I remember when this address was given at BYU, including the reference
to BYU religion professor George Pace's book "What It Means to Know
Christ" (Provo, Utah: Council Press, 1981).
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD (exerpts)
An address by
Elder Bruce R. McConkie,
March 2, 1982
There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to
go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an
effort to be truer than true they devote themselvesl to gaining a
special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and
I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of those
who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an
unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to
despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living
the way he supposes he should.
Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly
to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been
developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which
advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this
sentence--quote: "Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go
through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers
through his Son." Unquote.
This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the
Father, and to him only. They do not. go through Christ, or the
Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We
are entitled to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16.)
And I rather suppose that He who sitteth upon the throne will choose
his own ways to answer his children, and that they are numerous.
Perfect prayer is addressed to the Father, in the name of the Son; it
is uttered by the power of the Holy Ghost; and it is answered in
whatever way seems proper by Him whose ear is attuned to the needs of
Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should
not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It
will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or
Americanism, or the little red school house. But I am not. There is a
fine line here over which true worshippers will not step.
It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship
with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the
beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the
valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the
Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion
of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to
replace sense and reason.
The proper course for all of us is to stay in the mainstream of the
Church. This is the Lord's Church, and it is led by the spirit or
inspiration, and the practice of the Church constitutes the
interpretation of the scripture.
And you have never heard one of the First Presidency or the Twelve who
hold the keys of the kingdom, and who are appointed to see that we are
not "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine"
(Eph. 4:14), you have never heard one of them advocate this excessive
zeal that calls for gaining a so-called special and personal
relationship with Christ.
You have heard them teach and testify of the ministry and mission of
the Lord Jesus, using the most persuasive and powerful language at
their command. But never, never at any time have they taught or
endorsed the inordinate and intemperate zeal that encourages endless,
sometimes day-long prayers, in order to gain a personal relationship
with the Savior.
Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name
of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved
patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all
the members of the Godhead.
I am well aware that some who have prayed for endless hours feel they
have a special and personal relationship with Christ that they never
had before. I wonder if this is any or much different, however, from
the feelings of fanatical sectarians who with glassy eyes and fiery
tongues assure us they have been saved by grace and are assured of a
place with the Lord in a heavenly abode, when in fact they have never
even received the fullness of the gospel.
I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer's system to make people feel
they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following
the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church.
I do not suppose that what I have here said will be an end to
controversy or to the spread of false views and doctrines. The devil
is not dead and he delights in controversy. But you have been warned,
and you have heard the true doctrine taught. Those who need to study
the matter further would do well to get and study a copy of what I
have said when it is published by the Brigham Young University.