Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Adam - God Theory

When a prophet, Spencer W. Kimball made the following statement at general conference.
"We hope that you who teach in the various organizations, whether on the campuses or in our chapels, will always teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." Kimball, Spencer W. "Our Own Liahona." Ensign (Nov. 1976), p. 77-79.

This was a plain statement that current GAs disagree with the doctine of Adam being God, and that they feel Brigham Young's statements are misunderstood.

Typical Opinions Brigham Expressed:-

"Now hear it, 0 inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days, about whom holy men have written and spoken-He is our father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50. (1852)

However in the very NEXT paragraph he stated, "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael..." Any illusion that he was proposing Adam (Michael) to be Heavenly Father (Eloheim) is tossed out here. But for better understanding let's proceed anyway.

To try and understand what Brigham must have meant in the first bit I will present some possible ideas. Adam is a god, as are all who accept and follow the gospel of Christ in its fulness (John 10:35). And as he is the first parent in fallen flesh, and we are cut off because of the fall, he is the only god with whom we have to do patriachally (as to get to the Father we must go through the Son, not patriarchally).
Eve was one of his celestial wives, looking backward (ie she now being one of his celestial wives). He brought her with him. But she wasn't one of his celestial wives at the time he brought her.
He is the Ancient of Days, being our first father to live a life of years here (as stated in D&C 27:11).
Of course these are only assumptions of his intent, as he isn't available for comment.

Brigham said "When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he [Christ] took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve....

"Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven....

"Now, remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." Journal of Discourses. vol. 1, pp. 50-51.

Heavenly Father is the father of the human family (while Adam can be regarded so also).
Heavenly Father was also a character in the garden of Eden when talking to Adam and Eve (I'll quote Brigham on this soon)(even though Adam lived there permanently at the time). So it could be that we should be reading Brigham's statements based on his assumption of the knowledge of the hearers. Others propose that there were errors in recording by those writing his talk down. Either way the following adds insight.

Reading these quotes of Brigham bellow makes it very clear what he thought of Adam and God, and Adam to Christ:-

"We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the Highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of."

"The greatest desire in the bosom of our Father Adam, or of his faithful children who are co-workers with God, our Father in Heaven, is to save the inhabitants of the earth" Discourses of Brigham Young. 2nd ed., p. 94.

"How has it transpired that theological truth is thus so widely disseminated? It is because God was once known on the earth among his children of mankind, as we know one another. Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with him, and the things that pertain to God and to heaven were as familiar among mankind in the first ages of their existence on the earth, as these mountains are to our mountain boys." Discourses of Brigham Young, 2nd ed., p.159

"Our Lord Jesus Christ-the Savior, who has redeemed the world and all things pertaining to it, is the Only Begotten of the Father pertaining to the flesh. He is our Elder Brother, and the Heir of the family, and as such we worship him. He has tasted death for every man, and has paid the debt contracted by our first parents [Adam and Eve]." Discourses of Brigham Young, 2nd ed., p.40.

Now consider the following Scripture references:-

Jude 1:9 "Yet Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, the Lord rebuke thee."

D&C (Doctrine and Covenants) 78:15-16 "That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion [Jesus Christ], who hath established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman; Who hath appointed Michael [Adam] your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high. and given him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days and end of life."

D&C 29:34 "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created."

Luke 3:38 "Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God."

Moses 6:22 "And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed."

It is obvious from these latter collections that 1. Brigham Young didn't think Adam was our Heavenly Father or the father of Jesus Christ. And 2. (and most importantly) that the Scriptures oppose such a concept.

13 comments:

Doug Towers said...

NOTE

While all are free to express their opinions, any claim that Brigham believed in the theory would, sensibly, need some backing evidence and an answer to the quotes he has made showing that he didn't.

erichard said...

Accepting that Adam is Michael, and not Eloheim does not resolve the fact that President Young's Adam-God teachings still seem to contradict what the LDS church teaches today. My own research in this matter led me to the Second Book of Commandments. The answer is that more revelation was needed, and now that revelation has been given.

Richard

http://www.2bc.info/pdf/2BC%20Adam-God%20Teachings.pdf

Doug Towers said...

erichard

Thanks for the reference. I will have a read of it.

But I'm still left with the question of what conflicts you find between Brigham Young and the church today?

LDSDJ said...

A Precious Pearl that can't be understood, unless you study it by faith... Who is Who? Well, the answer is: They are all callings...

ryan said...

So what if Brigham did believe it? Prophets can be wrong. It never became a doctrine and no statement about this is binding on the church. protestants criticize because they think that a Prophet in order to be a true one has to speak the asolute truth at all times. This is nonsense. Read the Bible. Some Prophets had ideas that are clearly false. The scriptures are subjective (though I believe real) experiences with God and not a list of absolute truths. If they see things through their own faulty lens, so what. Is there any other way for them to express their experiences?

Focus said...

Doug, you are a busy man!...You certainly have a ton of blogs, and everyone of them are going to my homepage.

MM said...

Unfortunately, this posts reflects a weak understanding of the issue of Adam/God and it’s analysis is a bit cursory. It doesn't do any good to quote one or two quotes (including Widtsoe's doctored quote--see below) and to conclude that Brigham Young never believed or taught the doctrine. That is simply wishful thinking and hand-waving, since there are dozens of well-establish sources, other than the standard JD quote that you pulled out, that firmly corroborate his views beyond refute.
For one thing, to understand what President Young taught and believed you need to realize that in President Young’s model, Elohim of the temple is not our Heavenly Father. He is Michael's Heavenly Father, or our Grandfather, while Michael was our Father. It seems likely that Brigham Young considered some references to God in the scriptures to refer to this Grandfather God, the Father of Michael (and thus the “highest intelligence” that is mentioned in the scriptues). This point casts many of his quotes in a new light.
Widtsoe’s quote from The Discourses of Brigham Young which you use to support your position is actually a doctored version of the original in the Journal of Discourses, which says this:
“Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with their Grandfather, and their children were more or less acquainted with their Great-Grandfather; and the things that pertain to God and to heaven were as familiar among mankind, in the first ages of their existence on the earth, as these mountains are to our mountain boys.” (J. D. 9:148; Brigham Young; Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah; January 12, 1862.)
While this quote itself is not conclusive proof of A/G, it is also not evidence against it, by any stretch. (It may well be the echoes of A/G, by 1925 having fallen into disrepute, that led Elder Widtsoe to edit it.) But there are many other quotes firmly establishing BY’s beliefs on this matter. For brevity’s sake I’ll quote just one more—from the Desert News, no less. (If you want more, I’ll be happy to post additional ones.) But this clearly shows that Adam 1) was a resurrected, exalted being before coming here, and 2) begat the spirits of men.
“Father Adam came here, and then they brought his wife. ‘Well,’ says one, ‘Why was Adam called Adam’? He was the first man on the earth, and its framer and maker. He, with the help of his brethren, brought it into existence. Then he said, ‘I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state, I was faithful, I received my crown and exaltation. I have the privilege of extending my work, and to its increase there will be no end. I want my children that were born to me in the spirit world to come here and take tabernacles of flesh, that their spirits may have a house, a tabernacle or a dwelling place as mine has, and where is the mystery?” (Deseret News, vol. 22:308, June 18, 1873, reporting a speech of June 8, 1872).
It’s true that many members didn’t take well to the initial, overt teachings in the early 1850s, feeling, as you do, that they do no accord with the scriptures (as they understood them). President Young often skirted the issue or mentioned it obliquely, perhaps to avoid controversy. But enough public teachings have survived to show what he thought. His teachings in private with his associates were less oblique, and spelled it out much more plainly, and there is a good deal of documentation of these teachings on record as well.

MM said...

For some reason none of my paragraphing came through in my comment. Sorry if it looks like one giant run-on paragraph. There are at least two significant block quotes in there, for those who care to read through it.

Doug Towers said...

MM

Interesting to hear further thoughts on the matter.

I accept the Journal of Discourses quote as being authoritative because Brigham had the opportunity to correct anything where he felt he had been wrongly quoted.

But I can only accept a newspaper article as speculation of what anyone may have believed.

The J.D. quote proves nothing other than that Heavenly Father is literally our physical father genealogically (being the father of Adam). This makes Seth and Cain etc his grandchildren. And their children his great-grandchildren.

As to the rest of what you are saying you haven't presented any evidence for this thinking. Plainly some had this belief by the article you quote. But proving that he actually did think that is a different matter.

In all fairness to the dead I would have to see something authoritative from him to accept that he thought that way.

In the mean time I'm left to remember that he was no dill, and had read the Scriptures demonstrating clearly the death of Adam in several places.

That makes the idea seem somewhat farfetched to me.

If you have any other authoritative quotes feel free to share them, and your feelings on them.

MM said...

Regarding the Widtsoe quote, I agree with you. It doesn't prove anything regarding A/G. But it also is certainly not evidence against it, either, and that's my point.

Also, it's not clear whether you're denying that Brigham ever taught and believed the Adam/God doctrine, or that if he did then it was not "authoritative." You seem to be doing the former, but at the same time you seem bent on disqualifying any source that confirms his belief as "non-authoritative," rather than as inaccurate. Those are two different things. On the one hand you are asking for evidence, but on the other hand you are preemptively discrediting any evidence that can be provided.

It seems these are two different questions: 1) Is there evidence that Brigham (and other high-ranking Mormons at the time) ever talked of such a belief publicly or privately and 2) Were any of their statements published in "authoritative" (binding?) sources. The answer to 1) is a resounding Yes, as countless extant meeting minutes, journal entries, and speech transcripts testify beyond refute. The answer to 2) can be argued to be No, but again, that's a separate question than that of historical reality.

One problem with refusing to accept as valid evidence of the past any speech transcript or summary that is not formally published in an author-reviewed periodical or book is that you then have to throw away vast quantities of what we have on what Joseph Smith taught and believed, e.g. the King Follett and a host of other Nauvoo sermons, and I'm sure you're not willing to do that. We can't tout these sources (mostly extracted later from people's journals) as historical evidence when they support our thesis, and then reject them when they don't.

MM said...

You may not be willing to accept the documentary evidence available, of which I will provide some, but there may be some of your readers who are interested to know what Brigham Young and his contemporaries thought on the matter. He was NOT a "dill" at all, as you say, and that's why his beliefs deserve more credit and respect from us and they normally receive in blogs like this. People generally fail to take his teachings seriously on this matter, and that happened in his own lifetime, as he himself complained (see below).

MM said...

You said: “But I can only accept a newspaper article as speculation of what anyone may have believed.”

I should clarify that that is not an article. It is a transcript of the President's Sunday sermon from the Tabernacle, printed in the Church's newspaper. It's not an article ABOUT a speech, it's a re-printed transcript OF the speech. And I think it will be valuable (for your readers at least) to provide more of it, as there are other passages of it that bear on the subject. Here is a lengthier extract of the sermon:


Deseret News, Vol. 22, No. 308; Brigham Young; discourse delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City; Sunday Afternoon, June 8th, 1873.

* * *

. . . I have been found fault with a great many times for casting reflections upon men of science, and especially upon theologians, because of the little knowledge they possess about man being on the earth, about the earth itself, about our Father in heaven, his Son Jesus Christ, the order of heavenly things, the laws by which angels exist, by which the worlds were created and are held in existence, &c. How pleased we would be to place these things before the people if they would receive them! How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me--namely that Adam is our father and God--I do not know, I do not inquire, I care nothing about it. Our Father Adam helped to make this earth, it was created expressly for him, and after it was made he and his companions came here. He brought one of his wives with him, and she was called Eve, because she was the first woman upon the earth. Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or who ever will come upon the earth. I have been found fault with by the ministers of religion because I have said that they were ignorant. But I could not find any man on the earth who could tell me this, although it is one of the simplest things in the world, until I met and talked with Joseph Smith.

* * *

My brother said that God is as we are. He did not mean those words to be literally understood. He meant simply, that in our organization we have all the properties in embryo in our bodies that our Father has in his, and that literally, morally, socially, by the spirit and by the flesh we are his children. Do you think that God, who holds the eternities in his hands and can do all things at his pleasure, it not capable of sending forth his own children, and forming this flesh for his own offspring? Where is the mystery in this? We say that Father Adam came here and helped to make the earth. Who is he? He is Michael, a great prince, and it was said to him by Eloheim, : Go ye and make an earth." What is the great mystery about it? He came and formed the earth. . . . Adam found it in a state of chaos, unorganized and incomplete. . . . Adam came here and got it up in a shape that would suit him to commence business. Father Adam came here, and then they brought his wife. "Well," says one, "Why was Adam called Adam?" He was the first man on the earth, and its framer and maker. He with the help of his brethren, brought it into existence. Then he said, "I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state, I was faithful, I received my crown and exaltation. I have the privilege of extending my work, and to its increase there will be no end. I want my children that were born to me in the spirit world to come here and take tabernacles of flesh, that their spirits may have a house, a tabernacle or a dwelling place as mine has, and where is the mystery?

Doug Towers said...

MM

Thanks for you thoughts.

To make my position clear I am interested in what you are saying. I am noting it all. Yet I am dubious when someone as inspired and intelligent as Brigham Young has been quoted as saying something that seems to so blatantly contradict Scripture.

I therefore am left first of all to question the source.

You ask me if I accept the King Follett Sermon. Considering the seriously conflicting transcripts of that sermon I can't accept it as anything more than some ideas to keep in mind for examination. Some things that he has been claimed to have said by some seem sheer and utter nonsense. Such as babies ruling throughout eternity without growing. There are several bits that are plainly wrong from my perspective.

Yet at the same time it is clear that it was a powerful sermon by a powerful individual.

My feelings on the King Follett Sermon only make me more dubious of anything claimed to have been stated by someone at the time, where the source isn't perfectly controlled by the person purported to have said it.

In regard that which you are quoting I am pointing out that while I accept that as evidence that some people have considered that he believed this, I still am left, in all fairness to those not here to express their feelings on the matter, to point out that it isn't entirely a source he had exclusive control over to change things as he wished.

We weren't there to know just how these things transpired. So I am trying to be fair. Understand that, please.

I am probing this information as much as I hope you are.

These ideas need discussion with the Spirit and time to consider their implications or flaws (if the latter exist).

Yet, overall, I am still not in the least bit accepting that he definitely believed this himself, just because of these quotes by others.