Thoughts on Adam-God

(Update: see AdamGod.com)

Ten reasons you should believe that Brigham Young taught Adam-God in General Conference on April 9, 1852

Here is the relevant portion from Young’s sermon:

“Now hear it, O 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. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, and thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. 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 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; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession. I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone.” (General Conference, April 9th, 1852, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50)

1. Hosea Stout wrote in his journal that same day:

“Stormy morning. Attended conference. House much crowded, did not stay in the house long. Afternoon was not in because of the crowd. Another meeting this evening. President Brigham Young taught that Adam was the father of Jesus and the only God to us. That he came to this world in a resurrected body and etc. more hereafter.”

2. That same day Wilford Woodruff also quoted Brigham Young in his journal:

“Our Father begot all the spirits that were before any tabernacle was made. When our Father came into the Garden He came with his Celestial body & brought one of his wives with him and ate of the fruit of the Garden until He could beget a Tabernacle. And Adam is Michael God and all the God that we have anything to do with. They ate of this fruit & formed the first Tabernacle that was formed. And when the Virgin Mary was begotten with child it was by the Father and in no other way only as we were begotten. I will tell you the truth as it is in God. The world don’t know that Jesus Christ our Elder Brother was begotten by our Father in Heaven. Handle it as you please, it will either seal the damnation or salvation of man. He was begotten by the Father & not by the Holy Ghost.”

3. The next day (April 10th), Wilford Woodruff quoted Heber C. Kimball in his journal:

“Some have said that I was very presumptuous to say that Brother Brigham was my God and Savior. Brother Joseph was his God. The one that gave Joseph the keys of the Kingdom was his God, which was Peter. Jesus Christ was his God and the God and Father of Jesus Christ was Adam.”

4. Seven days after Brigham’s address (April 16th), Samuel Holister Rogers also wrote in his journal:

“President Brigham Young said that our spirits were begotten before that Adam came to the Earth and that Adam helped to make the Earth, that he had a Celestial body when he came to the Earth and that he brought his wife or one of his wives with him, and that Eve was also a Celestial being, that they eat of the fruit of the ground until they begat children from the Earth, he said that Adam was the only God that we would have, and that Christ was not begotten of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father Adam, that Christ, was our elder brother.”

5. Brigham Young approved the sermon’s inclusion in the Journal of Discourses and never disputed the Conference report after the publication — even after it caused considerable controversy.

6. Later in the year, on August 28th, 1852, Brigham Young taught the following in a special conference held at the tabernacle:

“After men have got their exaltations and their crowns — have become Gods, even the song of God –are made Kings of kings and Lords of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. How can they do it? Have they to go to that earth? Yes, an Adam will have to go there, and he cannot do without Eve; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation, and they will go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children. This is a key for you. The faithful will become Gods, even the sons of God; but this does not overthrow the idea that we have a father. Adam is my father; (this I will explain to you at some future time;) but it does not prove that he is not my father, if I become a God: it does not prove that I have not a father.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 275)

7. On November 26th, 1853, The Millennial Star (no. 48, vol. 15) quoted at length Brigham’s April 9th, 1852 sermon. Anticipating the shock, the readers were warned:

“Our Father Adam. The extract from the Journal of Discourses may startle some of our readers, but we would wish them to recollect that in this last dispensation God will send forth, by His servants, things new as well as old, until man is perfected in the truth. And we would here take occasion to remark, that it would be well if all our readers would secure a copy of the Journal of Discourses as it is issued, and also of every standard work of the Church; and not only secure these works, but attentively read them, and thoroughly study the principles they contain. Those of the Saints who fail to obtain the standard publications of the Church, will not be likely to prove very intelligent Saints, and will be very liable to wake up some day, and find themselves wonderfully behind the times, and consequently will not be able to stand the day of trial, which will come upon all the world. Without the intelligence that comes through the Holy Priesthood, the Saints cannot gain salvation, and this intelligence is given in the various publications of the Church. Who then will endanger his salvation by being behind the times? Not the wise, certainly.”

8. After extensive research, Rodney Turner argues in his BYU master’s thesis that Brigham was not misquoted or misunderstood, but had taught what the critics allege.

9. Mormon author Matthew Brown gave a presentation at a FAIR conference in 2009, admitting it was actually taught.

10. Brigham Young went to his grave believing in and promoting Adam-God. In February of 1877, the last year of his life, he coordinated with his private secretary L. John Nuttall to integrate Adam-God into the very temple ceremony. (David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, pp. 111-112) See also: http://bit.ly/zWg57d


Conversation questions

  • Did Brigham Young teach Adam-God?
  • Do you believe the LDS Church has only temporarily suspended this teaching for a later time when the wider membership is more “ready” for it as meat, or do you believe the LDS Church has permanently repudiated the teaching as actual falsehood? Why do you think some Mormons take statements of the latter to really mean the former?
  • Why has the LDS Church never simply identified Adam-God as something Brigham actually taught, and then repudiated it, all in the same event? It seems repudiations of the idea typically are divorced from any admission that Brigham actually taught this. Is this because the LDS Church is equivocal about notions of prophetic infallibility?
  • How have vestiges of Adam-God theology impacted modern Mormon theology?
  • What about Joseph Smith’s later teachings made Brigham Young comfortable teaching Adam-God?
  • Has Brigham Young led modern-day believers in Adam-God astray?
  • How far can a prophet go in his false teaching and yet still be a true prophet? Even as far as the lecture at the veil in the temple ceremony?
  • Did Brigham Young lead 19th century believers in Adam-God astray?

Stephen Robinson suggests that Adam-God was a joke

 “During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brigham Young made some remarks about the relationship between Adam and God that the Latter-day Saints have never been able to understand. The reported statements conflict with LDS teachings before and after Brigham Young, as well as with statements of President Young himself during the same period of time. So how do Latter-day Saints deal with the phenomenon? We don’t; we simply set it aside. It is an anomaly. On occasion my colleagues and I at Brigham Young University have tried to figure out what Brigham Young might have actually said and what it might have meant, but the attempts have always failed. The reported statements simply do not compute-we cannot make sense out of them. This is not a matter of believing it or disbelieving it; we simply don’t know what “it” is. If Brigham Young were here we could ask him what he actually said and what he meant by it, but he is not here, and even expert students of his thought are left to wonder whether he was misquoted, whether he meant to say one thing and actually said another, whether he was somehow joking with or testing the Saints, or whether some vital element that would make sense out of the reports has been omitted.” (BYU professor Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians?, pp. 19-20)

Far from being a joke, it was not only seriously taught by Brigham Young, it is believed by tens of thousands of fundamentalist Mormons today. It would have done Professor Robinson good to hang out in Colorado City, or Manti, and meet some of these real people for himself. Tell these people, selling their souls and lives and children and belongings and futures to the teachings of Brigham Young, that he was maybe “joking”.

Look them in the eyes and say it. It’s not “water under the bridge.” It still effects real people.


Milton Hunter’s 1949 remarks on Adam-God

Thanks to some friends, I was provided the full scan of Milton Hunter’s 1949 remarks on Adam-God. Amazing that this was still such an issue only ~63 years ago.

“SPANISH FORK—LDS church members of the Palmyra stake were warned to beware of certain false doctrines now being taught in some places among church members—and to stamp out such evil ideas, should they encounter them—as they listened to an address delivered Sunday in two sessions of a stake quarterly conference by Milton R. Hunter, who represented the church authorities.

“Lashing out at persons who expound the belief that Adam is the God of this world, Elder Hunter stated that such doctrine is false and impossible and must be destroyed. ‘The idea that Adam is the God of this world or that he was transplanted here from another planet is false and misleading,’ he declared. ‘For our scriptures prove them false, and the theory of Adam’s being transplanted would involve a belief in reincarnation, which this church condemns as also being untrue.’

“He then climaxed his address with a summary of the relationship of ‘Adam to ourselves’ and our position in relationship to God.”

Milton R. Hunter, Provo Herald, March 22, 1949, p. 9

adam-god-hunter.jpg


A modern Adam-God adherent


Adam-God in an acronym: JEFEMIO

JE: Jehovah and Elohim. Our spirit-grandfather and spirit-great-grandfather

F: Father of our spirits, including the spirit of Jesus.

E: Existing bodies. Adam and Eve came to the garden with bodies already resurrected, exalted, and glorified.

M: Mortality. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden fruit to infuse their immortal bodies with mortality in order to have mortal children.

I: Impregnation of Mary. Adam begot Jesus Christ’s body with Mary.

O: Only God for us. Adam is the only God with whom we have to do.


Brigham Young’s Adam-God summarized as 10 points

1. Adam’s body was not made from the dust of the earth, and Eve’s body was not made from Adam’s rib.

2. Adam and Eve came to the garden with bodies already resurrected, exalted, and glorified.

3. Adam ate the fruit of the forbidden fruit to, as it were, infuse his immortal body with mortality.

4. Adam wanted to infuse he and his wife’s bodies with mortality in order to have mortal children.

5. Adam is the father of our spirits.

6. Adam is the spirit-father of Jesus Christ.

7. Adam begot Jesus Christ’s body with Mary.

8. Adam is the only God with whom we have to do.

9. Elohim and Jehovah are our spirit-grandfather and spirit-great-grandfather.


BYU professor Charles Harrell on Adam-God

“Despite President Young’s affirmation that [Adam-God] was a doctrine “which God revealed to me,”[90] it is no longer countenanced by the Church and, in fact, has been labeled by Bruce R. McConkie as a “deadly heresy” inspired of the devil.[91]

Harrell, Charles R. (2011-08-02). “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology (Part 1) (Kindle Locations 3936-3939). Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.

Footnotes:

90. Brigham Young, “Discourse,” Deseret News, June 18, 1873, 308.

91. McConkie, “The Seven Deadly Heresies,” 78. While many LDS apologists have denied that Brigham Young ever taught that Adam is God, in a letter to BYU English professor Eugene England, Elder McConkie acknowledged that “Brigham Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits,” but that he was uninspired because the teaching is “out of harmony with the gospel.” McConkie, Letter to Eugene England, February 19, 1981.