaries and home teachers out by the scores. Like I mentioned before, he has a strong sense of integrity and obligation. He takes my mom to Church every Sunday and stays with her through Sacrament meeting, even though he has one straight leg that he props the full length of the bench. Sitting there for an hour hurts him physically and mentally and emotionally, but that doesn’t stop him. The meetings bore him. He raises the Sacrament cup to my mother’s lips, so she can make her covenant, and to me that amounts to pure religion, right up there with visiting the widows and the fatherless in their affliction. He is unendingly generous. Every year he gets dividends from stocks, and he sends each of us four children a check for $750. Every year without fail. But he has holes in his jeans, and their rusty water pipes need to be fixed. His money could go elsewhere, but he sends it to us. I am so thankful for this dad of mine. I try to return the favors, in my less than perfect way.

    Now, I might make Silver and others angry, but I just cannot accept the thought that the terrestrial kingdom would be good enough when the highest part of the celestial kingdom is available. And I’m not judging you, Silver; I’m judging an IDEA. The terrestrial kingdom is not where families can be together forever. Silver mentioned that members of different kingdoms would still see each other all the time, and I would love some doctrinal assurance of that. But if we could see each other all the time, what would be the point of striving for the celestial kingdom where families can be together forever? Why mention that families can be together forever if it’s not a big deal? It’s at the heart of our doctrine.

    How hard would it be if someone charged into your home and took your children away, never to bring them back, but said, “Oh, it’s going to be okay; you’ll still see them once in awhile?” Would you buy that? Would you stand back and do nothing? I feel almost positive it would be no easier to have our families taken away there than it would be to have them taken away here. Will a loving God require us to obey His laws, even when it hurts? I think so. I wonder how He will heal the hurts of divided families enough to make the highest part of the celestial kingdom a true heaven for those who go there. Somehow I can’t believe that being sealed to grandparents or great-grandparents or total strangers will be enough to make us say, “Oh boy, I really wanted this.” (I know I lack understanding on this matter, but I trust that somehow He will make all things right, and everyone will be happy.)

    Why do temple work for people who were born to the earth after 1830? Why haven’t the Authorities issued a statement saying, “Just forget it! They could have accepted the gospel here after 1830 if they had sought it?” I like to think it is because there is still hope. “It isn’t over until it’s over” applies. I like to think that the Lord (or one of His chosen servants) will take a great deal of time on the final judgment day to judge each case individually. I like to think my assigned judge, and my dad’s assigned judge, and your assigned judge, will consider very carefully all the outside influences and personal choices that made us who we are. We are assured that if we extended mercy in this life, we will receive mercy in the next. What constitutes justice and what constitutes mercy? I am so glad the judges will decide.

    A quiet little scripture from the Book of Mormon gives me incentive to hope: “For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land. And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; AND MANY OF THEM WILL BE SAVED, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.” (Alma 9:16) (What does “saved” mean in this instance? Unfortunately, we don’t know.)

    My family has a long, long Catholic tradition that prevents almost all of the living ones from believing our doctrine. Am I dissing on Catholics? Nope. Many of my relatives are truly Christ-like, faithful people. Their knowledge of the scriptures is deeper and more life-changing than it is for many LDS people, and I greatly admire their real Christianity.

    Add to that the way they were treated by the LDS people in Idaho when they came from Italy. It was right at the height of Hitler’s regime, and Italian immigrants were suspect. What did the LDS “Christians” do to my father’s family, over and over again? I won’t go there, but I’m not proud. It involved blood. My relatives made the mistake of thinking that the actions of a few represented the beliefs of the many, and they have a strong distaste for the LDS church.

    Do I do their temple work when they die? By the thousands. My brother went to Italy and retrieved 50,000 names from the little parish where our families came from. He received special permission from Salt Lake to extract the entire village. We will never finish the ordinances in this life, even with help, even if we hurry. Do I think it’s worth the effort? Yes, I do. Does my dad know about it and think we are wasting our time? Yes, he does. Will I do the temple work for my sweet, kind little Italian Nonna who passed away a few months ago, even though she had a strong dislike for the Mormon Church? Yes, I will. Why?

    Nonna’s mother was Catholic all her life. She was a good, upstanding citizen of a community in Utah, surrounded by Mormons. She was a faithful member of the Catholic church. Her daughters put her in a nursing home in her old age, because they said she was senile. Even though she had attended Catholic services all her life, she noticed and started attending LDS services in the nursing home. The nurse’s aides, seeing she was attending LDS services, assumed she was LDS and put temple garments on her. When my Nonna’s sisters came to visit and saw the garments, they blew a gasket! Just about torched the building! They think she was attending LDS services because she was senile. I like to think that in her humbled state, she felt something about the LDS church and was more open to suggestion than she had been in the past. And I continue to have the witness that she is instrumental on that side of the veil in gathering our families and is actively doing missionary work.

    People CAN keep their cherished ideas and personality traits there, but they won’t be forced to remain the same. If people can and do change here, some can and will change there. We’ve all seen true transformations in people who have become interested in the gospel. We are commanded to have hope. If there were no hope, why did the Savior make it one of his first priorities to visit the Spirits in prison? Surely some in the prison had heard the gospel before.

    They tell us all the time at family history centers that we are not to judge who should receive the proxy ordinances and who should not. It is our job to OFFER. A woman in my family history class
    said she did not want to be sealed to her father because he was cruel and sexually abused her. We called the temple recorder, and he said to do the work anyway. He said we weren’t accurate judges of what made her father the way he was. Many scoff at the idea that mental illness could enter in, but what if it did? I saw my grandfather, my mother, and my daughter, and my sister-in-law act in ways totally uncharacteristic for them because of their mental illnesses. My sister-in-law was a sweet, kind, temple-going woman. During her post-partum psychosis, (which one in a thousand women will suffer,) she tore her clothes off, jumped on the bed, poured water over her head, said there were bugs all over her and all over the baby, said someone in the room was trying to kill her (I was the only other person in the room), and she was swinging her newborn baby by the arm. It was horrible. Years later, she committed suicide. My grandfather, a sweet, quiet, kind, temple-going member of his ward choir, who never purposely said a foul word in his life, used to jump up and down on his bed and swear viciously when he was having mental episodes. He hung himself in his barn. Maybe not all mental illnesses are that visible, but people can have skewed thought patterns that take their agency away. (Before you get your nightie in a knot, I’m not saying that every abuser is choiceless, although I think some are, and God (or one of his authorized representatives) will judge.

    I’m still smiling, Alison, and I hope you still are. I have great respect for you. We have to try to liken these doctrines unto us! We have to know what we believe and why we believe it! We have choices to make!

    He he. :devil: You asked about little-known passages in Elder McConkie’s book.

    Under the title “JUDGES”, speaking of the Final Judgment: “We have every reason to expect that the saints and the world will be judged by the apostles and prophets sent to carry the message of salvation to them; and that the great hierarchal chain of judgment with Christ at the head, will include Adam and the prophets of all ages, Peter and the apostles of all ages, and all the Elders of the kingdom of all ages who have kept their covenants, died in the faith, and who are entitled therefore, as the Lord said, “to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one (D & C 29:13)”

    If you’d like to see the scriptural references that support his idea that the prophets and apostles of our own age will be our judges, read the entire article entitled “JUDGES.”

    So I’m thinking of who the prophets in my day and age have been. Let’s see. There was David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley. Who were the apostles that lived in my day? Let’s see. Right now there are Joseph B. Wirthlin, Henry B. Eyring, Dallin H. Oaks, some others. Who were the other prophets who lived in my day but have since died in the faith? Let’s see, there was. . .oh my goodness. . .Bruce R. McConkie! Could he be my eternal judge? Well, I guess it’s always possible! Whether I like it or not? Yes! We are assured that we will be judged out of the books that are written. Is Mormon Doctrine still titled Mormon Doctrine even after the careful review of the First Presidency? Yes, it is. Do they still sell it at the Distribution Center? Yes, they do, in my area. I saw it a few weeks ago when I was there.

    Alison, if you’re going to push my buttons, you have to be prepared for the long print-out that comes from pushing my buttons. :bigsmile:

  • Alison Moore Smith November 7, 2007, 1:38 pm

    Thanks for your response. To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we should withhold ordinances based on our knowledge of someone. As I said, we can’t judge when the required opportunity occurred.

    My question is whether or not we take seriously the counsel that tells us that there really are certain things we MUST do to be “saved.” And that the choices we make really DO matter.

    With my grandpa, for example, sure he could have been mentally ill (no!) or had some serious issue that prevented him from being faithful. If that’s true, I have heard nothing about it, but it’s possible. There’s also my uncle–who was the proxy for Grandpa–who served a mission, married in the temple, and left the church a decade or so later. This is my favorite uncle in the world and it makes me so sad.

    So, do I hope that he returns? Yes. Do I hope that he can deny the gospel his whole life, turn away from his covenants, and have it mean nothing, in the long run? That’s a hard question. For the sake of both of them, yes. But what does that mean for the covenant itself? It makes it meaningless. No, I’m not talking about some idea of, “It’s no fair that I had to be faithful my whole life and THEY get the same reward.” I already know I HOPE I get more than I DESERVE, too. But I don’t think God’s covenants are meaningless or optional suggestions. I think they really are what they SAY they are–salvational–so making them and keeping them are HUGE deals, eternally.

    The thought occurred to me when I visited a social networking site and looked in at the LDS section. I would say a vast majority of the married people there were either married to nonmembers or chose to marry outside the temple. And that attitude really was, “no big deal.”

    When I lived in Florida, multiple times leaders dumbed down lessons so that those whose parents weren’t sealed wouldn’t “feel bad.” Holy cow. I kept saying, “But the GIRLS aren’t married! They need to know th TRUTH BEFORE they make the decision!” And, really, those whose parents weren’t sealed needed the lesson MORE than anyone else, since they were less likely to marry in the temple.

    That said, it’s really hard to teach your OWN kids that temple marriage is crucial, if you were LDS and chose otherwise. How do you do that without disrespecting your spouse? Many of these kids will NEVER learn this at home, for that very (understandable) reason.

    Gotta run!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 7, 2007, 1:39 pm

    Another clarification. I heard the story about my grandpa as a CHILD. I couldn’t figure out why they all ran out to do ordinances for someone who already told them a few thousand times that he didn’t WANT them.

  • facethemusic November 7, 2007, 4:15 pm

    not to mention proof of the non-doctrinal nature of the book.

    HA! The fires of hell are beckoning for you to enter the crooked and wide gate. 😉

    To answer the question though, I think it’s going to go both ways.
    There will be those who WILL get a second chance to accept the gospel, and those who won’t.
    Those who won’t will be the ones who knowingly turned it away. I think it comes right down to what you said Alison– we don’t know what situations count as a “knowingly turning it away”- it will be different with different people, because what we “see'” or know about on the outside, isn’t necessarily what’s in their hearts. We don’t know all the reasons why some people reject it, only God knows that. But, FWIW, I don’t think for one minute that missionaries being turned away at someone’s door counts as someone’s one and only chance.

  • agardner November 7, 2007, 4:30 pm

    Alison, I have a very similar situation with my grandfather. I posted about it here a few weeks ago, on a thread about genealogy.

    To give my opinion on your question – Yes, I think the choices we make DO matter. However, I also think that only God knows the heart, and the reasons someone felt the way they did. Perhaps their perspective will change after this life, and perhaps it won’t. All we can do is take care of the ordinances and let the Lord and the individual work out the rest of the details. My hunch is that many of the individuals who did not choose the gospel in this life also will not choose it after this life. It seems that I heard a quote about that once – something about how our personalities will be the same and the things our mind couldn’t come to terms with before won’t change. I also think there will be people who will have a completely different view once they see the “whole picture”. Sometimes people’s views of the church are tainted by how they’ve been treated, or how they were raised, or whatever. Once they see it in true perspective, maybe those issues will be erased away. Or maybe their choice was a definite choice and it will not change. I think it depends on so many factors that there really can’t be one set answer for everyone.

    In a way I do agree with McConkie that there comes a moment where you have to choose to accept it or not. But I think that can only come after you have enough knowledge to do so, and for some people that’s not here on earth, even if they were seemingly exposed to it often. Most people who “reject” the gospel here on earth do it with very little knowledge or experience with it – so to me that isn’t a true rejection. It’s like saying you “rejected” or “spurned” someone in high school, when in fact you didn’t really know him enough TO reject him. Does that make any sense?

  • SilverRain November 7, 2007, 7:39 pm

    Davidson – you put quite a few words in my mouth. I never said it wasn’t a “big deal” to have families sealed. I said some people WILL CHOOSE a kingdom that is not celestial, and we have to be willing to allow them that decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t see them again. That doesn’t mean “seeing them” is the same as being sealed. Obviously it isn’t. Allowing people their own choice isn’t “doing nothing.” It does mean that there is a line in “doing something” that is inappropriate to cross.

    I have a theory that it isn’t a matter of being judged in the traditional sense. I think every person will know where they will be most comfortable. Someone who has lived a terrestrial law will not be happy in a celestial existence. Would anyone wish to force such an existence on them, assuming it is even possible?

    I also refuse to believe that any person who wishes to follow Christ and become as the Father will not be saved simply because their names never went through the temple. I think the temple work has a far deeper and more important meaning than use as a superficial judging stick. Anyone who wishes will have the opportunity to receive their endowments, even should their name never be found. I think the work at this time is, primarily, for us.

    More than anything, I think we’re meant to leave the details of what exactly happens and where exactly we’ll “end up” up to the Savior. That’s part of casting our burdens upon Him and trusting in Him. Things like that really don’t matter here when held against the light of Repentance. I suspect that our spiritual selves know far more about that already anyways. I even think the ordinances are salvational primarily because they turn us to and teach us of repentance.

    It’s important to remember that even people with full perspective and understanding of the Gospel may reject it. They will not reject the truth of it, but they will reject the law of it. To many, it is simply not worth living all the laws of the celestial kingdom in order to live there. How many times have you heard “well, if we can’t ______, it’s not heaven”? It’s often tongue-in-cheek, but there is also a grain of truth there.

    I have a few problems with Mormon Doctrine so far.
    1) There is so much “Kolob doctrine” that is a) not entirely accurate, b) not necessary for us to know, c) shouldn’t be written, especially in a public book, especially if it IS true or d) distracts from the essential points of the Gospel.
    2) Much of the “doctrine” therein is based off of peripheral comments by Joseph Smith and not based off of canon. Therefore, even if it is true, it’s neither wholly pertinent nor clearly articulated.
    3) This may seem silly and rather feminist of me, but it has saddened me a bit that women seem an afterthought. A page or so on Priesthood and then the Priestesshood entry says, basically, “oh, and women, too.” I think women have their own place in God’s plan that is distinct from yet interdependent with men’s place. It is a matter of faith to hope that someday, women will know more about their worth and value in God’s plan beyond a simple afterthought or appendage to men. In that sense, I find the book somewhat depressing.

    I heard Elder McConkie said, in response to one of his doctrinal points being proven unequivocally inaccurate, something to the effect of “this is the difference between revelation from the Lord and thoughts of a man.” Anyone able to corroborate this?

  • davidson November 8, 2007, 9:18 am

    Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, pgs. 242-243:

    “The Lord has not left us helpless. There has never been a time since the restoration of the gospel when we have not had a prophet, someone to lead us, to direct us, to teach us the commandments of God that we might walk in the strait and narrow path. . . .The time will never come when we will not be able to put confidence and exercise faith in the teachings and in the instruction of those who lead us. . . .No man who ever followed the teachings or took advice or counsel from the one who stands as the representatives of the Lord ever went astray; but men who refused to accept counsel have gone astray and into forbidden paths, and in some instances have even denied the faith. Others who went astray because they failed to understand and to heed the counsels that were given unto them for their eternal good, have humbled themselves and come back to the Church acknowledging their error. We must put our faith in those whom the Lord hath called, if we want to have a standing before the Lord; and none of us desire, if we have the proper Spirit, to be cut off from among the people. But this punishment will befall those who do not prove faithful and will not pay that heed or give that attention to the counsel of those who are called and appointed and inspired of the Lord to teach and direct us in all things.”

    New manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, pg. 318:

    “Heber C. Kimball, while serving as a counselor to President Brigham Young, reported: ‘I will give you a key which Brother Joseph Smith used to give in Nauvoo. He said that the very step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of this church and kingdom, and that whenever you discerned that spirit you might know that it would lead the possessor of it on the road to apostasy.”

    Think the leaders of the Church always AGREE, even in the things they say in their General Conference addresses? Type “Invictus” into the search bar of General Conference addresses at lds.org. Or talk to Boyd K. Packer and President Hinckley about whether or not it’s good to spend General Conference time talking about podiums made of walnut trees.

    Of course they AGREE! Even when they have differences of opinion! Agree, according to the footnote in the Sermon on the Mount, means “quickly have kind thoughts for, or be well disposed toward.” In that case, I agree with everyone who has comments to make about an Apostle of the Lord, Bruce R. McConkie. I agree with the people who say he is only a prophet on some matters.
    And I’m still smiling!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 8, 2007, 2:18 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainThey will not reject the truth of it, but they will reject the law of it.

    LOVE the succinct way you put that. Rebecca (from this forum) was here at my home last night and we discussed that very thing, the idea that some simply won’t want the responsibility of it all.

    To many, it is simply not worth living all the laws of the celestial kingdom in order to live there. How many times have you heard “well, if we can’t ______, it’s not heaven”? It’s often tongue-in-cheek, but there is also a grain of truth there.

    Another great thing to bring in. I have heard this kind of thing to, basically the idea that “I have decided what the details of heaven must have and God better comply or I’m not going.” Shall we guess who’s going to win this little standoff?

    I also like your list, Silver, and agree wholeheartedly. (It’s not often you’ll hear me say that. Take note.)

  • SilverRain November 8, 2007, 4:40 pm

    Thanks, Alison. May I have that in writing? 😉
    I do want to clarify that the paragraph that starts “I have a theory” is just that – theory. That paragraph isn’t based on doctrine I’ve read or been taught, just on my gut feeling. The other paragraphs, up to the part where I begin discussing the book, are based on doctrine I’ve been taught. I thought it would be a good idea to clarify, particularly given the topic of discussion.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 15, 2007, 10:46 pm

    Another thought from the book, under “Evil Spirits”:

    Lucifer is not alone; one-third of the spirit hosts of heaven, having been cast out with him, stand at his side to do his bidding. Their mission is to make war with saints and to destroy the souls of all men. Obviously there are many evil spirits available to seduce and lead astray each person on earth.

    Any thoughts on this section?

    The idea that we must have many, many evil spirits concentrating on each of us is not very pleasant.

  • SilverRain November 16, 2007, 4:34 am

    Well, it’s not pleasant, but it doesn’t really matter. With things like temptation, numbers don’t really have any bearing on the subject. The final decision is always purely in the mind of the decider. And, for every evil spirit there are probably benevolent ones there to help us.

  • kiar November 18, 2007, 4:09 pm

    but the one third is all here at once! it could have a lot of bearing on the impact things might have on an individual. Benevolent spirits aside, (Holy Ghost ect) there are a lot more of them (the 1/3) than us… it could be a huge impact on the matter of temptation. The more negative things you have whispered in your ear, the harder it is to hear the positive

  • facethemusic November 18, 2007, 4:26 pm

    The great prophet Elisha comes to mind. “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
    To put it in context of our discussion, they that are with us are greater than those against us.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 21, 2007, 1:11 am

    I wonder how much help we get from those that be with us. I also wonder how much more clever Satan has become in the last few thousand years.

  • SilverRain November 21, 2007, 4:36 am

    Even if there was not one single angel helping us, there are still laws God has set in place to govern Satan’s actions. There are boundaries he can’t cross. We have been told not to fear. That sort of love that would allow a man to live his entire mortal existence for our benefit alone exists in the world! Who can fear when remembering love like that?

  • kiar November 21, 2007, 11:49 am

    Alison: have you met technology? (this is not intended to sound sarcastic) Satan can tarnish anything if he goes after it hard enough. look at what he’s done to television, magazines and the internet! he is very clever.

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