Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bruce R. McConkie and the humanity of our leaders

I have long been a critic of Bruce R. McConkie, largely because his Mormon Doctrine has been taken so literally by so many members of the church, when the truth is, it has many errors and problems with it and was supposed to have been revised heavily, but instead only received minor corrections suggested by the Brethren.

Perhaps I have been to hasty. I am not a true critic, but it bothered me how many people held him up to impossible pedestal and felt he should have been the prophet of the Church. Despite my feelings, I have always recognized his strength of testimony. He cannot have been too bad a man, for his eulogy contains a list of many good deeds.

I have felt the powerful effects of his testimony, perhaps more than any other apostle. While on my mission, I prepared a lesson for the investigator Sunday School class (this was Easter of 1995). My companion had asked his parents to send a video copy of Elder McConkie's last testimony (given ten years before, not long before he passed away). I said my humble words, then showed the tape, allowing this apostle to express his testimony in words far stronger than I could use. See the transcript of that talk here. There were few dry eyes in that room, including from people I didn't think would be affected.

Yet now, ten years after that lesson, I complain that Bruce is over-quoted by the saints at large. Tonight, I read the transcript to a talk he gave in 1966, asking if the General Authorities are Human. Not only does he address that question, he does it with humor and candor. Apparently, his public persona was very different from his private one (see this discussion at the Millennial Star blog). This address helped me cope with some of my own issues with the . . . humanity of the brethren. It also helped me remember the good light in which I have held Bruce R. in the past. He also said things I have long believed. Well, it's a good thing I made peace with Bruce, because my son is friends with his great-grandson, David.

He says that all members of the church should receive revelation, not just the Brethren. We are all entitled to have the heavens opened up to us. We should not, I repeat, not rely on the testimony of others, not even him ("him" being Bruce). My comment: we were given brains and capacity to think with said brains. We are to use them and apply all the knowledge we have to come to the truth. Then, after we are done, we pray about it, we keep the commandments, we have faith, we wait patiently for the Lord to answer our prayers, and then we receive our confirmation through the spirit. There is no shortcut.

Want to read this powerful and humorous talk by Elder McConkie? Here is a direct link to a pdf file that has the entire transcript.


Anonymous said...

Those who disdain the truths spoken of by Elder Bruce R. McConkie are the same that would have disdains the truths spoken of by Paul the great Apostle of the ancient church and would have disdained Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Willford Woodruff, and Parley P. Pratt of the restored church of Christ. They are they who fail to accept truth as taught with power and boldness and seek to deny it in the face of something that they can not understand.

Jeff said...

Those who post as Anonymous in order to throw accusations at someone who obviously has a great respect for leaders and revelations and actually listens to them (even their admissions of not being always right) are prideful, arrogant pricks. They are they who pass judgment on others and truly speak ill of the Lord's anointed.

I agree with Mathoni on this one, and the Prophets: who have clearly said they are not perfect, numerous times.

The words of Bruce R. McConkie are both a blessing and a curse to the Church -- and some would disagree as to which parts of the words are the blessing, and which parts are the curse ;) . But, aren't we all?

Rusch said...

I agree with Jeff. The overall problem with McConkie was the tone of his books and some of his talks. I have few problems with what he actually said, but sometimes chaff a bit with the way he said some things.


Anonymous said...

If you found mistakes in the scriptures or talks, they are the mistakes of men and not of God. Logic and reason are not enough. Without the Holy Ghost, you will not be able to understand any revelation given to an apostle or prophet of God. The understanding of the wise and prudent men shall be hid.. your understanding is all foolishness unto God so those who have ears let them hear and those who have eyes let them see. In order to understand a talk, be worthy of the Spirit of God, be teachable, read, study and pray.