Reason #145: The Doctrine in McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine

The dust is finally settling in yet another effort by the LDS Church to bury its past. Recently the church-owned Deseret Book publishers announced that, due to lack of sales, the classic Mormon Doctrine by the late LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie. (There’s considerable controversy about the “lack of sales” part. See this article, especially the comments.)

What’s the big deal about a book going out of print? My Mormon Mirage (1st and 2nd editions) stayed in print almost 20 years, but then went out of print. Almost all books do.

McConkie’s book was extraordinary because it listed in encyclopedia form all the issues of LDS doctrine. It wasn’t McConkie’s own systematic theology, it was just the listing of Mormonism’s beliefs as taught by its leaders. He quoted others, his prophetic predecessors, and attempted to reconcile all the teachings from Joseph Smith on down on specific subjects.

When I was a faithful, true-blue happy and unquestioning Mormon in the 1970’s, I believed just what he said there. Sometimes I learned something new by reading his writings but since he always based what he said on the authorized doctrines of the past, I believed and accepted.

The book went through several amputations, and each reflected the church’s desire to be acceptable to Christianity. For instance, even though the Book of Mormon clearly teaches that all other churches are of Satan, he was required to tone that down. And when I was LDS, taking Book of Mormon classes at BYU, we all understood that the B of M taught that the Catholic Church was the great and abominable whore of the earth.

It seems that the LDS church can no longer stand by its doctrines of the past. Its solution? Deny they were ever doctrines, and take the book out of print.

Any church that can edit its own scriptures (!) can delete anything else.

For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition:  A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.

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