This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Here is an excerpt from David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism:

A similar [controversy] occurred when Joseph Fielding Smith's son-in-law, Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the First Council of the Seventy quietly wrote and published an encyclopedic book with the presumptuous title of Mormon Doctrine.

[David O.] McKay's first step was to obtain a copy of the book and study it. One of his secretaries noted, "He went through the whole thing. He had paper clips [on the pages where he had a question], and there were hundreds of them there." Then he summoned two senior apostles, Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney. "I asked them if they would together go over Elder Bruce R. McConkie's book, Mormon Doctrine and make a list of the corrections that should be made preparatory to his sending out an addendum to all members of the church who have purchased his book." . . .

Peterson and Romney took ten months to critique the book and make their report to the First Presidency. Romney submitted a lengthy letter on January 7, 1960, detailing what he felt were the most egregious errors in the book and noting: "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.' " On the same day, Petersen gave McKay an oral report in which he recommended 1,067 corrections that "affected most of the 776 pages of the book." Their reports placed McKay on the horns of a dilemma: How could he regain control of doctrinal exposition without destroying McConkie's credibility and career? . . .

. . . The following day, McKay and his counselors made their decision. The book "must not be republished, as it is full of errors and misstatements. . . . We do not want him to publish another edition. We decided, also, to have no more books published by General Authorities without their first having the consent of the First Presidency." . . . McKay's message seems to have been unambiguous. Nonetheless, McConkie audaciously approached McKay six years later and pushed for publication of the book in a revised form, albeit with the same title and general tone. At this point McKay, age ninety-two and in failing health, did not take the matter up with his counselors or the Quorum of the Twelve. Rather, he said that "should the book be re-published at this time," McConkie would be responsible for it and "that it will not be a church publication."

Three days after meeting with McKay, Mc¬Conkie wrote in a memo to Clare Middlemiss, Mc¬Kay's secretary, "President McKay indicated that the book should be republished at this time." Mc¬Conkie, who practiced law prior to becoming a General Authority, was well versed in the legal meaning of words; and so one is hard pressed to conclude that he misunderstood Mc¬Kay's cautionary statement, "should the book be re-published," as a mandate to republish.

Instead, he moved with the same boldness of eight years earlier, and published a second edition of Mormon Doctrine. The book became one of the all-time best sellers in Mormondom, achieving the near-canonical status that McKay had fought unsuccessfully to avoid, and setting a tone of doctrinal fundamentalism, antithetical to McKay's personal philosophy, that remains a legacy of the church to this day.