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Monday, August 31, 2015

David H. Bailey haunted by Bruce R. McConkie

More than 30 years after his death, and nearly 60 years after he published his book, Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie is still haunting David H. Bailey with these 16 words:

"There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution."

Last year, David H. Bailey published a paper that purports to be a history of the Church's stand on evolution. Included is a short treatment of McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, including a quotation from Mormon Doctrine of the 16 words cited above. Then Bailey says this about McConkie's book:

"President McKay asked a committee consisting of Elders Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney to review the book. Elder Petersen reported finding 1067 difficulties, which 'affected most of the 776 pages of the book,' while Elder Romney listed 40 areas of concern, including the treatment of 'evolution and evolutionists.' The consensus at the time was that Elder McConkie was not to publish a second edition, although subsequently a second edition appeared in 1966."[1]

Bailey's description of the relationship that existed between Church leaders and McConkie's book parallels the account found in the book, David O. McKay: The Rise of Modern Mormonism, by Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright. In fact, Bailey lists that book as a source for this part of his article. Unfortunately, Prince and Wright give us a dishonest picture of Bruce R. McConkie and his book.


Prince and Wright Malign Mcconkie

Background: For the last 35 years of David O. McKay's life, Clare Middlemiss was his personal secretary. After her death it came to light that over the years she had made unauthorized copies of 130,000 pages of a wide variety of things ranging from McKay's diary and personal letters to transcripts of First Presidency meetings. She stored the copies in her garage and bequeathed them to a nephew who, with the help of a friend, used them to write David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, University of Utah Press, 2005). The following explains how this book wrongfully discredits and defames Elder Bruce R. McConkie.


BRUCE R. MCCONKIE (1915-1985) was not yet a member of the Twelve when Mormon Doctrine was published. He was 43 years old. The book was published by Bookcraft (privately owned) instead of Deseret Book (Church owned), and the title itself was deemed by some to be inappropriately audacious. Today, after nearly six decades, the book is still a lightening rod for criticism of its author.

In 1999, when Bookcraft was acquired by Deseret Book, many people thought Mormon Doctrine would quietly disappear from the bookstores. Instead, Deseret Book began printing the book as one of its own titles.

In 2010, however, Deseret Book decided to drop Mormon Doctrine. That decision sparked open rejoicing in some quarters and lively discussions on quite a few LDS blogs. Several bloggers claimed the book should never have survived the 1950's because President McKay found over a thousand errors in it when it was first published.

This thousand errors rumor found new life in 2005 when Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright published David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism and included a short section titled "The Controversy over Mormon Doctrine."[2] (You can read that section of the book here.)

Given the enormous frequency with which Mormon Doctrine has been quoted in official LDS media for nearly 60 years, it is surprising that anyone could believe the book contains a thousand errors. Yet, by simply omitting a few significant aspects of the Mormon Doctrine story, the rumor is made to appear believable.

Let's begin by looking at a few events that Prince and Wright did include.


1958: "Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the First Council of the Seventy ... published an encyclopedic book with the presumptuous title of Mormon Doctrine."[3]

1959: David O. McKay asked Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney to critique Mormon Doctrine for him.[4]

1960: Marion G. Romney's letter to David O. McKay was reviewed (but see the 1959 Romney omission, below) and Mark E. Petersen "gave McKay an oral report in which he recommended 1,067 corrections."[5] The First Presidency asked Elder McConkie to drop his future plans for Mormon Doctrine.[6]

1966: McConkie "moved with the same boldness of eight years earlier, and published a second edition of Mormon Doctrine."[7]

The short Mormon Doctrine story published by Prince and Wright definitely makes a point. But does it portray a fair and accurate picture of Bruce R. McConkie? I don't think it does. Here are some things Prince and Wright neglected to mention.

Petersen's career. Admittedly, the exact nature of each of Elder Petersen's 1,067 recommended corrections isn't known, but I think it helps to remember his professional career.

Prior to his call to the Twelve, Petersen was employed for many years by the Deseret News. He started as a copy reader, then worked as a news editor, later he was managing editor, and finally editor of the newspaper.[8] He was fully qualified by training and experience to look at Mormon Doctrine from a professional editor's point of view.

It seems unlikely to me that someone skilled at looking for spelling and grammar errors would suddenly adopt a different approach on McConkie's book and concentrate only on erroneous teachings. Why ignore Elder Petersen's professional background and speculate that his list included mostly doctrinal errors?

In all likelihood, his list covered the whole spectrum of editorial corrections. It is ludicrous to think that Petersen found 1,067 doctrinal errors in the book.

In 1958, Bookcraft was a fledgling publisher without a full-time editor. An editor would have found and dealt with most of Petersen's list prior to Mormon Doctrine's initial publication.[9]

The Inspired Version. It is also possible that some of the doctrinal errors Elder Petersen did find were, in the end, not actually doctrinal errors. For example, Elder McConkie and Elder Petersen are on record with differing viewpoints about the Inspired Version of the Bible. Elder McConkie thought it could "be used with safety"[10] while Elder Petersen thought it was "of questionable value."[11]

Why speculate that Elder Petersen didn't mark for correction any of Mormon Doctrine's references to the Inspired Version? In all likelihood, as many as 170 such references were on his list of recommended changes.[12]

Then in 1979, just twenty years later, more than 600 "doctrinally significant ... excerpts from the JST (previously known as the Inspired Version)" became part of the LDS edition of the Bible after "the First Presidency decided" to include them.[13]

Clearly, these Inspired Version changes may now be used with safety. For all practical purposes, they "are scripture and have the same truth and validity as if they were in the Pearl of Great Price itself."[14]

Romney's opinion. It is noteworthy that prior to being called as General Authorities, both Marion G. Romney and Bruce R. McConkie practiced law in Salt Lake City and both held the title, at different times, of assistant city attorney.[15] It makes sense that President McKay would invite an attorney to review another attorney's book for him.

On January 5, 1959, President McKay asked Elder Romney to review Mormon Doctrine. Twenty three days later, on January 28, 1959, Elder Romney wrote David O. McKay a lengthy letter detailing his findings. (The 1959 dates of January 5th and 28th are not mentioned by Prince and Wright, who imply that Romney didn't respond until January 7, 1960.)

Having been asked to look for problems, Elder Romney responded accordingly[16] and apparently, his letter was reviewed again the following year on January 7th as pointed out by Prince and Wright who were careful to quote some of his negative comments.[17]

But in addition to his criticisms of Mormon Doctrine, Elder Romney made positive comments about the book and we ought to consider them as well. They have been summarized as follows:

"In general, Elder Romney had a high regard for Mormon Doctrine and felt it filled an evident need remarkably well."[18]

Significantly, Romney did in fact quote from Mormon Doctrine in one of his own subsequent general conference talks.[19]

The second edition. According to Prince and Wright, David O. McKay told McConkie on July 5, 1966, that "should the book be re-published at this time" McConkie would be responsible for it. Then Prince and Wright give us this choice bit of reasoning.

"McConkie, who practiced law prior to becoming a General Authority, was well versed in the legal meaning of words; and so one is hard pressed to concluded that he misunderstood McKay's cautionary statement, 'should the book be re-published,' as a mandate to republish."[20]

According to Bruce R. McConkie's son, "On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was assigned to be Elder McConkie's mentor in making those changes."[21]

I myself cannot believe that Bruce R. McConkie misunderstood Spencer W. Kimball's assignment in the preparation of a Mormon Doctrine second edition.[22]

"There were about fifty items that Elder Kimball wanted Elder McConkie to revisit... They dealt with tone and with the wisdom of including particular things.... Elder Kimball was a wise mentor who taught [Elder McConkie] the difference between being right and being appropriate.... Elder Kimball's list of things that needed changing [was] much less extensive than the changes that were made in the second edition....

"The report submitted to the First Presidency by Elder Spencer W. Kimball indicates that he checked changes made on fifty-six pages, all of which he approved. He did not indicate a single instance of doctrinal disagreement with what was written."[23]

Called to the Twelve. In 1972, when the First Presidency and the Twelve approved Bruce R. McConkie to be presented and sustained as the Church's newest Apostle, Marion G. Romney was a member of the First Presidency and Mark E. Petersen was a senior Apostle.

According to Prince and Wright, the reports prepared by Elders Romney and Peterson led to a First Presidency decision that Mormon Doctrine should not be reprinted. Yet in 1966 McConkie "moved with the same boldness of eight years earlier, and published a second edition" anyway, according to Prince and Wright.[24]

But notice that Romney and Petersen both approved McConkie's 1972 call to the apostleship. Clearly they had a much more complete understanding of Mormon Doctrine's history than is found in Prince and Wright.


Contrary to rumor. President David O. McKay did NOT find over a thousand errors in Mormon Doctrine. Copies published by Deseret Book carried this Publisher's Note:

"Mormon Doctrine has for decades been a classic work on certain beliefs and practices unique to the Latter-day Saints. A reflection of the times and culture in which it was written, this monumental work has added to the understanding of countless members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

McConkie was a doctrinal giant. Mormon Doctrine was a prodigious work. Yet by simply omitting key elements of the story, Prince and Wright created a false picture of "The Controversy over Mormon Doctrine."


Conclusion. Mormon Doctrine is a classic of Mormon literature. As the author's son, Joseph Fielding McConkie, has pointed out:

"Few books can match it in endurance or number of copies sold. Perhaps few books, except the scriptures, can match it in the frequency with which it has been quoted in talks and lessons by those seeking to teach gospel principles."[25]

And the influence of Bruce R. McConkie himself is greatly underestimated by those who ignore his reputation among those with whom he served as a Church leader. According to President Ezra Taft Benson, the First Presidency and Twelve frequently turned to Elder McConkie on matters of doctrine.[26]

His part in the preparation of the 1979 LDS Bible and 1981 edition of the triple combination was monumental. He was one of three (along with Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer) assigned by the First Presidency to oversee the project. He personally wrote all of the newly revised chapter and section headings and his imprint is on many entries in the LDS Bible Dictionary.

The scripture project, said Boyd K. Packer “was one great crowning achievement in Brother McConkie's ministry.... If ever there was a man who was raised up unto a very purpose, if ever a man was prepared against a certain day of need, it was Bruce R. McConkie." According to President Packer, the project "could not have been done without Elder Bruce R. McConkie."[27]

Boyd K. Packer served closely with Bruce R. McConkie during that project and believes "few will ever know the extent of the service he rendered. Few can appraise the lifetime of preparation for this quiet crowning contribution to the onrolling of the restored gospel in the dispensation of the fulness of times."[28]



Notes

1. David H. Bailey, "History of the LDS Church's view on the age of the earth and evolution" (Click here).

2. Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. SLC: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp.49-53.

3. Prince and Wright, p.49.

4. Prince and Wright, p.50.

5. Prince and Wright, p.50. One wonders how long it took to give an oral report of 1,067 corrections.

6. Prince and Wright, pp.51-52.

7. Prince and Wright, pp.52-53.

8. Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Mar. 1984, p.9.

9. See Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, SLC: Deseret Book, 2003, pp.186-187.

10. Elder McConkie stated in Mormon Doctrine:

"At the command of the Lord and while acting under the spirit of revelation, the Prophet corrected, revised, altered, added to, and deleted from the King James Version of the Bible to form what is now commonly referred to as the Inspired Version of the Bible....

"Such Biblical revisions as have been made may be used with safety, and parts of these are now published by the Church in its standard works [including] the Book of Moses [and] the revised 24th chapter of Matthew." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, 1966, pp.383-385; the same wording is in the 1958 first edition.)

11. Elder Petersen stated in As Translated Correctly:

"It will be recalled that the Prophet Joseph Smith began what truly was an inspired translation of the Bible, but persecutions and his subsequent martyrdom made it impossible for him to finish the work. Certain parts which he did finish are now printed in the Pearl of Great Price as the Book of Moses and the 24th Chapter of Matthew.

"Not satisfied with these, however, the Reorganized Church decided to publish the 'inspired version' including what changes the Prophet had made. But, not happy with all of his changes, THEY ALTERED THE BIBLE TO SUIT THEIR OWN DESIRES, and actually changed some of the corrections made by the Prophet Joseph himself....

"Such changes of course make the work of questionable value, because the ordinary reader is at a loss to know what the Prophet corrected and what the Reorganized Church 'corrected' (?) to their own liking." (Mark E. Petersen, As Translated Correctly, SLC: Deseret Book, 1966, p.30; capitalized emphasis and "(?)" in the original.)

12. See Dennis B. Horne, Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings, Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2000, pp.63-64.

13. Robert J. Matthews, "Why does the LDS edition of the Bible not contain all of the corrections and additions made by Joseph Smith?" Ensign, June 1992, p.29; see also David Rolph Seely, "The Joseph Smith Translation: 'Plain and Precious Things' Restored," Ensign, Aug. 1997, p.13

14. On March 10, 1985, a Churchwide satellite fireside on "Using the Scriptures" was held. Speakers included President Gordon B. Hinckley and the three Apostles (Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie) who served on the Scriptures Publication Committee during the preparation of the new LDS edition of the scriptures. During this fireside, Elder McConkie said:

"Other Inspired Version changes are found in the footnotes of our new edition of the Bible. Those too lengthy for inclusion in the footnotes are published in a seventeen-page section at the back of this Bible edition. All of these changes and additions are scripture and have the same truth and validity as if they were in the Pearl of Great Price itself." (Ensign, Dec. 1985, p.58.)

15. See Ensign, July 1988, p.74 (Romney) and New Era, June 1985, p.9 (McConkie).

16. Horne, p.63.

17. Prince and Wright, p.50. Prince and Wright date the letter Jan. 7, 1960, but I've seen multiple sources that date it Jan. 28, 1959 (i.e. Horne, p.63).

18. Horne, p.63.

19. See Ensign, May 1974, p.90.

20. Prince and Wright, pp.52.

21. Reflections, p.183.

22. Reflections, p.183.; see also Horne, pp.65-66.

23. Reflections, pp.187 and 191.

24. Prince and Wright, pp.51-53.

25. Reflections, p.182.

26. Ensign, June 1985, p.16.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Look up, not down, to find the origin of man

A few years ago, BYU Zoology Professor Duane Jeffery (now retired) announced that, "Amongst vertebrates, there is a sequence (in the fossil record) all the way from fish to humans." (BYU Daily Universe, June 5, 1996; see also Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 11, 2006.) Some Church members have suggested that this explains the origin of man.

Boyd K. Packer didn't agree. He said, "When confronted by evidence in the rocks below, rely on the witness of the heavens above." ("The Law and the Light," BYU, 1990.)

Currently, the Church's web site (JesusChrist.LDS.org) features Boyd K. Packer discussing "Who is Jesus Christ" and, in the process, explaining why we must look up, not down, to find the origin of man.

"Created in His Image

"We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon, and in the endowment that man's mortal body was made in the image of God in a separate creation. Had the Creation come in a different way, there could have been no Fall.

"If men were merely animals, then logic favors freedom without accountability.

"How well I know that among learned men are those who look down at animals and stones to find the origin of man. They do not look inside themselves to find the spirit there. They train themselves to measure things by time, by thousands and by millions, and say these animals called men all came by chance. And this they are free to do, for agency is theirs.

"But agency is ours as well. We look up, and in the universe we see the handiwork of God and measure things by epochs, by aeons, by dispensations, by eternities. The many things we do not know, we take on faith.

"But this we know! It was all planned 'before the world was' (D&C 38:1; see also D&C 49:17, 76:13, 39, 93:7, Abraham 3:22—25). Events from the Creation to the final, winding-up scene are not based on chance; they are based on choice! It was planned that way.

"This we know! This simple truth! Had there been no Creation and no Fall, there should have been no need for any Atonement, neither a Redeemer to mediate for us. Then Christ need not have been."

(JesusChrist.LDS.org, click the image below.)

The above passage affirms and amplifies what he once said in general conference:

"Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles." (Ensign, Nov. 1984.)


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The earth, God's handiwork

D&C 104:14: "I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine."



ABSOLUTE TRUTH

Spencer W. Kimball: "The watchmaker in Switzerland, with materials at hand, made the watch that was found in the sand in a California desert. The people who found the watch had never been to Switzerland, nor seen the watchmaker, nor seen the watch made. The watchmaker still existed, no matter the extent of their ignorance or experience. If the watch had a tongue, it might even lie and say, 'There is no watchmaker.' That would not alter the truth....

"The Gods organized the earth of materials at hand, over which they had control and power. This truth is absolute. A million educated folk might speculate and determine in their minds that the earth came into being by chance. The truth remains. The earth was made by the Gods as was the watch by the watchmaker. Opinions do not change that.

"The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true." (Ensign, July 1979.)


THE LIVING PROPHET

Thomas S. Monson: With thoughtful consideration the Living Prophet reasons, if there is design in the world, there "must be a designer." According to President Monson, "the Grand Designer" created the heaven and the earth. For example, there was light, President Monson said, because the Grand Designer said "Let there be light." The sun, moon, and stars "came by His design."

"Man alone," said President Monson, "received intelligence, a brain, a mind, and a soul. Man alone with these attributes had the capacity for faith and hope, for inspiration and ambition." He said man is "the noblest work of the Great Designer." (Ensign, May 2010.)


THE MOST RECENT GENERAL CONFERENCE

Jeffrey R. Holland: "The simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.

"I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family." (Ensign, May 2015.)

D. Todd Christofferson: "We came to dwell on the earth that He [our Heavenly Father] created for us. ... our claims for the role of marriage and family rest not on social science but on the truth that they are God’s creation. It is He who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife." (Ensign, May 2015.)

Neil L. Andersen: "The Lord declared, 'I am able to do mine own work.' (2 Nephi 27:20.) We each try to do our part, but He is the grand architect. Under the direction of His Father, He created this world. 'All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.' (John 1:3.) As we are spiritually awake and alert, we see His hand across the world and we see His hand in our own personal lives." (Ensign, May 2015.)

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hearing the voice of the Lord

"Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear.

"...and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;...

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:11, 14, 38.)


This post is an updated reprint from ten years ago (click here).

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Exposing the enemies of Christ

According to Ezra Taft Benson, exposing the enemies of Christ is the second of two basic ways that the Book of Mormon brings men to Christ. In a 1975 general conference talk titled, "The Book of Mormon is the Word of God," Ezra Taft Benson said the Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. And second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ.

Ezra Taft Benson gave this 1975 talk again during the April 1986 Regional Representatives' Seminar on the eve of his first general conference as Prophet. He subsequently gave the same talk more than twenty times in regional and area conferences during his first year as Church President (see Church News, Dec. 21, 1986, p.3). He gave a copy of this talk to the general authorities in a temple meeting on March 5th, 1987 (as reported in the Ensign, Mar. 1994, p.61). And he published this talk as his January, 1988, First Presidency message during his third year as Church President. Based on the number of times he repeated this talk, it's message is probably crucial to understanding his ministry as Prophet. He said:

"Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time....

"The situation in the world will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God and quit building up and upholding secret combinations, which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of ancient civilizations." (Ensign, Jan. 1988 ; emphasis added.)

Below are six statements by Ezra Taft Benson regarding a secret combination that is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. These warnings have come to us from God through Ezra Taft Benson. All six statements were made after his call in 1985 to be President of the Church. They cannot be safely ignored. Without an understanding of these prophetic warnings, we cannot correctly interpret national and world events.

In addition, Ezra Taft Benson's apostolic statements during the 42 years prior to his becoming President of the Church are also helpful as we seek to understand his counsel on this important subject. Remember, God does not call as Prophets men who teach false doctrine.


1. SECRET COMBINATIONS

1.1.  Oct. 1986: "From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. . . .

"We should constantly ask ourselves, 'Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?'" (Conference Report, Oct. 1986, Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 6-7; also The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 59.)

1.2.  April 1989: "Secret combinations . . . are built up to get power, gain, and glory of the world. (See Hel. 7:5; Ether 8:9, 16, 22-23; Moses 5:31.) . . . Secret combinations brought down both the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations and [have] been and will yet be the cause of the fall of many nations. (See Ether 8:18-25.)" (Conference Report, April. 1989, Ensign, May 1989, p. 6.)

1.3.  Jan. 1988: "The situation in the world will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God and quit building up and upholding secret combinations, which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of ancient civilizations." ("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God," Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 5.)

1.4.  April 1986: "Our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations." ("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God," Regional Representatives' Seminar, Friday, April 4, 1986, pp. 3-4; as quoted in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 61.)

1.5.  Oct. 1988: "Wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14- 16; 84:49-53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.)" (Conference Report, Oct. 1988, Ensign, Nov. 1988, p. 87; italics added.)

1.6.  April 1987: "Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers 'had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils' (Helaman 6:38)." (Conference Report, April 1987, Ensign, May 1987, p. 4; italics added.)


2. MORONI'S URGENT APPEAL

2.1.  In a General Conference of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson said: "One of the most urgent, heart-stirring appeals made by Moroni as he closed the Book of Mormon was addressed to the gentile nations of the last days. He foresaw the rise of a great world-wide secret combination among the gentiles which 'seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries.' (Ether 8:25.)" (Conference Report, Oct. 1961, Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, p. 953; as quoted in God, Family, Country, p. 348.)

For more than thirty years, the modern prophet Ezra Taft Benson echoed the ancient prophet Moroni's warning that "each gentile nation of the last days [must] purge itself of this gigantic criminal conspiracy which would seek to rule the world." (Ibid.)

2.2.  Ezra Taft Benson said: "Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of criminal conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day. . . .

"Moroni described how the secret combination would take over a country and then fight the work of God, persecute the righteous, and murder those who resisted. Moroni therefore proceeded to describe the workings of the ancient secret combinations so that modern man could recognize this great political conspiracy in the last days. (See Ether 8:23-25.)" (Conference Report, Oct. 1961, Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, p. 954; as quoted in God, Family, Country, p. 349.)

"Today the Christian constitutionalist mourns for his country. He sees the spiritual and political faith of his fathers betrayed by wolves in sheep's clothing. He sees the forces of evil increasing in strength and momentum under the leadership of Satan, the arch-enemy of freedom. He sees the wicked honored and the valiant abused. He senses that his own generation faces Gethsemanes and Valley Forges that may yet rival or surpass the trials of the early Apostles and the men of '76. And this gives him cause to reflect on the most basic of fundamentals—the reason for our existence. Once we understand that fundamental, the purpose for mortality, we may more easily chart a correct course in the perilous seas that are engulfing our nation." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 397.)

2.3.  In the April 1972 General Conference of the Church, President Benson stated: "Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the 'keystone of our religion' and the 'most correct' book on earth. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.) This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. 'And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,' says Moroni, 'and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.' (Ether 8:21.)

"Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity and the spread of God's work, but it has singled out as the greatest threat the Godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon—it is a conspiracy fact." (Conference Report, April 1972, Ensign, July 1972, p. 60; as quoted in God, Family, Country, pp. 321-322.)

2.4.  Ether 8:22. President Benson emphasized over and over the ancient prophet Moroni's warning that "whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations . . . until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed." (See, for example, God, Family, Country, pp. 322 & 349; and An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 331 & 333.)

2.5.  According to Ezra Taft Benson, we are "building up and upholding" this great world-wide conspiracy; we have been "seduced . . . to believe its words," and it is "flourishing" and "increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world." (See section 1 above.)


3. DECEIVING THE VERY ELECT

3.1.  2 Timothy 3:13. Ezra Taft Benson said of this verse: "The Apostle Paul saw our day. He . . . warned that 'evil men and seducers would wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived' (2 Timothy 3:13)." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 88; italics added.)

3.2.  Mark 13:22. "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." (Italics added.)

Matthew 24:24. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."

Ezra Taft Benson said of this verse: "There is a conspiracy of evil. The source of it all is Satan and his hosts. He has a great power over men to 'lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken' to the voice of the Lord (Moses 4:4). His evil influence may be manifest through governments; through false educational, political, economic, religious, and social philosophies; through secret societies and organizations; and through myriads of other forms. His power and influence are so great that, if possible, he would deceive the very elect (see Matthew 24:24)." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 404.)

3.3.  Helaman 6:38. The Modern Prophet Benson, quoting the Book of Mormon Prophet Helaman, has noted that secret combinations flourish because they are able to seduce "the more part of the righteous" to "believe in their works and partake of their spoils." (Conference Report, April 1987, Ensign, May 1987, p. 4.)

This seduction happens by deception. And the greatest deceptions were not among the Nephites, but are among us today. Ezra Taft Benson said: "We are going through . . . the greatest propaganda campaign of all time. We cannot believe all we read." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 302; see also p. 90.)

3.4.  Ezra Taft Benson said: "It is from within the Church that the greatest hindrance comes. And so, it seems, it has been. Now the question arises, will we stick with the kingdom and can we avoid being deceived? Certainly this is an important question, for the Lord has said that in the last days the 'devil will rage in the hearts of men' (2 Nephi 28:20), and if it were possible he 'shall deceive the very elect' (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22)." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 406-407.)


4. WE MUST AWAKE

4.1.  Ezra Taft Benson said: "If you use the scriptures as a guide, you know what the Book of Mormon has to say regarding murderous conspiracies in the last day and how we are to awake to our awful situation today (see Ether 8:18-25). I find certain elements in the Church do not like to read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants so much—they have too much to say about freedom." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 81; see also p. 42.)

Ezra Taft Benson continues: "The Book of Mormon warns us that when we see these murderous conspiracies in our midst, we should awaken to our awful situation (see Ether 8:24). Now, why should we awaken if the Lord is going to take care of us anyway? Let us suppose that it is too late to save freedom. It is still accounted unto us for righteousness' sake to stand up and fight. Some Book of Mormon prophets knew of the final desolate end of their nations, but they still fought on, and they saved some souls, including their own, by so doing. For, after all, the purpose of life is to prove ourselves, and the final victory will be for freedom." (Ibid., p. 660.)

4.2.  Ezra Taft Benson warned: "Our complacency as a nation is shocking—yes, almost unbelievable! We are a prosperous nation. Our people have high-paying jobs. Our incomes are high. Our standard of living is at an unprecedented level. We do not like to be disturbed as we enjoy our comfortable complacency. We live in the soft present and feel the future is secure. We do not worry about history. We seem oblivious to the causes of the rise and fall of nations. We are blind to the hard fact that nations usually sow the seeds of their own destruction while enjoying unprecedented prosperity.

"I say to you with all the fervor of my soul: We are sowing the seeds of our own destruction in America and much of the free world today. It is my sober warning to you today that if the trends of the past continue, we will lose that which is as priceless as life itself—our freedom, our liberty, our right to act as free men. It can happen here. It is happening here. . . .

"The sad and shocking story of what has happened in America in recent years must be told. Our people must have the facts. There is safety in an informed public. There is real danger in a complacent, uninformed citizenry. This is our real danger today. Yes, the truth must be told even at the risk of destroying, in large measure, the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival is the issue." (Ibid., p. 582.)

4.3.  "The fight for freedom is God's fight. . . . When a man stands for freedom he stands with God. And as long as he stands for freedom he stands with God. And were he to stand alone he would still stand with God—the best company and the greatest power in or out of this world. Any man will be eternally vindicated and rewarded for his stand for freedom." (Ibid., p. 656.)


CONCLUSION

This blog post brings together a number of statements by Ezra Taft Benson about an international conspiracy that seeks to overthrow freedom in all countries and rule the world. These warnings have caused embarrassment among some members of the Church and have received limited attention in Church curriculum materials. Some Church members go so far as to belittle the idea of a conspiracy to take over the world. Those who would mock the words of a Prophet should carefully consider the Lord's warning: "Fools mock, but they shall mourn." (Ether 12:26.)

Ezra Taft Benson is one of sixteen latter-day Prophets. To the extent that a person rejects what is taught by a Prophet, to that extent he or she rejects that Prophet. Only when so instructed by the living Prophet, may we safely discard the unpleasant or difficult counsel of earlier Prophets.

As we study the teachings of Ezra Taft Benson in our Sunday meetings, let us ask ourselves: Are we merely paying lip service to the memory of a former Church President or do we actually believe what this Prophet of God taught about the Book of Mormon and how it exposes the enemies of Christ?

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Counsel from modern prophets about drought

According to the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, "The 2015 water supply is considerably lower than average and reservoirs are not expected to fill. Weber Basin Water Conservancy District invites and urges you to continue to follow conservation practices and policies that have been previously implemented." (Downloaded Mar 28, 2015 from WeberBasin.com.)


The above statement by Weber Basin Water is confirmed by the following snowpack report, last updated Saturday, Mar 28, 2015.

(Downloaded Mar 28, 2015 from KSL.com.)


Two modern prophets, Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley, have pointed to Sabbath observance as the cure for drought.


SPENCER W. KIMBALL

"Early this year when drouth conditions seemed to be developing in the West, the cold and hardships in the East, with varying weather situations all over the world, we felt to ask the members of the Church to join in fasting and prayer, asking the Lord for moisture where it was so vital and for a cessation of the difficult conditions elsewhere.

"Perhaps we may have been unworthy in asking for these greatest blessings, but we do not wish to frantically approach the matter but merely call it to the attention of our Lord and then spend our energy to put our lives in harmony.

"One prophet said:

"'When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:

"'Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.' (1 Kgs. 8:35–36.)

"The Lord uses the weather sometimes to discipline his people for the violation of his laws. He said to the children of Israel:

"'If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

"'Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

"'And your threshing shall reach into the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

"'And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: ...neither shall the sword go through your land.' (Lev. 26:3–6.)...

"'The Lord gave strict commandments: "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.' (Lev. 19:30.)

"Innumerous times we have quoted this, asking our people not to profane the Sabbath; and yet we see numerous cars lined up at merchandise stores on the Sabbath day, and places of amusement crowded, and we wonder.

"Numerous times have we quoted:

"'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

"'Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

"'But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

"'For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.' (Ex. 20:8–11.)

"But today numerous of the people of this land spend the Sabbath working, devoting the day to the beaches, to entertainment, to shows, to their weekly purchases.

"The Lord makes definite promises. He says:

"'Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.' (Lev. 26:4.)

"God does what he promises, and many of us continue to defile the Sabbath day." (Ensign, May 1977.)


GORDON B. HINCKLEY

[From the Church News, June 7, 2003.]

Tracts of newer housing are scattered around the cropland and cattle pastures of Eagle Mountain and the surrounding Cedar Valley. Population growth in the past five years has been so substantial that two stakes of the Church now bear the name Eagle Mountain.

It was the construction of a new stake center in the town that drew the attention of President Gordon B. Hinckley....

Thus the members of the Eagle Mountain Utah West Stake, formed last September from a division of the Eagle Mountain Utah Stake, had the treat of having the Church president dedicate their new building....

Perhaps it was natural that President Hinckley would touch on the five-year drought that has afflicted Utah and revisit a theme he spoke on at general conference.

"I think the Lord is trying us a little," he said. He quoted Leviticus 26:3-6, which promises, "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season."

"What a magnificent promise," he exclaimed and added that as he traveled to the stake center that morning, "I looked at the store parking lots that were filling on the Sabbath day. I looked at the farms that were being tilled on the Sabbath day. I looked at some of the other activities that were going forth on the Sabbath day, and I said to myself, maybe the Lord is reminding us that we need to draw closer to Him and be more true and faithful and deserving of His great and good and marvelous blessings."

He went on to quote from Solomon's temple dedication: "When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against thee, if they pray toward this place and confess thy hand and turn from their sin when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants" (2 Chronicles 6:26-27).

"I believe, my brothers and sisters, that the Lord is reminding us that we ought to be more faithful," President Hinckley said. "We ought to be more diligent. We ought to draw closer to Him. We ought to be more anxious to keep His commandments and do His divine will."


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