Why Mormon Doctrine Is NOT Mormon Doctrine

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Many people both within the Church and outside the Church think that Bruce R. McConkie’s book, Mormon Doctrine, is the official declaration of LDS church doctrine.  Today’s guest post is by Paradise Destroyed.

Here are several reasons why Mormon Doctrine is NOT Mormon Doctrine:

  1. Mormon Doctrine was written when Brother McConkie was a member of the First Counsel of the Seventy (1946-1972).
  2. The Prophet is the only individual who could put forth official doctrine of the Church (D&C 28:1) which makes Bruce R. McConkie’s book in violation of D&C 28:1-3.
  3. He did not submit it to the Church’s Reading Council before publishing it.
  4. The prophet, David O. McKay, objected to the fact that the book implied it was the official representation of official Church Doctrine.
  5. Two senior apostles, Mark E. Peterson and Marion G. Romney, at the request of David O. McKay, reviewed Mormon Doctrine and found that the first edition had 1,067 “corrections” that needed to be made.
  6. David O. McKay insisted that the book never be republished, not even in corrected form.
  7. David O. McKay insisted that the book not be recognized as an authoritative source of Mormon Doctrine and that Bruce R. McConkie take full responsibility for his book.
  8. The book itself has the presumptuous title of Mormon Doctrine when the book really should have been called “Doctrine according to Bruce R. McConkie.”
  9. Despite the fact that David O. McKay declared the book not be republished, Bruce R. McConkie published it anyway six years later when the Prophet was in poor health.
  10. If you look at subsequent editions of Mormon Doctrine, it now has the standard disclaimer that the book does not represent the official position on the doctrines of the LDS Church.

Despite the many reasons why the book is not an official declaration of Church doctrine, it still gets cited and quoted in General Conference and Church talks, lessons and articles. Thus, while the book does not represent the official statement of Church beliefs, such actions of using it in official Church meetings by General Authorities and members gives the book undeserved legitimacy and authority.

It is no wonder that opponents of the LDS Church attack the Church by citing from Mormon Doctrine. We deny the near canonical status of the book, yet, the book sales and use of it in Church tells the critics of the Church (and membership) otherwise.

So, what do you think?  Does the book do more good than harm?  Do average members understand that it is not canonical?  Why was Bruce McConkie protected from the consequences of writing a speculative book with a presumptuous title when others who have written speculative Mormon books have been excommunicated?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 49

  1. [quote]Despite the many reasons why the book is not an official declaration of Church doctrine, it still gets cited and quoted in General Conference and Church talks, lessons and articles. Thus, while the book does not represent the official statement of Church beliefs, such actions of using it in official Church meetings by General Authorities and members gives the book undeserved legitimacy and authority.[/quote]

    any specifics you can provide? I don’t recall this book being represented as often as this paragraph seems to indicate. In my limited experience, having grown up in Utah but living most of them adult life in the Kansas City area, I don’t recall this book being used at all lately. I believe this book to be largely ignored as of late.

  2. Honestly, I think the church loves Mormon Doctrine because it puts its beliefs out in public in a way that preserves later deniability. To my knowledge the church has never come out publicly and told members not to read it.

    Why does the church not publish its own ‘official’ Mormon Doctrine?

  3. Somehow, I can’t help but think that Imperfection is on to something.

    Which explains why the church wouldn’t publish its own official Mormon Doctrine.

  4. Let this topic not devolve into a “The Book of Mormon says nothing about many important Mormon doctrines (baptism for dead, etc.,)”

    It is spoken. I probably jinxed it.

  5. Can I get the sources of the information posted, specifically about David O. Mckay and his feelings about Mormon Doctrine? This is the first I have heard of this and I would like to read more about it.

  6. Why does the church not publish its own ‘official’ Mormon Doctrine?

    I think that is what the Book of Mormon is considered.

    Or even better, True to the Faith.

  7. When I first joined the Church and received a copy of Mormon Doctrine, I too thought it was the authoritative book on the doctrine of the Church. I used in my study, lessons ans talks. As time went on, I realized that the book contained some of the opinions of Bruce R. McConkie as it related to Mormon Doctrine. I then began to use other sources as well as Mormon Doctrine.

    Having said that, Bruce R. McConkie is a highly regarded General Authority of the Church, having made numerous positive contributions to the growth and knowledge of the Church. The fact that he made some grave mistakes in the publishing of the first edition is one thing. They were corrected and apologized for.

    All books written by GAs are regarded as their opinion and not official doctrine of the Church, even those of the President, himself. If some folks wish to use MoDoc as their sole source of Mormon Doctrine, they could do a lot worst. the title might be a bit presumptuous, I agree.

    It’s obvious that those who wish to nit pt will nit pit regardless of the topic.

  8. How about an annual ‘Mormon Doctrine ’09’ edited by Thomas S. Monson– Alphabetized and indexed summaries of Mormon beliefs and doctrines. It would serve as a media guide of sorts. Edited and approved by the Prophet himself.

    Take evolution for example. It would be nice to have an up-to-date official statement; even if that statement was nothing more then ‘we don’t care’.

    ‘Mormon Doctrine’ is the de facto media guide for church beliefs, and I have not really seen the church do much to stop its use as such. I mean, they called BRM to an apostleship *after* it was published. It’s Hard to see that as disputation.

  9. Aaron, don’t forget Sunday School lessons, although they have used other Bruce R. McConkie (among many other non-official) sources, but not to my knowledge “Mormon Doctrine.” What I would like to know, and have never ever heard anyone even begin to argue, is what makes the content of “Mormon Doctrine” not actual Mormon Doctrine? How was he wrong doctrinally? There has been explanations about how wrong he was with Evolution, Catholics as members of Church of Satan, and the position of Blacks. However, those are isolated instances and do not comprise the bulk of the book. Not to mention there are still members in good standing that still hold those positions and have not been excommunicated. It isn’t about theology. Its about politics.

    I do not view “Mormon Doctrine” as official doctrine, but I do view it as orthodox and representative of actual Mormon doctrine. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. I just think that Mormon doctrine is nebulous and that is the danger in using him ONLY. As I said in another place, his book will be supplanted soon as an equally cheap, authoritative voiced, easily read, and fully concise similar book has been written. There are contenders, but they just don’t have all of the above enough to supplant this enduring volume.

  10. Why does the church not publish its own ‘official’ Mormon Doctrine?

    They did, almost 20 years ago. It’s called The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It’s four volumes long and was published by a non-LDS publisher (Macmillan). Its editor, the recently deceased Danial Ludlow, was head of the Church’s Correlation Committee.

    The “deniable” theory about MD is just plain silly and a bit paranoid but not untypical. ..bruce..

  11. Jen-the best source for Pres McKay’s issues over Mormon Doctrine is Greg Prince’s book “David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism’.

    While some might think it nit-picking to talk about how pathetic the original Mormon Doctrine was, it is important to remember that this was in the mind of a general authority to be THE book on Mormon Doctrine and no small effort went into making it that. Pres McKay’s feelings were so intense that he wrote in diary:

    “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 repudiation 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.”

    In other words, if it were publicly talked about in the way the President thought about it, it would have ruined the “career” of BRM.

    I think Mormon Doctrine has survived because there is no other book that attempts to put concise explanations of Mormon doctrine under one cover. The Book of Mormon does not begin to contemplate all of our doctrine.

  12. For what it’s worth, whenever McConkie or Mormon Doctrine is mentioned in my fairly conservative high priests’ group, there is invariably a consensus that the book contains the author’s opinions, and an observation that serious doctrinal errors were noted by the church leadership.

    Whatever faults the book had fifty years ago have only multiplied as it becomes increasingly out of date. The current organization, structure and functioning of the church is often at odds with the outdated information given by McConkie. Consider for example, the articles on the Presiding Bishopric, Patriarch to the Church, Seventies, Assistants to the Twelve, Church Courts, Mutual Improvement Association, Priesthood Quorums, etc. All of these have information that is obviously well out of date. One could probably find dozens and dozens of articles with information that was current in the late 1950s that is no longer so. You have to wonder the purpose in continuing to distribute a book with so much misinformation.

  13. One classic quote for those who choose not to read the article is in response to a question being asked of BRM’s son about BRM himself:

    Question: Do you think he remained pleased with the work?

    Response: Yes. Once, after I had been reading Brigham Young’s sermons, I said to him, “No one in the Church has ever spoken on the breadth of subjects that Brigham Young did.” With a smile, he responded, “Have you ever read Mormon Doctrine?”

  14. There actually are some official compilations of Church Doctrine.

    First is of course there are the two books by Talmage: Jesus The Christ, and Articles of Faith.

    Also, isn’t there something called: Answers to Gospel Questions by Joseph Fielding Smith.

    Then there is the Gospel Principles manual.

    There are plenty of legitimate and authoritative sources for Mormon Doctrine. Why do they not get cited more often? Why does everyone insist on citing these other less authoritative works? Could it be that maybe the people using these less authoritative sources have an agenda that cannot be satisfied by using the official sources of Church doctrine?

  15. 9 – Imperfection:

    I think it would be a very bad idea for a Church which claims direct revelation from God to revise it’s corpus of doctrine annually. Can you imagine what entries on evolution from Joseph Fielding Smith would look like compared to Thomas S. Monson’s, it would be ongoing contradiction.

    As far as Mormon Doctrine goes, I agree with the sentiments which express dissatisfaction with the books title. In modern times we do have books, which to a lesser degree, attempt to represent Mormon Doctrine under less controversial titles. They are usually written under titles such as “The Writing’s and Sermons of (fill in the blank GA)” or “The Teachings of (again GA)”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the benign titles are a product of the Church’s past experience with Mormon Doctrine. I also wonder if the controversy surrounding MD would have been non-existant had the book been called “BRM Teaches Mormon Doctrine”, or something similar to that. After all, Answers to Gospel Questions, or Doctrines of Salvation, both of which served as a primary source to BRM’s ideology never seem to get the criticism that MD does. Of course, ambiguity isn’t served well in a Church that claims to be led by pure revelation from God to his Prophet.

  16. My personal solution is to not have it reprinted, for the exact reasons mentioned already. It has some wonderful information within its pages, but, to me, the negative stuff (not just the incorrect teachings but also the assumptions of members mentioned in the post) outweighs the good. I would let it die a natural death.

    The “problem” with that, from the Church’s perspective, is highlighted in Pres. McKay’s quote in #12 – that forcing a book of OPINION out of circulation for one apostle (even though it was published before he became an apostle) would set a scary precedent for all other books written by all apostles – and I don’t think ANYONE here would like that type of precedent.

    Think about that: It’s ironic that people who are the most passionate defenders of free speech in the Church are the same ones asking most passionately that this book be banned – and they almost never recognize that irony. It’s also ironic that the people who claim the Church tries to “cover up” its problem issues are the ones who are calling the loudest for the Church to stop publishing this book – which, if it did, would be used by many of this same group of people as an example of the Church intentionally white-washing its history and the words of its apostles. Talk about irony and a no-win situation.

    Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

    Still, I wouldn’t reprint it.

  17. “Think about that: It’s ironic that people who are the most passionate defenders of free speech in the Church are the same ones asking most passionately that this book be banned – and they almost never recognize that irony. It’s also ironic that the people who claim the Church tries to “cover up” its problem issues are the ones who are calling the loudest for the Church to stop publishing this book – which, if it did, would be used by many of this same group of people as an example of the Church intentionally white-washing its history and the words of its apostles. Talk about irony and a no-win situation.”

    Ray:

    I am having hard recognizing the same observations made in the above comment. What evidence are you drawing from in order to conclue that, the same people within the Church crying loudest for free speech, are also calling for a ban on Mormon Doctrine. Also that those who claims that the Church tries to “cover up” it’s problems, are also requesting for MD to be no longer published? To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that that there was a movement on MD one way or another at this time.

  18. Sorry, Cowboy, you are right. That was a mis-statement. I meant it more narrowly to talk of people “here at Mormon Matters” or “in the Bloggernacle”.

    Surely, you can see what I mean with that clarification, right?

  19. What I find fascinating is the guts of Bruce R. McConkie. As the original post pointed out, he wrote the first edition of MD when he was a Seventy. Despite being told he was wrong by the prophet and new rules established about peer reviews for GA’s, he went ahead and published the book anyway after David O. McKay was basically prophet in name only due to old age. This type of rebellion would normally be followed by a release from the quorum or at least emeritus status. But what happened to BRM? He was made an apostle in 1972 and then given the task of rewriting all the chapter headings in the standard works. He also greatly expanded the bible dictionary, topical guide, and cross references that are used throughout the church today.

    He was the Mission President of my mission well before I got there, but was still regarded as the most successful MP in the history of the mission. Even though David O. McKay didn’t like what he wrote, it would seem obvious that most of the rest of the GA’s did. I think most members of the church feel like what he wrote is doctrinal, just not politically correct in all cases…

  20. I received a “fancy” copy of Mormon Doctrine with my husband’s name and mine engraven on it for our wedding gift from our bishopric. I had no idea until recently that BRM even said anything contrary to what was printed in MD (concerning blacks and the priesthood) until Ray put a quote from BRM about it on a recent post. I also had no idea that David O. McKay felt the way he did about MD until reading this blog today. That is SCARY to me. I don’t think a vast majority of members know that there are incorrect teachings written in Mormon Doctrine and that is what makes it scary to me, not necessarily that it is still in print. If members were actually EDUCATED about the incorrectness of some of BRM’s teachings, that would be much more relieving to me than having the book not printed any longer. No matter what, Mormon Doctrine will always be floating around in someone’s home and it isn’t going to go away. Educating members about the incorrect teachings in MD is what I feel can make a big difference, and because that is a “problem” for the Church itself to do, then it seems it is left in the hands of members who do know the truth about MD. Could this be one of the ways blogging should be used as Elder Ballard recently suggested in a talk?

  21. #21 – “Even though David O. McKay didn’t like what he wrote, it would seem obvious that most of the rest of the GA’s did.”

    Nope; the Q12 was (nearly?) unanimous in their displeasure over the publication of MD. Pres. McKay wasn’t speaking only for himself.

    We need to separate MD from his work on the publication of the new Standard Works and his effectiveness as a Mission Pres. Nobody I knows questions his intellect or his knowledge of the scriptures or his passion for the Gospel. It’s his “social interpretations” that are the point for most people who understand that distinction.

    #22 – “Could this be one of the ways blogging should be used as Elder Ballard recently suggested in a talk?”

    I certainly think so. I also think those who are aware of it should mention it, with the proper attitude and spirit, whenever it is referenced in any church meeting – and I haven’t heard it referenced in anything except a Sacrament Meeting talk in a LONG time. (and it’s really hard to “mention it” properly in that particular context)

  22. I think what is most disturbing to me in MD is the falsehoods that are taught about blacks and the priesthood. I think this one teaching alone can influence members to feel some sort of superiority which in turn leads them in a direction where more falsehoods are attached to their thinking. Once this line of thought is a part of you, it is very difficult to let it go if you have been taught this is truth all of your life. When you learn differently, all of the sudden you have to choose to change your thinking and to replace it with truth. For some, this can be an arduous task.

    Is it possible that BRM’s choice to move forward with the publication of MD, against the will of David O. McKay, was a human mistake on his part and now the church is paying for the fallout of this mistake? He may have been justified in many ways before the Lord but in this one thing was he not? I wonder if he could come back to earth today if he would change this choice that he made or leave it as it stands. I have a feeling that the false ideas that have been planted in many members minds because of MD are far more damaging than the good that has or could come from the book’s teachings.

  23. Ray,

    I’ve just got to ask, if the other apostle’s were so “unanimous” in their disagreement of his work, why would they put him in-charge of doing all that work with the scriptures?

    “Nope; the Q12 was (nearly?) unanimous in their displeasure over the publication of MD. Pres. McKay wasn’t speaking only for himself.”

    Just my opinion, but it seems like the rest of the quorum would support the prophet whether they actually agreed with him or not. Therefore, stating that the quorum of the twelve backed up the prophet is not surprising to me. The fact that the brethren gave BRM such an important task after would seem to indicate a lot of trust in his ability and his understanding of our doctrine.

    Having said that, I agree that many of the controversial subjects in MD are now considered heretical by the brethren. As for the general membership, I think your belief in the accuracy of the book is mostly depended on your age. 🙂

  24. Pingback: What can repair the church’s race relations? | Main Street Plaza

  25. Jen,

    I feel your heartache coming through your words. I am having a difficult time addressing your concerns, because most of these concerns still plague me twenty years later. I can only suggest you contemplate the carpenter from Nazareth.

    As for the original post:

    Most any book can do some harm. At the same time books are what make us different than the rest of the animal kingdom. The written word can elevate us or tear us down. McConkie’s book has had more influence in the last fifty years than any other book written by a Mormon leader. I personally own four copies, 1st edition 1st printing, 2nd edition 1st printing, 1979 printing that should be called a third edition, and the latest leather printing made from a 50th printing. Many other Mormon books have the potential to be as “harmful” as Mormon Doctrine when it comes to racism. These books are not as easy targets.

    Jen seems to suggest many members have blurred the line of canonical when it comes to Mormon Doctrine.

    McConkie’s book was all about timing. His father-in-law was President of the Twelve and felt the exact same way. McKay was as wishy washy of a leader as there ever has been, McKay was aged, and McKay never wanted to look publicly bad or have any of the leaders look publicly bad. The rest of the leaders were racists and held similar views as McConkie about people of color. Prince seems to have McKay’s side of the story. Joseph Fielding McConkie presents Bruce McConkie’s side of the story in his book “The Bruce R. McConkie Story”. From both sides it seems clear the real concern was over the Catholic church. If this true then McConkie’s change in 1966 solved the leaders problem.

  26. “As for the general membership, I think your belief in the accuracy of the book is mostly depended on your age.”

    #25 – Yep, Doug. We agree again. Crap! 🙂

    #26 – That’s the real irony, Joe. I agree with Elder McConkie about the Catholic Church during the Dark Ages, and that is what was removed.

    I do disagree totally, however, with your description of Pres. McKay as “wishy-washy”. It’s the same general charge I have heard from those who don’t like Pres. Hinckley, and I don’t agree with that application either.

  27. “So, what do you think? Does the book do more good than harm?”

    I am in the more harm than good camp. In my reading, it is not a book of theology, which a book with such a title should be. MD is more or less fascinated by an ideological project, that should not be conflated with Mormon or Christian thought.

  28. In the Catholic church everyone says the pope is infallible but nobody believes it; and in the Mormon church everybody says the prophet is fallible but nobody believes it.

    I think the statement above, wherever it came from, is useful for answering the question brought up in this post. The men who lead this church are just that–men. They can make mistakes and misjudgments, but the Lord is at the helm and will lead the church on in spite of the fallible nature of men–even His prophets. I don’t think we should put the brethren on pedestals or think them so different from ourselves.

    As far a Elder McConkie appearing to do an end run around President McKay–I think this is an example of how things work with the brethren. I would guess that Elder McConkie felt that President McKay was speaking his opinion and not acting in his office as the prophet. I don’t think the GA take every word that is spoken by one another as the word of God to them. This only applies when a decision is made and acted upon by the respective quorums. Only then is it binding.

  29. A couple of times, my children have been taught ideas related to the “seed of Cain” and McConkie’s racial caste system in their Sunday School classes, so these teachings are far from dead.

    Ray,
    One of my Institute teachers once said that the bit about the Catholic Church was removed because it was public relations error. (his emphasis)

  30. Dennis Davis did a study of all the changes in 1971 between the First and Second editions. he found changes on over 300 pages between the two editions. Of the total 46 references to the Catholic Church in the First edition 34 were deleted, only twelve remained. The heading “Negro” had no changes between the two editions. The change for this selection (heading remained “Negro” with “see Cain, Ham, Pre-existance, Priesthood, Races of Men” all remaining the same)happened in 1979 with the change of Blacks holding the priesthood. This was really the only wording change for this selection.

    Joseph Fielding McConkie claims in his book “Elder Spencer W. Kimball was assigned to be Elder McConkie’s mentor in making those changes.” McConkie writess he has the documents in his fathers papers to support this claim. If this is true then it would appear McConkie had more support for the new edition than just “making an end run around McKay”. It should also be remembered it was Harold B. Lee who called McConkie to be an Apostle at the death of his father-in-law, Smith.

  31. #31 Joe–

    Thanks for pointing out the information about Elder Kimball. I have nearly all of Elder McConkie’s books in my library. I use them often, especially his last book, “A New Witness for the Articles of Faith”. I feel that he was prepared by the Lord to help the saints in our day to understand the doctrine of the church. But as pointed out, it wasn’t done without with an infallible hand.

  32. “Despite the many reasons why the book is not an official declaration of Church doctrine, it still gets cited and quoted in General Conference and Church talks, lessons and articles. Thus, while the book does not represent the official statement of Church beliefs, such actions of using it in official Church meetings by General Authorities and members gives the book undeserved legitimacy and authority.”

    A quote or even many quotes from the book does not equate the entire book to the status of legitimacy. Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis are both quoted in General Conference, but we only accept the quoted portions as being relevant in the context of the message by the brethren.

    The book should never be used in any lesson in the Church. This is true of all works, except those that have been officially published by the Church and we know have been reviewed by the Church’s correlation committee.

    Whether Mormon Doctrine is quoted by a member in sacrament or not does not give the book legitimacy to members who understand how to judge correct doctrine. Every so often some trite phrase seems to go around the church and is quoted in sacrament meeting. One that I remember recently was “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Actually, the Savior said it would be easy. He said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. A few quotes in MD do not hold up under close scrutiny.

    I own a copy of MD, but I don’t think I have even opened it once in the last ten years. I have no need to do it. The lesson materials, the Ensign articles, and the scriptures provide sufficient for what I have needed for talks, lessons, letters and any thing else I have written on basic doctrine.

  33. After reading the David O. McKay book, and having grown up reading MD, Doctrines of Salvation, etc…the first thing that came to my mind was the importance of differentiating between “Not Doctrine” and “Not True”.

    It is very easy to jump on the conclusions of the 1st Presidency and 12 that there were countless mistakes and assume that they were mistakes in the sense of being “false.” This is almost certainly the case with some, or even most, of the errors. However, there is an alternative explanation, which I personally believe to be the case with some of the errors: There are truths that are revealed to individuals, and there are truths that are revealed to the entire Church. In the context (and this context is important!) of the 12’s review of MD, they were reviewing the text in the context of it’s (unfortunately) authoritative title and likely reception. They found it wanting; however, their standard was clearly “truth as revealed to the Church” and not simply “truth”. I personally believe that many of the “corrections” were bits of information that may well indeed be true, but which are simply not part of the Church’s revealed doctrine.

    Do not take this the wrong way–I am no great defender of MD; I think it’s useful for random Bible Dictionary type stuff, but not much more than that. However, there is great danger (in my mind) in interpreting “Not Doctrine” as “Not True” in every possible instance. The David O. McKay book also emphasizes this danger–if you believe most of what McConkie wrote was “Not True” rather than simply “Not Doctrine”, are you able to (and be honest now!) read a General Conference talk by him without feeling like he might not be reliable? Same goes for Joseph Fielding Smith and his always-exciting books…

  34. The book would have been perfectly fine (for it’s day) if it had only been printed with a different title.

    The reason the Church does not print an official “Mormon Doctrine” is because our Church is a non-creed church. We morph over time. We are open to constant revelation and updates. It is counter-productive to tie us down to set list of beliefs. Sure, we could all come up with some core truths — faith, reprentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Anything outside that scope is a restoration in progress, even to the present day.

  35. #1-“any specifics you can provide? I don’t recall this book being represented as often as this paragraph seems to indicate. In my limited experience, having grown up in Utah but living most of them adult life in the Kansas City area, I don’t recall this book being used at all lately. I believe this book to be largely ignored as of late.”

    Sure. The GA’s won’t explicitly state that they’re quoting or using Mormon Doctrine, such as “In Mormon Doctrine, we learn…” but the GA’s do cite Mormon Doctrine in their conference talks. I can provide you with many examples but I’ll give you one. Take a look at footnote #18 in Bishop Keith B. McMullin’s October 2008 Conference talk, titled “God Loves and Helps All of His Children.”

    #34-“A quote or even many quotes from the book does not equate the entire book to the status of legitimacy. Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis are both quoted in General Conference, but we only accept the quoted portions as being relevant in the context of the message by the brethren.”

    Correct. However, there are other indicators of how highly regarded Mormon Doctrine is a quasi-official declaration of LDS Doctrine. Mormon Doctrine continues to be one of the highest selling books in LDS bookstores, the implied Church’s endorsement of the book by letting it continue to be in circulation despite the Prophet’s request that it not be republished, seeing it cited in Church publications and speeches, the book is often used in various settings either at church, at home (personal doctrine study) or in the mission field, or in academic courses. I could go on. All these things strongly show that Mormon Doctrine DOES appear to have near canonical status in the Church.

  36. For the heck of it, I checked the CES institute manual for the Book of Mormon. Mormon Doctrine is cited many times throughout (I could not figure out a computerized way to get a count, and did not want to spend time counting by hand).

  37. “For the heck of it, I checked the CES institute manual for the Book of Mormon. Mormon Doctrine is cited many times throughout (I could not figure out a computerized way to get a count, and did not want to spend time counting by hand)”

    Yes I know, it is in cited in the Old Testament manual as well.

  38. I remember walking past a Seagull bookstore and seeing Mormon Doctrine in a large, leather-bound for the first time. My first thought was “Well, Mormon Doctrine has been canonized”.

  39. Just to be clear once again, there are a WHOLE LOT of really good things in Mormon Doctrine. It’s just that, for me, the incorrect, damaging stuff outweighs all of the excellent stuff – even if the excellent things outnumber the damaging things. It’s important to realize that all references to the book aren’t bad in and of themselves.

  40. The majority of what is in MoDoc is in fact a correct understanding of Mormon doctrine as it was when published. Some things have changed with regard to certain practices and policies. But in the aggregate, for me, it is a useful book.

  41. #44-PD:Second edition…and I actually have a paperback AND a hardback. If you want, I will throw in a teenager with the books as well, free of charge. 🙂

  42. My hope would be, that those of you who wish to read the book, Mormon Doctrine, have already read ‘all’ the scriptures The Church has to offer. The scriptures are to be the basis to our salvation. If you wish to read ‘other’ books as recreational reading, that’s fine, but we are to emphasize the Standard Works of The Church up front and foremost. How valid is anyone’s opinion of The Church if The Scriptures themselves have not been read. That would be my first question asked of anyone who comments from any recreational book. You can never form an honest opinion of The Church unless The Standard Works are involved first. Next time someone asks you about The Church from such books, hand them a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask them politely to read it. Then you can spiritually guide them back home.

  43. Terry: Are you really saying that the scriptural canon must necessarily take a chronological first place over reading ANY other church books?

    Say I have a friend, new to the church, who’s struggling with a particular doctrine, or going through some tough times, the loss of a loved one, etc. Now, he’s really trying to gain a better understanding of the plan of salvation (or atonement, or any other doctrine you pick) Is it really going to be better for him to finish reading Second Kings than it would to read a section from a well chosen, non-canonical book dealing specifically with lds doctrine on the subject?

    Personally, I feel that someone can have a verry valid opinion about the Church, and have great insights into things I’ve never imagined even though I’ve read the standard works, and they haven’t.

    As far as MD goes, I’m not sure that would ever fall into the category of books I’d recommend to another member (and definitely not to someone outside the church) It has some good stuff in it, but I think I have to fall on the side of “more harm than good.” Part of that is due to the significant errors present in the book, but most has to do with BRM’s authoritative tone (which is also present in his talks) which can be a real challenge for new members… he never seems able to present something as his opinion only (the little disclaimer at the beginning of MD doesn’t compensate for the tone throughout).

    Scott: that honest question is a tough one… I’ll have to admit that ya, whether its a conference talk, BYU address, or something else, when I’m having a discussion or reading something, and someon breaks out a quote, sometimes all I hear is, “ya, but Bruce R. McConkie said that… bla bla bla… sure, but he said X… bla bla bla… isn’t there someone more authoritative we could turn to?… bla bla” and I’m left thinking: that was a complete waste of my time.

    I guess for me the problem I have is that BRM seemed to lack the ability to conceive of not being correct at the moment. Sure, I might have been wrong on this or that, but now I’m right…

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