Harvard S. Heath publishes transcription of David O. McKay's office diaries summarizing a report of apostles who found 1,067 errors in "Mormon Doctrine."

David O. McKay

David O. McKay, Presidential Diary, January 7, 1960, in Confidence Amid Change: The Presidential Diaries of David O. McKay, 1951–1970, ed. Harvard S. Heath (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2019), 300–303

Signature Books
Mark E. Petersen, First Presidency, David O. McKay, Marion G. Romney, Bruce R. McConkie
General Public

January 7, 1960, 10:15–12:45 p.m. … The First Presidency met with Elders Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney. They submitted their report upon their examination of the book “Mormon Doctrine” by Elder Bruce McConkie.

These brethren reported that the manuscript of the book “Mormon Doctrine” had not been read by the reading committee; that President Joseph Fielding Smith did not know anything about it until it was published. Elder Petersen stated that the extent of the corrections which he had marked in his copy of the book (1067) affected most of the 776 pages of the book. He also said that he thought the brethren should be under the rule that no book should be published without a specific approval of the First Presidency.

I stated that the decision of the First Presidency and the Committee should be announced to the Twelve.

It was agreed that the necessary corrections are so numerous that to republish a corrected edition of the book would be such an extensive repudiation of the original as to destroy the credit of the author; that the republication of the book should be forbidden and that the book should be repudiated in such a way as to save the career of the author as one of the General Authorities of the Church. It was also agreed that this decision should be announced to the Council of the Twelve before I talk to the author.

Elder Petersen will prepare an editorial for publication in the Improvement Era, stating the principle of approval of books on Church doctrine. A rough draft will be submitted to us for approval.

[Cover letter from Romney to McKay, Jan. 28, 1959:]

The author [McConkie] is an able and thorough student of the gospel. In many respects he has produced a remarkable book. Properly used, it quickly introduces the student to the authorities on most any gospel subject.

As to the book itself, notwithstanding its many commendable and valuable features and the author’s assumption of “sole and full responsibility” for it, its nature and scope and the authoritative tone of the style in which it is written pose the question as to the propriety of the author’s attempting such a project without assignment and supervision from him whose right and responsibility it is to speak for the Church on “Mormon Doctrine.” Had the work been authoritatively supervised, some of the following matters might have been omitted and the treatment of others modified.

A. [Discourteous] references to churches and other groups who do not accept “Mormon Doctrine.”

1. “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” who sometimes refer to themselves as “Josephites.” (Exhibit II–1, pages 50, 141, 362)

2. “Christian Churches” generally. (Exhibit I–2, pages 139, 455)

3. “Catholic Church”. (Exhibit II–3, pages 13, [6]6, 129, 130, 216, 241, 242, 314–315, 342, 346, 350, 422, 499, 511, 697)

4. Communists and Catholics. (Exhibit II–4, pages 260, 131)

5. Evolution and Evolutionists. (Exhibit II–5, pages 37, 77, 136, [229–38],8 659)

B. Declaration as to “Mormon Doctrine” on controversial issues.

1. “Pre-Adamites”. (Exhibit III–1, pages 17, 262)

2. Status of Animals and Plants in the Garden of Eden. (Exhibit III–2, pages 36, 234–35)

3. Meaning of the various accounts of Creation. (Exhibit III–3, pages 157–8, 167–8)

4. Dispensation of Abraham. (Exhibit III–4, page 204)

5. Moses as a translated being. (Exhibit III–5, pages 206, 445, 466, 727–8)

6. Origin of Individuality. (Exhibit III–6, page 404)

7. Defiling the priesthood. (Exhibit III–7, page 437)

8. Manner in which Jesus was Begotten. (Exhibit III–8, page 494)

9. Written sermons. (Exhibit III–9, pages 634–5, 716)

10. Resurrection of stillborn children. (Exhibit III–10, page 694)

C. Miscellaneous [speculative] Interpretations. (Exhibit IV)

Frequency of Administrations, page 22

Baptism in the “molten sea,” page 98

II Peter 1:19, page 102

Paul married, page 112

Status of those “with Christ in His Resurrection,” page 128

Consecration of oil, page 147

Councils and schools among the Gods, page 151

Limitations on Deity, page 154

Sunday not a proper day for family reunions, page 254

Geological changes at the time of the deluge, page 268

The Holy Ghost a spirit man, page 329

Facing east in temples when giving the Hosanna Shout, page 337

Details on family prayer and asking the blessing on food, page 526

Women to be gods, page 551

Interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 93:1, page 581

Interpretation of “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning,” page 606

Resumption of schools of the prophets, page 613

Time of beginning of seasons, page 616

Interpretation of III Nephi 21:20, page 618

D. Repeated use of the word “apostate” and related terms in a way which to many seems discourteous and to others gives offense. (Exhibit V, pages 123, 125, 160, 169, 212, 223, 383, 528, 538, 548, 596).

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