Elder McConkie’s Other List of Heresies

Jared* graces us again with his presence. Earlier post here.

On June 1, 1980, Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave his speech, “The Seven Deadly Heresies,” which became famous (or infamous, depending on the point of view) for his denunciation of–among other issues–organic evolution. The speech was the source of controversy and after consultation with President Spencer W. Kimball, the printed version was modified to soften the tone [1]. A little over a year later, Elder McConkie gave another speech, titled “The Foolishness of Teaching,” that was printed by the Church as a pamphlet. In the speech, Elder McConkie listed some “doctrines that damn” [2,3].

Now here are some doctrines that weaken faith and may damn. It depends on how inured a person gets to them, and how much emphasis he puts on them, and how much the doctrine begins to govern the affairs of his life. Evolution is one of them. Somebody can get so wrapped up in so-called organic evolution that he ends up not believing in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Such a course leads to damnation.

I think that is a statement that any LDS scientist could agree with [4]. But beyond evolution, I was a little surprised at some (not all) of the other teachings that made the list:

“God is progressing in knowledge”
“that there is a second chance for salvation”
“the paradisiacal creation”
“progression from one degree of glory to another”
“figuring out what the beasts in the book of Revelation are about, or the mysteries in any field”
“the sons of perdition are not resurrected”
“where the ten tribes are”
“if you make a mistake on the true doctrine of the gathering of Israel, or some of the events incident to the Second Coming, or millennial events”

Elder McConkie certainly did not like evolution, but perhaps this represents a demotion of evolution, by Elder McConkie, from “deadly” to “potentially dangerous” [5].


1. Lengthen Your Stride, by Edward Kimball. See also this post.
2. There is also another list of heresies in Elder McConkie’s A New Witness for the Articles of Faith.
3. A portion of the speech is available here. (Scroll down a little bit.)
4. Perhaps it is worth clarifying that the LDS conception of damnation is more about lack of personal progression and lost blessings rather than traditional hell-fire.
5. Adam-God, on the other hand, was not demoted; if anything, it was elevated.

Comments

  1. Now here are some doctrines that weaken faith and may damn. It depends on how inured a person gets to them, and how much emphasis he puts on them, and how much the doctrine begins to govern the affairs of his life.

    Sounds similar to something Elder Oaks said recently about hobbyist doctrines.

    I wonder if we could classify stridently anti-evolutionary stances as exhibits about “doctrines” that begin to govern affairs of life?

  2. (Note – I don’t generally quibble with all of the talk. But I’m a bit tired of the idea that Heavenly Father couldn’t have use evolution as a process in developing the earth and creating life. The explanations used by the anti-evolution crowd generally miss this point. I can’t find the link, but David O. McKay acknowledged this point. And given the fact that the formal doctrine of the Church indictes that we don’t have a stance on evolution, I get tired of apostles who aren’t Presidents of the Church trying to define such a doctrine. Even I *heart* such apostles.)

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    What did he mean by the “paradisiacal creation”?

    Do we really believe that God will get his panties in a bunch if someone believes the sons of perdition are not resurrected? Does salvation really hang upon a belief in correct doctrine to this extent?

  4. BRM was one of the most opinionated (not meant negatively) apostles of the last 50 years. I am amazed at his insight about many things; I am amazed at his lack of insight into others; I was appalled by his justifications of the Priesthood ban; I was moved by his humility in admitting his error concerning the timing of the revelation, if not the justifications. He was a complicated man and a deep thinker, and I liked that about him. He also was so sure of his views that he not-infrequently published them against the wishes of the Brethren as a quorum, and I did not like that about him.

    I agree with a few of the things he listed (perhaps all of them, IF they become an all-consuming obsession), but most of them I can’t accept as “damnable” in and of themselves. Frankly, if we allow for obsession, public opposition and active conflict, the list probably could be MUCH longer.

  5. Ugly Mahana says:

    It looks to me that these are not so much things that God will use to condemn us, but rather things that will distract us from God. I don’t think Elder McConkie was saying that God will condemn us for belief, but rather that these beliefs, or undue emphasis upon them, will keep us from developing the faith necessary to be saved. We may tend to view things too strongly our way, and not be willing to bend if God says things are otherwise. This would be a condition that would limit our ability to accept Him.

  6. You know, it would have been GREAT if the technology would have existed to allow BRM to have his own blog. Can you imagine?

    Seriously…

  7. I agree, UM, but, in general, I don’t like lists like this because they really could include hundreds and thousands of things – even ones that are 99% indisputable. (For example, the importance of temple work — I have a good friend who felt that her father loved dead people more than he loved her, since he spent almost all of his spare time in the temple and left the care of his children to his wife. It caused serious emotional problems for her, and I think that could be considered damnable.) Also, if this list had been published prior to 1978, I can see easily how “the Priesthood was not God’s will” or “the ban will be lifted prior to the Second Coming” might have been on a list produced by BRM. I understand the need to comment on prevailing issues of the time, but this particular list is a bit too fuzzy for me.

  8. One of the great shifts I’ve seen with Hunter and Hinckley has presidents of the Church is that we’ve changed from listing all the mistakes you can make to listing all of the things you should embrace.

    Hinckley, in particular, seems much more comfortable with people taking their time to come to a realization of the truth, and he’s more comfortable allowing people to embrace what they can accept and struggle with the rest.

    The days of Kimball/Benson seemed more of a “if nothing else, avoid this” message and Hunter/Hinckley are “if nothing else, do this”.

    Or have I just imagined that?

  9. No queuno, you’re right on the money.

  10. Do we really believe that God will get his panties in a bunch if someone believes the sons of perdition are not resurrected? Does salvation really hang upon a belief in correct doctrine to this extent?

    And this is why I heart Kevin Barney.

  11. Queuno, I have a question. You state that “I’m a bit tired of the idea that Heavenly Father couldn’t have use evolution as a process in developing the earth and creating life.”

    I am probably not as educated as you on this subject, but it is my understanding that evolution is based on random chance interacting with natural selection. If Heavenly Father is using evolution, it would seem that it is no longer random chance. Please don’t view this as argumentative, but rather a sincere question.

    If God is using the process to achieve His ends, is evolution still the right word to use to describe the process? I thank you in advance for your time and thought on this question.

  12. Julie M. Smith says:

    “I wonder if we could classify stridently anti-evolutionary stances as exhibits about “doctrines” that begin to govern affairs of life?”

    Amen.

    There’s also an interesting statement from Joseph Smith (that I’m too lazy to find) about how the Lord didn’t put anything in the Book of Revelation that we couldn’t understand.

  13. Queno- This isn’t David O. McKay, but it WAS in one of the Church magazines as an unsigned editorial in 1910.

    Origin of Man.– “In just what manner did the mortal bodies of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?” This question comes from several High Priests’ quorums.

    Of course, all are familiar with the statements in Genesis 1: 26-27; 2: 7; also in the Book of Moses, Pearl of Great Price, 2: 27; and in the Book of Abraham 5: 7. The latter statement reads: “And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man’s spirit) and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

    These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. Whether [1]the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether [2]the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; [3]whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.

    (I have this in one of my databases, but it’s also here.)

  14. CW –

    I’m not an expert in evolution, myself. I have read the basic literature. I aced frosh Biology at BYU. I grew up hearing about the Kreb’s Cycle at the dinner table. I’ve heard from lots of LDS scientists the “idea” that the Lord use selective processes (maybe greatly sped up with his direct involvement) to evolve life, and then Adam’s spirit was inserted into one to create “the first man”.

    One such LDS scientist was my father, a microbiologist by training and an educator by avocation (he was a researcher, but research definitely came after teaching in his list of priorities). He talked and taught us about science and faith at every turn. I can never remember a time where I didn’t think evolution *might* have been involved.

    And I guess that’s my point — surely, no one can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that evolution is one of the driving mechanisms, but we can’t disprove it, either.

    One of my Dad’s earliest teachings when I started showing an interest in science was that science measures what we can observe — but that we are all fallen people who are limited in our ability to observe. God is not fallen, sees all, and “helps” us along our path of observation. McKay and Kimball and other church Presidents have consistently said that we are unable to understand how the creation occurred, so that is why the Lord hasn’t revealed it yet. One of my dad’s lessons was always, “Science shows us why and how something happens. There’s nothing *wrong* with an observation. The question is how we interpret it, and that’s where we run into problems. The question faith answers is why is any of this important.”

    I’ve always found it curious that some scientists automatically eschew faith, and how religious non-scientists eschew science. If anything, they are complimentary, seeking to obtain knowledge from two different perspectives. Are there conflicts between faith and science? Perhaps, but it’s generally a conflict of interpretation.

    Could the Lord have stretched forth his hand to generate a controlled selective process? Sure, and that seems to be a prevailing belief with some LDS scientists. Is it true? Don’t know. Not sure. The Lord hasn’t revealed that yet. So it seems a bit incongruous to me that apostles who aren’t presidents of the Church would seek to interpret science in such a way that the First Presidency or the President of the Church has not interpreted yet.

    I still think my father’s approach on approaching evolution is the most sensible approach. Although, I chose not to follow in his footsteps and became a computer scientist instead. I research classification schemes and I imagine Creation working similar to how I might influence an algorithm into approaching a certain level of performance without having to go through all of the genetic iterations. My bias is for my algorithm to work in a certain way. The Lord’s creative bias was to create man.

    Not sure if that’s what you’re asking, but that’s my perspective on it.

  15. Nitsav, thanks.

    Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.

    That was the quote I was thinking of. Whenever I google it, I always get the year wrong and can’t find it.

    I wrote my BYU freshman biology term paper on evolution (this was before “The Packet” came out). My father had supplied me with the quote above.

    There are some other good ones listed at http://www.cs.umd.edu/~seanl/stuff/Evolution.html

  16. One final thought (not to beat a dead horse). My father always thought that when church leaders decried evolution in teaching, it wasn’t because they didn’t think there was some truth in it, but that the loudest teachers of evolution also were atheists and led people away from God. So until we had the spiritual maturity to consider both faith and evolution in the same breath, maybe it was better that we didn’t teach evolution at all. Again, Dad’s idea, not mine, but there may be some truth to it.

  17. Queuno, thanks for your answer. It is amazing how close we are when we take time to listen to each other. It reminds me of a friend who said she was Pro-Choice. However she didn’t think abortion should be used for birth control, and it really should be limited to probably the first trimester, and really only for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. I told her that was interesting since I had almost the identical belief but I thought I was Pro-Life.

    I also believe there is no conflict between science and truth (I hate to use the word religion). I believe the scriptures tell us what happened, not how. And although I very much accept the viewpoint you espouse, or at least don’t disagree, I thought I was an anti-evolutionist, because I believe God is in control, has always been in control, and always will be.

    He certainly uses natural laws, but he can also suspend the natural laws we know about, most likely by using higher natural laws we don’t know about yet.

    And there is no confusion in my mind that ONLY the Prophet brings forth new doctrine. So when people like you or I, or bishops, Apostles, stake presidents, etc state idea’s that aren’t directly taught in the scriptures, or stated by the President (past or present) of the Church as Gods revealed truth, it is just the opinion of the speaker, and not Church Doctrine. Doesn’t mean that such opinions can’t be true, just that the burden is on us individually to determine if they are true.

  18. CW: I know you asked Queuno… but I thought I’d share my 2¢, too.

    I believe that God understands the science behind evolution thoroughly, and that he set life free on this planet knowing that some things were bound to happen… and as it progressed, He nudged it here and there in new directions to get the desired result: hominids (human-like creatures).

    Once they were around, he probably watched closely until the niche for his children opened, at which time he breathed his spirit into a chosen vessel. Other hominids co-existed with us until we came into our own.

    So what does that give us? A planet with immense diversity and bodies that have a genetic memory of millions of years. We’re robust creatures, and fit temples for the spirit children of our Father in Heaven.

    But that’s just my 2¢.

    :)

  19. Thanks Silus for your answer as well. That viewpoint is also within the parameters of my personal belief system. I just didn’t believe we could still call it evolution if we believed God was nudging it here and there. I haven’t spent any time looking at intelligent design, but the name seems to better describe my viewpoint than evolution. But once we get past the titles, the description of a process that God controlled is what I believe, regardless of the title we use.

  20. CW–Evolution is just a mechanism. It’s the idea that species change over time as a result of selective pressures. It doesn’t actually matter if God is nudging species one way or another, it’s going to look the same to us human observers (thus the problem with intelligent design as a scientific theory–it’s fine as theology, but since there’s no way to falsify conclusively that God did or did not have a hand in directing evolution, it’s not science). You can quite easily accommodate belief in evolution as a scientific theory and intelligent design as a personal/religious belief. Just don’t confuse the one as the other.

  21. Well-said Kristine.

    And I’d add that using the phrase “intelligent design” or “divine design” has a load of political baggage that stinks to high-heaven… and are best avoided.

  22. ( That last comment is filled with grammatical sink-holes. Please pretend I fixed it. )

  23. cj douglass says:

    It seems that a few at the top of the list can be consolidated into “this life is the time to prepare to meet God” – which we already have in the scriptures loud and clear. I am not sure why McConkie needs to add additonal emphasis. And on the others – I’m with Kevin Barney – you could say about all of them Do we really believe that God will get his panties in a bunch if someone believes BLANK.

    Elder McConkie’s words never cease to puzzle me.

  24. Intelligent design is a philosophical/theological discussion, not a scientific one. If school districts wanted to teach it as part of a core philosophy program, I’d support it (heck, in effect, it’s what I teach my children at home). But it doesn’t belong in science, any more than Book of Mormon study belongs in science or the scientific method belongs in English class.

  25. I can’t see how belief in any of Elder McConkie’s “Doctrines that Damn” would have any directl effect how I live my life or my faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing in evolution has not made me lose my faith in Christ’s atonement (despite BRM’s “Three Pillars” argument that it would). If I believed that God is progressing in knowledge, it’s not going to make me go out and commit adultery. If I figured out where the 10 tribes were or the meaning of the beasts in Revelations I’m not going to go rob a bank. I guess if I believed there was a second chance for salvation or that there was progression from one degree of glory to another I might slack off a bit in this life, but that’s only if I was a procrastinator.

    Also, can anyone find BRM’s letter to Eugene England, chastising him for teaching that “God is progressing”? I can’t remember the exact quote, but I remember he said something like “it’s my job to interpret doctrine and it’s your job to parrot what I say.” It doesn’t get much more dogmatic and authoritative than that.

  26. I find myself turning to Elder BRM books often. I’m thankful for his many contributions.

    I read something the other day that I liked and I’m pondering on. Here it is:

    “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’m grateful for the leaders of the church, but we need to cut them some slack, otherwise, we’ll have our faith challenged (needlessly), sooner or later, when we learn that they are fallible.

    The real issue, in my opinion, for church members is leaning to obtain and recognize answers to our prayers. Every other concern is secondary to this. Elder BRM touched on this subject many time and I’m grateful that he did.

  27. PaulWright says:

    Not a single one of the Deadly Heresies seems to me — as is so much of what we assert in church — to be of the kind of information that a person could possibly know a thing about. McConkie’s most forceful assertions regarding the nature of God, angels and the eternities have always struck me as theological statements you could believe or not believe but could never be proven true — or false, for that matter. JMHO.

  28. Ugly Mahana says:

    Re #27
    And therein, I think, is the danger if any is to be had. Faith, in order to save, must be placed in something that is true. Where truth cannot be verified either by proof or by clear revelation, then it is dangerous to hold onto an opinion so tightly as to discount either the possibility of being wrong or the christian contribution of those who believe differently.

  29. a random John says:

    Eugene England was still openly discussing #1 (heard him talk about is at an LDSSA meeting and then discussed it with him at some length afterward) as of 1998. I think Brother England’s very was very nuanced and not at all dangerous. Obviously if the letter below is legit he didn’t worry too much about it.
    Here is a link to the very easy to find McConkie letter.

  30. a random John says:

    I should also note that most of these are topics that Doctrines of Salvation deals with directly. Given that Elder McConkie compiled that book I’m not surprised at his position one these issues.

  31. Elder McConkie goes over 14 heresies concerning Adam and the Fall in his New Witness for the Articles of Faith.

  32. Aaron Brown says:

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t fathom how anyone can take Bruce R. McConkie seriously with respect to questions of what is or is not a “heresy”, what is or is not “damning,” and so forth. The man had ten thousand opinions about everything under the sun, felt that possessing “correct” opinions about everything was important for salvation, and believed that his own views on virtually all subjects were the benchmark for distinguishing truth from error. Please. I really don’t see the point in trying to parse his writings in such a way as to salvage semi-interesting counsel from them.

    Here’s hoping his various infamous speeches either fall into obscurity, or become at most Exhibit A in how not to think about Mormon doctrine.

    Aaron B

  33. queuno, #6 is brilliant. I think I would pay to access that blog – even if I only could afford to lurk.

  34. #2 Queno:

    David O. McKay remarks at the funeral of May Anderson, June 1946:

    Among the generalizations of science, evolution holds foremost place. It claims: “Man is a creature of development; that he has come up though uncounted ages from an origin that is lowly.” Why should he come so far if he is destined to go no farther? A creature which has traveled such distances, and fought such battles and won such victories deserves, one is compelled to say, to conquer death and rob the grave of its victory. Darwin said . . . “Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued, slow progress. To whose who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.”

    In discussing appropriate beliefs, with Sterling McMurrin in March 1954:

    I would like to know just what it is that a man must be required to believe to be a member of this Church. Or, what it is that he is not permitted to believe, and remain a member of this Church. I would like to know just what that is. Is it evolution? I hope not, because I believe in evolution.

    Finally:

    The thing you need to remember about evolution is that the Lord has never revealed anything about the matter. People have their opinions but the Lord has not revealed the details of how He created the earth.

    Prince and Wright, David O. McKay and The Rise of Modern Mormonism p. 46.

  35. We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days – Sorry; couldn’t help but sing.

  36. Forgot to acknowledge my trailer trash upbringing. :-) I feel much better now.

  37. Gilgamesh says:

    Well I guess it’s settled that I’m going to Hell.

    I firmly believe in his #1, 2 and 4.

  38. “Do we really believe that God will get his panties in a bunch if someone believes BLANK?”

    I’m kind of surprised the commenters are largely missing the point here.

    Of course God isn’t too concerned about the beliefs per se. I’d say McConkie is claiming God is more worried about what the beliefs lead to.

    Say you believe in progression between kingdoms – one of the listed “heresies.” It’s easy to see how such a belief could lead one to become complacent.

    “Oh well, if I don’t make much of my life here, I’ll have another shot later. No need to worry much about my pride problem…”

    See how some of these doctrines lead to a sort of permissive religion that is essentially antithetical to the entire point of being a Mormon in the first place?

    What’s the point of having “correct doctrine” if it leads you to incorrect practice?

  39. Seriously. The notion of “heresies” or of being “damned” within the context of larger Mormon doctrine over time is just hilarious to me. We don’t even believe in damnation: we already live in “Hell” according to all the Mormon upbringin’ I had. Unless you’re one of the ill-defined “Sons of Perdition,” you’re going to end up somewhere Better Than Here. No? Isn’t that as scary as our Mormon Version of HELL and/or damnation gets? So if you choose The Heretically Evil Path of believing in Evolution, you’re “damned” to where exactly…?

    What’s also clear is that one man’s heresy is another man’s Cherished and True Doctrine…and I’m talking official men here, not just ‘naclers from competing Big Blogs. A little time and space, and heresy becomes the mainstream and vice versa. BRM was a nutter, really, but it’s funny that he spoke his mind so boldly. In a church that has become so correlated, it’s nice to be reminded that there were once mavericks, speaker-outers, and disagreements at the highest levels.

    It is just amusing to me to have some former apostle be so, well, hellfire-preachin’-like. Against Evolution no less. It’s funny, honestly.

  40. On the “second chance for salvation” bit, Elder McConkie was far off course. D&C 138 states:

    The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation. (D&C 138:58-59, emphasis added).

    Outside the canon, Joseph Smith has stated:

    …there is a salvation for all men, either in this world, or in the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or in the world of spirits. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved unless he has committed that unpardonable sin…

    God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin…Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition…
    (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, Apr 7, 1844)

    Many are used to the idea that Brigham Young was a bit of a heretic. But Joseph Smith?

  41. Thanks random John for the link to the Eugene England letter. The quote I was looking for was, “it 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.” Ouch!

  42. re: #29

    Eugene England talked a little bit about that letter in a Dialogue article here.

  43. Thanks for that link Jared. Brother England had a better attitude than I would have I think. Although I appreciate all that Elder McKonkie taught us, I have to say I don’t miss his “my way of the highway” stance on doctrine.

  44. StillConfused says:

    If God is the creator of all, could he not also have created evolution? I personally am not comfortable presupposing that God would not engage in such a process.

  45. “Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved [is] not fully answered in the revealed word of God.”

    Nitsav located this April 1910 comment (see #13) that queuno was looking for (see #2) and that queuno quoted again (in #15). Some say it refutes such McConkie statements as:

    “There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution.”

    By calling it an “editorial,” Nitsav infers that magazine editor Joseph F. Smith approved the April 1910 comment. Fair Wiki (as linked by Nitsav) also calls it an “editorial.”

    It was not an “editorial.” Two of the monthly columns in the Improvement Era were the Editor’s Table and the Priesthood Quorums’ Table. During the time Joseph F. Smith was Church President, 655 items were published in the Editor’s Table and 343 in the Priesthood Quorums’ Table.

    The Editor’s Table published 20 items over the names of Joseph F. Smith and his counselors, plus another 175 items over his name alone. Much of President Smith’s book Gospel Doctrine was originally published in the Editor’s Table.

    The Priesthood Quorums’ Table, on the other hand, published only three items that were written by Joseph F. Smith (a statement introducing magazine readers to the new Quorums’ Table column, a letter about quorum enrollment and attendance, and a short excerpt from one of his conference talks).

    Many Quorums’ Table items were written by ward bishops, stake high councilors, and individual members of the Priesthood Quorums’ General Committee. A large percentage were published anonymously, suggesting some sort of collaborative work by or under the direction of the Quorums’ Committee. The April 1910 comment was one of the latter.

    It contradicts Joseph F. Smith. The April 1910 comment exemplifies what was then being taught about evolution at BYU. However, President Smith announced in the April 1911 Editor’s Table that such ideas would no longer be taught at BYU because

    “teachers in a Church school [should] not be given opportunity to inculcate theories that [are] out of harmony with the recognized doctrines of the Church.”

    Invariably, when President Smith addressed the question of whether man’s physical body had evolved from lower life forms, he answered with scripture. Much of the 1909 First Presidency statement is quoted directly from scripture and the 1912 First Presidency said Luke 3:38 tells how Adam got his body.

    Conclusion. If the April 1910 comment represents your thinking, you should relish it. But don’t claim it is a Church “editorial,” or that it was approved by Joseph F. Smith, or that it provides insight into the thinking of those who, in 1909, set forth the Church’s current “doctrinal position” on the origin of man.

  46. Well, as Joseph Smith put it, “I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never heard of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.”

  47. “progression from one degree of glory to another”

    When explaining our beliefs to other people, I can never quite bring myself to say that there is no progression between degrees. Honestly, if we have eternity to progress, do you really think that we will just be stopped if we get to the top of one kingdom? Of course, this is just little old, mortal me talking. Who knows how many eons it would take to progress through a whole kingdom. I have no idea what that would involve. But really, you have eternity.

    Now, I suppose if a person were to say, “I believe that there is progression between kingdoms, so I am just going to waste my mortal probation,” then that might be a problem. But someone like that would definitely be missing the point!

  48. Interesting to read this, and reflect on our discussions in High Council the last few weeks on defining doctrine. According to the criteria established, none of these would pass the test of either being doctrines or heresy.

    It would seem that taking any of these to either extreme would be potentially damning if it came to occupy all your time, but the same could be said for any real doctrines as well. In other words, devoting all of your time to working at the temple, but neglecting your home teaching, could be a problem. Single issue doctrines, like single issue politics, are not sound.

  49. But Gary, it’s in an official Church magazine! That means official Church approval!!

  50. Steve Evans says:

    R. Gary, if I could channel your enthusiasm for evolution-related issues, I could solve the energy problem in my home. No more heating rocks in the fireplace to put into our beds at night! No more chained servants in the basement firing the bellows!

  51. Jared said:

    “The [1980] speech was the source of controversy and after consultation with President Spencer W. Kimball, the printed version was modified to soften the tone.”

    Two years later and at the request of the First Presidency,* he wrote “Christ and the Creation” wherein he declares that mortality, procreation, and death on this earth began with the Fall of Adam and that there was “no evolving from one species to another” during the Creation.

    * Reflections of a Son, p. 299.

  52. arJ # 29, thanks for the link to the BRM letter. I am always fascinated to read private letters, especially when penned by historical figures to other historical figures. That comes with being a history buff, I suppose.

    Aaron B., that BRM letter that arJ linked to in #29 includes BRM referencing the 2,555,000,000 years as doctrinal support for his argument. Is that what reminded you of the issue and brought up your 2,555,000,000 post?

  53. Lately, I’ve been checking the New Testament institute manual for commentary on the book of Romans. Elder McConkie is all over that manual! There is tons of stuff in there that I hope would disappear in a revamped manual, for the sake of balance if for no other reason. Does anyone think we will see new institute manuals anytime soon? The Church History manual is the only one I really like.

  54. Also checking Kevin Barney’s Footnotes. :)