Posted 03 June 2012 - 03:05 PM
I've been thinking about how to continue, but I keep getting bogged down in details that while of interest to me, probably wouldn't be to y'all, not to mention you've heard it all before etc, etc, etc.
So as I considered the Adam-God question I found that I really had missing pieces of information -- facts that seemed to exist (HAD to exist) but I didn't have them in hand. I read all the history I could find. Things like Rodney Turner's 1953 BYU Master's thesis titled "THE POSITION OF ADAM IN LATTER-DAY SAINT SCRIPTURE AND THEOLOGY". I went to UTLM for the available text of the talks of Brigham Young on the topic. The old issues of the Deseret News. FARMS. Ensign magazines and General Conference reports.
Why couldn't I find LDS editions of the Conference reports of BY's Adam-god talks? I read Ogden Kraut, Lorin Woolley and other fundamentalists. It turns out that I am a descendant of one of Woolley's patriarchs, and have a right to the sealing power of the priesthood. Hmmm.... A cousin of mine went for it and took a second wife. I did not.
President Kimball spoke against the "Adam-God Theory". Was that the same as the "Adam-God Doctrine"? If they were not the same thing, how could I know it?
Did Joseph really teach it to Brigham Young as Brigham had claimed? Why did Jewish mystics believe in Adam-God? Did Joseph know something of Jewish mysticism? Magic? Was Mike Quinn right about Joseph and the occult?
My search was taking me into some very odd places. By a strange coincidence there was a convergence in Jewish mysticism of both Adam-God and the baptism of fire. This really got my attention.
But what about the 30-some odd years of BY teaching that Adam is the God & father of our spirits? In General Conference as well as other venues?
Wilford Woodruff made the famous declaration that the Prophet of the Church _could not_ lead away the Church into apostacy. He did so because the Manifesto cancelling polygamy as a Mormon practice was absolutely earth-shattering, doctrinally speaking. The Church has taken that statement much farther than WW intended, I am positive. But I digress.
Let me just say here (tangentally) that I grew up being very friendly toward polygamy. All of my grandparents grew up in the Mexican polygamist colonies. Two ancestors were leaders in all the colonies. Another Great Grandfather(and his 4 wives) was praised far & wide as _the_ example of how a polygamist family should be. It has not been an issue for me, though I acknowledge that church-wide, it caused many injustices and abuses that otherwise would not have existed. I really enjoyed (sort of, if you know what I mean) reading Compton's "In Sacred Lonliness". I don't agree with everything he says, but you really can't argue the evidence he presents.
And we were taught some amazing things involving the doctrine of polygamy, for decades. AND we were taught more amazing things for decades involving Adam as our God. Today, we are told that neither of these things are doctrines for us today. Pres. Kimball does not go back and say Adam-God was *never* true, but it seems it's implied. And of course the Church maintains today that there was indeed a time when polygamy was doctrine and living it was justified.
While the Church doesn't say withholding the priesthood from the Blacks was doctrinal, it may as well have been from a practical standpoint. And by this point of my thinking about all this, I'm thinking that it may as well have been, by all practical standards.
And "practicality" is beginning to look more and more important to me, as I contemplate these issues. Is the Church a 'pragmatic' church? Is God a 'pragmatic' God? How can that be? Don't the ends fail to justify the means? Isn't there an ethical line here that can't be crossed?
I had received a powerful spiritual revelation in the 60's, that the Church was _all_ true. Completely, no reservations to it. This point of view seems to fall 100% in line with prophets never leading the Church astray.
But with polygamy changed, with Adam-God theory denounced, with many other things changing and radically so, in some cases, then how can this be? These things were taught from the pulpit for decades!
How can BY preach Adam-god and yet within a year or two of his death, it's a dead issue with no one believing it (except a few polygamist fundamentalists who ended up getting excommunicated a few decades later)?
Not to trivialize these things, but at the time I was puzzling on these things, I was teaching a Primary class. And the Primary President was teaching "sharing time", and she said "Isn't it nice that we have the Holy Ghost and no one else does?" ---Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but this really hit me. That's a false teaching, taken literally. The Holy Ghost works with *everyone* in the world! And I thought, how many times had I been taught faulty doctrine over the years of Primary, Sunday School, Seminary and so forth? Dozens at the least, I am sure.
By this time I'd spent years in college and over a decade in addition to that I'd communicated, via the Eyring-L email list, with some marvelous LDS scientists who taught me the truth of evolution, in a faithful environment. I read "The Origin of Species" and received a spiritual outpouring of witness to it's truth! Yet I had heard all through the 70's and beyond, in all Church-related venues, how evolution and the atonement were impossible to both be true. They were mutually exclusive! So if the science were truth(and by now I knew that much of it was indeed true), then the talks in General Conference against evolution just didn't make sense to me.
But was Brother Brigham teaching false doctrine? Turns out that I find it was not false. It was just from such a different context, that I didn't realize how true it could be. Same with the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. Did you ever hear that BY taught that Adam came from another world, and was brought here? I found that as absurd as it had sounded to me previously, it was understandable and 'true' now that I could understand it through a different context! I was amazed as I found a connection between Adam & Eve and Adam as God. And how they could be true. How? Jewish mysticism. I searched it out, I studied it, and the fruits were totally unanticipated, yet beautiful. Please understand, this took me about 20 years to piece together. It was not spontaneous, nor poorly thought out. It took an investment of decades of study and prayer and consultation and contemplation.
But this still left me with anti-evolution and other incidental teachings I'd received over the years, which were not true. How strange, though that Adam-god could be true! Weird, as I look back on it.
I'm about to wrap this all up, and I'd like to comment on the truth we find around us in our lives. We have the Church. We have many other religions. We've science, philosophy, atheism, secularism, magick, the occult, psychology, humanism, and much more. I think all of these have things to teach us, pieces of truth that can benefit us. I find that for me, my heart and mind are fully engaged with the LDS Church. Warts and all. I find no evil intent, and much beauty of love, fellowship and the power of God's spirit within it. We LDS may believe many things that just aren't so. For those of us who care, we can find our way to the truth.
My hope is that we all can seek and cling to our perceived truths, and encourage everyone else to do the same. To destroy or tear down or despise is too easy. To build, inspire, to grow and become more, is worth laying aside any criticism or denigration of other people, whatever the reason.
I can't relate all the experiences that tied into this conclusion, so it may fall flat to you who read this. And I'm sorry about that. But as I contemplated all these things, it came to me that so many times, we recieve revelations and yet we don't understand them. Promptings. The still small voice. How many times, we get them but don't understand? It happens continually, from what I see. (let's hear it for the usefulness in this context, of Psalms 24:4!)
I considered how I was raising children but God didn't give me a manual on how to raise them. And we get revelations or promptings or dreams or even visions but many times we haven't a clue what they really mean. And the thought came to me that God allows us to misunderstand practically EVERYTHING in life. It seems to be part of the conditions of this life. And the spirit told me, that this was a part of the plan, and if we are humble and teachable and patient, God will make it right. I *knew* this was true.
I considered my witness that the Church was _all_ true. I had thought for many years on what "true" meant. D&C 93:24. John 18:37-38. D&C 19:6-12. (ok that last one is a tad tangental, but it's *pure gold* in any case.
The spirit taught me that Truth in the sense of 93:24 is not for man. It is truth indeed, but from a perspective of perfection that we cannot attain to in this life. See the correspondence theory of truth (philosophy). The better definition of truth for *us*, is "useful", or "that which brings us to where we need to be".
An arrow(or a 2x4) is 'true' when it is straight, and thereby is fully *useful*.
I looked at my "Church is _all_ true" revelation. I knew from a practical basis that not everything was true. My Primary president could not bear that burden. It just could not be. However, the Church is indeed 'true' in that it successfully is attaining it's God-given charge, to teach the Gospel to the world, to purify and refine it's members, to help and succor the poor, and to redeem the dead.
Yet my belief in that non-literal _truth_ throughout my youth, gave an endless succession of blessed results. Numberless 'better' choices. Better for who? Better for *me*. I considered. Had I ever been harmed by this revelation? Had any other party ever wrongly gained from me in my belief, causing any detriment to myself? The answer is unquestionably "no". It was unsettling to accept the notion of a pragmatic God, but it is the only option that actually works for me! And there is just no way for me to do anything but believe in God, because of my experiences.
I believe in the God of the LDS Church, because I don't have a better model. But I also believe in the God of Ain, Ain Sof and Ain Sof Aur, of Jewish mysticism. I believe in a God that is my Father, but also in a God that transcends all the physical universe, who we may as well call "Nothing", because we don't know Him as He really is. I believe in *my* truth, and lots of the LDS doctrinal truth. But I've learned to place what I know through personal experience above every other 'truth' around me. Thus, I *know* that God is Love. I *know* that God is 'real'. I *know* that God knows me, is willing to share His Mind with me (to an extent), and is the source of Divine Joy.
All these things, He has given me. Truly, I am nothing. (pun intended - sorry)
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no
man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson