To find the truth we must first desire to find the truth. Far too often
we ask questions to seek confirmation for something we have already
chosen to believe or a course of action we are unwilling to change.
Often we keep refining and re-asking our questions until we hear what we
want to hear. Contrast such a course with this statement by Elder Bruce
"I often think as I go around the Church and preach in various meetings
that it just does not make a snap of the fingers difference to me what I
am talking about. I do not care what I talk about. All I am concerned
with is getting in tune with the Spirit and expressing the thoughts, in
the best language and way that I can, that are implanted there by the
power of the Spirit. The Lord knows what a congregation needs to hear,
and he has provided a means to give that revelation to every preacher
and every teacher.
"We do not create the doctrines of the gospel. People who ask questions
about the gospel, a good portion of the time, are looking for an answer
that sustains a view they have expressed. They want to justify a
conclusion that they have reached instead of looking for the ultimate
truth in the field. Once again, it does not make one snap of the fingers
difference to me what the doctrines of the Church are. I cannot create a
doctrine. I cannot originate a concept of eternal truth. The only thing
I ought to be concerned with is learning what the Lord thinks about a
doctrine. If I ask a question of someone to learn something, I ought not
to be seeking for a confirmation of a view that I have expressed. I
ought to be seeking knowledge and wisdom. It should not make any
difference to me whether the doctrine is on the right hand or on the
left. My sole interest and my sole concern would be to find out what the
Lord thinks on the subject" ("Foolishness of Teaching," 8).
Speaking at the funeral of Elder McConkie, Elder Boyd K. Packer
observed: "He could not measure what ought to be said and how it ought
to be said by [asking], `What will people think?' Would his sermons
leave any uncomfortable? Would his bold declarations irritate some in
the Church? Would they inspire the critics to rush to their anvils and
hammer out more `fiery darts' as the scriptures call them?
"Would his manner of delivery offend? Would his forthright declarations,
in content or in manner of presentation, drive some learned
investigators away? Would he be described as insensitive or overbearing?
"Would his warnings and condemnations of evil undo the careful work of
others whose main intent was to have the world `think well of the
Church'? Perhaps it was given to other men to measure their words in
that way, but it was not given to him.
"We have talked of this. And when he was tempted to change, the Spirit
would withdraw a distance and there would come that deep loneliness
known only to those who have enjoyed close association with the Spirit,
only to find on occasion that it moves away. He could stand what the
critics might say and what enemies might do, but he could not stand
"He would be driven to his knees to beg forgiveness and plead for the
renewal of that companionship with the Spirit which the scriptures
promise can be constant. Then he would learn once again that what was
true of Holy Men of God who spake in ancient times applied to him as
well. He was to speak as he was moved upon by the Holy Spirit. What
matter if it sounded like Bruce R. McConkie, so long as the Lord
approved. I knew him well enough to know all of that" (Salt Lake City,
Utah, 23 April 1985, 6-7).
In the realm of gospel answers, we generally find what we want. If we
want justification for a particular course of action, we often will
search until we find it. If we want to defend some idea, we may filter
out anything that does not sustain it. And if we want to discover the
mind and will of the Lord, we generally find that also. We cannot
inquire of the heavens with real intent and a sincere heart if we have
already determined what we will accept as an answer. What must be
understood is that it is "counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and
not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for
God receiveth none such" (Moro. 7:9).
(Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough
Gospel Questions [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 4 .)
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