As long as I’ve been online I’ve been fascinated by how polarizing any discussion of Bruce R. McConkie becomes. I have never understood why a group of supposedly believing Latter-day Saints should be of such divided opinion on the teachings of a prophet who wrote most of our Bible Dictionary, the chapter headings in our standard works, and is cited so often in some of our most basic doctrinal texts.
One of the things that I was surprised to learn in the light of Elder McConkie’s controversial reputation is that his book, Mormon Doctrine, is cited in the back of our Gospel Essentials manual, Gospel Principles. Now hasn’t this manual been through correlation? Isn’t this the manual used to teach investigators and our newest members the most basic teachings of the Church? Why then would this committee written and approved book, include Mormon Doctrine in a very short list of “Books Cited?” It is alongside such works as The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, Stand Ye in Holy Places by Harold B. Lee, Gospel Ideals by David O. McKay, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, and Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage? After all, there are only twenty-three titles on the list. Why include Mormon Doctrine if there is so much bad doctrine in it? It just doesn’t make sense.
The answer, of course, is that there is not a lot of bad doctrine in the book. Sure, much of the book consists of Elder McConkie’s personal opinions on doctrine and the scriptures. But who is to say that his opinions are not true? Are his opinions untrue just because one disagrees with them? And if a Latter-day Saint has a different opinion on doctrine, why should we prefer his? Does he know the scriptures better? Has he a stronger command of the teachings of the modern prophets? Maybe he is a lot smarter than Elder McConkie, could that be it? Or perhaps he is closer to the Lord and receives more revelation?
I think those who hold a negative opinion of Bruce R. McConkie don’t like him primarily because of his articles on blacks and evolution. And they don’t like his tone of authority.
Yet the Lord called him to be an Apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve, even after his outrageous disobedience in publishing a Second Edition. I’m surprised the Lord would do this considering how wrong headed his opinions were, aren’t you?