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Select Quotations from Gospel Ideals by David O. McKay

The following quotes come from the book Gospel Ideals, authored by ninth president David O. McKay. These were compiled by the editors of the LDS magazine Improvement Era from Conference Reports and other places citing McKay. It was first published in Salt Lake City in September 1953. The leather edition was an employee gift by the First Presidency in 1993. To visit the site with all of the books and quotes from these, go here.

Age of Accountability

“The Church of Jesus Christ promulgates the doctrine that little children are redeemed and sanctified through the atonement of our Lord and Savior. If they die before reaching the age of ac­countability, they become heirs of the celestial kingdom of heav­en” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 74).

Agency, Free

“To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 287).


“THE MOST DISTINGUISHING FEATURE. If at this moment each one of you were asked to state in one sentence or phrase the most distinguishing feature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would be your answer? It occurs to me now that my answer would be this: Divine authority by direct revelation. There are those who claim authority through historical descent, others from the scriptures, but this Church stands out as making the distinctive claim that the authority of the priesthood has come directly from God the Father and the Son, by revelation to Joseph Smith” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 98).

Baptism for the Dead

“Paul referring to this practice of baptism in his argument in favor of the resurrection. He said, ‘Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?’ (1 Cor. 15:29). The pseudo-Christian world, unenlightened by revelation, has stumbled over the meaning of this simple text, and not a few commentators have tried to explain away its true applicability to all mankind of the Savior’s teachings” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 18).


“IS THE MISSIONARY PROJECT REALISTIC? But does the world need Christianizing? Our Protestant brethren say, ‘Why don’t you send your elders out to the heathen, why go to Christian nations?’ As I have said, our mission is to the whole world. We believe so-called Christian nations need the message as well as the so-called heathen lands, and Christian ministers by their own statements confirm this belief” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 121).

Death-bed Salvation

“FAITH, GRACE, AND WORKS. The fallacy that Jesus has done all for us, and live as we may, if on our deathbed, we only believe, we shall be saved in his glorious presence, is most pernicious. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, has given us the means whereby man may obtain eternal happiness and peace in the kingdom of our Father, but man must work out his own salvation through obedience to the eternal principles and ordinances of the gospel. For centuries men have been blinded by the false teaching of ‘belief alone sufficient’; and today there is manifest on every hand the sorry plight into which this and other perverse doctrines have thrown the pseudo-Christian sects. The world is in sore need at the present time of the gospel of individual effort—the gospel of faith and works. He who will not grasp this means provided him, will sink beneath the waves of sin and falsehood” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 8).

History (of the Church)

“STUDY THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. There are many people in the world who condemn us because they are ignorant of the real facts concerning the Church. The great comfort to us, however, is that we know the purpose of the Church; we know its history—a little of it; not, however, so much as we should know, we younger people. We ought to study it more. There is inspiration in the history of this Church. There is inspiration and truth in reading the sayings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and those associated with him in the early days. Read it; study it; do not censure because of ignorance” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 149).

Joseph Smith

“THE PROPHET’S REVELATIONS AS FACT. Many years ago Joseph Smith, a mere boy between fourteen and fifteen years of age, declared that in answer to prayer, he received a revelation from God. His declaration was simple but positive, and he was surprised when men doubted the truth of his assertion. To him his claim was but the statement of a fact; to the Christian world, it was a lightning flash that shattered their religious structure from turret to foundation” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 24).

“HARMONY OF THE PROPHET’S TEACHINGS WITH THOSE OF JESUS. Nobody can study critically and intelligently the restored gospel of Jesus Christ without being deeply impressed with the harmony of the teachings with those given by the Lord and Savior himself when he was on the earth with his disciples. Consider, for example, the Prophet’s revelation concerning the Creator—God as an intelligent Being, one who is, as Jesus taught, ‘Our Father in heaven. . . . ‘ Joseph Smith’s doctrine that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, the Savior of the world, is identical with the teachings of Jesus himself and his Apostles. So also is his doctrine of the persistence of personality after death. On these three fundamentals of religion, there can be little or no doubt about the harmony of the teachings of the restored Church with those of the Savior—the doctrine of God; his doctrine of sin and salvation; and the doctrine of immortality” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 84).


“THE PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED. Again there is the problem of the physically handicapped; of course you would like them to go, but think how they will interfere with their companions. Elders should go two by two, and so should sisters, and no one of them should be hampered in his or her activity with somebody who is not equal to the responsibility of missionary work” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 126).


“THE GRAND KEY. If you would be happy, obey the principles of the gospel.—DNCS, January 2, 1952, p. 4” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 503).








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