Historical Mormon Smackdown: Benson vs. McConkie [edited]

Well, the ‘nacle has spoken and it turns out the Eliza was a greater historical figure. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, I predicted a runaway for Emma.

In this week’s version, we ask the following question:

Who has had a greater effect, internally and externally, on how the Church is perceived: Ezra Taft Benson or Bruce R. McConkie?

Ezra Taft Benson, a prophet of the Lord, Eisenhower’s agricultural secretary (at a point when people cared about the agriculture secretary), member of the John Birch society, inspired to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon, utterer of “Beware of Pride” (one of my favorite conference talks).

Bruce R. McConkie, member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, author of several doctrinal treatises (the most influential being “Mormon Doctrine”), a Biblical autodidact, famously and humbly retracted statements regarding Blacks and the Priesthood, utterer of “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane” (one of my alltime favorite conference talks).

So there you have it. Please vote in the blogpoll on your right!

  • Anonymous

    I’m putting $50 on McConkie. He, along with his father-in-law, popularized the black-and-white approach to doctrine, which still permeates the church today. Posted by will

  • Anonymous

    Long term effect? Benson, hands down. McConkie was an aberation (though he did popularize using “In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” at the end of talks.) Many of his positions have been to a certain extent and (I believe) will continue to be dismantled into irrelevancy. This will especially be the case in the next 25 years, after which, only a miniscule percentage of the church will have experianced him.Benson, on the other hand, invoked the condemnation of God. Our response in using the Book of Mormon has been dramatic. His conservitivism, much like McConkie’s exegesis, will wane into the forgotten. The Book of Mormon is here to stay. Posted by J. Stapley

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think one can underestimate too much the long term of effects of Benson telling the church we were under condemnation for not paying enough attention to the Book of Mormon.In a convert church McConkie’s influence will fade somewhat as new authors come front and center. However in many ways Benson generated and popularized taking the BoM serious in a way that the church hadn’t. That has had, the past two decades, a huge effect on the church in so many ways.Also, to be fair, McConkie was hardly alone in his exegesical methods. He may be the figure most point to. But I’m not sure one can attribute to him the movement. Posted by Clark

  • http://www.splendidsun.com J. Stapley

    Also, to be fair, McConkie was hardly alone in his exegesical methods. He may be the figure most point to. But I’m not sure one can attribute to him the movement.Agreed.

  • Anonymous

    Not to be nitpicky, but the question emphasizes perception today, not who will shake out to be more influential in the long run. It is hard to argue against prophets in the “long-term” view. Posted by John C.

  • Anonymous

    …being responsible for the re-focus on the Book of Mormon as a historical record is not a winning hand given the course of recent science… Posted by Sean

  • Anonymous

    Still I think Benson wins. During Benson’s presidency, I think it would have to have been McConkie; but McConkie really has fallen out of favor in a lot of circles….and Sean, don’t be tool. Your comment smacks of the guy who changes his name at every time he comments only to take pot shots at the Mormon faith. Posted by J. Stapley


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