Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
031-032: James McConkie: Family, Faith, and the Historical Christ

031-032: James McConkie: Family, Faith, and the Historical Christ

jim-profile2Jay Griffith and I had the chance to sit with James (Jim) W. McConkie and speak to him about his personal history and family. As a nephew of Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph B. Wirthlin, Jim has a unique perspective of the Church and the brethren and a valuable approach to the Gospel.  Speaking about his faith, parenting, and his views on the historical Christ, Jim explains his approach to doubt and difficult questions.  He has written a book, Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants Again for the Very First Time, and is currently working on a book focusing on the inclusive Christ.

Also I am excited to introduce Jay Griffith, who was responsible for coordinating this interview. He would like to acknowledge one of the most important aspects of his life–his amazing, intelligent, kind-hearted wife Jane.


  1. whizzbang

    Excellent. Without naming names I know a guy who married a niece of one of the now Emeritus General Authorities and he said that this Elder used to teach the newer brethren in scriptures because they weren’t well versed in them. Also in his 1984? talk entitled, Principles, Pres. Packer talks about this as well, the leaders not knowing much of the gospel, scriptures, due to lack of time, interest etc.

  2. Jackson

    The James McConkie interview was very interesting and very much appreciated. I have been using his “Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants Again for the Very First Time” as I study with my 13 year old son, and look forward to doing so with my daughter when she is a bit older. He is a great man, father and grandfather. Which makes sense hearing more about his upbringing.

    The McConkie family has such a rich family history. I really enjoyed hearing Bro. McConkie speak of his Grandfather, the father of Elder Bruce McConkie. Elder McConkie gave so much to the church as a scriptorian, a foundation we learn was established by his father.

    Also hearing about the inner circle of men in his life like Elder McConkie and Elder Wirthlin helps me to realize the importance of fatherhood and grandfatherhood. We are raising the future of the church and the leaders of tomorrow.

  3. mcook05

    What a refreshing and enlightening podcast regarding Bruce R. McConkie. Clearly, Jim McConkie had a tender relationship with him. I enjoyed hearing about the personal, day-to-day experiences of this General Authority as a father, mentor and Uncle. I have always recognized that Bruce R. McConkie was a great gospel scholar and I appreciated this glimpse into his exemplary personal relationships.

  4. tent

    These comments were well-reasoned, thoughtful, and respectful. People with inside access to top church leaders sometimes are tempted by public attention to reveal ever more juicy tidbits about the famous people they know. And they are also tempted to choose sides in order to make themselves more acceptable to contrary voices or popular trends, or vice-versa. But Jim McConkie did not succumb to these temptations. He remained thoughtful and respectful, while also showing that he (and by extension everyone else) can disagree on important church practices while remaining firmly committed to the Gospel. Is it any surprise that church leaders are influenced by the social whims or trends of the day, by their political orientations, and by their own knowledge inadequencies? Jim McConkie confirmed this obvious fact, but he did so with generosity, and that approach to doctrinal dialogue is a good one for all of us to follow.

  5. Dave Dixon

    I really appreciate the thoughtful approach to faith that James McConkie shows. I loved hearing stories of Elder McConkie, and I suppose he gets more attention because of his writings and charismatic personality, but I really wished I could hear some Elder Wirthlin stories from him. I really loved the way he taught and led. He just seemed to exude meekness.

  6. kathleen collinwood

    Great insight into two very different and important church families. Jim’s obvious warmth and appreciation for both sides of his family humanized and personalized two very different apostles.

  7. Sue Astle

    Fantastic, insightful, and honest. I very much enjoyed this interview. Though it is clear Jim’s loyalties are to the LDS church and to his family, his comments didn’t seem overly prejudiced. My only complaint is I wish the conversation was longer! Hope we get to hear from Jim McConkie again.

  8. Pingback: James McConkie: Family, Faith, and the Historical Christ | Mormon Stories Podcast

  9. Vishal

    Really great interview! Very edifying discussions. You should invite James for more interview(s) in the near future. Any topic related to Mormonism will do. And, great job with the podcasts!

  10. Joe

    Great job, Sarah! Good follow-up questions. You probed exactly when I was thinking, “now wait a second…” I hope you don’t think I’m condescending when I say you’re clearly finding your stride as an interviewer.

    1. Sarah Collett

      No I don’t feel you are condescending at all. I hope that with time I am showing improvement. I’m glad you liked the interview. It was a fun one to participate in.

  11. Kim

    I’m enjoying this podcast. I too came to a point in my own faith journey where I literally had to deconstruct my faith and start at the beginning with, “Is there a God?” To hear Bro. McConkie relate how he went through a similar process after his mission was interesting. Once I resolved that the likelihood of God was greater than there being no God, I went on to look at many of the issues in church history and science with a more hopeful approach, so as to find a balance between faith and questioning. Nice interview Sarah. Thanks to Bro. McConkie for taking the time to participate. Very helpful.

  12. Gary


    After some thought, I wish that the interviewer had asked you about more of the problem areas (Joseph and Fannie, Joseph’s attempts and successes to seduce so many single and married women including a 14 year old girl, BY’s unaccepted doctrines, problems about BOM and BOA, President Hinckley’s “misstatement” concerning the real cornerstone doctrine of the Church – Eternal Progression,etc.

    I don’t mean this in a confrontational or disrespectful way. I just want to know how you answer your children when they ask about these and other specific issues. I am left to assume that the issues are true and real problems without answers because the Church does not/will not answer these questions. Will you please shed some light and understanding on these and other issues?

    One other thing,I agree with you that we shouldn’t hold our leaders to an unrealistic level of conduct. Buy my gad! Make a mistake or two and that’s forgivable, but given the number and severity of Joseph’s mistakes and you have to wonder how such a man can also “commune with God” when he’s so pre-occupied with other people’s wives.

    But the problem’s enhanced when they indoctrinate members from infancy on when they tell us to always to “follow the prophet. He knows the way!” They deify themselves until it bites them in the you-know-where and then they say they’re “not perfect.” They simply try to have it both ways.

    The other day, an LDS lady called me “an apostate” because I said that I didn’t think that a new shopping mall was a good use for my tithing money. “You must always do what the brethren say and if you disagree with them, you are going to hell!” That kind of thinking 170 years ago, would have resulted with her on someone’s bed. That’s the kind of myopic thinking the church wants from its members today. Sorry – didn’t mean to prattle on.

  13. Ryan

    I have struggled with McConkiism for a long time and this has softened my feelings towards Bruce and even given me respect for his commitment to the church. Fantastic interview! So much more of this way of thinking is needed within the church. Hopefully Jim is right and we are on our way.

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