In the new testament we read that none of Christ’s followers seem to have any idea he would be resurrected. Christ’s enemies not only knew that he had taught that he would come back from the dead, they even know how many days he said it would be from his death. We seem to be afflicted with a measure of that sort of irony today.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the enemies of the church in Christ’s day knew more about the truth generally, or that they were the right people to go to in order to learn about Christ. Sadly, there are those of our day who are glad to turn to the enemies of truth to find out what the “real truth” is, particularly about our beloved prophet Joseph Smith. I am not condoning going to our enemies to learn the truth. They will accompany one truth with many more lies.
But when it comes to our doctrine there are still those things which our enemies seem to know better than our members. I was never taught that we believe that Jesus was literally the son of God. My sister was given an anti-mormon pamphlet in elementary school. My parents decided to go over it with it with all of us kids to present the truth in opposition to the pamphlet. The pamphlet had a citation from Journal of Discourses stating that Heavenly Father had intimate relationships with Mary in order to conceive Christ. This seemed to be a new notion to my parents, and they determined at the time it must be mistaken.
But years later, I realized that of course that was true. Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation appears to try to make that point again and again, but without being blunt. Bruce R McConkie was far more blunt stating that Christ’s conception involved “the usual procreative powers”. There is a famous address by Joseph F Smith in which he tries to teach this to children. Multiple church leaders in my own lifetime have testified in general conference that Christ is “literally” the son of God. It is a perfectly true doctrine, but one our enemies seem to know better than our members do.
I ran across another gem recently in an atheist’s review of Mormon Doctrine. He writes:
Why is it that so many Mormons can’t seem to run away from this book fast enough? It isn’t because it is hard to navigate – the encyclopedic format is very helpful, even more so in the days before internet search engines. It certainly isn’t because it was written by a fringe author with a shallow grasp of the subject matter. Bruce McConkie was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy when he wrote it, and would later be ordained an ‘Apostle of the Lord’. It isn’t because it is not authoritative. It is still an oft quoted source in modern day lesson manuals. It isn’t because the content isn’t thoroughly backed with references to the Standard Works and the words of the ‘living prophets in this, the last dispensation of the fulness of times’. It is.
The reason so many Mormons run away from this book is simple: It is too forthright. … this is no apologies, no holds barred, rock ’em sock ’em Mormonism in the raw. This is ‘The Meat’ ladies and gentlemen. So what if it doesn’t sell well in the 21st Century, the last I checked The Lord God of Hosts was the same yesterday, today, and forever – steadfast and immoveable. The ideology he advances may be appalling, but for leaving the sugar coatings to the makers of breakfast cereals I give Bruce five stars.
Now clearly, he despises the teachings in the book. But his statement ‘So what if it doesn’t sell well in the 21st Century, the last I checked the Lord God of Hosts was the same yesterday, today, and forever – steadfast and immoveable’, even if said derisively, makes a point I wish I saw more of. Constantly we see members trying to read the scriptures and then try and distort them into support for popular thinking right now. But eternal truths are not subject to the whims of society, and so today’s popular thinking is not going to match up with eternal and undeviating truths.
“Mormon Doctrine” is no longer being printed and I think this atheist’s summary is pretty accurate statement statement on why it isn’t. It is not because we have gathered up everything “Mormon Doctrine” had to offer and are ready to move on, but because too many of us aren’t studying the scriptures in a serious way. It contains too much that is too boldly true. No, it isn’t scripture. But those who despise it are a very long ways from having something better to say in its place. The reason they despise it isn’t because they have scruples about reading anything below the perfectness of pure revelation. For many of them, pure revelation isn’t really suited to their tastes.