Tuesday, November 26, 2019

“The Seven [or Ten] Deadly Heresies”: Thoughts on Elder McConkie’s Famous BYU Devotional Address

            In 1980 Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave a powerful devotional address at Brigham Young University. Most saw it as a sweet doctrinal feast at the table of the Lord, but some others were upset with it and have called it controversial to this day.

            The fact that Elder McConkie quoted scripture in-depth to refute man-made theories that God is still progressing in knowledge and that He used organic evolution to create man (Adam and Eve) did not sit well with those who favored these notions. In fact, those who disagreed with some of his named “heresies” have completely dismissed his teachings out of hand. This they have a right to do, since neither God nor His Church forces anyone to believe truth.

            They further point out that, because of some outcry from liberal voices, President Spencer W. Kimball asked Elder McConkie to soften some of his authoritative-sounding wording, so that readers would know he was speaking for himself and not for the First Presidency.[1] This he willingly did, so there are some differences between the audio and the printed versions. However, this address still caries substantial spiritual power, simply because the Apostle who delivered it taught doctrine from the revealed word of God, as one having authority. Obviously this fact still rankles the loud liberal/progressive elements in the Church today.

            Other heresies Elder McConkie noted and refuted in the talk were:

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Joseph Fielding McConkie Explains Symbolism in Abraham 3

            Note: With the arguing and theorizing going on in some (thankfully narrow) circles regarding the Book of Abraham, and some academics going so far as to call it “controversial” scripture, whatever that means, I found the below items refreshing, appealing, and insightful. They certainly don’t portray the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price as anything less than inspired modern revelation from the Prophet Joseph Smith. No matter what some academics, whether in or out of the church/BYU, may say about the Book of Abraham, all of the prophets and apostles and faithful saints have sustained and honored it as a choice scriptural text, part of the canonized standard works, and the voice of God to us today. 

            Joseph Fielding McConkie:

            It’s no fun to teach what you do not understand. As a Pearl of Great Price teacher, I did not look forward to teaching the first part of Abraham 3 in which the old Prophet is given an expansive vision of the order of heaven.
            I heard a few astronomers explain what was involved there and they had plenty of interesting things to say, but they generally lost me somewhere in space wondering how well I had to understand their science to be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Some Philosophies of Men Mingled with Doctrine

            The below quotations are taken from an online “Reddit” interview of Terry Givens, (wherein he was pitching a new book he has written about the Pearl of Great Price) containing his responses to questions, and also a few relevant comments from questioners. These are followed by statements of true church doctrine that refute Givens’ statements:

Givens: I think the significance of the BofM, for Joseph and the world generally, was that it was a sign pointing to a renewal of the miraculous universe. It contained very little that was new theologically.

Response: I don’t think most members of the Church would recognize this assertion on the “significance of the Book of Mormon.” If by a “sign” of the “miraculous universe” he means the Book of Mormon is a sign of the beginning of the unfolding of the restoration of the gospel to the earth, then, yes, it is—but why not just say that? Otherwise, the title page of the book indicates its true purpose: “to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” Further, the assertion that it contains very little new theologically is unjustified and would be disputed by many students of that volume of scripture.

Interview question: How can I strengthen my testimony once I’ve started to doubt Joseph’s gift of translation?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Jana Reiss’s Flunking Doctrine

            I have almost come to dread running into Jana Reiss’s blog posts because they are so inept and activist for modern progressive/liberal propaganda. I don’t know what missionaries taught her the discussions/Preach My Gospel, but either they did one lousy job, or she didn’t listen, and instead got her “gospel” knowledge from internet dissidents and our severely troubled society at large.

            These erroneous sources of information have enabled her to misunderstand and misstate most everything she muses or complains about in her aptly named “flunking” blog. Perhaps she knows she is clueless about what she writes; I don’t know. Yet she does have the modern misinformed activists agenda, and that keeps her from gaining any improvement or enlightenment regarding gospel subjects.

            She recently criticized President Dallin H. Oaks, pitting her false understanding of the gospel against his correct teachings in General Conference. The result is that she looks like a fool with a third-grade level of competence. (I sometimes wonder why someone so poorly informed feels to open her mouth and remove all doubt.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Seeking Truth

            Some months ago I noticed the comments of a critic of the Church posted on a (highly critical) chat-site forum. This person wanted to engage with me in a discussion (debate) about Church history and doctrine in hopes of causing doubt or loss of faith. His opening catch-phrase was clever. Something like: “I assume he is a truth-seeker” (meaning me). This was meant to sound innocent; after all, for goodness sake, shouldn’t we all be truth-seekers?; especially Latter-day Saints?

            At first glance I knew sophistry was in play. I realized that this question “are you/is he a truth-seeker,” was a wolf-question in sheep-question disguise. It was a way to ensnare, to set a trap. Something like “beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.”

            But it also gave me further occasion to ponder whether or not I am a truth-seeker, and if so, what kind of truth-seeker I am, and this caused me to engage in some introspection. Sometimes the deceptions of the enemy (Satan’s mortal servants and spokespeople who often don’t know they are) can prod thoughtful people into adjusting or refining their thinking and views, and such was the case for me. While I made no direct response to the subtle crafty critic then, I now offer some broader thoughts on the subject.

Friday, October 4, 2019

LGBT Activists and Reporters Oppose the Prophets Again

             In an LGBT activist “news story” recently published by the Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Stack, the (alleged) religion reporter and progressive activist, took special aim at President Dallin H. Oaks’ message to church leaders in the General Authority leadership training session of General Conference. (Whether this Tribune piece is really news is debatable, but it did give Peggy an opening to gripe.) President Oaks referenced and defined the word “gender” in the Proclamation on the Family and in other church publication since then, and clarified that it meant biological birth sex—not what some confused person might decide to decree for themselves later. “ ‘Finally, the long-standing doctrinal statements reaffirmed in [The Family: A Proclamation to the World] 23 years ago will not change. They may be clarified as directed by inspiration.’ For example, ‘the intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation and as used in Church statements and publications since that time is biological sex at birth.’ ”

            This doctrinal statement and clarification from President Oaks evidently upset and offended some LGBT activists, including Peggy Stack (the religion reporter), who then raced to collect some quotations from her activist contacts that could be used to criticize the story. Hence the title including the misleading words “dark day for transgender Latter-day Saints.” The fact that a non-Latter-day Saint (a transgender excommunicant) gave her the quote is ignored; maybe it is simply the fault of a bad headline writer).

            This excommunicated (former) member, who clearly decided it was more important to portray themselves as supposedly becoming the opposite sex than to be a member of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is then referenced again: “Oaks’ definition of gender as being the ‘biological sex at birth,’ she [or really he] said, directly contradicts Hall’s own ‘personal revelation.’ ” Stack explained that this person “believes that gender is eternal but that she was born in the wrong body.” And “That is a view shared by many transgender Latter-day Saints who continue in their faith and practice with the church.”

            There are some major issues brought up here. One pertains to the validity of “personal revelation” that contradicts the position of the Church of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. Another is the faulty doctrinal notions of the transgender group Stack references. It might very well be that the very reason that the First Presidency devoted some time to clarifying this doctrine is because some people were viewing it wrong. And another is to speak of “transgender Latter-day Saints who continue in their faith and practice with the church.” People who use surgery and hormones to attempt to change their God-given sex would be highly restricted in any “faith” or “practice” in the Church; their status would leave them able to do little more than a nonmember.

            President Harold B. Lee shared an experience from his tenure as a stake president that explains this transgender activist’s experience with getting false personal revelation. A man in his stake had committed gross immorality, having “harmed a lovely young girl.” The stake presidency and high council met for most of a night and deliberated. The verdict was that the man should be excommunicated. That morning, the man’s brother met a weary President Lee at his office. “This man said, ‘I want to tell you that my brother wasn’t guilty of that thing which you charged him with.’ ‘How do you know he wasn’t guilty?’ I asked. ‘Because I prayed, and the Lord told me he was innocent,’ the man answered.” Thereafter followed a little discussion, in which President Lee interviewed this man who was the brother of the man who was excommunicated. He quickly learned that the man was inactive, did not keep the commandments, and was angry with (had been offended by) his bishop. He did not pray or read the scriptures. President Lee then explained to him how attending church and keeping the commandments and praying and studying the word of God were necessary activities that helped someone to carry the Spirit of the Lord with them and receive personal revelation; the most important one of all being keeping the law of chastity; being morally clean.

            “ ‘Now then,’ I said, ‘fifteen of the best living men in the Pioneer Stake prayed last night. They heard the evidence and every man was united in saying that your brother was guilty. Now, you, who do none of these things, you say you prayed, and you got an opposite answer. How would you explain that?’ Then this man gave an answer that I think was a classic. He said, ‘Well, President Lee, I think I must have gotten my answer from the wrong source.’ And you know that’s just as great a truth as we can have. We get our answer from the source of the power we list to obey. If we’re keeping the commandments of the devil, we’ll get the answer from the Devil.”

            Could any clearer explanation of this current transgender person’s scenario be given, than that set forth 67 years ago by a prophet of God? Anyone getting answers to prayers that conflict with or contradict the word of the Lord as given through His prophets and apostles can easily conclude they are getting their answers from the Devil, like this confused activist did. He/she won’t accept this truth because it runs counter to their new worldly sinful lifestyle and culture, but it is true nonetheless.

            The second issue is whether male spirits can mistakenly get born in female bodies, or female spirits be born in male bodies. We should just as well ask whether God is perfect or not, whether He makes mistakes or not, whether He is omnipotent or not, and so forth. If we buy this argument, then God becomes imperfect and ceases to be God (some baloney that many LGBT activists are arguing is the case anyway).

God does not make mistakes; He puts the right spirit in the right body: male in male and female in female; that we can know with absolute surety. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said that President Marion G. Romney taught the Brethren that God has never put a female spirit in a male body or a male spirit in a female body. "Just a word about homosexuality. President Marion G. Romney said, 'the God of heaven will never put a female spirit in a male body and he’ll never put a male spirit in a female body.' You can write that down as God’s truth. . . . You’re going to hear so much of it in this generation. You need to hear and understand the word of the Lord in this dispensation. And understand the great direction the Brethren have given over the years." God does not make mistakes. The LGBT activist’s arguments are erroneous and only lead themselves and others astray. But Peggy Stack must make an issue of it, being a marvelously misled activist herself—even if it means criticizing in public print a prophet of God. The sad thing is, General Conference time is the most visible time for her to do it and she knows it.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Another Mistaken BYU Harmonize-Evolution-with-Doctrine Movement

“There is no need to attempt to harmonize conflicting views when some of the
views are out of harmony with the Standard Works. This is what life is all about.
The Lord is finding out what we will believe in spite of the allurements of the
world or the philosophies of men or the seemingly rational and logical
explanations that astute people make.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie[1]

“Informed members of the Church know that when they come across statements or
 doctrinal explanations which are contrary to what is in the revealed word, they are duty
bound to reject such.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie[2]

“I see others, [BYU Students] sharp, cynical, skeptical, in the know-it-all arrogance of blossoming young manhood and womanhood. They have inquisitive minds. They are easily taught—and easily led astray. Teach these with extra care.” Elder Boyd K. Packer[3]

            I may be behind the news, but I recently learned, to my dismay, that some professors in the Brigham Young University Biology Department are actively promoting another attempt to harmonize evolution with the gospel. Such a misguided and possibly even spiritually dangerous effort must not go unchallenged and uncorrected.
            I recognize and fully appreciate that BYU biologists must study and teach evolution for the school to be acceptable to the world as an accredited institution of higher learning. I also enthusiastically appreciate the almost inestimable value of the great majority of science for the betterment of the world.
            What is not appreciated, and what is unacceptable, is when the theories of the historical life sciences are forced to mix with the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in ancient and modern revelation—specifically, the theory (or theories) of organic evolution. Round pegs just don’t fit in square holes without causing damage; in this case spiritual harm. Where this latest BYU movement loses its way, as with its predecessors, is in supposing it can harmonize evolution of any brand with revealed gospel doctrine.