Adam was God – Myth, Theory or Doctrine?

Snippets: The Mormon Delusion: Volume 3. Chapter 2.

As a youngster in the Mormon Church, what was then spoken of as the Adam-God ‘theory’ came up at some stage, although I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of it. When I questioned the idea, I do remember being told that it was only a theory put forward in the nineteenth century and disregarded as not doctrinal, so I should just forget it and not worry about it…

…Apologists argue that Young did not teach this as doctrine, citing explanations varying from it being just a myth, to it being a personal theory; that he was misquoted; under-quoted; taken out of context; he must be interpreted; there were two Adams (God the Father as well as the man); or it simply doesn’t matter to us these days.

…In 1938, Apostle John A. Widtsoe claimed the whole idea was a myth and not even so much as a theory, stating that anyone who read Brigham Young’s remarks concerning it could be confused if they were read superficially “but very clear if read with their context.” He goes on to say, regarding Young’s first recorded mention of Adam-God in his 1852 sermon:

“An honest reading of this sermon and of other reported discourses of President Brigham Young proves that the great second President of the Church held no such views as have been put into his mouth in the form of the Adam-God myth.” (Improvement Era Nov 1938:652&690; Also cited in Widtsoe 1960:67-71).

Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, decried the idea as “false doctrine” in 1976.

“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.” (Spencer W. Kimball. Ensign. Nov 1976:77).

Whatever it was, it was certainly not just a myth put into the unwitting mouth of Brigham Young to discredit him.

…To dismiss out of hand, as false doctrine, something that Brigham Young spoke of on many occasions, he claiming it to be revelation from God and thus Church doctrine, is to claim Young was not actually a prophet of God after all.

…Also used, is the familiar claim that it was never adopted by the Church by a sustaining vote; thus it was not doctrine. However, many doctrines of the Church were never voted on by the members, including polygamy which was lied about in Mormon scripture for almost two decades and then simply ‘announced’ in 1852. Another is the temple ‘endowment’ ceremony which has evolved and changed completely over the years and was never once voted on as doctrine. Many other aspects are just accepted as so, yet there has been no scriptural evidence or Church vote to support them. A vote was never taken when so called scripture was deleted either. Sections of the D&C and also all the Lectures of Faith, once held sacred in canonised scripture, have been quietly deleted without reference let alone a vote from the membership which sustained them as scripture in the first instance. How can sustained canonised scripture suddenly just be discarded?

…Young spoke of Adam being God, from the stand (pulpit), and stated that it was doctrine that God had revealed to him. He also later stated that anything he had ever said from the stand or published to the world could be taken as scripture, so if you are a Mormon, who can you believe if not a prophet, claiming from the stand to be speaking on behalf of God?

Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. claimed in 1939, that Young’s 1852 sermon was “in all probability… erroneously transcribed”. (Church News 15 Apr 1939:1-6; Also cited in Smith, Joseph Fielding 1954:V.1:96). This is one of the usual Mormon ‘last stands’ when all else fails and there is nowhere left to turn for an explanation in an obviously untenable position. Apostle Smith clearly did not check all that Young had preached or the journals of prominent leaders who wrote down what he said, confirming that nothing was erroneously recorded at all. He almost certainly did not check the history of what happened next or the disciplinary proceedings held against those in leadership who felt they could not accommodate the Adam-God doctrine.

…Young never claimed the idea as his. On the contrary, he claimed it was from God, and for himself, claimed only that if he had ever done anything wrong, it was to reveal too much truth to the people as they may not have been ready to receive it.

“And I will say, as I have before said, if guilt before my God and my brethren rests upon me in the least, it is in this one thing – that I have revealed too much regarding God and His kingdom, and the designs of our Father in heaven. If my skirts are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I have been too free in telling what God is, how he lives, the nature of his providences and designs in creating the world, in bringing forth the human family on the earth, his designs concerning them &c. If I had, like Paul, said- “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” perhaps it would have been better for the people.” (JD. V.8:58. Brigham Young, 20 May 1860).

This is a far cry from him saying anything was an idea of his own which may or may not have been correct.

On 8 Oct 1854, at a Church Conference, Brigham Young gave a sermon that was not finally published until the 1970’s, well over a hundred years later. It included the following remarks:

The God and Father [of] our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of our spirits.

…Adam is the Father of our spirits. He lived upon an earth; he did abide his creation, and did honor to his calling and Priesthood; and obeyed his Master or Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same, and they lived, and died upon an earth, and then were resurrected again to Immortality and Eternal Life.

Our spirits and the spirits of all the human family were begotten by Adam, and born of Eve.

Adam planted the Garden of Eden, and he with his wife Eve partook of the fruit of this Earth, until their systems were charged with the nature of Earth, and then they could beget bodies, for their spiritual children.

I tell you, when you see your Father in the Heavens, you will see Adam; when you see your Mother that bear your spirit, you will see Mother Eve. (Campbell 1992:86-103). (Emphasis added).

…I can only assume that in 1938, Apostle John A. Widtsoe was not aware of this discourse when he said the whole idea was just a myth. However, I have to agree that the words are indeed “very clear if read with their context” as the context of the above could indeed not be clearer. Unfortunately for Widtsoe, the clarity is entirely the opposite of his own argument.

…Young was convinced that God revealed the Adam-God doctrine to him. This appears clear in the claim that he worked it into the ‘lecture’ given at the veil of the St. George Temple in 1877, twenty-five years after he first spoke of it. For many years, there most certainly was a ‘lecture at the veil’ of the temple. I have personally heard it many times. It was eventually deleted completely.

That Young’s Adam-God doctrine was actually once used in the lecture at the veil, at least in the St. George Temple ceremony (from 1877-1905), is claimed by some and disputed by others. In 1867, when Young re-established the School of the Prophets, he there claimed that Joseph Smith had taught him the doctrine (see later in this chapter), so there is every reason to suppose Young did want to have it explained more fully in the temple ceremony.

In January 1877, shortly after the lower portion of the St. George Temple was dedicated, President Brigham Young, in following up in the Endowments written, became convinced that it was necessary to have the formula of the Endowments written, and he gave directions to have the same put in writing. Shortly afterwards he explained what the Lecture at the Veil should portray, and for this purpose appointed a day when he would personally deliver the Lecture at the Veil. Elders J. D. T. McAllister and L. John Nuttall prepared writing material, and as the President spoke they took down his words. Elder Nuttall put the same into form and the writing was submitted to President Young on the same evening at his office in residence at St. George. He there made such changes as he deemed proper, and when he finally passed upon it said: This is the Lecture at the Veil to be observed in the Temple. A copy of the Lecture is kept at the St. George Temple, in which President Young refers to Adam in his creation &c. (L. John Nuttall Papers. BYU Special Collections. Mss 188. Letterpress copybook #4. P290).

Confusion over whether Young’s secretary, L. John Nuttall, recorded the following details at a meeting with Young at his home in St. George, or actually in the temple itself, is probably resolved in the above memoranda. The text was for a ‘Lecture at the veil to be observed in the Temple’ and is effectively a summary explanation of the Endowment session. Whether it was ultimately then used as the lecture beyond 1877 or not is really completely immaterial. However, similarity in style and content, including some specific word sequences (apart from the changes regarding Adam-God), runs consistent with the lecture I heard many times in the temple personally, prior to it finally being withdrawn. Nevertheless, the important and easily missed fact is that Young’s secretary, who was also the St. George Temple recorder, L. John Nuttall, wrote down what Young said and clearly believed. Then Young amended it and approved it, regardless of when, where or even if it was then ever used anywhere. That it was first presented by Young in the Temple was however confirmed and recorded by Wilford Woodruff “…President [Brigham Young] was present and delivered a lecture at the veil some 30 attndg” in his own journal, thus confirming that it was indeed given at the veil by Young himself on 1 February 1877.  That evening, Young amended it and he gave the lecture again on Wednesday 7 February.

This is what Young’s ‘Lecture at the Veil’ included, as recorded in L. John Nuttall’s journal:

“In the creation the Gods entered into an agreement about forming this earth. & putting Michael, or Adam, upon it. these things of which I have been speaking are what are termed the mysteries of godliness but they will enable you to understand the expression of Jesus, made while in Jerusalem. This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

We were once acquainited (sic) with the Gods and lived with them, but we had the privilege of taking upon us flesh that the spirit might have a house to dwell in. we did so and forgot all and came into the world not recollecting anything which we had previously learned.

We have heard a great deal about Adam and Eve. how they were formed &c Some think he was made like an adobe and the Lord breathed into him the breath of life. for we read “from dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” Well he was made of the dust of the earth but not of this earth. he was made just the same way you and I are made but on another earth.

Adam was an immortal being when he came. on this earth he had lived on an earth similar to ours he had received the priesthood and the Keys thereof. and had been faithful in all things and gained his resurrection and his exaltation and was crowned with glory immortality and eternal lives and was numbered with the Gods for such hebecame through his faithfulness. and had begotten all the spirit that was to come to this earth. and Eve our common mother  who is the mother of all living bore those spirits in the celestial world.

And when this earth was organized by Elohim. Jehovah and Michael who is Adam our common father. Adam and Eve had the privilege to continue the work of Progression. consequently came to this earth and commenced the great work of forming tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in. and when Adam and those that assisted him had completed this kingdom our earth he came to it. and slept and forgot all and became like an Infant child.

It is said by Moses the historian that the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam and took from his side a rib and formed the woman that Adam called Eve-this should be interpreted that the Man Adam like all other Men had the seed within him to propagate his species. but not the woman. she conceives the seed but she does not produce it. consequently she was taken from the side or bowels of her father. this explains the mystery of Moses’s dark sayings in regard to Adam and Eve. [See use of this paragraph by Elden Watson, covered later in this section on p. 97].

Adam and Eve when they were placed on this earth were immortal beings with flesh. bones and sinews. but upon partaking of the fruits of the earth while in the garden and cultivating the ground their bodies became changed from immortal to mortal beings with the blood coursing through their veins as the action of life.

Adam was not under transgression until after he partook of the forbidden fruit that was nesesary [sic] that they might be together that man might be. the woman was found in transgression not the man.

Now in the law of sacrifice we have the promise of a Savior and man had the privilege and showed forth his obedience by offering of the first fruits of the earth and the firstlings of the flocks- this as a showing that Jesus would come and shed his blood (four blank lines follow)

Father Adam’s oldest son (Jesus the Saviour) who is the heir of the family is father Adams first begotten in the spirit world, who according to the flesh is the only begotten as it is written, Adam in his divinity he having gone back into the spirit world. and came in the spirit [glory] to Mary and she conceived for when Adam and Eve got through with their work in this earth, they did not lay their bodies down in the dust, but returned to the spirit World from whence they came.

I felt myself much blessed in being permitted to associate with such men and hear such instructions as they savored of life to me.” 3 (Emphasis added).

The last statement of Young’s is interesting in that it claims the God Adam remained a spirit only, after passing from mortality for at least the second time, and fathered Jesus in the flesh via the Virgin Mary, as a spirit being who had once been a resurrected being. The Church now believes and teaches that God the Father did just that, as a resurrected being. The whole concept becomes extremely strange and complex. Something is very wrong with it all.

…Kimball, First Counsellor in the First Presidency, confirms the Lord Himself told him that Young’s doctrine confirming Adam was indeed our God and the father of Christ, was correct.

Presumably this confirmation of the doctrine was experienced by Kimball’s perception of the Holy Ghost. Modern leaders get no such confirmation. They say it is heresy. Others recorded a similar understanding of what Young said:

“We went to conference again. President B. Young delivered an interesting discourse concerning Adam’s being the father of our spirits as well as bodies.” (Warren Foote Journal, 8 Oct 1854, original in LDS archives, typed copy. The 8 Oct 1854 Brigham Young discourse was not published until the 1970s. See Campbell 1992:86-103).

“Another meeting this evening. President B. 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 &c more hereafter.” (Diary of Hosea Stout. V.2:435. Friday 9 Apr 1852). (Emphasis added).

“Who begat the son of God? Infidels say that Jesus was a Bastard but let me tell you the truth concerning the matter. Our father begat all the spirits that were before any tabernacles were made. When our father came into the Garden He came with his celestial body and brought one of his wifes with him & eat of the fruit of he garden untill he could begat a tabernacle. And Adam is Michael or God And all the God that we have any thing to do with. They Eat of this fruit and 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 ownly 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.” (Journal of Wilford Woodruff. V.4:129. 9 Apr 1852). (Emphasis added).

“It has been said that Adam is the God and Father of the human family, and persons are perhaps in fear and great trouble of mind, lest they have to acknowledge him as such in some future day. For our part we would much rather acknowledge Adam to be our Father than hunt for another, and take up with the devil.” (Millennial Star Editorial V.15:825. 1853. Samuel W. Richards, British Mission President). (Emphasis added).

“…some of the officers have not met in council for three years. They are lacking faith on one principle – the last “cat that was let out of the bag.” Polygamy has been got over pretty well, that cloud has vanished away, but they are troubled about Adam being our Father and God.” (Millennial Star. V.16:482. Conference Report 5 Aug 1854).

“…While there is nothing to refute, the whole tenor of revelation substantiates, the supposition, that Adam has continued to bear rule over the earth, and control the destinies of his never-ending posterity. From the time he received his commission in the Garden of Eden, he has been labouring diligently to fulfil the instructions there given him by The Lord God concerning his dominions, and to bring them under subjection to his will. This will be fully accomplished when every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is the God of the whole earth. Then will the words of the Prophet Brigham, when speaking of Adam, be fully realized – “He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom WE have to do.”” (Millennial Star V.17:195. 1855. Priesthood from Adam to Joseph). (Emphasis in original).

…In the Salt Lake City Hall, on 9 December 1867, the School of the Prophets which had been first formed by Joseph Smith, was reformed with Brigham Young appointed as President; Heber C. Kimball and Daniel H. Wells as Vice Presidents. Wilford Woodruff recorded the event in his journal and after mentioning that the Word of Wisdom was given in that school, he went on to record the following:

“President Young said Adam was Michael the Ark angel & he was the Father of Jesus Christ & was our God and that Joseph taught this principle.” (Journal of Wilford Woodruff. V.6:381, 16 Dec 1867). (Emphasis added).

…If this was a lie, Young was a false prophet; if it was correct, then modern day leaders are not getting the same revelations that were given to their first two prophets, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Modern leaders are also not privy to the same spiritual witness that the early apostles recorded, confirming their acceptance of and belief in the Adam-God doctrine. Do modern apostles consider all those earlier apostles deceived and deluded in thinking that they had received a personal spiritual witness regarding the truth of the doctrine? They were then and are now, all supposedly ‘prophets’, ‘seers’ and ‘revelators’ and yet they cannot all be right. One group of the Lord’s ‘anointed’ is wrong

…By 1856, the Adam-God doctrine had become widespread and accepted sufficiently for the British Mormon hymnal, revised in Liverpool, England, by Apostle Franklin D. Richards, to include a hymn proclaiming it. The hymn, on page 375, was called We believe in our God.

“We believe in our God the great Prince of his race, The Archangel Michael, the Ancient of Days, Our own Father Adam, earth’s Lord as is plain, Who’ll counsel and fight for his children again.

We believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, who in love To his brethren and sisters, came down from above To die to redeem them from death, and to teach To mortals and spirits the Gospel we preach.” (Tanner 1987:177).

On 13 April 1861, the Millennial Star published a poem about Adam called “Sons of Michael”. It contained the opening lines: “Sons of Michael, he approaches! Rise; the Eternal Father greet”. Set to music, it entered the main Mormon hymnal. It remained unchanged until 1927 when it became hymn 334. The line with Adam as the Eternal Father was then replaced by “Sons of Michael, He approaches! Rise; the ancient Father greet”. Several other changes were subsequently made to this hymn, reducing the status of Adam and also of Eve who originally would “Endless with thy Lord preside” and now apparently she will not after all. The latest alterations appeared in the 1985 edition which meant that the final traces of the Adam-God doctrine were only edited out of the Mormon hymnal, over one-hundred-and-twenty years after it was originally included.

…On 12 October 1897, at a meeting of the Quorum of Twelve, the President of the Apostles, Lorenzo Snow…

…led out on Adam being our father and God. How beautiful the thought it brot. God nearer to us. (Quinn 1997:799).

The above is a short series of extracts from sixty-five pages of The Mormon Delusion: Volume 3, Chapter 2. Please see Vol. 3 for the rest of the story.