The Miracle of Forgiveness: Experiences from President Kimball’s Journal

Journal text selected by Dennis B. Horne.


Some liberal dissidents of that day and this take issue with Elder Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness, thinking Elder Kimball to have been too hard and harsh on those who indulge in sin and won’t repent. For this reason I have included many diary entries documenting his writing the book and the highly influential results of its publication—including what certain of his Apostolic associates thought of it. Also what President Dallin H. Oaks thought of it.

One agnostic critic wrote this humorless bit about what he hoped might be found in the Kimball diaries: “A confession of regret for perhaps his biggest error in judgment, publishing The Miracle of Forgiveness. Supposedly, President Kimball did have some hindsight regret for the caustic level of moralizing in that book. But I really hope we find a truly candid admission, . . .” (It seems those in the great and spacious building just can’t stop pointing and mocking and ridiculing.) Anyway, far from regret, the abundant journal evidence indicates that Elder Kimball took great pride and joy in how his book was helping so many to change their lives and come unto Christ through faith unto repentance. But an agnostic critic doesn’t care about sincere repentance, only about ridiculing those who do and getting a laugh out of it. Elder Kimball also dealt with those types.

(I am aware of a paragraph in Edward Kimball’s Lengthen Your Stride biography of his father that includes the thought that “Spencer seemed to later wish he had adopted a gentler tone.” [working draft, 8;1]. And below there are a couple of items suggesting he knew he had “laid it on the line pretty strongly”—but those few items are counteracted by far more expressions of being pleased his work was helping so very many members to repent and obtain God’s forgiveness.)




This is part of a longer series of Excerpts from The Journal of President Spencer W. Kimball. The previous entries of counseling experiences give excellent context to the writing and effects of The Miracle of Forgiveness.

For those wishing to delve deeper and read the actual diary entries, I have included the date of the journal entry. President Kimball’s journal is simply not polished writing but is excellent as both a first and final draft. Please forgive any typos. A church email account is needed to access the material on the Church Archives website (the call number is MS 21541):


July 30, 1959: I worked at the typewriter for many hours. . . . More hours at the typewriter—I am preparing an extensive treatise on Repentance.


August 3, 1959: After our morning oblations, our breakfast and some study and writing (I am writing a study of Peter) (and a treatise on Repentance). . . .


July 24, 1961: Today is Pioneer day. . . . I was working on my book on repentance.


July 13, 1965: I arose early and scattered my papers all over one end of the living room and began to work on my book, “The Miracle of Repentance.”


July 19, 1965: From early morning until late at night I was at a table with my book and a typewriter. . . .


July 20, 1965: Today was much as other days. I was up very early and worked on my book all through the day with several interruptions. . . . I made considerable progress on the book today. It seems an endless task.


July 28, 1965: I had my little portable typewriter which has gone around the world with me and my “Miracle of Forgiveness” book material and spent the day studying and working on it.


December 27, 1965: We spent the day in our room. They had provided me with a very long, large table which I spread my things out on and was working on my book, the first time for four or five months.


July 7, 1966: With tables all over the room and my book chapters scattered on them, I spent the day trying to bring these chapters toward completion.


July 16, 1966: I worked very hard through the day and made some progress on my book.


July 23, 1966: I spent much of the day at the desk, catching up on correspondence and working on my book, and made considerable headway.


August 1, 1966: I worked on the book. . . . Spent the day working on the book.


August 2, 1966: Spent the day at the table with the typewriter, the Dictaphone and the chapters of the book.


August 3, 1966: All the balance of the time from six in the morning until ten at night I was at the tables and the typewriter looking after mail and writing on the book.


August 6, 1966: Today was much like the other days since last Monday. I get up generally about six o’clock and go into the little office room and work at the book until about eight or eight thirty when we would have our breakfast. Generally we would take a walk. The last few days we have walked down to the post office to take another chapter or two for copying and to get the mail, then we return to the home and I work most of the day on the chapters of the book. . . .

The week has been a pleasant and profitable one. The book is coming along well. I have now all of the twenty-five chapters written, but of course they will need to be reduced, edited, polished and there are months ahead of us yet.


April 29, 1968: I spent the day at home working on correspondence reports and the book, The Miracle of Forgiveness.


January 23, 1969: In the [temple] meeting, as we were discussing the evils which we have to cope with and the much immorality in our country but especially in the European and Scandinavian countries, Brother Lee mentioned to the brethren that I had a manuscript which Brother Stapley had read and which he had already read about half of and that it was excellent, and treated the whole program of immorality and transgression and warning against the sins, and indicating how people could be relieved of their sins. He said it was factual and heavily documented and adequate and covered the field beautifully. He continued on and on to my embarrassment, but I was delighted to know that after nine years of struggling with the subject, principally in my vacation times, that perhaps my effort might prove valuable to the world and the Church and to the people. Brother Stapley confirmed all that Brother Lee had said for he had also read it. We hope it will be in print before the April Conference. This was highly gratifying.


October 2, 1969: This evening,  I went down to Bookcraft Inc. and autographed two hundred additional books, The Miracle of Forgiveness, having autographed three hundred the night before at home. It was quite a satisfaction to see the great pile of books, I believe, ten thousand piled up in the warehouse of Bookcraft Company and realize it was my book and on which I have been working about ten years through the vacations.


December 5, 1969: Finally reached home about 3:30 in time for an interview with a woman who 45 years ago had been untrue to her marriage vows on one occasion and she has been most repentant and very much in distress ever since, though she has been living the commandments quite fully. Some months ago, she told her son and he asked for this appointment. He had been in the book store and saw my newly published book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, and had purchased it on the title only, thinking it might bring peace to his mother. She had read the book, practically through, and then asked for an appointment. She is very sincere and very repentant and she left my home feeling a great sense of peace.

Last night, I had a man 65 years of age who came, bringing his book that was nearly worn out. He was nearly through it for the third time. He had committed adultery 23 years ago—about six different times and it has been weighing on his conscience. Recently, his wife died and he has been unable to sleep or adjust with himself since then. He went away much comforted as I explained to hm it was necessary for him to finish his repentance and read some of the promises that the Lord has made to those who did fully repent.


A few days ago, I restored the blessings for a man who had been out of the Church for seven years because of adultery. I restored his blessings according to an authorization from the Presidency. After the ordinance was completed, he asked for five minutes alone. After his people had left, he pointed to my new book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, and said, “That’s what brought me in. You called me a culprit and a sinner and transgressor and that brought me to my senses and I began to really repent and prepare myself for this restoration—that book did it!”, he said.

And so, I am very grateful if it is bringing forgiveness to many people and peace to their souls. . . .

A few days ago, I received a letter from a young man in the military who had come to see me some many weeks ago and had come in response to having read my new book.

Today, I received a letter from him in which he expressed great thanks and appreciation and said he had never been so happy and at peace and free in his life since our first visit.



December 7, 1969: They [the stake presidency] asked me to autograph some of the books, The Hidden Wedge, which they had purchased for members of their family and last night the President had asked me to autograph 33 of my new book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, which they are giving to their stake and ward leaders at Christmastime.


January 8, 1970: I had an interview with an old man who had been grossly immoral for numerous years yet active in the Church; a young woman also had a problem; several others had had problems. This was a very hectic day. Most of these problem cases arise out of reading my book, The Miracle of Forgiveness which lays it on the line pretty strongly.



[Editorial note:

Elder Thomas S. Monson shared this incident in his autobiography:

President Spencer W. Kimball has always been a prolific worker. He spent several summers working on a book which he later entitled The Miracle of Forgiveness. As one reads the book, particularly the first portion, one wonders if anyone will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. However, in reading the final portion, it is apparent that, with effort, all can qualify.

One day, soon after the publication of the book, Elder Kimball came to my office and said, “Tom, I don’t know if I should have printed that book or not. I have people coming in to confess mistakes which they made long years ago. Could you help me talk to some of them?”

I said, “Yes, Brother Kimball, I will.”

He said, “Fine. I’ll send several people in to see you.”

I asked “What would you like me to tell them?”

He answered, “Forgive them, Brother; forgive them.”

(Thomas S. Monson, On the Lord’s Errand [Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1985], 342.)]


January 18, 1970: I spoke to two of the student wards over at the Institute Building and the chapel and the recreation hall were filled with bright looking young people. The bishop reported that some anonymous corporation in the city had given to him 180 copies of my book, The Miracle of Forgiveness to give to all the members of his ward—that they were delighted and were interested and it was suggested that I discuss the subject of the book. . . . I spoke for about 30 minutes—possibly 35 on the contents of the book, selecting special items and emphasizing especially the coed living on the campus and the morality of the times, the matter of homosexuality—that it was curable and forgivable. I discussed fornication and told of its evil, and repeated quotes from the brethren that it was better to die fighting for one’s virtue than to lose it. I quoted several scriptures along this line.

I spoke of the cowardice of boys who fathered a child and then left the girl to carry all the blame and the embarrassment and the pain and the problems while he himself went free. I talked very strongly on this matter. I emphasized the fact that while sin was most destructive that repentance could bring forgiveness and that the Church and the Lord would forgive.

I had a perfect audience and there were many who came up after the meeting to thank me for my frankness in ‘laying it on the line.’


July 30, 1970: One couple who had read my book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, had driven all the way from Los Angeles to tell me their sordid story. Both had been married before, both had been in sin and then sinned together, but they seemed genuinely repentant and I sent them back to their Bishop to complete their confession. Two different homosexual boys came in, both of them have made much progress and I feel very hopeful for them.


September 16, 1970: Today, I had a call from George Bickerstaff and Marvin Wallin concerning the book, The Miracle of Forgiveness. Four editions have been printed, one for 10,000; three for 6,000 each or a total of 28,000 copies. They are now considering a fifth edition. We talked about paper backed editions that would probably cost $1.75 or $2.00. They resisted a little though they were very gracious. Marv was going to talk to the leadership committee to see if it was their intent to use the book for a text in some year in the future. He was also going to get prices on a ten thousand or fifteen thousand edition, paper; they feel very optimistic about the continued sale of the book and think it may go on for years. They said it was one of the two best books they have published. I agreed to a fifth edition on the present basis of the $5.00 book and then we will take another look at it when the 6th edition comes out. [Note: the other book was probably Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine.]


January 28, 1971: I then had an interview in my office with . . . my income tax man, [name removed], concerning the 1969 income tax return. Since I had had a special income in 1969 from my book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, and I had taken some deductions for expenses in the creation of the book, and it was necessary that I justify these. I think we were able to satisfy the agent.


July 1, 1971: Later in the morning I had an interview with Marvin Wallin and Brother George his helper and discussed further printing of the book The Miracle of Forgiveness which up to now has had about 40,000 plus books printed and most of them sold. The demand seems to continue unabated. It seems to be something the people have wanted and needed.


July 26, 1971: For the past ten years in vacations of two weeks a year I had produced the Miracle of Forgiveness which had turned out to be a good seller and though I had not written it for that purpose it is now in its 7th printing and about 40,000 copies. I wrote it to change lives of people who needed to change. It has done that. I have given many copies away to people in distress and in morals [problems] or family life and numerous letters have come and statements to me that they owe their transformed lives to this book.


September 19, 1972: I had some interviews today with people that had many problems long ago and were so anxious to get rid of them. My books continue to sell. The Miracle of Forgiveness. It was the greatest shock of my life. I never had any idea when I turned over the manuscript to the publisher that it would sell more than a few thousand copies at the most and probably only hundreds, but to my amazement we are now in the fourth year in October and in the twelfth edition and tens and tens of thousands have gone and I have received royalties that amaze me and so I am giving much of the royalties to the Missionary Committee of the Church, designed especially for the Indian program.


January 24, 1973: Today I received another of the numerous letters of thank you for my book, and this was handed to me as I spoke to the missionaries on Wednesday morning. “Brother Kimball – I wanted to thank you for your book, The Miracle of Forgiveness. If I hadn’t read your book I may not have been able to go on this mission. I would feel very ungrateful if I didn’t thank you. Love, Elder [name removed].”

I noted in a list of translation items from the Translation Department that the Miracle of Forgiveness is assigned and in process of being translated into Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish.


January 30, 1973: I went to the Deseret Book Company and autographed about 250 books, most of them “Faith Precedes the Miracle,” and a good many “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” both of which are selling very readily, and I am using much of the royalties to assist missionary work in the world where missionaries are unable to furnish their monthly needs.


April 15, 1973: My book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” still has wide currency. It is now in its 14th printing.. Everywhere I go people come to have me autograph the books they have bought. I hear it quoted on every hand; I am greatly flattered. One woman wrote last week, “I have never enjoyed anything more than Brother Kimball’s new book.” [The rest of this page is filled with positive comments from members’ letters about the book.]


April 19, 1973: We sat by President and Sister Dallin Oaks and they told me that they were reading my book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” in their home evenings and that each member of the family had his own copy. He said that they had gone over several chapters and found nothing they could not discuss with their children and that the book gave them springboard.


April 20, 1973: [Name removed] wrote regarding his family and added: “A prominent man in our ward also mentioned that your first book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” had done more to mature him than anything he had read or studied and he is in his late fifties.”

One of the young men wrote, “ I read your book, ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness,” and this accompanied by several spiritual presentations concerning the need of repentance made me feel that I should expose and conquer my problems.”

15 comments for “The Miracle of Forgiveness: Experiences from President Kimball’s Journal

  1. I’ve been following these posts with trepidation, a mixed acknowledgment of the good the book clearly did, together with the utter despair that I personally felt when I read it in the early 1980s. The book felt so very evil and wrong. I could not bear it. At that time, I read that feeling to mean that I was the one in the wrong. This was because one thing he did not acknowledge was the situation of the victim in incest or molestation. There was (to the teenage me reading it) no way of processing what had happened to me, over months and years. Only despair, because the situation continued, nothing I did could make it stop, and there was no way out in which I would be believed, or did not destroy my family and leave me homeless. It was a different era (and I am very grateful for the clarity about innocence of the violated expressed in the current For the Strength of Youth booklet). I understand that.
    But long before the ‘critics’ and ‘progressives’, I had my own icky feelings about it.
    These feelings were not helped by learning that my young sister-in-law’s branch president made her read the book as a prerequisite for lifiting disfellowshipment after she had been date raped (on top of having been sexually molested throughout childhood).
    I understand and accept that the book was indeed a good tool. But it was not for every situation that people (bishops) tried to use it in.
    Sign me a very active believing Latter-day Saint who is grateful for the depth and breadth of the Atonement.

  2. Same. I wanted to comment but have been nervous. I read it when I was 12 and was sure I was going to hell because I had a normal, healthy interest in boys. At that point in my life I had never so much as kissed a boy, but I was sure all was lost. There have been points in my adult life where I have thought about killing myself, because at least then I would not commit any more sins. So no, I think he did more damage than good.

  3. There is a youtube video by Elder Richard Nietzel Holzpfel, “Area Seventy: The church has taught hurtful things about repentance leading to toxic perfectionism” and he said, at 4:30 mark (paraphrasing) that we need to accept the prophetic teachings of today and ‘we don’t want to go back to “miracle forgiveness” by Pres. Kimball…so we need to drop the dead prophets and embrace the living. According to him Pres. Kimball said in his diary that he would rewrite that book if he could, I don’t know if Elder Holzapfel has access that we don’t but I don’t think his diary bears that out. At any rate He recommends Elder Andersen’s book.

  4. Holzapful, an Area Seventy–not a General Authority–nor a prophet, seer, and revelator–got the alleged Kimball quote wrong and was not aware of all these many quotations from Pres. Kimball’s diary; especially that of President Lee. The video containing his wording is from Youtube and was posted by a non-church, liberal website. He had no authorization to say what he did. What Pres. Kimball actually said is part of the introduction to this blog piece. It is from a reminisce that Ed Kimball put in his second biography of his father and is not very solid.
    On the contrary, everything Pres. Kimball said about his book is available to read in his diary. As can be seen, he was overwhelmed with how much it had helped so very many people and was deeply grateful. Pres. Lee showered praises on it to the full First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, so did Elder Stapley, who had been formally asked by the FP to review the book.

    More modern prophets and apostles have said the following (below) in General Conference (not some youth meeting):

    Some recent General Conference addresses that quote from, praise, and recommend The Miracle of Forgiveness:

    April 2015, President Henry B. Eyring quotes from MofF:

    President Ezra Taft Benson:
    April 1986
    “President Kimball was emphatic on this point. In his marvelous book The Miracle of Forgiveness,”…

    Elder Richard G. Scott
    April 1995:
    In The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball gives a superb guide to forgiveness through repentance. It has helped many find their way back. He identifies five essential elements of repentance.
    October 2000:
    I suggest that you read President Spencer W. Kimball’s inspired book The Miracle of Forgiveness. It continues to help the faithful avoid the pitfalls of serious transgression. It likewise is an excellent handbook for those who have committed serious errors and want to find their way back. Read the last two chapters first to appreciate the full miracle of forgiveness before reading anything else.

    A simple search of General Conference talks will show that the book was quoted many more times.

    If the above from prophets and apostles isn’t enough, in 1998, the First Presidency had The Miracle of Forgiveness republished and issued to church employees as a special edition and gift. In their message to employees, the First Presidency said: “We are pleased to present to you this classic edition of President Spencer W. Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness. President Kimball’s enlightening teachings on the atonement of Jesus Christ are a precious treasure for all who would follow the Savior. . . . Sincerely your brethren, the First Presidency.”

    If some want to take Holzapful’s statement over the First Presidency and other modern apostles, and Church Correlation (who reviewed and approved the book without change at the First Presidency’s direction) they may do so, but I am not one of them. There is such a thing as taking the notion of ignoring “dead” prophets WAY too far. On the contrary, the Church has published their words and had the entire Church study them closely in priesthood and RS meetings, including Pres. Kimball’s teachings on repentance and forgiveness. If one does not accept the teachings of the prophets and First Presidency, that is another matter.

  5. It still is a vile book to recommend to abuse victims. It did good, perhaps, with people choosing their courses, but it is nevertheless vile reading for those who exercised no choice. It is heartwrenching to see it defended in this day, when even For The Strength of Youth speaks better. It should be retired from publication.

  6. Dennis, no you’re wrong. We don’t sustain anymore Pres. Lee, Pres. Kimball, Pres. Benson and some of us don’t live in 1995, 1998 or 2000. As another modern Seventy, that some of us sustain, Elder Haynie said “Brothers and sisters, unlike vintage comic books and classic cars, prophetic teachings do not become more valuable with age. That is why we should not seek to use the words of past prophets to dismiss the teachings of living prophets.” April Conference 2023. If you want to live in the past and dismiss current Prophets and other actual modern leaders by using past leaders then have at it but those of us who sustain living Prophets in a living church today and not from yestarday, don’t do so. FWIW I’d rather take Ed Kimball’s word what his Father said over what you, who never knew Pres. Kimball whatsoever, has said. You’re opinion is even less “solid” then what Ed Kimball said.

  7. And of course, the current prophet recently had something to say about being peacemakers (

    It is, of course, entirely possible that the book [i]The Miracle of Forgiveness[/i] may have been enormously helpful to many and divinely inspired, and still not have addressed all issues, including those that abuse victims deal with. And it’s wonderful that the Church now recognizes and addresses those issues in its current literature. That doesn’t mean, however, that the book was vile or wrong. It means that the Restoration is an ongoing process, and it means that, even as a Church, we continue to grow and learn line upon line and precept on precept. It’s noteworthy that, as was noted in the media, [i]The Miracle of Forgiveness[/i] went out of print and stopped being carried by Deseret Book in 2015 (, a few years after the same thing had happened to [i]Mormon Doctrine[/i].

    It’s not that the words of past prophets aren’t worth studying. Of course they are. That’s why we have The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price, as well as the teachings of other prophets from this dispensation, many of which were emphasized in our Sunday Schools over a recent period of twenty years, between 1998-2017. But, as has been taught by many past prophets, ongoing revelation, to the Church collectively by the one holding and exercising the keys of the priesthood, and to each of us individually, is even more vital. Of course, the teachings of President Kimball were and are valuable. And, of course, understanding has been added upon through the years since he wrote.

    To use one example, President Kimball taught the idea of steps of repentance. I was taught an adaptation of that idea as a child, as was common at the time, learning the Rs of repentance including such things as recognition, remorse, restitution and resolution. That’s not emphasized so much today, even though repentance is still a fundamental principle of the gospel. Our understanding now is that repentance is not a checklist to be completed, but rather a continual turning to God (See President Nelson’s talk “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” April 2019 It’s not a punishment to be feared, but something to be done joyfully and daily, with gratitude to Jesus Christ, who made repentance possible through his atonement.

    To quote some of President Nelson’s words on the subject in 2019:

    “Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.

    “The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.”

    “Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies.

    “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. . . .

    “The Lord does not expect perfection from us at this point in our eternal progression. But He does expect us to become increasingly pure. Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power. Personal purity can make us powerful tools in the hands of God. Our repentance—our purity—will empower us to help in the gathering of Israel.”

    Do President Nelson’s words contradict those of President Kimball? Of course not. Spencer W. Kimball and Russell M. Nelson knew, loved and respected each other. President Nelson’s words do, however, add greater light and knowledge to those of President Kimball without taking anything anyway, just as the restoration and the light and truth in the world is greater in 2023 than it was in 1969.

  8. (Continuing)

    To give another example–some of President Kimball’s journal entries previously quoted in other posts deal with his ministry among homosexual members of the Church, whom, he sometimes despaired, were unwilling to change despite many long hours of pleading. He sometimes referred to them as perverts or deviants, and inferred that homosexuality was a psychological disease, which were not uncommon ideas at the time he was writing (in the 1950s and 1960s).

    Now, I wasn’t there in those meetings, and I don’t want to trivialize or minimize President Kimball’s sincere and inspired work with these beloved children of God, who were dealing with difficult situations. As LGBTQ issues have become more prominent in our society, many ideas about gender theory and queer theory have been advanced. Some may be true, and some may not be true and many people have many different views on these matters, and this is not the time for that discussion. But I don’t think many of us would still consider homosexuality to be simply a psychological disease, something akin to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or PTSD. There may be debate about what homosexuality is or isn’t, but President Nelson has emphasized that these and other matters aren’t as important as three fundamental identifiers:

    “First and foremost, you are a child of God.

    “Second, as a member of the Church, you are a child of the covenant. And third, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    “Tonight, I plead with you not to replace these three paramount and unchanging identifiers with any others, because doing so could stymie your progress or pigeonhole you in a stereotype that could potentially thwart your eternal progression.”

    These principles may apply to LGBTQ issues, but he didn’t address those as examples. Instead, he talked about identifiers based on nationality, politics, or age and the harmful stereotypes that can result from these. Then he went on to say:

    “The adversary rejoices in labels because they divide us and restrict the way we think about ourselves and each other. How sad it is when we honor labels more than we honor each other.

    “Labels can lead to judging and animosity. Any abuse or prejudice toward another because of nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender, educational degrees, culture, or other significant identifiers is offensive to our Maker! Such mistreatment causes us to live beneath our stature as His covenant sons and daughters!

    “There are various labels that may be very important to you, of course. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that other designations and identifiers are not significant. I am simply saying that no identifier should displace, replace, or take priority over these three enduring designations: “child of God,” “child of the covenant,” and “disciple of Jesus Christ.”

    “Any identifier that is not compatible with these three basic designations will ultimately let you down. Other labels will disappoint you in time because they do not have the power to lead you toward eternal life in the celestial kingdom of God.”

    (From “Choices For Eternity,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, May 15, 2022

    Again, President Nelson does not undermine what President Kimball had to say about homosexuality. But it seems, at least in these two examples, his focus is more positive. It’s less about turning away from sin and more about turning towards Christ and His Gospel. These may be two sides of the same coin, but I think what we focus on matters. To quote the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, (if I may make a reference to popular culture without undermining my points), “always remember, your focus determines your reality” ([i]The Phantom Menace[/i]).

    Well, this is just a comment on a post, after all, and perhaps I’ve gone on too long and too late (and neglected other duties in doing so), and in seeking to resolve a matter that seemed to be growing contentious, I certainly do not claim to be innocent of contentious behavior myself. However, I think it’s useful to be reminded that “that which is of God is light. And he that receiveth the light and continueth in God receiveth more light and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). That applies as much to the Church (and, to some extent, the world) as it can to our own lives. There is good in the world, and there is a lot of good in the Church, and that good is getting better. But when we seek resolution on contested issues, we won’t accomplish much through contention and division. We can achieve it, however, as President Oaks taught in 2021, by seeking to “moderate and unify” ( By doing so, we can “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) until that perfect day.

  9. Thanks for your comments Reeder. I pretty much agree with your sense of change in the church as we move forward. One idea that I might I’d add to your thoughts on the subject is: we have to remember that even though the restoration is an ongoing project the world is in a constant state of change–for better or worse. And so that phenomenon in and of itself will require certain responses by the church that may be necessary and effective–but only for a limited time. And that’s how I see “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” It was necessary for a time–during an era when the door was being opened on the kind of behavior that would shred the family soon there after. We sort of take all of that radical change in stride nowadays–unfortunately. But it was an horrific reality to the leaders of the church at the time.

  10. “Reeder” said, “Do President Nelson’s words contradict those of President Kimball? Of course not. Spencer W. Kimball and Russell M. Nelson knew, loved and respected each other. President Nelson’s words do, however, add greater light and knowledge to those of President Kimball without taking anything anyway.” Well put!

    A certain other mistaken commenter might want to read Elder Bednar’s latest conference talk and see if there are any lengthy quotes in it from Pers. Clark from a conference talk given many decades ago. Present Prophets and Apostles are constantly quoting past prophets and apostles in their major addresses. Why?…because they taught eternal truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. Is the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness any different today than it was in Adam’s day, Moses’s, or Jesus’? Of Elder Kimball’s? Of course not.

    If you go to the logical conclusion of the false notion that we don’t believe the teachings of past prophets and apostles, than we don’t believe the words of the present one’s either, because in 50 years they will be the past prophets whose teachings are no longer true. What foolish rot. (This does not apply to such items as D&C OD1&2.)

    My personal belief is to always go with the First Presidency over what anyone else has to say if there is a contradiction in views– unless they indicate they are speaking for the FP and really are. Pres. Clark gave a famous talk on this subject for the FP many decades ago.

    Pres. Kimball’s book was a commercially published book, even though it was approved by the brethren of the 12 and later endorsed by the First Presidency. And it is filled with scriptural citations and prophetic quotes supporting his teachings. I contend those quoted scriptures are still true today and Elder Kimball’s commentary on them still inspired and valid.

    Regarding those who have been abused against their will and it is not their fault: their circumstances are different than what Elder Kimball wrote about, unless he specifically said the situation applied. So they, innocent victims of abuse, have nothing to repent of, whether their minds figured that out or not when they read the book.

    In two of the diary entries, a church member’s sin of incest was brought up:
    “July 22, 1964: One of the police officers came from Utah County to tell me about a case of incest where one of our members has been using his three daughters for many years.”
    “July 25, 1964: (Additional) The age of the three daughters mentioned above was 23, 21 and 17. The father was put into the insane asylum.”
    A following entry talked about how the stake president came to see Elder Kimball to find out if he should hold a church disciplinary council (then called a court) against the daughters also. The entries do not indicate what counsel Elder Kimball gave him. We must assume that if he had complete facts, he got it right.
    It would depend on whether the daughters were complicit or not. If they were being victimized, then no disciplinary action should be held and they should be emphatically and clearly assured they have no sin attached to them whatsoever for what their father did. If they were in on some purposeful consensual sick sex mess in that family, than they would be gross sinners themselves and subject to church discipline and whatever criminal law was in place. But we’ll never know the full facts. In my opinion the insane asylum was too good for the offending father, who should have instead been burned at the stake and then thrown in federal prison for life.

    Yet most all major non-official doctrinally-related books eventually go out of print and become less used and known. MofF, Mormon Doctrine, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Talmage’s titles (I think they are all off the missionary list now), B.H. Roberts’ titles, etc.

  11. On a lighter note, other teachings from Miracle of Forgiveness that haven’t aged well:
    -David Patten’s encounter with Cain/Bigfoot
    -women should only wear shorts outside the home when gardening

    Most books have a pretty short shelf life and reflect the era they were written in. Is there still a lot of wise counsel in MoF that might help some people? Probably. Does that good outweigh other negative and possibly harmful guidance? My opinion is a strong no and the more nuanced position of the institutional Church is along the lines of “we now have better resources so leave that book in the past”.

  12. And on another note, one of the diary entries that got weeded out before posting is the below. This entry gives the reader a feel for how Elder Kimball personally felt about sleazy entertainment; the kind that filled one’s mind with telestial trash. He knew the value of a clean mind and worthy thoughts, and therefore detested being forced to sit through garbage:

    November 9, 1957: We spent last night on the 10th floor of the Drake-Wilshire Hotel overlooking some of the fabulous San Francisco [area]. . . . We met at 2 pm and walked to the area indicated on the city map as “The Legitimate Theatres”—we had good seats purchased even as late as 10 a.m. . . . The curtain was raised at the time appointed and six professional actors and actresses took us on a journey that left us red in face and filthy in mind and foul in carnal degradation. We went innocently, having been told it was good. Our journey took us down, down, down from the realms of clean and righteous heights to the foul and corrupt underworld of filth and ugliness. Yesterday we drove into the higher altitudes where the air was fresh and invigorating. Today we were in the lowlands where the refuse of cities accumulated and was offensive to decency. Yesterday, at high elevation, we reveled in the loftiness of Mt. Shasta as it reached toward heaven; today we grovel on the earth, earthy with our minds directed to the low depth of hell. Yesterday we gasped at the loveliness of the mountain shrouded in fleecy clouds, veiling it in modesty; today we traveled through the swamps of immodesty and degradation. Yesterday we gloried in the rarity of the white snow and pure atmosphere of Shasta; today we waded through the corrupt sewer of modern witticism and bathed in the defiled rotting cesspool of approved stage artistry in this coast city. WHAT ARE WE COMING TO? How much more corrupt was Sodom? How much more degenerate Gomorrah? Haven’t we come a long distance. Since Cain killed Abel sin and crime have been in the world. Practically from the beginning has there been cursing and immorality and infidelity, but were they then approved, glorified, enthroned? Yesterday we rather expected to hear the various names of our Deities used loosely in cursing in lumber camps, and in the underworld. Today we pay $5.85 a seat to hear our Creator’s name used in connection with vile thoughts and corrupt practices. Yesterday we knew of the saloons and brothels and honorable people by-passed them. Today we scramble for tickets in sell-out theaters to sit with community contemporaries and listen to them laugh at vulgarity—applaud obscenity and regard chastity as old fashioned and marital fidelity as narrow-mindedness. The virtuous are laughed to scorn and motherhood is debased—family life ridiculed and revelry, gambling, drinking enthroned and elevated on thrones for acceptance and worship. We saw the play, “Tunnels of Love.” We found to our disgust that the tunnel was a sumphole filled with deadly vermin and the love was spelled “lust.” Most people applauded the play and the actors. A few of us were ashamed, embarrassed. As we went out in the aisle one said to his companion, “How did you like it?” “Very good” she said. Evil has always been present but has it ever been accepted, lauded and loved and applauded as today. It was mentioned that a notorious and famous actress [probably Ingrid Bergman] was recently awarded a medal by France for her outstanding courage. She had had courage to live her own life they said—she had had temerity (courage?) to ignore all rules of decency and abandon husband and child and enter into illicit relationships with a foreigner and give birth to his illegally sired child. She received little censure from the people. We know there have been illegitimate babies like her through the ages and adulterous women like her by the thousands; but has there ever been, since Adam, the general acceptance. A poll by newspapers of the rank and file of the readers revealed that housewives, ministers, teachers, community leaders had no contempt for such infidelity, but pity if such would spoil a career. Millions flocked to her pictures. When, oh when shall we, the people, have the courage to remain tight-lipped at vulgarity, stone-faced at obscene jokes, shocked at cursing and outraged by infidelity, and able to blush once more at suggestions of indecency. We had gone to several theaters in New York this summer and in every one there were parts disgusting and vulgar, but it remained for this “Tunnel of love” to take us into the filth of suggestive sex and irreverent life from the beginning to the end. The entire trek was through a dark tunnel from entrance to exit every foul foot of which was stinking.

    Many years later, he wrote this follow-up entry:

    November 8, 1970: Today is the funeral for Sister Emma Rae McKay, widow of the late President David O. McKay. . . . There came to me thought of the contrast inasmuch as in the same paper announcing the death of Sister McKay and her sweetheart, David, with her one husband, was the picture of Ingrid Bergman with a long public life of license and immorality and many husbands. The contrast is quite extreme; one living the laws of the kingdom and the other breaking them. I well remember the announcement in the papers long years ago of the pregnancy of this girl and an illegitimate child sired by an Italian. This came out in the papers while we were in Los Angeles and seemingly, even at that time, the people generally had begun to be very permissive and they did not seem to condemn the act of the woman.

  13. OP: “But an agnostic critic doesn’t care about sincere repentance, only about ridiculing those who do and getting a laugh out of it.” Source? I know plenty of agnostics who are capable and willing to say “I’m sorry.” Does the Church say I’m sorry?

    @Dennis Horne. If your most recent quotation of this book in GC is 23 years old, then it’s no longer a relevant data point. Additionally, I just went to Deseret Book’s website and this book is not for sale. Other books about repentance are for sale. FWIW.

    Also Kimball’s take on the reasons someone may identify as gay could not be more wrong.

  14. Chadwick, you don’t seem to have read very closely. The link to the agnostic source is in the intro to the post in the words “humorless bit”.
    Secondly, as I clearly state in my comment, Pres. Eyring quoted the book in 2015. That is only 8 years ago and he is still iiving. How long ago someone needs to have quoted or promoted the book in Conference for that to be relevant is a subjective length of time that could be argued endlessly. Elder Scott, were he still living, would surely have something to say. He loved it.
    I will leave it till the spirit world to learn the truth about what Pres. Kimball knew about the reasons adn what they really are; I find it wise policy to never sell an apostle short, past or present. But as Elder Holland has said, it doesn’t matter what the reasons are–those who would return to live with their Heavenly Father must keep the law of chastity, which includes no adultery, fornication, or homosexual behavior/acts. Or if such is being committed, true repentance must eventually occur.
    See the link to the First Presidency letter, at the end of the blog, for further official doctrinal explanation.

  15. Favorite Miracle of Forgiveness story. A few years ago when I was bishop and discussing with the stake president about the process of reinstating a person from being disfellowship. We looked over the the notes from the disciplinary council about 20 years before including the line, “asked to read Miracle of Forgiveness.” SP: “Ooh, that’s harsh.” Ha!

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