Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Purifying Power of the Atonement

Thirteen days before passing away from cancer, Elder Bruce R. McConkie bore powerful apostolic testimony in his final conference talk: "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane".

Technically it should be titled "The Purifying Power of the Atonement", since it's not the Garden of Gethsemane that purifies, but Christ's Atonement. Moreover, the Atonement did not take place only in Gethsemane, but also on the cross of Calvary. Elder McConkie testifies: "While he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 p.m., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred."

In this classic talk he invites us to join with him in gaining "a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement", which Atonement is "the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity."

Candidly, Elder McConkie was wrong on some things during his lifetime, but on this he was 100% right. In the imperative matters of testimony bearing, and in his apostolic role, I admire him greatly. His last statement is even more powerful listening to him deliver it himself. I can't help but be inspired:
And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin.


NM said...

I really like that the gospel-writers included Jesus' last few moments on the Mount of Olives; it reveals something of Jesus that we don't see prior to his death on the shows Jesus' humanity. A desperate plea for God-the-Father to pursue a different plan...

...everything hangs on whether or not Jesus drinks the cup, overflowing with God's wrath - planned between he, his father and the Spirit, from eternity past...

Gripping stuff...

I am the Clay said...

Clean Cut,

This is an interesting post. I say "interesting" because Mr.McConkie was the LDS apostle who spoke against about having a personal relationship with Christ. BYU 1984 address - have you read that talk? I would love to hear your thoughts on what he shared there. He basically taught that it is not appropriate for LDS to worship the Son of God. This talk was controversial and created a stir. I hadn't heard about till an LDS friend of mine here had told me about it a few years back. She was actually present when that talk was given, and mentioned how big a stir is created on campus. Many LDS were deeply offended and troubled by his remarks. When I read the talk I was floored.... the NT gives account after account of believers worshipping the Lord. While he was alive and after He was risen. I especially love the account of the disciples when they saw the risen lord they fell down and worshipped at his feet and then his apostles at galilee when He appeeared to them. Matt 28 There is no biblical mandate for prohibiting worship of our Lord and King. Not sure "where" McConkie was going with that talk, but I recall being disturbed by it. I believe His well loved LdS hymn : I believe in Christ, was his was of "apologizing" for those remarks.

I hope you and yours enjoyed a lovely Easter,

Clean Cut said...

Hi Gloria. I appreciate the inquiry; it deserves a thoughtful response. I want to respond as soon as possible but I'm still very busy with graduate work and, of course, with family night tonight! I'll respond as soon as time permits. Thanks!

Papa D said...

Gloria, that talk gets butchered probably as much as any talk ever given by a Mormon General Authority. The entire record of Elder McConkie's talks and speeches makes it crystal clear that he believed we DO worship Jesus in very real and powerful ways, but the point he was making in that talk is that we don't pray to him (that is His Father), we don't set him at the head of all (that is His Father), etc.

There is an EXCELLENT post and discussion (73 comments) at Mormon Matters about that exact talk. If you are serious about understanding that talk in context, read that post. The discussion shows the extent some people will go to ignore the entire context of Elder McConkie's and the LDS Church's statements about this topic, since the post lays out everything very well.

The url is:

Seriously, if you are sincere, read the post and comments. It is extremely enlightening.

Papa D said...

Gloria, one more thing:

Since you used to be LDS and the main purpose of your own blog is to witness to those who still are LDS, I hope at the very least you will read the Mormon Matters post and realize that this specific approach (citing Elder McConkie's talk as proof that Mormons don't worship Jesus) is inaccurate - and that you will stop using it as a way to try to "witness" to LDS and others.

Controversial to those who heard it or not, Elder McConkie absolutely was NOT saying Mormons don't worship Jesus - and if you read and understand Bruce's post, it would be disingenuous to continue to make that claim.

I am the Clay said...

Hi, Papa D. Thanks for your thoughtful response to my comment. I do agree and mentioned in my comment that I think McConkie did try to "make up" in a sense for his BYU address by writing I believe in Christ and of course his final testimony he gave at General Conference. I personally believe that was "his way" of making amends for the muddle he created.
I also think that LDS leaders are certainly not infalliable and can be wrong and error. For after all they are men and are open to error. I simply stated that McConkie was in error when he wrote that address. I sincerely hope he did recognzie his error and repent of what he said. The bottom line is the fact that he did indeed state the it is not appropriate to seek a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus and to reserve worship to the father. That is what he said, is it not?
Kind regards,

I am the Clay said...

P.S. I will take some time and read the remarks on "mormon matters" that you metioned as well. I would be interested to hear how the LDS respond to this talk written by one of their leaders. I know my husband who is LDS simply agreed and to this day believes worship should be only to God the Father and not God the Son. Of course I disagree with him, but it is sincerely what he believes.


Clean Cut said...

Gloria, I went ahead and posted my response as a separate post because of it's length. You can view it here: Bruce R. McConkie and "Our Relationship With The Lord".

Thanks Papa D for you remarks, and for providing that link. Gloria, perhaps your husband could benefit from reading it too! :)

Papa D said...

Amen, Gloria, to what CC said. Please have your husband read the Mormon Matters talk and CC's new post. He obviously misunderstood the original talk - at least based only on what you've shared.

Tom said...

I took a class from Joseph Fielding McConkie, and he told us the background on that talk:

At BYU in the late 70's / early 80's there was a popular idea going around that you had to have some "special experience" that granted you a "special relationship" with Jesus Christ above and beyond what was described in the scriptures. His BYU talk condemned THAT idea, not the scriptural injunction to be born again and have a personal relationship with the Savior. We have always preached, and Elder McConkie concurs, the need for a personal relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We are not to seek some "special" relationship with one of them - for they all play an ESSENTIAL role in our salvation.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."

(I would add that that knowledge comes through the Holy Spirit - 1 Cor. 12:3, John 14:26, John 16:13, etc.)

Elder McConkie believed it, we believe it. Period.