Bruce McConkie vs. Brigham Young


It’s Throwback Thursday!
The following blog article originally posted at Mormon Coffee on March 6, 2006.


I was reading an article in the Deseret News on Saturday [March 4, 2006] that discusses the history of “The Seven Deadly Sins.” At the end of the article the journalist mentions a fireside talk the late LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie gave back in 1980 titled “The Seven Deadly Heresies” I’m sure I’ve read that talk before, but out of curiosity I read it again today. There are many things of interest in Mr. McConkie’s talk, and I may address more of them in the future; but today I thought we could look at just two of the heresies Mr. McConkie was concerned had “crept in among us [Latter-day Saints].”

To set the stage, so to speak, and to put his address in authoritative context, Bruce McConkie began his talk this way:

“I have sought and do now seek that guidance and enlightenment which comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I desire to speak by the power Of the Holy Ghost so that my words will be true and wise and proper. When any of us speak by the power of the Spirit, we say what the Lord wants said, or, better, what he would say if he were here in person.”

Important for the context of what was to follow, Mr. McConkie said,

“I shall speak on some matters that some may consider to be controversial, though they ought not to be. They are things on which we ought to be united, and to the extent we are all guided and enlightened from on high we will be. If we are so united-and there will be no disagreement among those who believe and understand the revealed word-we will progress and advance and grow in the things of the Spirit; we will prepare ourselves for a life of peace and happiness and joy here and now, and for an eventual eternal reward in the kingdom of our Father.”

Please keep this in mind.

Mr. McConkie began with the first heresy on his list:

“Heresy #1: There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.

“This is false–utterly, totally, and completely. There is not one sliver of truth in it. It grows out of a wholly twisted and incorrect view of the King Follett Sermon and of what is meant by eternal progression…

“I have been sorely tempted to say at this point that any who so suppose have the intellect of an ant, and the understanding of a clod of miry clay in a primordial swamp. But, of course, I would never say a thing like that.” (Mr. McConkie meant this last statement as a joke and it was understood as such by his audience. I’ve included it here because, though said with a smile, it illustrates the idea that faithful Latter-day Saints would never believe such nonsense. Please note that most internet sources for Mr. McConkie’s speech have edited this portion out of the text.)

Though Mr. McConkie claims the doctrine that God is progressing in knowledge is heresy, the prophets that laid the foundation of the LDS Church in the early days taught it was true.

“Brother Orson Pratt, has in theory, bounded the capacity of God. According to his theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power; but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children: they will increase to all eternity, if they are faithful” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:286, 1867).

“God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end. It is just so with us” (President Wilford Woodruff, Apostle, Journal of Discourses 6:120, 1857).

Mr. McConkie’s sixth heresy:

“Heresy #6: There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship…

“Anyone who has read the Book of Moses, and anyone who has received the temple endowment, and who yet believes the ‘Adam-God Theory’ does not deserve to saved.”

This heresy was taught by Mormonism’s second Prophet for more than 20 years. For example, Brigham Young taught in 1852:

“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken–HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do…”

“Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50-51. Italics and capitalization retained from the original.).

And in 1873:

“How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is revealed to them, and which God revealed to me — namely that Adam is our father and God…Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or ever will come upon the earth” (Sermon delivered on June 8, 1873. Printed in the Deseret Weekly News, June 18, 1873.).

If a Latter-day Saint believes Apostle Bruce McConkie, LDS Prophet Brigham Young had “the intellect of an ant, and the understanding of a clod of miry clay in a primordial swamp [and] does not deserve to be saved.” But if a Latter-day Saint believes LDS Prophet Brigham Young and other early Mormon leaders, he is laboring under condemnation from one of his apostles.

I’m glad I’m not a Mormon. As a Christian I am bound by the Word of God found in the Bible, which does not change. I can believe it, or I can reject it and face the consequences, but there is no equivocation.

Mormons, on the other hand, must follow their prophets, seers, and revelators; a group to which both Brigham Young and Bruce McConkie belong. If they reject either man’s authoritative teachings they have, in effect, rejected the Lord. As Apostle Russell M. Nelson said during the April 1997 General Conference of the LDS Church:

“Loyalty to the Lord carries an obligation of loyalty to those called by the Lord to lead His Church. He has empowered that men be ordained to speak in His holy name. As they guide His unsinkable boat safely toward the shore of salvation, we would do well to stay on board with them” (Ensign, May 1997, page 72).

But what happens, as in this case, when the leaders aren’t on the same boat?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Brigham Young, God the Father, Prophets and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Bruce McConkie vs. Brigham Young

  1. falcon says:

    We’ve talked about how modern day Mormons have a good way of dealing with all of the things that early Mormonism believed but now the LDS has jettisoned.
    The most profound point is that Mormons claim progressive revelation as a means of getting more enlightenment from the Mormon god. However when it’s a revelation that they don’t like any more, it goes into the bin of “just the prophet’s opinion” and/or “folk doctrine”. There’s a reason why the FLDS consider the LDS apostates. At least the FLDS is consistent and haven’t changed the religion as drastically as the LDS.
    How in the world can the LDS folks brag about having a living prophet at the head of their church and then disregard what they teach. Changing the fundamental doctrines of a living prophet in a subsequent era is not “progressive revelation”. What it is is “progressive confusion”.
    It’s quite entertaining to watch the LDS try and give a definition of what “counts” and “doesn’t count” in terms of what the prophet says. We get the “it has to be spoken at general conference and it has to be ‘affirmed’ by those present.” The affirmation is suppose to mean that the rank-and-file have received an inner witness and agree with the new doctrine. Does anyone ever stand up and disagree. Sounds like the elections they have in third world countries where the despot receives 100% of the vote.
    No, to us outside the program, the contortions that the LDS go through to explain what counts and doesn’t count is comical. Sometimes it sounds like, “OK, the prophet has to be speaking at GC and he has to be behind the pulpit standing on his right foot with his left hand raised and………………..

  2. Mike R says:

    falcon, great post . ” progressive confusion” , that’s a keeper ! That’s an accurate description of what we find in the gospel preaching of Mormon leaders since they arrived on the scene . These men have proven conclusively by their action ( their numerous unstable teachings ) that they can’t be trusted to be consistent reliable guides .
    The Mormon people have been detoured by these men and follow them , in doing so they have been tossed to and fro by the teachings of these latter days prophets who have not been sent by Jesus —
    Matt 24:11 . That’s a red flag that conscientious Mormons will recognize .

    The Mormon people deserve better . Safety is available from the prophets whom God has not appointed , and may those LDS who recognize the danger of following such prophets ( Isa 9:16 ) be strong and walk away from them trusting God to help . He will .

  3. falcon says:

    Here’s the clincher! Bruce McConkie has joined the ranks of the “Bruce who?” crowd. Remember how it was his book “Mormon Doctrine” that was said to be definitive for the LDS crowd? The LDS church won’t even publish it any more. Now here was a guy, McConkie, who it was said the leaders of the LDS church would go/defer to in matters regarding doctrine. These guys are just one era after another of really subpar prophets and leaders even within the LDS family.
    Why do people surrender to these false prophets?

  4. Mike R says:

    falcon, funny how Bruce McConkie has been put in the closet as a kind of crazy uncle now , when for years in Church curriculum and the Ensign mag he was cited to bolster the Mormon position on various doctrines . The Mormon church being a man made religious organization can’t afford to have anyone take McConkie seriously nowadays .But much of what he believed and therefore taught was the result of carrying on Mormon teachings by those who preceded him as church officers . Not much different today with Brigham Young also . He was the face of Mormonism longer than any other Mormon President yet some important parts of his “gospel preaching ” is now kept tucked away in the closet away from the public view . When a LDS or non LDS finds out some of his ‘ gospel truths ” a series of clever alibi’s follow designed to either dodge, downplay , or deny them .

    You asked , ” Why do people surrender to these false prophets ? ”

    Answer: most do simply because they were convinced to follow them by well dressed young people who smile a lot and are skillfully trained in using emotion to sell their product . The use of half truths help bolster their presentation and makes what these missionaries say as believable .

    The Mormon people break our hearts .
    May God open their eyes to how they have been detoured by the kind of men Jesus said would come in the latter days .

  5. MJP says:

    “I have sought and do now seek that guidance and enlightenment which comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I desire to speak by the power Of the Holy Ghost so that my words will be true and wise and proper. When any of us speak by the power of the Spirit, we say what the Lord wants said, or, better, what he would say if he were here in person.”

    Yup, Falcon.

    But so much for speaking as if God were there with us.

  6. Mike R says:

    Mormons can take heart that despite all the confusion, vacillation , exhibited by their leaders in the preaching their ” restored gospel ” , B.Y. and McConkie can agree on one thing — the virgin birth of Jesus Christ . Both believed that Mary became pregnant by the natural action of how a woman gets pregnant — a male was involved !

    With all the strange and egregious teachings introduced by Mormon leaders since they arrived on the scene , how the babe at Bethlehem came to be born tops the list .

    All the public concerts by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir , all the professional grade video’s, plays, and public advertisements can’t make up for the false doctrine that Mormon leaders have taught about God/ Jesus . The Mormon church is truly a man made religious organization .

    The Mormon people deserve better . they’ve been detoured by men who keep them busy with church activities and sadly they don’t make the time to test their leaders — 1Jn 4:1 . Jesus took the time to warn us all about imitation prophets stepping forward in the latter days , these men no doubt can be well dressed , polite individuals . But do they pass the test of being faithful to God by being in line with what His prophets and apostles taught ? Since the Bible has rightly been called the bedrock of all Christianity , so that is the written standard to use to start the crucial test . Spiritual safety is at
    stake . Gal 1:8 ; 2Nephi 28:9

  7. Mike R says:

    That quote by Mormon apostle Russell Ballard at the end of Sharon’s article is something to look at further . I’ll split it up into three parts and comment on each :

    1. ” Loyalty to the Lord carries an obligation of loyalty to those called by the Lord to lead His Church.”

    There is truth in that statement . However , since Jesus warned us all that in the latter days many false prophets would come on the scene ( Matt 24 ) then to be successful at misleading people some of these false prophets would attempt to mimic the claims of Jesus’ true representatives / spokesmen which we find in the Scriptures like John , Peter , Paul etc
    Those wanting to be safe from being fooled , misled by counterfeit prophets nowadays must get past the claims of these individuals and look at what they teach — testing as John counseled is still crucial
    1Jn 4:1 ; Rev 2:2 . When one looks at the teaching track record of Mormon leaders through the years the verdict becomes clear — they fail the test . Don’t be side tracked from this verdict because Mormon prophets dress well and act polite . Mormon leaders claim to have been ” called of God ” to be His spokesmen and the pilot of His Son’s church . So have other latter days prophets we find today . It’s a common claim , that’s why testing the claim is vital to avoid being fooled by counterfeits

    2. He has empowered that men be ordained to speak in His holy name .”

    He has ordained / appointed men to speak His truth , Jesus appointed men to spread the gospel of salvation , these men were also guides in teaching about Jesus and how sinners can be reconciled to God — the gospel ( Rom 1:16 ; Col 1:20-23 ) . Their message : the long awaited Savior has come , His payment for our sins on the cross accomplished , His resurrection witnessed , His church established and the gospel of salvation is being carried far and wide by men He sent out , people have accepted it and were completely forgiven and saved . Today : THAT same gospel is still here and sinners are still being saved by, after hearing/ reading it , they accept it and then surrender their hearts to it’s Author .

    But we would expect latter days false prophets to try and convince people they have been appointed /ordained by God to carry on this gospel for our day . The better the counterfeit the more easily it fools sincere people . Mormonism is one such counterfeit . The two men Sharon mentioned above –
    Bruce McConkie and Brigham Young are classic examples of men claiming God’s appointment to preach His gospel faithfully but who have failed , they both may have “felt ” that God was calling them , but the proof is in the pudding — their teachings drifted from the truth we find from Jesus’ true spokesmen like Paul , John , the men Mormon leaders have claimed to be the latter days counterparts of !

    3. ” As they guide His unsinkable boat safely toward the shore of salvation , we would do well to stay on board with them .”

    Mormon leaders have claimed to be guides , trustworthy guides . However , their ” gospel preaching” track record ever since they arrived on the scene reveals an array of unstable teachings . They have claimed : “… Joseph Smith and his successors are the revealers of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation for our day…” [ Ensign Nov 1974 , p35 ] .

    But in “our day ” we have seen many individuals arise and claim to be appointed by Jesus to be guides worthy of our trust , not just Mormon leaders .
    So can we trust Mormon leaders to give us the correct knowledge about who God/ Jesus are , and how salvation is received ? The answer is no . For those people who choose to follow prophets like those who have created and led the Mormon church , theirs is a boat that has been taking on water for a long time , thus it is not safe spiritually to stay aboard . Being faithful to God requires that sincere people on the Mormon boat take the safe path and get off right away by trusting in the men who He has actually appointed to build and sail His Son’s boat safely — the New Testament apostles .

    As far as Mormon apostle Ballard advising Mormons that they would do well to stay on the latter day boat of Mormonism guided by it’s prophets — that is dangerous counsel . There’s a very serious consequence for following his advise : Isa 9:16

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