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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is the Church de-McConkie-izing?

A current blog article claims the Church is de-McConkie-izing.  The primary exhibit offered in evidence is a revised introduction in Doubleday's publication of the Book of Mormon.  The original introduction was written, it is claimed, by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and the changes are therefore seen as corrections of his errors.

Forgotten is the fact that the Scriptures Publication Committee which produced the 1981 scriptures included Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer in addition to Bruce R. McConkie (see here and here).  Apparently, it is assumed that McConkie was the only Committee member who saw the 1981 introduction before publication.

Equally absurd is the assumption that the entire 1981 First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve did not approve the introduction prior to publication.

Another exhibit offered as evidence for this so-called de-McConkie-izing is the suggestion that Church leaders have banned the use of McConkie's writings.  Clearly, certain elements in the Church have long wished that Elder McConkie and his words would simply disappear.  However, a review of this year's Ensign and New Era magazines reveals little evidence of de-McConkie-izing.

Elder McConkie was quoted by Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. of the Seventy in the October 2007 General Conference as published in the November 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.78).

Elder McConkie's Mormon Doctrine was quoted by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve in the October 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.20).

Elder McConkie was quoted by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy in the June 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.46).

Elder McConkie was quoted by Bishop H. David Burton of the Presiding Bishopric in the April 2007 General Conference as published in the May 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.33).

Elder McConkie was quoted by Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric in the April 2007 General Conference as published in the May 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.52).

Elder McConkie's Mormon Doctrine was quoted by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve in a "Gospel Classics" reprint in the April 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.17).

Elder McConkie was quoted by Elder Won Yong Ko of the Seventy in the March 2007 issue of the Ensign magazine (p.11).

Elder McConkie's article, "Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Callings," was printed in the September 2007 issue of the New Era magazine (pp.10-13).

Elder McConkie was quoted by Janet Thomas, assistant managing editor, in the January 2007 issue of the New Era magazine (p.21).

These magazine articles strongly suggest the Church is not, in fact, de-McConkie-izing.

10 Comments:

Blogger Clark Goble said...

I think you miss what some perceive "de-McConkification" entails. (It's a lousy name, btw)

It's not to say McConkie is evil, bad and should not be referred to. Far, far, far from it. (Indeed he's one of my favorite 20th century thinkers on the gospel - I think overall I read McConkie more than any other writer on Mormon theology included modern GAs, Nibley or FARMS)

What is seen as a danger is the perception that Mormon Doctrine is more than McConkie giving his views. Rather it is a kind of quasi-authoritive statement of our articles of faith. Further there was, especially in the 80's, a lot of people who seemed to view the gospel and scriptures through McConkie. It often seemed like McConkie was given more weight than the prophets or the scriptures.

It's THAT which is seen as a problem.

But I certainly have no problem with GAs quoting McConkie. I quote him all the time. He has some very profound writings. But there are some entries (like his treatment of the Catholic Church) which seem at best wrong and at worse...

Anyway, I think you're setting up a bit of a strawman here.

11/11/2007 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

A current blog article claims the Church is de-McConkie-izing.  Is it not true that the primary exhibit offered in evidence is a revised introduction in Doubleday's publication of the Book of Mormon?  Is it not true that another exhibit offered as evidence is the suggestion that the writers of one Institute manual have been instructed not to use Elder McConkie as a source?

11/11/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Clark Goble said...

Yes. But my point is about the meaning of "De-McConkiefication." How you are taking it and how the author at FPR appear to me to be taking it differently. Given what I perceive to the be the author's point (and how I interpret events) the quotes you marshall are largely irrelevant.

It is, of course, possible I'm misreading FPR. But as I said I don't think anyone is saying don't quote McConkie nor are they saying his writings aren't valuable. Rather there is a perception that his writings were being given a status they didn't deserve. So they were being de-emphasized. Which is not at all the same as eliminated. I'd hope that never happen.

Indeed, if true (and I have my doubts), I'd consider it unfortunate if no McConkie quotes were being allowed in the forthcoming CES manuals. However since I'm not privy to the internal politics there perhaps there was a reason. (Although once again I'm skeptical that this would be the case)

11/11/2007 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger SmallAxe said...

R. Gary,

I think I side with Clark here. You offer a rather uncharitable reading of the FPR post. The post, IMO, was simply saying that McConkie is less canonical than he once was. Do you disagree with that?

11/12/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

SmallAxe: Why, in your opinion, are current revisions to the Book of Mormon introduction relevant to this discussion?

11/12/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger SmallAxe said...

I don't necessarily think they are.

11/12/2007 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

-------------- quote --------------
"The introduction to the Book of Mormon, penned at least in part by Elder McConkie, has recently been modified."
-------------- end quote --------------

Are you saying that the above statement is not relevant to a discussion titled "The DeMcConkie-izing of the Church."

11/12/2007 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Clark Goble said...

I tend to see the "fervor" over the slight change in the introduction as much ado about little. While it is relevant to the McConkie issue - it is at best very weak evidence of perhaps questionable relevance. It matters ultimately but ends up being fairly minor. Especially since no one knows how the new edition of the scriptures will turn out. If McConkie's influence is downplayed in the Bible Dictionary and a few chapter heads then that would count more. But who knows what will happen there. Further I'd say suspected changes have less to do with "de-McConkiefication" than just trying to improve the product.

11/12/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous John C. said...

R. Gary,
Smallaxe didn't write that post, so I don't think it is fair for you to ask him to justify the phraseology used therein. Feel free to ask Nitsav, however.

11/13/2007 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

John C.:

SmallAxe states above that he doesn't necessarily think current revisions to the Book of Mormon introduction are relevant to a discussion titled "The DeMcConkie-izing of the Church."  SmallAxe doesn't "justify the phraseology," he doesn't even "necessarily" agree with it.  The point is SmallAxe has his own "uncharitable reading of the FPR post" which for some reason he hasn't yet offered at FPR.

By the way, I'm hoping to finish my hospital stay soon.

11/18/2007 03:24:00 AM  

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