There was an unusual amount of excitement in the air… we always looked forward to Mission Conferences but this one was special and the anticipation was mounting as I and my companion sat there waiting for things to begin.
It was 1973. I was a missionary serving in the Bible Belt. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie was the visiting General Authority and he was about to speak. He of course had written the Book “Mormon Doctrine” which had become the 5th Standard Work in the Church in the minds of many people including myself.
(I keep meaning to do a post about the history of how the book Mormon Doctrine came into being and the controversial history that it has, but I keep putting it off. I have a copy of the diary of President McKay that tells how angry President McKay was at McConkie for publishing it without getting permission and without having it proofed by those in higher authority. Mark E. Peterson, under the direction of the 1st Presidency critiqued the book and claimed to have found over 500 doctrinal errors in the original printing. A huge political battle took place among people in high places over whether the book should be pulled off the shelves and also how to avoid destroying the reputation and future church career of McConkie)
I was not aware of the history behind the book Mormon Doctrine at that time and had been voraciously reading the book cover to cover and feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the amount and complexity of the doctrines covered in it.
I remember bits and pieces of the lecture Elder McConkie gave to us missionaries even today. I remember Elder McConkie emphasizing that “living Apostles” are more important than “Dead Apostles” because living Apostles can save you while dead ones can’t.
3/4ths the way through his oration everyone heard a very strange sound… it was the snoring of a missionary on the back row who had fallen asleep.
Brother McConkie, while in the middle of a profound statement and without skipping a beat took the chalk eraser from the chalk board and said, as he launched a beautiful high arching spiral, ” I don’t appreciate Elders sleeping through my presentations!
We all gazed upward in amazement as the chalk eraser went sailing across the room and landed smack dab on top of the sleeping Elders head and a little cloud of chalk dust arose.
That had to be one of the most amazing athletic accomplishments I had seen. It is perhaps ironic that this experience comes to mind, in this post today, when many good Mormons will be perched in front of their TVs on Super Bowl Sunday anticipating great athletic achievements.
It was an eventful and memorable day.
Towards the end of Elder McConkie’s presentation he made the following announcement;
“In 1961 Elder Alvin R. Dyer spoke at a Missionary Conference in Oslo, Norway. He spoke about the pre-existence, the title of his talk was “For What Purpose?”. The talk he gave was heretical and contained spurious doctrines that are not endorsed by the First Presidency. I understand that there are copies of that talk floating around this mission among you missionaries and I am here to collect and burn them. I want everyone who has a copy of this talk to bring it with them tomorrow as I will be collecting them.”
I was stunned. I had a copy of the talk in my possession and had been reading it. Alvin R. Dyer was a neighbor of mine back in Salt Lake.
As I recall, President David O McKay loved Brother Dyer very much and wanted him to fill the next vacancy in the quorum of the Twelve, but realizing that the vacancy would not open up until his own death, he ordained Brother Dyer an Apostle and made him a counselor in the 1st Presidency thinking that the next president of the Church would be compelled to install Brother Dyer into quorum of the Twelve when there was a vacancy.
The plan back-fired however, because it offended many of the apostles who had been general authorities for so long to have Brother Dyer ordained an apostle and put into a position of authority over them. Hence, when President Joseph Fielding Smith became the new President of the Church, Dyer was released from the first presidency and NOT installed into the quorum of the Twelve.
This left President Dyer as an Apostle without a quorum. He is the only person in the history of the LDS Church to be ordained to the office of seventy AFTER having been ordained to the office of apostle. Shortly thereafter Brother Dyer had heart problems and as some people believe, eventually died of a broken heart.
With the change in power from McKay to Smith, Brother McConkie, the son in law of President Smith was now positioned to become the doctrinal defender of the faith and most prominent gospel scholar.
Anyway, back to the Mission Conference… here was an Apostle telling us that another Apostle who had served in the 1st Presidency a few years previously had been teaching false doctrine an that he did not want to reading or spreading those doctrines!
The talk by Dyer is a fascinating one. I am not suggesting that I agree with everything in it. I agree with McConkie that there are some wild speculations in it, however one of the things that Dyer points out in it is that 1st Corinthians 15:40-41 is not talking about the three degrees of glory in the resurrection, as we teach in the missionary discussion, but rather it was referring to a judgment and inheritance within three degrees of glory that had taken place in the pre-existence!
Imagine that… according to Alvin R. Dyer, we were actually judged prior to coming to this mortal probation… do you believe that?
I once found a link showing the contents of the talk on the internet but I cannot find it today.
Sometime I’ll scan my copy and link it to this sight…. oops, well… I guess you already know me well enough to know that I did not forfeit my agency to study the words of Apostle Dyer and discern for myself what the truth is.
- Are you implying that the Lord looks down in disapproval on General Authority sanctioned ‘NFL Sunday proselyting’ by the likes of Steve Young, etc? Sheesh, no wonder you consider yourself a heretic!
And what is the qualm with thinking we were judged in the premortal realm? I mean, is that not a pretty standard belief among LDS? Am I to believe that foreordinations result only from God’s ability to see all time at once, or from prior obedience to first principles? Certainly there have been foreordained men who have fallen, so my question is did Father only call them because he knew they would fall (in essence, setting them up), or because they earned foreordination (insert Lucifer here), and fell nonetheless? I’m a bit confused as to why this teaching would be heretical.
Lastly, a friend of mine is married to one of McConkie’s granddaughters, so I guess that makes him BRC’s grandson-in-law, or something like that. He tells some interesting stories he hears from his father-in-law, BRC’s son. And to top that, my buddy’s dad is one of the Osmond brothers (cursed from every angle, if you ask me). Anyway, last week I was discussing authorship of “Lectures On Faith” with him and I suggested he take a look at the current scholarship suggesting SR was the primary author. He came back this week and said he mentioned it to his father-in-law, and herein lies an interesting conundrum….
As we know, BRC was a big supporter of the Lectures. In fact, my buddy tells me that BRC was pretty adamant about re-including them with our current canon. On the other hand, there are those who disagree with particulars of the lecture series, and have attempted to debunk them. My friend tells me that his father-in-law (BRC’s son) is ‘undecided’ regarding SR authorship, mainly because many of the ‘debunkers’ use his authorship as justification to invalidate the Lectures. The big money question is…can a McConkie accept the word of God if transcribed by Rigdon??? Ay, there’s the rub.
It seems rather silly to me. I’m pretty sure I just finished reading somewhere a darn good dissertation on why everyone should know the Lectures, given that they were written by a prophet, seer and revelator who Christ compared to John the Baptist, the greatest prophet to have ever lived!
- February 1, 2009 7:09 PM
- Check that. I meant to abbreviate Bruce R. McConkie as ‘BRMc’ in the previous comment.
- February 1, 2009 8:58 PM
Someone who is watching said…
- Brother NEPT
We have been given such limited information about the pre-existence and the war in heaven etc.
Your questions are great ones to ponder.
The NT tells us that it is possible for someone to gain temporary entrance into Gods Kingdom using the back door.
I suspect God allows people to gain entrance this way to use them for his purposes.
That is an interesting tid bit about SR and Lectures.
We live in a culture that creates a bias based on who wrote something. We tend to prejudge something based on who wrote it.
Thank you for sharing your observations and insights.
- February 1, 2009 9:22 PM
Someone who is watching said…
I got your replies and will not publish them per your request.
Yes I did respond to you but the email got rejected. I just figured that the University you apparently work for monitored your emails and cut me off for being a heretic.
I don’t remember what we were talking about… although I can remember asking you what your new job is at the University.
If I recall properly, you told me you found my articles while searching about Book of Mormon geography…. It look to me that with your background you could become somewhat of an expert on DNA and the Book of Mormon peoples… from a scientific point of view.
I do have a new Magnum Opus I am working on that is to hot to post anywhere right now but I would like to have your thoughts on it if you are game… Since I don’t seem to have offended you sufficiently to date.
Let me know when D.University gets their act together and I will send you the link…
- February 8, 2009 9:47 AM
- Actually, my e-mail is working now, I just don’t have any of my old messages, so I don’t have your address. That’s why I’ve had to communicate through the blog site. You’re welcome to drop me a line at your discretion. BTW, do you still have the message that was returned to you?
As for my occupation, I’m a biochemist/molecular biologist, but I have not chased the DNA of Book of Mormon populations, although the topic is curious. It seems that Mormon apologist geneticists have run into a brick wall trying to link DNA profiles of native american indians to Jewish genotypes. Go figure, I mean why don’t descendants of Lehi possess similar genes to the Ashkenazi Jews? Sheesh, just because the house of Israel was destroyed (interpret dispersed) shouldn’t mean we can’t find DNA to compare, does it? Apparently, native americans’ genes more closely resemble those of people of asiatic origin. You mean Lamanite descendants are related to people who came to this land by way of Asia, like the Jaredites? No way. Anyway, the topic is interesting, but not what I do as a professional. And I hope you caught the sarcasm in this paragraph! But in all seriousness, maybe we should be trying to sample DNA from LDS with Old World heritage. I mean, the Lord did begin to gather the Jews when JS declared that “something else must be done for the salvation of [His] church”, did he not?
Just today I happened to be pondering the circumstances of my discovery of your blog. Actually, my interest in BoM geography stemmed from a book a friend gave me a few weeks ago concerning the anthropology of western New York, as reported in the mid-1800’s, by a guy with the name of O. Turner. My interest was piqued, and I stumbled onto your site while following a thread. Coincidence? Fate? Call it what you may, but here I am. And for what it’s worth, I’d be elated to take a look at your magnum opus.
- February 8, 2009 11:20 AM