Little Known Propaganda: 12 – Personal Relationship With Jesus

8 Feb

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11

FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:

“… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)

In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

I have read the talk that is being quoted here, and I will agree that this is likely unknown to the vast majority of the world. I think the best way to address this is to simply let Elder McConkie explain himself. So, we will first see the quote in its context. After all, the quote given is actually taken from three different parts of the talk, and are separated by a great deal of further explanation.

 

“There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”

So, Elder McConkie is, first of all, speaking of an over the top Zeal that is truly fanaticism, which is never healthy.

“I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

“Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed…”

Here we are told why it is perilous. It causes arrogance and pride in those who seek it, or such depression that it hinders their functioning. The Bible tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16: 18) Is it any wonder that we are warned against such actions?

Please note that we have not even touched on the second part of the quote given, and we have gone through three paragraphs. We now skip down four more paragraphs before we get to the second part of the quote.

“Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.”

So, again, we have Elder McConkie speaking against an improper relationship. There is a proper, personal relationship we can have with Christ, but once we step over that line to seek an improper relationship, that is when we are in danger.

“It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.”

And here we get the full point of all of this. The personal relationship with Christ becomes improper when we seek that over the other members of the Godhead. When our devotion to Christ overshadows our devotion, veneration, and worship of the Father we have stepped over the line and are in peril.

Then, jumping down four more paragraphs, Elder McConkie tells us this.

“Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.”

When we try to remove the reverence between us and God in a desire for a personal relationship with Christ we dishonor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we maintain that reverential barrier we strengthen ourselves spiritually.

 

I think this is sufficient to show the true intent of Elder McConkie’s words. He is not saying we shouldn’t have a relationship with Christ, even a personal one. He is saying that we should not have an improper relationship that removes the reverential respect and excludes the rest of the Godhead from our devotions. I honestly don’t see how any Christian could even disagree with this, let alone complain about it.

 

On a final note, none of this contradicts anything in the Bible. The specific quote given tells us to come to Christ, which we should do; but we should do so with reverential respect, never forgetting that He is the Son, not the Father.

 

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2 Responses to “Little Known Propaganda: 12 – Personal Relationship With Jesus”

  1. shematwater February 8, 2017 at 5:35 am #

    Response to CleanCut
    His reply was, once again, accurate and well said. He just, again, didn’t provide any references or evidence. There really isn’t much else to add, except that it wasn’t just BYU students who were teaching these things, and part of what he was speaking against was the idea that such a personal relationship put a person on more righteous ground, or made them better than those who didn’t have such a relationship. I think that was more important to Elder McConkie’s words.

  2. shematwater February 8, 2017 at 5:35 am #

    Response to Damon

    “I am surprised that we did not hear the “well McConkie was kind of a loose cannon and his words are not our cannon” argument again.”
    While it is true that much of his earlier work is not cannon (such as the book Mormon Doctrine), in 1982 he was an apostle, having been ordained in 1972, and thus any time he spoke as an official representative of the church his words are to be taken as doctrine, unless the President himself corrected him, which never happened. Also, I find that this argument is usually used by the spiritually immature so that they can better ignore those things that they don’t want to except.

    “Stephen recognized that praying to His Savior was right and the early Church were known as those who “called upon the name of the Lord”
    Here Damon gives a few references from the Bible, but they all have the same theme of “Calling upon the name of the Lord.” But this does not tell us to pray to Christ, or to call on Him. We are to call on His name, which we do when pray to the Father in the name of the Son. We address the father, and then, in closing, we invoke, or call on the name of Christ. So, this changes nothing, as the Bible teaches us to pray to the Father, but in the name of the Son.
    Here are the references he gives (Acts 9:14; 21; 22:16; 2 Cor. 1:2).

    Finally, Damon selectively quotes from the Book of Mormon to try and justify the idea of praying to Christ. He is right when he points out that there is an account during the Savior’s visit to the Nephites when the Nephite disciples did pray to Christ (3 Nephi 19:17-26). However, out of the ten verses that he cites, he only quotes from four, pulling out those statements that do state that the disciples prayed to Christ. What he doesn’t mention is that Christ stated that “they pray unto me because I am with them.” (verse 22). This is also true in the case of Stephen (whom Damon also mentioned) as he only is recorded as addressing Christ directly when he saw Christ in a vision, and thus Christ was with him.

    So, when we actually look at what the scriptures it becomes apparent that they agree completely with what Elder McConkie said.

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