46: The Seven Deadly Heresies 101

Brandt, Heather, Jonee, and Mithryn discuss Bruce R. McConkie’s notorious Seven Deadly Heresies speech, given at BYU in June 1980.



The Seven Deadly Heresies by Bruce R. McConkie

FAIR’s Comparison of the Print and Audio Versions of the Talk

Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City:Deseret Book, 2005), 101.

McConkie’s Son “Rebukes” Eugene England

McConkie’s Letter to Eugene England

The Origin of Man & Organic Evolution


  1. Paul Barker

    Brandt in the intro did you just say “how mormonism feels on the hole”? ala Austin Powers? any who….

    Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 11:49:00
    • Expositor's Heather

      Paul, you have no idea how many innuendos Brandt actually said in this episode. I’m not sure if I edited them out or not. But they gave me a lot of chuckles during editing.

      Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 11:56:37
  2. jeanikins

    As usual a great job with this podcast. I have one critique to make though. Mormons and Ex-Mormons tend to speak about Christians as though they all have the same beliefs and in this you are not correct.
    They do not ‘all’ believe that salvation comes through merely believing in Christ. This is a bit like saying that the Community of Christ believes in polygamy.
    Break off factions of all groups and churches break away for a reason – either the exclusion of a practice or teaching, or the inclusion.
    You need to have people from other faiths on the podcast to share what they actually DO believe and not what you suppose.
    The Church of England’s doctrinal character today is largely the result of the Elizabethan Settlement, which sought to establish a comprehensive ‘middle way’ (does that sound familiar?) between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The Church of England affirms the Protestant Reformation principle that scripture contains all things necessary to salvation and is the final arbiter in doctrinal matters.

    They also teach doctrines which are disputed by some today: Faith will, of course, bring a new relationship with God, a new desire to please him and keep his commandments, for the Holy Spirit who is given to believers will move us to love and serve God. But none of this will be part of our justification. That depends from the beginning to the end of our lives upon Christ. God accepts us for no other cause, but only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    I think that this is in complete contradiction to Mormon Doctrine with it’s after all we can DO teaching and the Catholic doctrine which is different depending on the group.

    Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 14:19:18
    • Expositor's Heather

      That is a completely fair critique, Jean. You’re totally right. We shouldn’t be grouping all Christians into one homogenous mass. I’ll try to be better about that in the future. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

      Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 12:25:27
  3. Lance

    I always enjoy hearing Brandt’s memories of being a student at BYU-I. I’m almost done with my sentence in Rexburg and wish I could say that things have changed since Brandt was here. In response to the subject of teaching evolution at BYU-I though, I can comment. I recently finished a course entitled “Origins of Life in the Universe” and my professor spent literally half of the semester trying to convince the class that evolution was real and that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. So, that was encouraging at least. However, the questions and “refutations” brought up by the students were enough to cause a loss of faith in humanity.

    Thanks again for a great listen. I always look forward to new episodes.

    Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 19:03:14
  4. Alison

    Really enjoyed this and hearing Bruce R. McConkie’s actual voice boldly stating each of the 7 Heresies…. made me smile (and cringe). What an interesting (trying to find of a positive word) man.

    Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 20:44:13
    • Ziff

      Me too. Just hearing his self-assured “I’m God’s messenger and you’re not” voice just makes me ill, frankly.

      Reply Aug 19, 2013 @ 20:37:42
  5. Ryan

    I’m not familiar with the reference to the disagreement in Gen. Confrence between Pres. Monson and Pres. Packer that you guys talked about. Can you enlighten me?

    Reply Aug 07, 2013 @ 21:16:21
    • Expositor's Heather

      In the April 2013 General Conference, Packer gave a talk where he basically said “tolerance” is wrong and, basically, a sin. It was as caustic as Packer typically is. Then, at the end of conference, when Monson was wrapping everything up and saying goodbye, he said we should love and tolerate one another. It definitely came across as a dig at Packer’s talk.

      Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 12:27:14
  6. Mick

    That shit got TENSE around 56 minutes in… very well articulated. Great job Mithy hope to hear you on more podcasts.

    Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 00:07:13
  7. Joe S

    Around the 20 minute mark, someone said, “Bruce R. McConkie was maybe the last great scriptorian in LDS Church history. I have family (in-laws) who make the same claim. I could not disagree more.

    In college, I spent a lot of time in the Library researching Jewish life, the NT, and history. I tried embracing Bruce. But time and time again, I found that Bruce R. McConkie was just making stuff up. He filled in huge holes in his knowledge with twentieth century logic and assumptions (which is why I think people like Bruce–because his assumptions are sometimes widely accepted). But Bruce R. McConkie was a horrible scriptorian and historian. He mostly just made stuff up to make scriptures (or Mormon Doctrine) fit with his world view.

    McConkie’s Messiah series contains so many assumptions and errors that it is useless. If you want a good book, James E. Talmage runs circles around McConkie. Talmage’s understanding of both scripture and history, frankly, puts McConkie to shame. There is a reason why McConkie’s materials are not included in the Missionary pack while Talmage has two works included.

    Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 10:26:52
    • Expositor's Heather

      Very interesting assessment, Joe. Maybe this should be explored more when we do our Who is Bruce R McConkie episode. Hunt me down on Facebook? I’d love to hear more about this.

      Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 12:29:55
    • mithryn


      I absolutely agree with what you are saying that McConkie filled in GIANT wholes with what I call “Making Crap Up”(TM). However, he was “More of a scriptorian” than any of the current apostles, and I’ll stand by that.

      They only sound like they know the scriptures because they have a teleprompter. Oh, they might have some of the more key ones memorized (particularly monson), but if you were to say, ask them why the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing asunder “Joints and marrow” rather than “Marrow from bone” or “ball from joint”, they’ll just stare at you for a moment and then explain that God’s word is powerful (Because I did that) rather than be able to cite sources and locations of where they had their ideas.

      But at times, McConkie’s source was “Apostle McConkie”, to be sure.

      (It was Ogden Krout who said he was the last great scriptorian, so take that with the required dose of salt as well.)

      Reply Aug 08, 2013 @ 14:26:21
  8. Nate G

    When the McKonk says “truth, diamond truth, truth unmixed with error, truth alone leads to salvation” I feel that what he really means is AUTHORITY. Specifically his own.

    Reply Aug 09, 2013 @ 09:13:53
  9. ldsrevelations

    Interesting podcast. I hadn’t ever read all the way through McConkie’s talk and found the audio recording and discussion.

    At the risk of sounding a bit pedantic I wanted to note that it was Joseph Fielding Smith who was Bruce R. McConkie’s father-in-law and not Joseph F. Smith— who was Fielding Smith’s father (Hyrum’s son) and who died in 1918 before the 1931 date of the altar fossil argument. I think Fielding Smith was an Apostle in the 1930s and was in his 50s while Talmage and Roberts who pushed for evolution were older (70s) and from the previous generation.

    Reply Aug 12, 2013 @ 15:56:30
    • brandt

      Good catch, ldsrevelations. I’ve been Mormon my whole life, and I still have to go through the “Prophets of the Church” primary song to make sure I get them in the right order.

      Reply Aug 13, 2013 @ 06:36:54
      • Expositor's Heather C.

        God should have known that two Joseph Fielding Smiths would be confusing. It’s his fault.

        Reply Aug 13, 2013 @ 08:15:41
  10. seasickyetstilldocked

    So what you guys are basically saying is that when I highlighted Mormon Doctrine and then cross referenced it into my scriptures in the early nineties…..um, that I may have been wasting my time. Sigh, I will add it to the list of stuff I did in Mormonism that I thought was incredibly important but turned out to be a total waste of time.

    When I meet Bruce R in heaven I shall not know any more then than I know now that he was a colossal waste of my time.

    Reply Aug 12, 2013 @ 19:22:59
  11. SloppySeconds

    I recycled this talk as my mission homecoming talk. I wish I could step back into my 21-your-old self and relive my perplexity as I read it.

    Reply Aug 15, 2013 @ 09:53:46
  12. Steve

    I think the most disturbing thing about Bruce is what he had to say about Blood Atonement. Not that is was creepy, wrong, or satanic, but that we simply don’t practice it because we have no theocratic authority to practice it. In other words, if we were a theocracy, it would be cool. Nice Bruce. Nice. Yes, someone who commits adultery or apostasy should slit their own throat to atone for his or her sin. Oh yea…we actually still show that sign in the temple to this day (knife to throat). Most Mormon’s still don’t know of the very violent undertones that remain in our “most sacred” rituals. The cray cray never stops. Oh, but Jesus is in the name of our church! We are Christian!

    Reply Aug 18, 2013 @ 17:36:35
  13. Ziff

    Great podcast! Awful talk, but great analysis!

    Reply Aug 19, 2013 @ 20:47:41
  14. Ben

    Very impressed with the historical knowledge of this panel!

    Reply Aug 25, 2013 @ 05:15:19
  15. bitherwack

    I find it slightly amusing whenever we finite beings with a finite ability to grasp the infinite try to discuss the infinite in terms of conforming absolutes. I see the infinite to be infinite only in its ability to be eternally expansive (just as the speed of light determines distance.) As infinity is eternally expansive, so should God be able to be eternally progressive. Our perspective as finite beings only become progressively smaller by comparison… God being so far beyond us, and progressing infinitely and at absolute speeds… just as we experience light speeding away from us will appear to stand still

    I also find it odd that we, with our limited understanding would have the arrogance to tell God how he should have created the world. Wouldn’t it be better to study how He in His wisdom created the earth and under what laws He established? Isn’t the study of the creation, and its laws what we call science? Just because we don’t understand how science and our concept of the creation might be in harmony doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. This difficulty springs from our imperfect ability to grasp the creative act of an infinite being.

    Reply Aug 31, 2013 @ 00:08:02
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      Unfortunately, I don’t find this attitude about a god to be compelling whatsoever. If understanding this being is so far outside our ability, then it’s pointless to contemplate it. It is unknowable and might as well not exist at all.

      Reply Sep 02, 2013 @ 20:59:39
      • Bitherwack

        Heather, you may not find this thought compelling…
        There is no need to. I do, however find it odd that we must somehow put a limit on God for us to find Him knowable. Isn’t that rather arrogant of us to tell God He can no longer grow. If I were God, I’d be furious! I’m a human being, and as long as I draw breath, I intend to continue growing! As an eternal spirit, I intend to keep on doing such. The very word damnation implies a stopping of growth. To suggest Heavenly Father does not progress eternally, well, in my book, you are damning God. (This one philosophical stance of McConkie’s I find particularly arrogant…)

        Reply Oct 12, 2013 @ 10:18:28
    • Matthew Crowley

      But these same finite senses are the ones you are relying on for your beliefs right? Why ate they good for one thing but not the other?

      Reply Oct 12, 2013 @ 08:50:39
      • Bitherwack

        Matthew, my finite senses are indeed finite. I do not rely on them in matters of faith (otherwise, one would mistake heartburn for a ‘burning in the bosom’) I rely on my intellect and my imagination.
        Just as when we were students, and in geometry we were asked to imagine a line of infinite length, we can use our intellect and our imaginations to grasp the concept of the infinite… which God is.

        Reply Oct 12, 2013 @ 10:36:33
  16. lastchance78

    I believe in creation just not the bible version. Evolution doesn’t make any logical sense, it is just junk food/science for the masses.

    Reply Dec 05, 2013 @ 00:46:30
    • Expositor's Heather C

      How does a creation make any more logical sense than evolution? Further, evolution does not address abiogenesis. It explains how live has developed on this planet AFTER that point and it’s backed up by archeology AND genetics research. It’s far from junk science.

      Reply Dec 05, 2013 @ 09:42:47
  17. Frank Staheli

    While I was serving with the US military in Ft Carson, Colorado, I attended a series of Sunday Evening classes taught by one of Bruce McConkie’s sons who lived there. It was interesting to see that his son seemed to be as stuck on himself and his supposedly superior knowledge as his father was. It was very off-putting. That’s one of the interesting things that we must deal with in any organization, including the the LDS Church.

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:57:47
  18. Zelophehad’s Daughters | Nacle Notebook 2013: Funny Comments

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    Reply Jan 06, 2014 @ 21:41:53
  19. Kent Hull

    Ii just listened to this podcast. I realize i am late to the game but, i have a viewpoint to share. Let me preface by stating i am now a non believer. I am surpised that in this discussion some believers have not used the words from the temple cermony to counterpoint evolution. In the beginning of the endownment Elohim instructs Jehovah and Michael to go down and gather Matter that is unorganized and form the earth. Could believers not take the viewpoint that this unorganized matter is billions of years old and possibly contains the fossils and other ancient things that we find here on our earth? God follows his own laws as they are non refutable, therefore things cannot be created from nothing. Our earth would have been created from existing matter that is perhaps billons of years old. Just a thought i have always had. It would take more time and greater minds than mine to discuus at greater length and detail.

    Reply Mar 21, 2016 @ 08:22:55

      I was taught this theory both by parents and seminary teachers. It is laughably easy to disprove.

      Yes, we are all star stuff, but evolution shows a solid chain of slight changes that match the slight changes in the geological record. As such, if God took dust to for man, we should be significantly different from other animals, and clever in our design. Instead we have extra faculties, or fewer useless features than apes
      Instead we fit perfectly in the chain.

      But yes, I grew up with this theory until I talked to the BYU professor of biology…

      Reply Mar 21, 2016 @ 10:11:58

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