In the Boyd K. Packer piece I only mentioned him as a professor I liked with no commentary:
When I was a student at BYU working on a bachelor and master degrees from 1981 until 1987 I had a wide range of professors. I always tended to be on the conservative side. I felt comfortable with people like Keith Perkins, Donald Q. Cannon, Robert J. Matthews, Spencer Palmer, Richard O. Cowan, Lamar C. Berrett, George Pace, Larry Porter, and Robert Millett. I could handle James Allen and Thomas Alexander. I didn't relate at all to Marvin Hill and Michael Quinn. Marvin Hill was my graduate advisor and was quite pessimistic. He liked telling the dirt about everything. He was a tough unrelenting no nonsense professor who expected you to experience a history degree similar to what he experienced at the University of Chicago.
In the Bruce R. McConkie post I told an encounter I had with both Elder McConkie and George W. Pace:
My next experience with him was walking up behind the current Church Conference Center. Several years back in the early 1980s there was a parking lot and on the top of the hill a few small buildings. I was visiting the Church Archives and I parked up near the old Deseret Gym. At five o'clock having finished my research I crossed the street by the Salt Lake Temple on the Church Family History side. I was heading up a few blocks towards the old rest home when who should appeared walking by my side but Elder Bruce R. McConkie. He had given a talk at a BYU devotional just a few weeks before about the Holy Spirit that was tough on George Pace who was teaching his students they needed to get a born again type of experience. I was working in the religion department as an assistant and had talked to Brother Pace who expressed genuine remorse about maybe being too zealous. I mentioned my conversation with Brother Pace to Elder McConkie. He reiterated his position but told me he wasn't really singling out George Pace individually that he was talking about not getting too wrapped up in extreme behavior for everyone. He mentioned he wasn't really thinking about him only when he gave the address.
I was a bit perplexed about the brevity of the article on Brother Pace. The Wikipedia bio states:
George W. Pace was a professor of religion at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, and a writer of books on religious subjects.
Pace beame notable when Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), presented a sermon that was interpeted as an attack on Pace's book, What It Means to Know Christ. Pace issued a formal apology in which he stated that his opinions had been misinterpreted, and he was glad that McConkie had clarified the issues. In his sermon, McConkie did not mention by name Pace's teaching.
In 1996, Pace came out with a revised version of the book titled, Knowing Christ. Pace also compiled a book entitled The Faith of Young Mormons.
Pace was a professor who spent large amounts of time helping students and was nominated as professor of the century for BYU. For a time Pace served as a professor at the BYU Jerusalem Center.
Pace was one of the contributors of the article on the Doctrine and Covenants to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
In the LDS Church, Pace served in various callings including as a Sunday School teacher in the Oak Hills 5th Ward on the east side of Provo, Utah.
Pace has also been a speaker at various addiction recovery programs.
I had one of my strangest experiences in the Church when George Pace was the stake president in the BYU Tenth Stake. I was called in by one of the counselors who told me he was considering me for a Church calling. He spoke to me for about five minutes. He asked me about myself. I told him about being a convert and serving a mission in Toronto Canada under Elder Ballard. I told him I would be glad to serve in any capacity. The guy who I can't remember name said that is okay I just wanted to get to know you. I asked him if I was being called to anything. He replied no. Being kind of brash I said were you really considering me for a position. He said no but I was asked to talk with you about a possible position. Then I said why did you call me in then if you weren't really considering me. He said because I felt like it. That was my first clue Mormon leaders could be bozos. I didn't say or do anything offensive other than answer his questions and be perplexed about being summoned by him. After that I knew any time a leader summoned you it wasn't going to be pleasant. Now when I am called by a secretary I ask straight up what it is about then I determine if I am going to the meeting or not.
Although I was flattered that the Wickipedia author cited me there is a great deal that could be added to the treatment. The author should have consulted Lavina Fielding Anderson's Alliance website which discusses what she considered as secondary abuse of Dave Pace, one of his sons. Although I don't share in her interpretation of the events she has some useful biographical details.
George W. Pace, according to biographical information on the jacket of What It Means to Know Christ (Provo: Council Press, 1981), grew up in Idaho, served a mission, graduated from BYU with a degree in political science, married, and returned to Burley, Idaho, with a new wife and daughter where he helped his father farm from 1954-59. A series of spiritual experiences, which he recounts in the book, led him toward religious education. He opened and directed the first LDS Institute of Religion at Fort Collins, Colorado, and also directed the Institute of Religion at Stanford University in California while he and Diane struggled with the needs of a growing family (which eventually numbered two sons and ten daughters). He became an associate professor of religion at BYU in 1967 where he was awarded a doctorate in religious education in 1976. In 1978, he was named Professor of the Year by BYU students and also, in April of that same year, became president of BYU 10th Stake. Among earlier Church callings were serving on numerous high councils, being branch president at the Missionary Training Center, and a being a counselor in the stake presidency. He was a popular speaker at BYU Education Weeks and Know Your Religion series, had a popular series of motivational tapes, and compiled a faith-promoting series of experiences called The Faith of Young Mormons....
George Pace continued to teach religion classes until his retirement from Brigham Young University. An advertisement on KSL-TV before and after sessions of general conference on 5-6 October 1996 mentioned that he narrated a "family preparedness video" for Emergency Essentials, a company that creates food storage items and personal and car seventy-two hour kits. Emergency Essential products are sold by Deseret Book stores and ZCMIs, both Church-owned corporations.
I am not sure George would have ever wanted his son to leave the Church nor for students he worked so hard to convert to question their faith. A Winter 1998 Dialogue letter by Lisa Garfield said:
I applaud David Pace's courage in "going public" with his article, "After the Second Fall: A Personal Journey Toward Ethnic Mormonism" (Spring 1998), especially given his illustrous Mormon background.
I was one of those adoring BYU students in the mid-1970s who basked in the charismatic glow of his father. As a 'backward" Mormon--I had been converted to Christ at thirteen, and to Mormonism at sixteen--I loved George Pace's emphasis on our personal relationship with the Savior. When he was chastised by the church for teaching such doctrine, I was quite bewildered. When he caved in "to follow the Brethren," I was angry. This was a seminal moment in my own journey.
David's choice to resign his membership raises questions about my own choice to stay in. I wonder if his is the wiser choice. I wonder what he will tell his children. I wonder from which side in or out I will best serve the church I love. I wonder if I am doing any good by my years of service on ward and stake councils, where I am generally considered a gadfly, but afforded some respect. Am I helping to build Zion or a Tower of Babel?
In a recent conversation with my husband, he asked, "Do you think the Church is on target in building a Zion community?" "No, unfortunately not," I replied. "What will it take to change that," he queried. "Revolution. Revelation. People who see. People who listen. People who love truly."
I can only hope that David is right to leave, as I hope I am right to stay. I can only pray that we visionary revolutionist--all those, both in and out of the church who dream of Zion--will pursue the journey with integrity, will see clearly, listen carefully, and love purely. God bless us all.
It saddens me that George Pace and his wife paid a such a heavy price in the loss of one of their children but we all make choices including each of our children. It is interesting that our children pick up on our disappointments in church leaders and sometimes it affects them. I myself have been guilty of voicing my concerns. I have been fortunate that my children think I am less than perfect and side with others. I remember at the time of his correction he never said a bad word about Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I don't know what he said privately but I doubt he encouraged his son to leave the church. I know people have to follow their conscience but I have never considered those to have left as being true revolutionaries. My idea of a true revolutionary is one who endures to the end being true to themself. I love when a leader chastens me I sit on the front row even without a call and smile at them week after week. The loss of a member even a dissident one is grevious to me since diversity keeps us from having a boring church.
I also remember the period the letter writer described with great clarity. George Pace was a very popular teacher who liked to talk about Developing a Personal Relationship with the Savior. He taught in some of the larger classrooms. His popularity was hugh. He had hundreds of students each semester. I personally took one of his classes which was held in the Clyde Building and was similiar to the snake pit in the Eyring Science Center or the big classrooms in the Marb that he also taught in. They should have put him in the Joseph Smith auditorium. I remember I went to his class because a girl I liked gushed about how spiritual Brother Pace was and how he made such a difference in the lives of his students. She swore I would have a spiritual conversion. It was like a revival experience to be in his classes. The classes were so packed you had to sit on the floor if you were even five minutes late. He let anyone in even though the rooms had a capacity of around 100. He told me he did that because lots of times people didn't come to class and to get there early. You had to be ten minutes early to get one of the seats at the tables. The only other teacher that drew numbers like George Pace before the McConkie talk was Stephen L. Covey. Covey only took five or ten over the room capacity. In a George Pace class there could be twenty of thirty on the steps or sitting around the parameter of the room. After the McConkie talk he had average numbers and his popularity was similar to other men in the department before he had an almost super-star popularity.
Ramona R. Hazett relates why she nominated George W. Pace as one of the teachers of the century:
I would like to nominate Brother George Pace, not only for his teaching ability, which is wonderful, but also for his compassion and commitment. He truly cared for his students and gave hours of his time, even taking them into his home when the need arose. As one of those students who had the opportunity to spend a week in the Pace home, I know that he lived the things that he taught, as did his lovely wife. He gave hours to counseling and strengthening students’ testimonies, both in class and individually. In the years following my time at BYU, my five brothers also had the opportunity to learn from Bro. Pace. Perhaps the greatest lesson he taught was by example during what must have been difficult time for him. My brother, who was in his class, sat in a devotional where a general authority straightforwardly denounced a teaching on prayer which Bro. Pace had been teaching in all sincerity. Later that day, as my brother walked into his class, he wondered what would be said. Bro. Pace responded by stating his love for the general authority and faithful following of the brethren. My brother and others in that class learned more in that moment about truly following the Lord, without excuses or rationalization, than all the lecturing in the world could have taught. As a family, we will always be grateful for the great influence that Brother George Pace had in all of our lives.
When I took George's class having been saved in the Baptist Church and having attended a couple of revival meetings before I joined the Church I wasn't as awed or enamored of him as some students. He was very sincere and a good speaker but so were men like Stephen Robinson and for that matter Reed Benson or Cleon Skousen. He was entertaining in that he went in to how we should develop a personal relationship with the Savior. I already had a personal relationship so he didn't influence me other than to confirm what I already felt about Jesus being our personal savior.
He liked to talk about his life in Idaho and told us how he was a spud farmer, one of the common people. He was playing to a lot of kids who were Idaho or Utah farm kids that hadn't experienced the mighty change of heart. He liked to tell us about Enos and how he went and prayed three days and nights. He talked about how he personally went out in to the mountains and gained his own personal testimony. He challenged us to do the the same thing. I was on the safe side and though I was willing to pray about the matter there was no way I was going to wander up in to the mountains above the spacious house George told us some generous rich women sold to him for a pitance near the Provo Temple. I had gone with a roommate overnight camping my first couple of weeks. The guy backpacked with a young attractive co-ed in tow. I was his chaperone. My friend had told me of how he had backpacked the High Uintahs that summer and almost died as he missed a switchback and had to spend two days finding it again which luckily he did or I wouldn't have been chaperoning him. Not to mention the thought of mountain lions being in them there hills. Several of his young female co-eds actually described to me going up above the Provo Temple to pray. One young lady read me poetry back behind the temple one day which was kind of romantic.
When I read his son's account in Lavina Fielding Anderson's site my reactions were. How come nobody gave me an almost free house in Provo since I have eight children including seven daughters and one son. Why didn't I get a plum job in the BYU Religion department where I could stay for thirty years? I wondered why he was embarrassed over something that wasn't really anything more than a philosophical disagreement.
The present generation don't really remember the doctrinarians of days gone by in the Church. Men like Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith his father-in-law and to some extent John A. Widtsoe and James E. Talmage answered doctrinal questions. Their approach was to set the record straight in their writings and addresses. They were no nonsense kind of men who administered the affairs of the kingdom and tried to establish gospel doctrine.
No one fired Brother Pace. He went on for sixteen more years until he retired. He had a commmendable career and was held in high regard all the years he worked in Religious Education. His numbers went down a little for a time but he had a perfectly fine teaching career touching the lives of thousands of students.
I don't deny his was super-sensitive because he fell in to the group that McConkie was addressing. Guys like Elder McConkie and Elder Packer were pretty consistent in straightening out when they felt educators drifted. I remember that I was there on the day Elder McConkie gave his talk. I didn't realize it would have resulted in such a hullabaloo. I remember what Elder McConkie said:
Please do not put too much stock in some of the current views and vagaries that are afloat, but rather, turn to the revealed word, get a sound understanding of the doctrines, and keep yourselves in the mainstream of the Church.
Now, it is no secret that many false and vain and foolish things are being taught in the sectarian world and even among us about our need to gain a special relationship with the Lord Jesus. I shall summarize the true doctrine in this field and invite erring teachers and beguiled students to repent and believe the accepted gospel verities as I shall set them forth.
There is no salvation in believing any false doctrine, particularly a false or unwise view about the Godhead or any of its members. Eternal life is reserved for those who know God and the One whom he sent to work out the infinite and eternal atonement....
There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.
I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.
Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:
Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.
This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We are entitled to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
And I rather suppose that he who sitteth upon the throne will choose his own ways to answer his children, and that they are numerous. Perfect prayer is addressed to the Father, in the name of the Son; and it is uttered by the power of the Holy Ghost; and it is answered in whatever way seems proper by him whose ear is attuned to the needs of his children.
Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.
It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.
The proper course for all of us is to stay in the mainstream of the Church. This is the Lord's Church, and it is led by the spirit of inspiration, and the practice of the Church constitutes the interpretation of the scripture.
And you have never heard one of the First Presidency or the Twelve, who hold the keys of the kingdom, and who are appointed to see that we are not "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14)--you have never heard one of them advocate this excessive zeal that calls for gaining a so-called special and personal relationship with Christ.
You have heard them teach and testify of the ministry and mission of the Lord Jesus, using the most persuasive and powerful language at their command. But never, never at any time have they taught or endorsed the inordinate or intemperate zeal that encourages endless, sometimes day-long prayers, in order to gain a personal relationship with the Savior.
Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.
I am well aware that some who have prayed for endless hours feel they have a special and personal relationship with Christ that they never had before. I wonder if this is any or so much different, however, from the feelings of fanatical sectarians who with glassy eyes and fiery tongues assure us they have been saved by grace and are assured of a place with the Lord in a heavenly abode, when in fact they have never even received the fullness of the gospel.
I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer's system to make people feel they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church.
Let me remind you to stay in the course chartered by the Church. It is the Lord's Church, and he will not permit it to be led astray. If we take the counsel that comes from the prophets and seers, we will pursue the course that is pleasing to the Lord.
Would it be amiss if I reminded you that Jesus maintained a reserve between him and his disciples and that he did not allow them the same intimacy with him that they had with each other? This was particularly true after his resurrection.
For instance, when Mary Magdalene, in a great outpouring of love and devotion, sought to embrace the risen Lord, her hands were stayed. "Touch me not," he said. Between her and him, no matter what the degree of their love, there was a line over which she could not pass. And yet, almost immediately thereafter, a whole group of faithful women held that same Lord by the feet, and, we cannot doubt, bathed his wounded feet with their tears.
It is a fine and sacred line, but clearly there is a difference between a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, which is improper, and one of worshipful adoration, which yet maintains the required reserve between us and him who has bought us with his blood.
Now I sincerely hope that no one will imagine that I have in the slightest degree downgraded the Lord Jesus in the scheme of things. I have not done so. As far as I know there is not a man on earth who thinks more highly of him than I do. It just may be that I have preached more sermons, taught more doctrine, and written more words about the Lord Jesus Christ than any other man now living. I have ten large volumes in print, seven of which deal almost entirely with Christ, and the other three with him and his doctrines.
I do not suppose that what I have here said will be an end to controversy or to the spread of false views and doctrines. The devil is not dead, and he delights in controversy. But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught. Those who need to study the matter further would do well to get and study a copy of what I have said when it is published by Brigham Young University.
Let us then end on the note of testimony and of prayer. I bear record of the divine sonship of him whom we have this day spoken. He is or should be our best Friend through whom we can be reconciled to God.
And I pray that the true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, who, as the Book of Mormon says, are one God, may be found in the hearts and souls of all of us.
Elder McConkie was just checking a trend that was getting out of hand in that students were moving towards a charismatic movement. I saw it with my own eyes the worship like devotion some of Brother Pace's students felt. I didn't get overly heated about it because I like different styles of preaching. Don't get me wrong George did a lot of good for many students and helped them gain or strengthen their testimonies, I just felt myself it was a bit over the top like Protestant charismatic movements. On my mission I saw a couple members join a Catholic prayer group that spoke in tongues. Some of his students told me some interesting things. In principle I liked that he excited them but sometimes people get carried away. Mormons are a bit staid compared to the churches I saw in places like Houston Texas where men like Joel Olsteen preach. George at the time was a big draw and McConkie was just humbling him a little.
I believe George Pace realized how out of hand some of his students were at the time and so he apologized. He took it pretty hard. I think it is sad that McConkie didn't have a private talk with him but having approached McConkie he didn't see it as an attack on an individual so much as an attack on a philosophical difference. I know George Pace talked with Joseph Fielding McConkie at the time who worked with him so I'm would be surprised if he didn't passed on George Pace's concerns. Having taught for a couple of years at BYU-Hawaii I experience to a minor degree the almost reverential feeling students have for you. Every word you say is considered by them to be like scripture. You get caught up even if your intention is to just help them be more spiritual in a kind of movement. You really crave speaking in those student stakes every month and seeing the students' eyes light up and realizing the connection you are making. It is a real rush. It can be intoxicating to have that much influence.
They even quoted in a piece in the Church News in 1991 which shows he was considered one of the orthodox professors:
The Sermon on the Mount is not merely a system of ethics to help us understand the kinds of blessings we can and must enjoy to truly be sanctified saints, but they are a standard to measure whether or not we have truly been baptized of the fire and the Holy Ghost and are indeed growing in the stature of Christ by and through the powers of the Holy Ghost. The power needed to acquire the blessings promised centers in Christ and is a natural by-product of a dynamic relationship we have with Him.
The very key to overcoming the fallen condition we are all in, that is the ``poor in spirit,'' is to truly come to Christ. We are reminded and taught so powerfully that the purpose of the Church, the gospel, the programs of the Church is to truly come to Christ - the power of the life-changing powers we need center in Him and are available through the Church, the gospel and the programs only if we really focus on Christ.
The very connecting link between the Savior and ourselves is the Holy Ghost. If we truly hunger and thirst for the companionship of the Spirit, we will indeed be filled and its impact in our daily lives will enable us to fulfill the sacrament covenant and have His Spirit with us always. Note the statement of President Marion G. Romney:
``Now I tell you that you can make every decision in your life correctly if you can learn to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. . . .'' - George W. Pace, BYU associate professor of Church History and Doctrine
I can also understand George's disappointment. I talked with him personally three times about his experience. He was a sincere man whose heart was in the right place but he got caught up in something that was a concern to when of the Twelve. George handled it well in my opinion he moved on and had a career that was exceptional. I mean here I am spending two hours of my life blogging about him.
George is lucky he didn't end up the Rodney Dangerfield of BYU Religous instructors. How would he like to be me? I couldn't buy a job there. People kick me in the teeth for believing I should get even a little recognition for compiling the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. The only one who ever gave me real consideration was when Dean Garrett was chair of the church history department. I had student taught in his class in American Fork and he respected my work. He actually told me to apply but at the time I wasn't interested. I was screwed out of a job in the CES and in applying to BYU I have been turned down for jobs over twenty times despite having degrees, experience, and dedication to the cause. George Pace had the kind of life that all returned missionaries dream of including significant church positions.
I wish we didn't have to take intellectual beatings from time to time in universities but, let's get real, in academia differences help us to grow and improve both in writing and our teaching. There is nothing like a good discussion or disagreement over the lecturn. I like Reed Benson's philosophy when someone insults him or criticized him he would say to them "God bless you." I think George should bless Elder McConkie for he made him in to a stronger man.
I hope that George Pace, or anyone quoted will respond to my post. As Orson Scott Card has said: History is a creative reconstruction of the past. All of us have different perceptions of the McConkie-Pace episode. I remember George Pace reminding me once about something Gordon B. Hinckley said about seeing the wart on an otherwise beautiful face. I don't feel George Pace's legacy is wrapped up in something that is ancient history. I think all of us should analyze this and remember that Christ was about forgiving and perfecting our lives and moving on. George Pace at least taught me that much and to hold to the rod and stand behind our leaders.
George Pace was one faithful dude I thank God for men like him who have stayed the course in the face of personal opposition. I am sure that the sum of George Pace's life is more than one brief encounter with Bruce R. McConkie. George Pace touched the lives of thousands of Latter-day Saint young adults and helped many gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and that there are Apostles on earth who guide his church today.