The Mystery of Mormonism

Bruce R. McConkie


I shall speak as a second witness to the things of which President N. Eldon Tanner has just so eloquently and fervently testified. We have some words to speak to the world at large. We address ourselves particularly to those inquiring minds who desire to hear some new doctrine, to see some strange sight, to unravel (shall we not say it?) the greatest mystery of the religious world—the mystery of Mormonism.

We are a peculiar people; we are a congregation of true believers who are unique and different from all others; we are the Saints of the Most High who are assembling together in many nations to build up Zion and to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man.

We are called Mormons. Many people look upon us as a singular sect as they cry: “Delusion, false prophets, polygamy,” as once was so common; or “Racists, antiwomen, patriarchal dictators,” as some now say; or “Worshippers of Adam and deniers of Christ and his grace,” as others falsely acclaim; or whatever sophistry of the moment will sow the seeds of prejudice among those who otherwise might learn who we are and what we believe.

Oftentimes it seems to us that these cries from shallow minds and these self-serving statements of those who resent our rapid growth and increasing influence in the world and these voices whose social and political views we do not espouse are but another evidence of the truth and divinity of the work itself. The devil is not dead, and as his voice was once raised in cries of “Crucify him, crucify him,” so it now shrieks in shrilling hysteria against Christ’s people in this day.

We feel it is not too much to ask, in this age of enlightenment and open dialogue, to let us be the ones who tell who we are, what we believe, and why our cause is going forward in such a marvelous way.

We glory in our designation as a peculiar people. It is our desire to be unique—different from other men—because we have forsaken the world and have made a covenant to live godly lives and to walk in paths of truth and virtue.

It is our hope that it may ever be said of us, as Peter avouched of the true believers in his day: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Now out of a decent respect for the views and concerns of our fellowmen—Christian and non-Christian, Jew and Gentile alike—we shall set forth some of those things which we believe and know to be true.

Our way of life, the security and joy that fill our souls, our hope of glory and honor hereafter all grow out of our doctrine, out of our theology, out of the revealed truths that have come to us. And if we have a better way of life, surely those who are honest in heart will desire to know what we believe and how it changes and uplifts men.

And so in words of soberness we say:

There is a God in heaven, a glorious personage, a holy man, who knows all things, has all power, and is infinite and eternal.

He is the Supreme Being, the Eternal Absolute, the Creator and peopler of worlds without number. He is our Father in Heaven, and he lives in the family unit.

We are his spirit children; all of us dwelt in the Eternal Presence before the foundations of this earth were laid; we have seen his face, heard his voice, and felt his spirit.

He ordained and established the laws whereby his children might advance and progress and become like him. These laws constitute the plan of salvation; they are the gospel of God.

This glorious gospel called for the creation of this earth as a place where man would come to gain a mortal body and be tried and tested as he walked by faith.

It called for the fall of Adam so that temporal and spiritual death would enter the world and pass upon all men.

It called for an infinite and eternal atonement—wrought by One who would be the Only Begotten in the flesh—which atonement would ransom men from their fallen state.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, was chosen for this high and exalted labor. He was born of Mary in time’s meridian and was crucified for the sins of the world.

Thus salvation is in Christ; it comes through his goodness and grace and because of his atoning sacrifice; he came “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

He is our Savior and Redeemer. His was a ministry of mediation and of reconciliation; he brought to pass the great and eternal plan of redemption. Because of him we can be justified; we can be sanctified; we can be saved with an eternal salvation. He is our God and we are his people, and we sing praises to his holy name forever!

On our part, to give full efficacy to his atonement and to claim for ourselves the cleansing power of his blood, we must believe in him and in his Father, repent of our sins, covenant in the waters of baptism to love and serve them all our days, and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Thereafter, guided by that holy monitor, we must walk in the light, keep the commandments, and overcome the world. Such is the plan of salvation for all men in all ages. Such is the plan that has been revealed from age to age so that fallen man might work out his salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord (see Philip. 2:12).

And now—hear it, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth—the great God, who is Father to us all, who loves all his children, and who pleads with all men to repent and be saved, the great God in heaven above has commenced the promised restoration of all things.

He speaks; the voice of God is heard again. He appears; mortal man once more sees the face of his Maker. He commands; the word of truth, the gospel of his Son, goes forth anew.

As the Father was in Christ manifesting himself to the world in the last dispensation, so in our day the Son becomes his voice and witness and revealer.

“This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” the Father said in the spring of 1820 (JS—H 1:17). From that moment the divine word pours forth; line upon line, precept upon precept, as rapidly as the Saints are able to receive it.

The Book of Mormon is revealed, translated, and published to the world by the gift and power of God. The truths in the Bible are reaffirmed and new revelations come, setting forth things which few have known from the foundations of the earth.

Angelic ministrants also come. They confer upon mortals keys and powers and priesthoods.

John the Baptist confers the Aaronic Priesthood with all its keys and powers. Peter, James, and John bring back the Melchizedek Priesthood, the holy apostleship, the keys of the kingdom, and the divine commission to preach the gospel to every creature.

Moses comes, commanding that Israel be gathered the second time. Elijah brings the sealing power so that once again man can bind and loose both on earth and in heaven.

And so it has gone until the gospel has been restored in its everlasting fulness, until The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been perfected, until the kingdom of God on earth has been established and is rolling forth, clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners (see Song 6:10).

This holy gospel is for the salvation of the living and the dead. They with us may become heirs of salvation when they believe and obey in that eternal world. Ours is the privilege of performing for them the ordinances of salvation in holy temples built for that purpose.

By the power of the gospel we are gathering Israel as literally as Moses did. Hundreds of thousands of converts have forsaken their all in the Egypt of the world to enter a land of promise with the Saints.

In this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we worship a God of miracles who has given us the same gifts enjoyed by the ancients. We do not boast, yet it is no secret that among the faithful the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the dead are raised.

We also have the same organization that governed in the earthly kingdom in Jesus’ day. Apostles and prophets speak and minister as of old.

Among us, women and the family unit are held in higher esteem than anywhere else on earth. Our mothers and wives and daughters receive greater honors, perform more responsible labors, and develop their native talents to a greater degree than do any of the women of the world.

Indeed the whole aim and purpose of the gospel is to enable men and women—united as one in the Lord—to create for themselves eternal family units in eternity. Celestial marriage prepares us for the greatest joy and happiness known to mortals and for eternal life in the realms ahead.

May we say, as many have done before, that what men call Mormonism is the very system of laws and truths which will make of earth a heaven and of man a god.

What, then, is the mystery and wonder of it all? This glorious gospel, this perfect plan of life and salvation, this mystery of mysteries—this Mormonism if you will—is the eternal truth of heaven.

It is pure diamond truth. It is the voice of God calling to his children. It is revelation and angels and visions and gifts of the Spirit. It is the Holy Ghost bearing record to a contrite soul. And it is that same Holy Spirit cleansing and sanctifying the obedient so that they can go where God and Christ are and dwell with them eternally in the heavens.

It may be a mystery to the carnal mind, but it is plain and clear and sweet to those who are born of the Spirit so as to be able to see the kingdom of God.

In conclusion, let us hear a prophetic voice:

We prophesy—it is my voice you hear, but it is the united voice of all my Brethren which speaks—we prophesy that this great latter-day work will come off triumphant, that the great God will guide the destinies of his people, that this kingdom of God now set up on earth will roll forth until the kingdom of heaven shall come, until the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again in the clouds of heaven to reign gloriously among his Latter-day Saints.

And we invite all who will to come and partake of the goodness of God, that they may gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal life in the world to come.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

First Presidency as of 7 Dec 1911