Let me breathe in deeply and exhale loudly on this: LIARS!
Bill McKeever observes:
Though hardly a scientific analysis, it is curious to note that on Amazon.com Mormon Doctrine still enjoys a moderate sales ranking of 209,180. This is higher than other LDS books that are still in print, including: Faith Precedes the Miracle (#244,876), Answers to Gospel Questions (#700,130 ), Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (#590,328), Are Mormons Christian? (#659,996), and volume one of the Joseph Smith Papers (#412,561).
“The book Mormon Doctrine, written by Bruce R. McConkie, is one of the time-honored classics of Mormon literature. Few [LDS] books can match it in endurance or number of copies sold. Perhaps few books, except the scriptures, can match it in the frequency with which it has been quoted in talks and lessons by those seeking to teach gospel principles.” (Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, Deseret Book, 2003, p.182.)
Having heard a rumor that this was going to happen about a year ago (a Mormon with a connection to LDS curriculum development said there was a new moratorium on quoting from the book), I personally asked Deseret Book employees in Fort Union (in the SLC area) how well the book sold and they said it sold well.
This was also foreshadowed by the removal in the 2009 Gospel Principles of any references of quotes from Mormon Doctrine.
What’s the REAL reason it was stopped?
1) Tighter correlative control
2) Because of the book’s embarrassing clarity
3) Because of some controversial assertions in the book
Low sales? What a cowardly lie.
As I have written elsewhere, Mormon teaching can sometimes have a “shelf-life”. When Mormon teaching dies, it normally does so though distancing over time, not formal repudiation. Formal repudiation is usually avoided by Mormon leaders. It would highlight the fallibility of church leaders and potentially bring a sensitive, embarrassing issue to light, prompting many to investigate material from earlier Church leaders which isn’t faith-promoting.
To the annoyance of many Mormons, some doctrines “maintain a zombie-like existence when they should just stay dead”, never quite receiving formal repudiation, no longer renewed with formal endorsement or emphasis, yet staying alive in the form of old statements made by church leaders. This problem is aggravated by the internet.
That said, I doubt that the cessation of “Mormon Doctrine” represents a cessation of the main teachings/beliefs in it that are heretical. Given the 2009 Gospel Principles as well as interaction with thousands of Mormon youth, it sure doesn’t seem so.
It’s also parallel with the issue of the 1978 lifting of the theologically justified racist priesthood ban. History has shown that it was the Church’s way of adapting, not of repenting, and that Mormons have become largely callous and indifferent over the never-apologized-for theological rationale the LDS Church once used to justify the ban. Today, most Mormons have just continued downstream in their river of Mormon consciousness, largely unaware of the history that plagues their past priesthood leaders. And the ones who do know about it seem to give their leaders a cold-hearted free pass. Are they spiritually better off? Doesn’t seem so.
So I’m not seeing a lot of cause for general optimism short of God doing a supernatural work of revival, where people are cut to the heart, confessing their sins, spurning false teachers, and worshiping the true God.