Posts Tagged ‘Bruce R McConkie’
I’m an avid reader of SpaceWeather.com. While it’s not as popular as Space.com, it focuses on stuff that fascinates me – asteroids, planets, comets, sunspots, auroras, geomagnetic storms and meteors. It is hosted by Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA, who is a long time participant in communicating the science of astronomy to the world.
If you go visit SpaceWeather.com, you’ll notice that Dr. Phillips is happy to post photos and videos of space phenomenon submitted by amateur observers from all over the world. They are always enjoyable and educational. He also has a table of known near earth asteroids that he keeps updated for those who follow this stuff.
Tracking space objects
There are people whose job it is to watch for these Potentially Hazardous Asteroids and notify important people if one gets too close. Of course, the media is usually all over the story when we know one is coming close and write it up in a way that generates interest. They usually throw in some element of fear of total destruction.
And just to show that we really don’t know everything that’s out there, an asteroid came within 8,700 miles the other day. That’s just slightly more than the diameter of the earth. Asteroid 2009 VA was discovered only fifteen hours before its closest approach by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey. Luckily, it was very small.
Small objects burn up
An object the size of asteroid 2009 VA, which is a little less than twenty feet, will just burn up in the atmosphere and create a spectacular fireball as it disintegrates. The fact that it was discovered only hours before it came by should give us some cause to think. We just don’t always see the things that are coming at us in space.
I suppose if an object were bigger, say more on the scale of a small moon or planet, it would be much easier to spot in advance. I imagine the people who watch the skies for us would be able to give us months, perhaps even years of warning. Or would they? You see, it all depends on the direction from which it is arriving.
Nobody saw it coming
Just last month, an asteroid that was about thirty feet across came undetected into our atmosphere and exploded only about ten miles above the surface of the earth in Indonesia. It created quite a panic in the local area and some quick thinking individual even got it on video, or at least the trailing smoke that it left behind.
Nobody saw this one coming. It was just too small. That’s not surprising since there are so few resources dedicated to watching the skies. We have been more interested in the bigger ones, usually over 35 feet that are easier to spot. But even if we catalog all that we can find, the sun still hides a lot of them from our view.
Hard to see objects near the sun
Objects between earth and the sun are hard to spot because of the glare of the sun. Asteroids do not emit light, but reflect it from the sun. About the only way to see one between us and the sun is if we see it as a miniscule dark spot in photos taken of the sun. That’s one reason why so many amateur astronomers watch the sun.
But what about objects that are coming toward the sun from the opposite side of the solar system in such a way that makes it impossible to see until they come around or past the sun? Such objects could be quite large and we would not be able to see them until a few weeks or possibly even just days before they arrive.
Orbital telescopes watch the Sun
If you are familiar with STEREO, then you know that we have two satellites in orbit around the sun both ahead of and behind the earth. They give us a different viewing angle of the sun that is tremendously helpful in making observations. But they are designed for sun observations and are always pointed directly at it.
Canada announced that they would launch a satellite that will be the first to search for objects that are between us and the sun. It hasn’t launched yet (maybe 2010), but it is hoped that it will help us find another fifty of the little buggers that we need to be watching but can’t see from earth. These are called the Aten asteroids.
Objects hidden behind the sun
I’m sure you are familiar with the Hubble telescope, one of the greatest boons to astronomy that is used and appreciated by scientists all over the world. The images captured by the Hubble have done more to advance our knowledge of the cosmos than just about any other scientific instrument that man has imagined and created.
But what we don’t have, and probably won’t have for many years to come, is a space based telescope that allows us to look around the sun. Placed in the same orbit around the sun with the earth, but ahead or behind the earth, this would give us the ability to look beyond the sun for objects coming towards it and the earth.
The Ten Tribes are on a planet
That is of tremendous interest to me and to many who have thought about some of the teachings of the early brethren of the church in regards to the Ten Tribes and the City of Enoch. Yes, I am one of those who believe that they are off on some planet somewhere and that they will each return in time, the Ten Tribes being first.
I am not alone in this belief and have spent many years accumulating statements from early leaders of the church to support this position. However, this belief is not commonly taught or accepted today. In fact, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it is a wholly false view of what is to be when it is paraphrased from the scriptures.
Ice shall flow down at their presence
He also said that the Ten Tribes will NOT return with ice flowing down at their presence, even though that precise phrase is used in D&C 133:26. I suspect that Elder McConkie was not familiar with the work of Talbott or Velikovsky who have explained how ice can flow between two planets in a synchronous orbit.
So the idea that the Ten Tribes are on a planet somewhere makes total sense to me. We have the word of many early members of the church who declared that Joseph Smith taught this very doctrine. The testimony of Wandle Mace is one that helps me to understand this better. He was a contemporary associate of Joseph Smith.
A portion of the earth was taken
Brother Mace said that Joseph was preaching on the subject of the restoration of all things. In the course of his remarks he spoke of the earth being divided at various times. He said, “When Enoch and his city was taken away, a portion of earth was taken and would again be restored.” He then said the same about the Ten Tribes.
Recorded Brother Mace, “These remarks satisfied me, it was no longer necessary to hunt the place on this earth where the Ten Tribes were so long hidden, for the earth was divided and taken away, and will be the first to return, as it was the last taken away. He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land.” That makes sense to me.
The Ten Tribes will return
From the 10th article of faith we read, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon this the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”
The literal gathering of Israel and the restoration of the Ten Tribes are two separate events. As we read in Section 110, the prophet holds these keys: “Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”
Summary and conclusion
Orson Pratt taught that “…a portion of the Earth was by a miracle broken off…the Ten Tribes were taken away with it…in the latter days it would be restored to the Earth or be let down in the Polar regions.” Great changes will take place upon this earth. It will be restored and will be like it was in the days before it was divided.
Somewhere out there is a planet or a piece of this earth that is prophesied to return and be restored or reunited to this earth. The joining doesn’t have to make it one spherical unit. Think of a binary star or two planets joined together by a flow of electromagnetic energy between them. Ice will flow down when they are joined.
How would you respond if you were publicly rebuked by an apostle in front of thousands of people who you knew and loved? Would it be any easier if it were done in private? Those are questions that I hope I will never have to answer. Brigham Young is one example in our early history who was rebuked by Joseph Smith in front of his peers. We know how he responded.
One of the responsibilities of an apostle is to ensure that correct doctrine is taught, especially in an environment where young impressionable minds are searching for the truth and building their testimonies. What an apostle teaches us about our relationship to the Godhead is very important and something to which we should give heed. We can apply it in our own efforts to know Christ.
Know Your Religion lectures
When I was preparing for my mission, I attended Know Your Religion lectures with my mother and sister. This unique aspect of LDS gospel training and scholarship is no longer offered, or at least not here in California. At one time it was offered at various Stake Centers in California in a week-long format during the summer. Now, one must travel to BYU to attend Education Week.
Some of my favorite lecturers were Joseph C. Muren, who later became my mission president, and George W Pace, who was my Branch President in the LTM. Yes, I went on my mission in the days before the MTC. Although it was on the campus of BYU, it was called the Language Training Mission back then and was located in the recently demolished Knight Magnum Hall.
What it means to know Christ
In those days, the KYR instructors would compile and sell their lectures. That’s where I first picked up Causes and Prevention of Inactivity in the Church by Elder Muren, still one of my favorites. But my all time favorite from that period of my life (74-76) had to be What it Means to Know Christ by George W. Pace, which he later expanded and published in book format.
I think I heard the lecture several times in various stakes during that period. Since we couldn’t catch all the classes offered in one venue, we would go to others a week or two later. As a young 17-18 year old preparing for a mission, I was searching to solidify my testimony, to really apply repentance towards forgiveness, and especially to understand what it means to know the Savior.
Building and inspecting the house
One of my favorite parts of the lecture is when Brother Pace described the Savior inspecting the rooms of the house that we are building, which represented our lives. I clearly remember his dramatic emphasis when describing the one room that you could never let the Savior enter. That was where you kept all your painful secrets and all the things of which you were ashamed.
Vividly he recounted that when you told the Savior no, that he couldn’t go in there, he said he would have to leave until you invited him back. Stubbornly, you refused and he left. Missing him desperately, you finally invited him back, and he began to quietly and without chastisement go about cleaning up your messy room, throwing out the junk and washing it thoroughly clean.
Cleansing of the junk room
I thought long and hard on this scene numerous times that summer. I had put many things in my own closet until it turned into a room full of junk that was beginning to stink and to trouble me. In my quiet moments I began to seek more diligently to have the Lord come into my home and to clean up my junk room for me. It took time, but with fasting and prayer, I witnessed the miracle.
I have a special place in my heart for George W. Pace because he was instrumental in getting me to think about and to understand the process of repentance in a way that I could visualize and to apply. I am not alone in that appreciation. I know he affected thousands of BYU students over the years he taught there. He was so popular that he was nominated for professor of the century.
Correcting false doctrine
Fast forward a few years. Brother Pace has increased in popularity and influence there at the BYU campus. Every class he teaches is full to overflowing with students sitting on the stairs in the aisles. He has expanded and published his book, What it Means to Know Christ and added a few insights that were unique to him about how God answers our prayers only through Christ.
Another one of my early heroes, Bruce R. McConkie, either by assignment or on his own went to the BYU campus and delivered a devotional address that corrected the doctrine that was found in George Pace’s book. He made it clear that we pray only to our Heavenly Father and that God can answer our prayers in any way he wants, through any individual or any means he desires.
Reproving betimes with sharpness
The episode is well known in Mormon history. The effects were immediate. Attendance in Brother Pace’s classes dropped considerably. His popularity waned. Book sales plummeted even though he revised and republished with the corrected doctrine and an apology. His family was afflicted and felt the discomfort of being on the receiving end of public reproof by an apostle.
The devotional address in March of 1982 was not the first time Elder McConkie corrected Brother Pace. On Oct 31st of 1981, George Pace was sitting on the stand as a Stake President when Elder McConkie delivered the discourse entitled Keeping Balance at the 14-stake fireside leadership session. Shortly thereafter, Brother Pace was released from his leadership calling.
A humble disciple responds
George W. Pace remained faithful and continued his lifelong efforts to build the kingdom of God in many areas. He is still listed today as a professor in the religion department at BYU. For a time he taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center. He published another book entitled The Faith of Young Mormons, something about which he knew a lot. He served faithfully in ward callings.
Unfortunately, this episode affected at least one member of George Pace’s family in such a manner that it caused him to lose his faith in the church. You can read the story of his son, who was serving a mission at the time, to get a much more detailed account of what happened. It is sad and just a little bitter to read. I don’t know how I would have responded if I had been him.
Summary and conclusion
I do not bring up this story to open old wounds. I share it to make a point that is sometimes very hard to understand, at least for some who write about the church. We do not know all the details of why Elder McConkie did not take George Pace aside in private to correct his over-zealous reach into advocating a relationship with Christ that is the equivalent of a born-again experience.
There is a fine line and subtle difference between our worship of Christ and our worship of the Father. I have long felt that my most intimate spiritual relationship is with my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior and appreciate what he has done for me, but in the end, his purpose is to bring me to the Father. It is the Father who grants eternal life. We strive to be like Heavenly Father.
I grew up in the days of Bruce R. McConkie. When it came time for Elder McConkie to speak in General Conference, I sat up a little taller and paid close attention. I was never disappointed. That man had a gift for speaking that was beyond this world. I don’t know how anybody could listen to him and not be convinced that what he taught was the mind and will of the Lord.
Elder McConkie seemed fearless to me. Although he had many critics both in and out of the church, what they had to say didn’t seem to bother him. His next public address was all the more powerful as he blasted their weak arguments. Those who didn’t know him criticized his profoundly authoritative manner, claiming that an apostle of the Lord should be more tolerant.
I think the brethren of the church appreciated him much more than the sisters. His leadership was undeniable. If I were in the military, Elder McConkie was the sort of man that I would have no problem in following. Every time I listened to one of his discourses, I came away with a greater determination to follow the Lord and to know what Elder McConkie knew.
The power of teaching doctrine
Our apostles today are no less powerful in their knowledge of the gospel and their ability to teach it with power and impact. I get the same feeling of wanting to stand a little taller and do a little better each time I hear from Elder Oaks or Elder Holland or President Uchtdorf or Elder Bednar. Fearlessly teaching doctrine with power has always impressed me.
One of Elder McConkie’s themes was that we need to know what Joseph knew. I was extremely motivated by his intellectual abilities demonstrated both in writing and in speaking. I don’t claim to have anywhere near the knowledge he had, but I continue to be motivated to read and study the doctrine because of his great example. With knowledge of doctrine comes personal power.
When I stand to speak or teach in church, my desire and goal is to present doctrine in such a manner that it can’t be misunderstood. I know that’s an ideal and probably impossible desire in this mortal world, but it continues to guide my thinking and my preparation. I want to be taught the gospel when I am in church and hope that those who speak or teach come prepared.
Leadership of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was just as bold and fearless in his ministry, especially towards the end of his life during the Nauvoo period. Because of his boldness in denouncing wickedness and proclaiming the truth, he made many enemies. He was comfortable with authority and led with power that comes from knowing you are doing the will of the Lord, or at least attempting to do so.
When he first visited Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni told him that his “name should be had for good and evil among all nations.” Years later the Lord encouraged Joseph: “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” Even though friends deserted him and became enemies, he continued faithful.
Few have confronted more antagonism and trials than did Joseph Smith. He was besieged with dozens of unjustified lawsuits and was often in jeopardy of his life. He was poisoned, beaten, tarred, unjustly imprisoned, and once sentenced to die by firing squad. And yet through all this he remained bold and courageous in declaring the truth to the end of his life.
The boldness of the Savior
When the Savior taught in public, there were always those who listened and watched closely in an attempt to catch him in his words. For some strange reason, they could not see that he was the Son of God, even though he declared it unto them openly and clearly. Although it went against the tradition and custom of his day, he was bold and fearless in teaching the truth.
He went about doing good, but there were those who wanted to destroy him. They were the elite and ruling class of their day. They controlled what was taught in their churches and mandated the practices of their society by their interpretation of the law. They were the intellectuals who knew, at least in their own minds, that they were right and he was wrong.
The Savior knew what the response to his doctrine would be. He knew that it would get to the point within a few short years where he would be betrayed and crucified. Yet he remained true and faithful to his purpose and mission to boldly declare the truth and teach the gospel. Because of his love, he did what he promised to do when he offered his life as a ransom for us.
Summary and conclusion
Bruce R. McConkie did not shy away from taking on the enemies of the church as he boldly taught the doctrines of salvation with power. Joseph Smith did not hesitate to declare the truths of the restoration even though trusted friends turned and became his enemies. The Savior knew in advance that what he taught and did would cost him his life after just a few years.
These men are my heroes. So are others who follow their example and do what they did. I want to be like them. I want to know what they knew and teach it in the same manner. By so doing, I should not expect that I will get treated any different than they did. It is doubtful that it will cost me my life, but I have no doubt that I will be criticized for teaching the truth.
Bruce R. McConkie, Joseph Smith and the Savior all had their critics and enemies. They still do. They gave their lives for what they believed. Should we do any less? The attacks of the critics will mean nothing when we meet these great men in the life to come. The Savior will embrace us and will plead our cause before God and we will hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
In yesterday’s post I mentioned briefly one of the verses (v10) in 1 Nephi chapter 14 that has always intrigued me regarding the great and abominable church. That phrase has been the subject of much study and debate over the years by many a student of the scriptures. I am certain it has been well discussed in priesthood quorums and Sunday school classes many times all over the church.
Here are verses nine and ten with Nephi quoting the angel:
“And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil. 10: And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
You are probably aware that in the first edition of the book Mormon Doctrine that Bruce R McConkie identified the great and abominable church as the Catholic church. He was taken to task for his writings by the presiding Brethren of the church, including President McKay. The second edition of Mormon Doctrine changed that identification to be a bit more generic and not so specific.
To quote from the present edition:
“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature – whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious – which are designed to take men on a course that leads them away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God.”
I recently received a copy of a treatise on the subject which presented an interpretation of the phrase that I had never before considered. The essay was written by Anthony E Larson a few years ago and published in one of his quarterly newsletters. To cut right to the heart of the matter, Mr Larson identifies the great and abominable church as orthodox science. I know, it sounds impossible at first, but think about in connection with Bruce R. McConkie’s definition.
What does orthodox science teach more than anything else? The ‘laws’ of science and the scientific method declare that logical, rational thinking and investigation are the only tools that lead to enlightenment and truth. The goal of science is to explain everything in terms of what can be observed – the empirical method. There is no place for God and his laws in orthodox science since religion employs faith rather than intellect.
To quote from the article:
“The science church established its own dogma or doctrine, which it promulgates through the universities. It found its ‘catechism’ in Uniformity or Gradualism as well as Natural Selection or Evolution. Its sacrament is Rationalism and Empiricism; the tenets of the Newtonian universe became its articles of faith. Latter-day Saints should readily recognize that all of the above named theories stand in direct contradiction to many tenets of the restored gospel.”
What do you think? Have you ever heard this identification of the great and abominable church before?