Saying goodbye to Mormon Doctrine

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Matt W. over at New Cool Thang reported that the Church is releasing a new version of Gospel Principles for the priesthood/Relief Society curriculum next year.

I found the following very interesting.

Some statements previously had references on them which no longer appear, notable references to “Discourses of Brigham Young”, and “Mormon Doctrine?” are now missing. (In fact, for those interested, the book no longer has any citations to Mormon Doctrine at all)

Does this mean the Church is trying to wean its members of Mormon Doctrine?

24 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to Mormon Doctrine

  1. 50 years from now they’ll be weaning our grandchildren off from the teachings of today. That’s the pattern.

  2. The first time I heard it called “McConkie Doctrine” in priesthood, (by a prospective father-in-law no less) I laughed my a$$ off.

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go, as a bona-fide eccentric, I’m personally more dissapointed to see Discoures of Brigham Young being phased out. Brother Brigham is much more interesting and entertaining that McConkie.

  3. I agree with #1, it is just a matter of time. I am actually surprised that so many of the other manuals (YW, YM, and the various Sunday School manuals) still carry so much outdated material. I would love to see more from the Hinckley-era in our lessons.

  4. Not surprising. Mormon Doctrine never went through correlation. It’s interesting in that McConkie would opine on speculative subjects most people wouldn’t touch, but it never was authoritative.

    I’d not expect to see a manual that contained citations of anything other than the scriptures and correlated materials such as the published versions of GA talks, etc.

  5. You make a good point, Brent. But what comprehensive volume is used today as much as Mormon Doctrine was 20 years ago?

    David, Discourses of Brigham Young are being phased out? I thought they were phased out years ago.

    Good post, Nitsav.

    Chris, I, too, would love to see material from recent general conferences used in manuals. I think doing so would reiterate to the members how important it is to listen to the messages of the living prophets rather than just the dead ones.

    Nice to have you, Greg. Not sure if you remember me or not, but we used to be on several of the same mailing lists several years ago. I used to really like McConkie, but over time, I realized he had a lot of opinions based extrapolating the scriptures, but members held everything he taught with equal weight.

  6. I wouldn’t mind seeing it go if I felt that anyone else had stepped up to the plate and produced an encyclopedic work of similar caliber. So far, I don’t think anyone has.

    Until you have a better tool, best not throw away the ones you have.

  7. I tell my students that encyclopias are very poor secondary sources. They are too basic. So something like MD might has it’s purpose, but it should not be the basis for other texts.

  8. The reason “Mormon Doctrine” achieved such widespread use (despite the obvious flaws revealed by decades of scrutiny) was that it was EASY. Just read what McConkie thinks, and phew! now I don’t have to. I can just step in line behind some authority and I no longer have to engage my own gray matter. Without a “better tool” we listened to the tool we had. (yes, take the statement both ways and run with it! :) )

    Is “Mormon Doctrine” really more powerful? No. Faster. Easier. More seductive it is.

    i actually think that McConkies extrapolations are highly indicative of the dangers of attempting to explain things in spite of the considerable handicap of faulty assumptions. Turns out the faulty assumptions were that his “doctrine” presupposed that a bunch of stuff that past prophets and apostles had said was actually true.

  9. True enough, Chris, but I don’t think most members reading Mormon Doctrine or the Encyclopedia of Mormonism are writing research papers.


    Your first paragraph reminded me of an experience. When I was elders quorum president many years ago, one of our instructors was quite the scriptorian. Our Gospel Doctrine instructor had him teach the last lesson of the year for the New Testament curriculum.

    Toward the end of the lesson, a class member asked him, “What book do you recommend to understand Revelation better?”

    He responded, ”The Book of Revelation”.

  10. Chris, I, too, would love to see material from recent general conferences used in manuals. I think doing so would reiterate to the members how important it is to listen to the messages of the living prophets rather than just the dead ones.

    I doubt anyone who has any association with the curriculum/correlation department would disagree. I imagine there might be reasons like budget or time restraints that limit how much they can revamp at a time.

  11. David, Nephi says the same thing about Isaiah. It was only after several months of studying Nephi’s quoting and expounding on Isaiah that have begun to understand this.

    I agree, m&m. That being said, since they were editing Gospel Principles anyway, I’m sure they could have added something recent.

    Are you saying this post and its comments are controversial, R. Gary?

  12. I don’t think the members gorged themselves on Mormon Doctrine merely because it was “easy” as someone said above. Perhaps another reason was the fact that the sixties and seventies were shifty times — morally speaking. McConkie may have been wrong on some things, and perhaps incited an irrational hyper-orthodoxy in those who were already prone to it. But he did provide a valuable service for many members who were trying to anchor themselves against the deluge of relativism and atheism that began to sweep the earth in those days.

  13. I’m so glad they’re not going to footnote Mormon Doctrine anymore. It was more a product of its times than an authoritative source. Definitely not scripture.

    Anyone else hear the rumor that next year we’ll all be using the Gospel Essentials manual in RS/Priesthood?

  14. Johnna, that’s what I said in my post. That’s what Matt claims in the post to which I liked.

    Your ward clerk should be receiving the curriculum order form soon. You can check with him.

  15. Bruce R. McConkie may have gotten a few things wrong. I am not sorry to see us move away from his book but I can never say anything but good about this great man. He is an example to us all.

  16. It is worth keeping in mind that McConkie’s book was the flash point for the First Presidency (in this case under David O McKay) to put its foot firmly down and require any book by a General Authority to be OKed by them. David O McKay was apparently quite upset with the book.

    We have Joseph Smith’s comment to his lawyer (Butterfield, Justin I think) saying that Mormons have no creeds and don’t want them because they would hem us in. The problem with works like McConkie’s is that they seem authoritive and in many ways became a defacto creed for many members.

    Now if we could just get him out of the CES materials I would be happy.

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