Compiled by Bill McKeever
Reviewed by Eric Johnson
In late March, a three-part series on this resource aired on Viewpoint on Mormonism: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 The book is available at Amazon as well as from our bookstore (where the CD version is also available). The current version was produced in 2010.
I imagine that many people think that Bill McKeever (the founder of Mormonism Research Ministry) and I have photographic memories when we provide many quotations on our Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast at what may seem to be the drop of a hat. While Bill certainly has an incredible memory, we must admit that the vast majority of our quotes comes from our regular use of a resource called In Their Own Words, which we utilize on almost every broadcast we air.
This resource was the result of Bill compiling quotes over the years from thousands of hours of tedious research. I can’t tell you how many times I watched him find a new nugget from a wide variety of LDS books, manuals, electronic programs, and websites and then, practically giddy as a child on Christmas Eve, carefully place his new find into a special Word file. After building his personal file to several hundred pages, he decided to take his collection and, in an encyclopedic format, print this out for others to use. In addition to the paperback copy (292 pages), MRM produces an electronic version on CD-ROM that includes a searchable engine, allowing the user to look up a variety of quotes by doing word searches.
Covering topics from “Aaronic Priesthood” to “Zion,” the sources for each entry are listed systematically. First are any quotes from the LDS Standard Works. Next come quotes from any of the 16 presidents of the LDS Church, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, followed by members of the First Presidency, the Apostles, the Seventies, church manuals, and other sources. The appropriate context for each quote is provided to give its gist. At the end of each quote is the attribution: the person who said it, the name of the resource, the volume/page number(s), and any other pertinent information. If there were italics, boldface, or ellipsis used in the particular quote, this attribution lets the user know if this was in the original or if it was added by Bill.
Of course, each quote must be read on its own to determine what the speaker was saying. The authority of the quote can sometimes be subject to opinion, but Bill did not purposely pull these quotes out of context, nor did he provide any personal commentary to editorialize; rather, he allows the user to determine its usage for him or herself.
Although any published work is subject to human error, Bill and another researcher took many days in 2009 to personally go to the church’s library in downtown Salt Lake City to look up the quotes in those resources he didn’t own in book or magazine form. Thus, it’s almost a given that any quote given in this resource is exactly the way it was originally written. With the electronic CD version, it’s just a matter of clipping and pasting the quotes directly into a Word document, saving an incredible amount of time while saving potential errors from occurring.
All in all, this is a wonderful tool that has been invaluable to us at MRM, not only in our radio shows/podcasts but also in the writing of web and newsletter articles. We even used this resource in all of our writing, both in print as well as online. Needless to say, every serious researcher who wants to understand Mormonism and its changing doctrine ought to own a copy of In their Own Words.