Seven Deadly Heresies Now Doctrine

I just noticed something interesting about Bruce R. McConkie’s 1980 speech at BYU entitled, “Seven Deadly Heresies.” I was once attacked for citing this “non doctrinal [sic] speech” in talking about the doctrines of the LDS church.

However, I have been vindicated. The speech now bears the following copyright:

“© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.”

As my detractor noted, “Doctrine is found in the published works of the Church. You want to pin us down? There it is.” Anything bearing the IRI copyright has been through the Correlation process and published by the church, and is therefore official doctrine.

In this famous speech, McConkie contrasts “the revealed religion that has come to us with the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the diverse speculations descending therefrom,” giving his readers a choice between believing the prophets or accepting “the theories of men.” To underscore the impossibility of harmonizing evolution with the gospel, he compares Darwinism to “the false religions of the Dark Ages ” and the truths of God to “the truths of science as they have now been discovered.”

Some have insisted that McConkie was in this speech softening his position when he said, “These are questions to which all of us should find answers. Every person must choose for himself what he will believe. I recommend that all of you study and ponder and pray and seek light and knowledge in these and in all fields.”

Of course, this is like saying, You can choose to follow God or the philosophies of men. Come to think of it, that’s exactly how McConkie presents it. It has been said that McConkie “essentially says if you can find a way for it to work in the context of doctrine, more power to you.” That would explain why McConkie includes harmonizing evolution in a list of heresies. “If you can find a way for heresy to work in the context of doctrine, more power to you.” Does that sound like something McConkie would say?

Either way, the Seven Deadly Heresies are now doctrine:

1. God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.
2. Church members can harmonize evolution and doctrine.
3. Temple marriage assures us of an eventual exaltation.
4. The doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation.
5. There is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds.
6. Adam is our father and our god, … he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and … he is the one we worship.
7. We must be perfect to gain salvation.

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15 Responses to Seven Deadly Heresies Now Doctrine

  1. kuri says:

    You mean the speech is doctrine, not the heresies themselves, right? 😉

  2. melvinwalker says:

    I’m dumbfounded that people ever believed those, especially number 3. Haven’t they ever heard of the Second Annointing? *sheesh*

  3. lopaka says:

    With all due repect to your detractor, what he should have said was that the Standard Works of the Church are canon. Anything else may be considered opinion, if it isn’t in the Scriptures. And remember, these are ideas which some believe but are NOT doctrine.

    • runtu says:

      That’s not exactly how it works. Anything bearing a church copyright has been through a Correlation review and is thus considered consistent with doctrine.

      • Jeremy says:

        This is not exactly correct. For example, the Ensign is copyrighted by the church, however the only piece of doctrine is the First presidency message

        Second, any bit of doctrine will be shouted by the mountain tops, it wont be hidden in obscure places, it will be repeated again and again. “In the Mouths of 2 or 3 Witnesses Shall a Thing Be Established” (2 Cor. 13:1)

        The Lord teaches by repetition, the more repeated the more important. Many of these heresies have been repeated many times, and as such they are most definitely Gospel Doctrine.

        However, the second heresy was only spoken of by an apostle once, and here it is. There is no second witness by a prophet, seer, or revelator.

        Also by way of evidence. In the last paragraph before heresy number 3 we find the following statement “My reasoning causes me to conclude…” This is not the statement of Revelation, this is the opinion of one man, granted he was an apostle. But still it is the opinion of one man.

        Until it is repeated by other brethren who have been given the Apostolic calling, it will only be opinion.

      • runtu says:

        If it bears the church’s copyright, it has been through Correlation and has been deemed doctrinally consistent.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Again, in all humility… “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency…and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.” LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” lds.org (4 May 2007) With a direct link at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    The copyright symbol simply conveys ownership. Unless you want to assert that all materials including all pages of the LDS.org and mormon.org websites also attached to this copyright and are also scripture, Not to mention all advertising in all languages, must there for also be reviewed by the Apostles, and therefore also scripture.

    You would also have to include all comments by users, as they are also protected by the copyright.

    Occam’s razor in effect, the simplest answer is that it shows ownership, and not doctrine, so unless you can provide an apostle saying that everything that the church publishes is gospel doctrine, I will assume that it is only doctrine when it follows the command in the scriptures.

    • runtu says:

      I did not say they were “scripture.” The press release you cited explains it clearly: “With divine inspiration, the First Presidency…and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles … counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications.” In other words, what is published by the church (including everything the church publishes on LDS.org and Mormon.org) has been through a Correlation review and approval, meaning that it is consistent with doctrine. Your statement about comments is interesting. As far as I can see, the only comments anyone can make are the I’m a Mormon posts, which are reviewed, like everything else, by the Correlation committee; if they aren’t consistent with church doctrine, they are deleted. When I worked for the church (in publishing, I might add), we were taught repeatedly that what is approved by Correlation is consistent with doctrine. Thus, since the McConkie talk now bears an IRR copyright, it has been through a Correlation review and has been deemed consistent with doctrine.

      • Jeremy says:

        I don’t want to knit-pick, but you still have not provided any evidence that the copyright means that there is a consistency to doctrine.

        The quote you have pulled from what I linked talks about official church publication, it cannot be assumed to apply to any other source than that which it was framed.

        So let’s expand this then, can you find evidence of the second heresy expounded in any official publications from the church? Or any from an apostle in an official capacity?

        You are trying to pass of second hand knowledge as fact. “When I worked for the church (in publishing, I might add), we were taught repeatedly that what is approved by Correlation is consistent with doctrine.” At this time it is merely opinion, unless you can find a source in official church publication or an apostle.

        To prove both you will need proof for each. I am not trying to be difficult, but I do take the doctrine seriously, and so for me to accept it I would need to have verifiable evidence.

        I also find it terribly difficult that ads put out by the church would rank as high as doctrine (or in your words “consistent with doctrine”)

      • runtu says:

        As I said, you clearly do not know the history or purpose of the Correlation program, which was officially implemented in 1971, which is why LDS.org goes back only to 1971. Anything before that date was not subject to a Correlation review and thus cannot be guaranteed to be consistent with doctrine. As for my alleged secondhand training, what I said is completely consistent with the press release you quoted. The church has been clear about what is considered doctrine, and that has not changed since I worked for the church. It’s very simple. Here’s how the process works.

        1. A department determines that it wants to release a new publication.
        2. The publication is written by a volunteer committee.
        3. The document is reviewed and edited by the Curriculum Department (me and my colleagues), or by CES or church magazines.
        4. The document is reviewed by the Correlation Committee, which issues a report requesting any changes needed.
        5. The editor (my colleagues and I) makes the requested changes and returns the publication to the Correlation Committee.
        6. If the changes are satisfactory, the Correlation Committee approves the document.
        7. The originating department, the editor, and the supervising General Authority sign off on the publication.
        8. It is published with the church’s copyright (IRR).

        This is true for everything from organ recital programs and tourist pamphlets to Gospel Doctrine manuals and leadership handbooks. It all must be consistent with doctrine. This is not to say that church publications are in any way comparable to scripture. That McConkie’s talk bears the IRR copyright means that it has been through the process I described and has been deemed consistent with doctrine.

  5. Jeremy says:

    To clarify, the church has many publications, but only a few are considered “official”. And in the Ensign the only one that is considered doctrine, is the first presidency message.

    • runtu says:

      With all due respect, there is no statement anywhere saying that only a few church publications are official or that the First Presidency message is the only part of the Ensign that is doctrine. The whole point of Correlation is to guarantee uniformity of doctrine among all church publications. You don’t get to pick and choose which publications you consider official.

  6. Paul Plumb says:

    You may have uniformity of doctrine among all church publications, but the Ensign is not scripture. In Mosiah 18:19 Alma taught this doctrine – that the priests were to teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. Section 42:12 says, “and again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel” Because other items have been added to our scriptures including the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, they are also included here.

    Alma taught and it is scripture that you may teach anything found in the scriptures and those things spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. That includes the current 15 men at the head of the church and those who have died – including the talk assigned to be given by Elder McConkie to the BYU. That is the doctrine of the church – not some article in the Ensign written by you or me. The writings of members of the church in the Ensign may in fact be doctrinal, but you can not quote them and say “Thus saith Brother Runtu”

    Elder McConkie was on assignment and states in his talk that he purposely read his talk so there would not be any misunderstanding as to the doctrine of the Church.

  7. tesuji says:

    I agree with Runtu. McConkie was one of the twelve apostles when he gave this speech. We Mormons sustain our apostles as “prophets, seers, and revelators.”

    I personally find McConkie’s style a little off-putting, because he seems pretty dogmatic. So it is easy for me to let his rhetorical style prevent me from listening to the content of his message.

    Regarding evolution, I don’t want to put words in McConkie’s mouth, but it’s pretty clear he is talking about the “origin of man” aspect of evolution. The church leaders have repeatedly confirmed what McConkie says – man did not evolve from lower forms of life.

    However, there is more to evolution than just man’s origin: once life was on the earth, did it then evolve? Surely, this it did and still does. I imagine that if you said to McConkie, for example, “Look, bacteria clearly evolve to become resistant to drugs, and insects evolve to resist pesticides,” he would agree with you that clearly evolution is currently taking place in life on earth.

    I just listened to this “7 Deadly Heresies” talk again. He bases what he says on the scriptures, from what I can tell. If you have a problem with this talk, then do what McConkie himself counsels in this talk – ponder these things and go to the scriptures, and seek understanding and confirmation from the Holy Spirit.

    As far as I know, everything he said in this talk is still taught in the Mormon church as official doctrine.

    As far as gospel knowledge, we are all learning and we are all imperfect, including our church leaders. McConkie himself says in this talk that Christ is the only perfect person who has lived.

    I certainly think we should learn all we can in this life, both religious and secular learning. But I love Hugh Nibley’s statement that we are all really pretty ignorant – what matters in this life is forgiving and repenting.

    So I say let’s keep learning and pondering, but not get hung up debating things none of us currently know the final answers to.

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