I’ve done a series of videos on the subject of Mormonism dealing with some of the problems with Mormon thought and today I’m going to be dealing with another problem and that is the idea of Adam God. This is taken from a blog post that I just put up so if you want to get that I’ll put the link to the post in the description. Though a relatively young religious movement, the Mormon faith has experienced an extensive amount of revision since its founding in the 1820s to the 1840s by Joseph Smith. A number of controversial doctrines were taught by earlier leaders in the movement especially by Brigham Young including things like polygamy, blood atonement and denial of inter-racial marriage. Throughout the years, many of these teachings have been officially rejected by the church. The problem however with simply ignoring these doctrines as mistaken notions of the past is that they were taught by prophets and often within the context of having received supposed direct revelation from God on these points. One could point to ideas which are problematic in the founders of nearly any movement. Martin Luther’s writings on the Jews, for example, have been disregarded by the majority of Lutherans and John Calvin’s views on the death penalty as a proper response to heresy have been rejected by many reformed Christians. However, none of these other religious figures were claiming that they taught such things by any divinely revealed prophetic authority but instead through their interpretations of sacred scripture. They did not set themselves up as prophets to be obeyed, as the very mouthpieces of God but instead simply as sinners pointing people back to God’s revelation and sacred writ. Such cannot be said of the prophets of the LDS Church.
Claims of being a Messenger of God are pretty common in the history of the world and God himself for that reason has established a simple test to examine those individual claims. The Old Testament presents a test for the people of Israel in order to determine whether or not the Prophet is true or false. The text states this: But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, the same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart “how may we know what the Lord has not spoken when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord”, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
A false prophet is one who falsely claims that something was taught by direct revelation. The punishment for presenting this false information is death. There is no place scripturally for any category of a prophet who is fallible in his proclamation. This is not to say that prophets can ever be wrong in any area. I’m sure that Jeremiah might have made a mistake if someone presented him with a complex math problem. However, what is not possible is for a true prophet to claim that something had come directly from God and then to offer a false prophecy. This leads us then to consider a teaching of Brigham Young, which is often referred to as the Adam God teaching. If he is wrong and promoting this idea which he claims to know by revelation, this should cause one then to question his status as a prophet.
Young taught that Adam and Eve had lived a mortal life previous to the scriptural account with his wife Eve. Through obedience, they both achieved exaltation unto godhood. Adam, as a god, received the title “Ancient of Days” and he is also identical with the Archangel Michael. Adam is known as the Creator though he is only one among many in the counsel of gods with Eve. Adam gave birth to children including Lucifer and Jesus Adam also fathered perhaps through Eve or his other wives, since it is the assumption that he was also polygamous, the spirits which would become those who populate the earth. Out of a desire to give physical bodies to their spirit children, Adam and Eve entered the earth as the biblical figures described in Genesis 1 through 3. They then became parents of the physical bodies of the human race becoming then both spiritual and physical progenitors of humanity. Physical bodies are a necessary step in achieving exaltation to godhood and thus it is the motivation behind the actions of Michael / Adam and giving birth to physical children. After his time on the earth, Adam then ascended into heaven and is identical with the God of Israel forming a three-person Godhead with his son Jesus and with the Holy Spirit and the famous quotes that is from Brigham Young talking about Adam God is this:
“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.”
The modern LDS Church has repeatedly condemned this idea of Adam God in recent years. Spencer Kimball who was the president of the Church officially repudiated the idea in 1976 as false doctrine. Bruce R. McConkey in his book Mormon doctrine similarly writes against the idea and contends that Young’s statements do not actually support such a teaching when viewed in a supposed gospel perspective page 18. He also calls it heresy in other places. The current Wikipedia article on Adam God contains this sentence:
The claim that the doctrine was taught by Young relies on a particular interpretation of the few quotes and is not supported by the full body of his teaching and writings.
However, this claim that the Adam God teaching is merely a misrepresentation of Young’s writings is extremely difficult to substantiate. The theme is a rather prevalent one in Young as any one will observe, who actually does a careful reading of his sermons and other writings collected in many different volumes. BYU professor Robert Miller acknowledges for example that Adam God teaching covers about 15% of Brigham Young’s writing on the Godhead. It is thus widely acknowledged today that Adam God was indeed a teaching of Brigham Young. Such might not be a major issue if he simply framed these ideas in the context of private speculation. However even the Mormon apologetic organization FairMormon acknowledges that Young claimed to have received these beliefs by revelation. Young taught Adam God at General Conference under his authority as a prophet and he even included elements of this teaching in the endowment ceremony. He also stated that these ideas came directly from Joseph Smith though that idea has not really been proven or cannot really be. What is clear in all of this is that there is a divergence between Brigham Young and the contemporary LDS Church with which both claimed to have a position on this issue given by divine authority. They simply cannot both be right. Alright, so what are we left with?
Here this discussion leads to basically three possibilities. The first possibility is this: that Brigham Young taught falsely on this issue and the modern LDS Church is the correct position. This is the position of FairMormon and other apologetics organizations within Mormonism. However this really leads to the necessary conclusion, biblically at least, that Brigham Young does not actually comport with the biblical qualifications of a prophet. If this is the case, then his calling is invalidated altogether according to Deuteronomy, along with then the rest of the LDS Church following him. The second possibility is this: that Brigham Young taught correctly and the modern LDS Church is wrong. This is the position of Mormon fundamentalist groups who have rejected the many changes in Mormon doctrine which occurred over the years since the founding of the Mormon Church. Well this does lead to a number of other issues related to Mormon fundamentalism. One I think can at least admire the consistency here in these groups in holding to Young and Smith’s early teachings. The third possibility is this: that Brigham Young is a fraud and so is the LDS Church. In view of the mounting evidence against Mormonism and Smith, it is the most logical conclusion that these ideas have been fraudulent from the beginning and that the claims of both Young and modern prophets are just that – claims. They are not divinely revealed messages from God.