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.