Question: Why didn't Gordon B. Hinckley say more about the King Follett Discourse in the TIME Magazine interview?

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Question: Why didn't Gordon B. Hinckley say more about the King Follett Discourse in the TIME Magazine interview?

t should be remembered that this doctrine requires a great deal of "background" to understand even the little that the Church does know

Providing that background in an interview for the general public is virtually impossible. Anti-Mormon authors are always quick to pounce on "strange" things they can use to alienate other Christians from LDS theology; one might suspect that President Hinckley did not want to confuse matters by attempting what probably would have been an unsatisfactory explanation of the doctrine.

Also the responses a reporter receives in an oral interview are, by the nature of the interview itself, unprepared and off-the-cuff. Frequently, interviewees will give hasty answers that reflect a misunderstanding of the question or are the result of not expecting certain questions in the first place. Had the reporter submitted his questions in writing and asked for written responses, it's quite likely that President Hinckley's response to this question would have been clearer.

President Hinckley responds

Clearly aware of the controversy that his comments had engendered, President Hinckley raised the subject in October 1997 General Conference:

The media have been kind and generous to us. This past year of pioneer celebrations has resulted in very extensive, favorable press coverage. There have been a few things we wish might have been different. I personally have been much quoted, and in a few instances misquoted and misunderstood. I think that's to be expected. None of you need worry because you read something that was incompletely reported. You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the Church.[1]

President Hinckley quotes Lorenzo Snow

Finally, any claim that President Hinckley did not believe the King Follett Discourse or the Lorenzo Snow couplet has to deal with this contemporary public statement from a talk he gave in October 1994 General Conference:

...[T]he whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom.[2]

Although he did not mention the other half of President Snow's statement ("As man is, God once was"), it's quite clear from the context that President Hinckley was aware of and agreed with it.


  1. Gordon B. Hinckley, "Drawing Nearer to the Lord," Ensign (November 1997), 4–6.
  2. Gordon B. Hinckley, "Don't Drop the Ball," Ensign (November 1994), 46–49.