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Adam-God Theory/Doctrine: Why should or shouldn't it have been accepted.


Mudcat

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Because of a recent thread, I have actually paid some attention to the notion that Brigham Young promoted this idea of the "Adam God doctrine".

A great in forum layout of a number of statements regarding the theory promoted by BY can be found here.

I would like to start a serious discussion on this topic.

I am hoping everyone can be objective on the matter.

Imagine if you were LDS in BY's day and confronted with this teaching proffered by BY.

I would like to know what you feel are the merits or difficulties are with this teaching?

Why is it a failed hypothesis? What complications does it create for the present day CoJCoLDS?

Dunno how much interest this thread will draw, but I appreciate your thoughtful participation should you choose to engage.

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Brigham Young is known to have said this:

"I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years - over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people; that ought to be some evidence that my course is onward and upward. But how do you know that I may not yet do wrong? How do you know but I will bring in false doctrine and teach the people lies that they may be damned? Sisters can you tell the difference? I can say this for the Latter!day Saints, and I will say it to their praise and my satisfaction, if I were to preach false doctrine here, it would not be an hour after the people got out, before it would begin to fly from one to another, and they would remark, "I do not quite like that! It does not look exactly right! What did Brother Brigham mean? That did not sound quite right, it was not exactly the thing!"

Brigham Young was a great man. He knew he was fallible, and he stated that he was... I don't think he ever intended his statements to not be thought over. I'm pretty sure he is fine with where the first presidency is taking the church today.

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It depends on what part of it you think should be accepted.

It depends on what interpretation of it should be considered correct.

Those are numerous.

Each particular sub-doctrine of it must be segregated out from the Elohim/Michael identity/role confusion.

Because of a recent thread, I have actually paid some attention to the notion that Brigham Young promoted this idea of the "Adam God doctrine".

A great in forum layout of a number of statements regarding the theory promoted by BY can be found here.

I would like to start a serious discussion on this topic.

I am hoping everyone can be objective on the matter.

Imagine if you were LDS in BY's day and confronted with this teaching proffered by BY.

I would like to know what you feel are the merits or difficulties are with this teaching?

Why is it a failed hypothesis? What complications does it create for the present day CoJCoLDS?

Dunno how much interest this thread will draw, but I appreciate your thoughtful participation should you choose to engage.

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Mudcat:

The Adam/God theory even taken at face value, which isn't much, no one man, even a Prophet, has the authority to establish doctrine for the entire Church. Secondly BY himself made contradictory statement in regards to the Adam God theory. You may rest assured that BY know whom Adam and whom God the Father is.

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Imagine if you were LDS in BY's day and confronted with this teaching proffered by BY.

I would like to know what you feel are the merits or difficulties are with this teaching?

Why is it a failed hypothesis? What complications does it create for the present day CoJCoLDS?

If I were LDS in Brigham Young

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Because of a recent thread, I have actually paid some attention to the notion that Brigham Young promoted this idea of the "Adam God doctrine".

...

I would like to start a serious discussion on this topic.

I am hoping everyone can be objective on the matter.

...

Hi Mudcat,

Several of my ancestors, including George A Smith his first counselor, were there when President Young was teaching Adam-God doctrine. But they left us no comments that I have seen about how they understood it.

But consider this:

Mormons believe that men can become "joint heirs with Christ" as the New Testament states.

The idea the Christ will "inherit" something from God the Father -- who creedally is the same being as himself-- does not make any clear sense in the creedal version of the Bible.

But in the Mormon understanding Christ is a being not so different than ourselves who truly did progress "grace for grace" until he overcame all things.

And those men and women, like Abraham, who also overcome all things, even though they rely on the atonement of Christ since they had to overcome sin to some degree, they will jointly inherit the same power, knowledge and responsibility that Christ will inherit.

Sounds like a lot of power. Right? Thus D&C 132 says, "they shall be gods".

So why could not Adam have been a man like Abraham who is a joint heir with his Christ? If one accepts that men can become one with God, and thus be "gods", why should it not be believable that Adam was just such a man from a previous earth?

Richard

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Mudcat:

The Adam/God theory even taken at face value, which isn't much, no one man, even a Prophet, has the authority to establish doctrine for the entire Church. Secondly BY himself made contradictory statement in regards to the Adam God theory. You may rest assured that BY know whom Adam and whom God the Father is.

Bold mine. I guess I have misunderstood the role of a prophet. I thought this is exactly what a prophet is for. It certainly seems to be what Joseph Smith Jr did.

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Bold mine. I guess I have misunderstood the role of a prophet. I thought this is exactly what a prophet is for. It certainly seems to be what Joseph Smith Jr did.

No, Joseph Smith's teachings weren't "Official Doctrine" until they had been published, reinforced by other Apostles, sustained by Church members, and continued to be taught by his successors.

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I would like to know what you feel are the merits or difficulties are with this teaching?

Why is it a failed hypothesis? What complications does it create for the present day CoJCoLDS?

This would require a small dissertation on the subject, I think. It is an excellent question.

In place of a dissertation, I will offer the observation that, although most of Brigham Young's Adam-God Theory has been relegated to the dustbin of Mormon Theology, certain aspects of it continue to crop up here and there.

Such as the idea that God had physical relations with Mary to produce the man-god child, Jesus.

Elder McConkie believed this and wrote about it in the typical equivocating way first mastered by Elder Talmage.

The irony is that when Elder McConkie said it, he meant "God" as in Elohim.

When President Young said it, he meant "God" as in Adam.

That which we shoved out through the front door came in through the back.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

P.S. The current and almost universally received LDS doctrine that Jesus is our elder spirit brother was also part and parcel of Brigham Young's Adam-God Theory, and it is possible that it is within that context it first was systematically promulgated.

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I can't make sense of the Adam/God doctrine. I've read a few articles about it still confuses me. One must remember that the church had long tradition of speculating on mysterious doctrines in those days. You'll find all sorts of interesting ideas if you read 19th century writings of church leaders. They didn't have correlation back then.

The best thing I've read on the Adam-God doctrine is from FAIR:

http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2009_Brigham_Youngs_Teachings_On_Adam.pdf

I highly recommend this article.

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I can't make sense of the Adam/God doctrine.

Hi, Rivers.

For me, the key to making sense of the Adam/God doctrine was to finally just accept Brigham Young at his word; stop trying to make what he said comport with my expectations that it would be the same as currently taught; and enjoy the ride.

It was only after I understood it that I was able to make sense of it.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I would like to know what you feel are the merits or difficulties are with this teaching?

Merits:

Not many. Perhaps it sheds additional light on the mortal experience of God the Father - a big mystery in LDS theology.

Difficulties:

It runs counter to the accepted LDS creation story and shifts about the roles and importance of the various personalities - namely making Adam and Elohim one in the same and making the personage of Jesus/Jehovah subservient to Adam/Elohim.

Why is it a failed hypothesis?

It never 'caught on' and became actual doctrine. Other apostles resisted it. It was confusing to the membership when it was given.

Above all else it did not follow the established revelatory process, but seems increasingly to be a pet-theory/personal opinion of Brigham Young.

What complications does it create for the present day CoJCoLDS?

The difficulty for modern LDS is that we have a well documented instance of an LDS prophet teaching false doctrine, forcefully and repeatedly, as true doctrine.

It was later labeled 'false doctrine' by Spencer Kimball, a subsequent LDS prophet. This is especially problematic given Wilford Woodruff's (another early LDS prophet) statement: "The Lord will never permit me or any other prophet to lead the church astray."

One apologetic approach, the "Two Adams" concept is a grasping, desperate and ultimately failed attempt to reconcile Brigham's teachings on the matter with the accepted LDS understanding of the prophet/doctrine/membership dynamic.

The best apologetic approach to the Adam God theory is to let the evidence speak for itself:

Adam-God was a theory of Brigham Young, likely his personal opinion, that he held for a period of his life. He taught it in public on a few occasions, was met with resistance, and later backed off. It barely got out of the starting gate as far as new doctrine/revelation goes, and was quickly forgotten and relegated to the dustbin of mormon historic oddities.

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Difficulties:

It runs counter to the accepted LDS creation story and shifts about the roles and importance of the various personalities - namely making Adam and Elohim one in the same and making the personage of Jesus/Jehovah subservient to Adam/Elohim.

An excellent post, SilverKnight, and I rejoin only to clarify a couple of often mistaken assumptions about Brigham Young's teaching.

Brigham Young taught frequently that Adam is God. He never taught that Adam is Elohim, but rather a fully exalted and resurrected son (or grandson) of Elohim.

Also, it appears Brigham Young split the persons of Jehovah and Jesus. Most LDS see them as one and the same, but Brigham Young knew that Jehovah was superior to Michael/Adam in the temple endowment, but often and clearly taught that Jesus is the firstborn spirit of Adam/Michael in the premortal existence.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Brigham Young is known to have said this:

"I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years - over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people; that ought to be some evidence that my course is onward and upward. But how do you know that I may not yet do wrong? How do you know but I will bring in false doctrine and teach the people lies that they may be damned? Sisters can you tell the difference? I can say this for the Latter!day Saints, and I will say it to their praise and my satisfaction, if I were to preach false doctrine here, it would not be an hour after the people got out, before it would begin to fly from one to another, and they would remark, "I do not quite like that! It does not look exactly right! What did Brother Brigham mean? That did not sound quite right, it was not exactly the thing!"

Brigham Young was a great man. He knew he was fallible, and he stated that he was... I don't think he ever intended his statements to not be thought over. I'm pretty sure he is fine with where the first presidency is taking the church today.

Thanks TAO,

Your quote was certainly insightful and completely relevant to the topic. I wanted to also interject a BY quote from the sited outlay in linked in the OP.

Some have grumbled because I believe our God so near to us as Father Adam. There are many who know this doctrine to be true.

I suppose I am trying to get a better grasp of how things actually did work in the early post JS era of the CoJCoLDS specifically as it pertains to the AGT, but also in a general sense as well.

BY seems to be asserting that his teachings were disapproved of in the one quote.

In the other he seems to be asserting that the believer does have some authority to gauge for themselves if they are being instructed correctly by a Prophet through general consensus amongst believers. Sort of institutes a separation of powers.... kind of like legislative and judiciary, but that's a poor grasp at analogy of it.

Regardless, this "atmosphere" that all this was going on in seems different from what I see from modern LDS. However, modern LDS don't seem faced with dealing with the introduction of new teachings or doctrine in the same sense. The modern atmosphere might be very equivalent if T. Monson espoused something that created mixed viewpoints.

I am getting the idea, that questioning the teaching of leadership by the membership was more commonplace in that era and may have simply been mutually and generally accepted by all as par for the course.

Speculatively, I wonder JS had espoused these teachings rather than BY if the concept would be treated differently. Or if such an "atmosphere" was just as prevalent in JS Presidency as well.

Regards,

Mudcat

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The stumbling block is going to be that the Apostles never came to support the theory, and as far as I know, it was never brought to any votes by the quorum of the Twelve, an if such a doctrine was ever intended for the Saints, then it should have been. So, despite what Brigham might have believed, without going through the process for establishing doctrine, it is then by the standard works by which we measure every man's doctrine, and that can get subjective when its not explicit. Though some might contend they could extract it from the standard works, it might still not be explicit enough to establish it.

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The stumbling block is going to be that the Apostles never came to support the theory, and as far as I know, it was never brought to any votes by the quorum of the Twelve, an if such a doctrine was ever intended for the Saints, then it should have been. So, despite what Brigham might have believed, without going through the process for establishing doctrine, it is then by the standard works by which we measure every man's doctrine, and that can get subjective when its not explicit. Though some might contend they could extract it from the standard works, it might still not be explicit enough to establish it.

When did the approval of the 12 become necessary to establish the doctrine? Was the process for establishing doctrine different in Joseph Smith Jr's time than when Brigham Young was prophet?

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In place of a dissertation, I will offer the observation that, although most of Brigham Young's Adam-God Theory has been relegated to the dustbin of Mormon Theology, certain aspects of it continue to crop up here and there.

Such as the idea that God had physical relations with Mary to produce the man-god child, Jesus.

I imagine it could be quite a complicated topic.

Bold mine. This statement was the one that had popped in mind when contemplating starting a thread on it.

IIRC BY also seemed to think to support the notion of physical relations with Mary by the Father. This always seemed problematic to me, though I know there are some LDS who seem to follow this line of thinking.

However, I find the concept of that idea coupled with Adam as the Father seems to bring in another set of variables that complicate matters and seem to conflict with a number of ideas injunctions against incest being one.

Regards,

Mudcat

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An excellent post, SilverKnight, and I rejoin only to clarify a couple of often mistaken assumptions about Brigham Young's teaching.

Brigham Young taught frequently that Adam is God. He never taught that Adam is Elohim, but rather a fully exalted and resurrected son (or grandson) of Elohim.

Really? I thought Adam-God essentially taught:

Adam --> is the mortal identity of --> Elohim, the father or Jehovah

Jesus --> is the mortal identiy of --> Jehovah, the son of Elohim

And that there are essentially only two personalities in the creation: Elohim (Micheal) & Jehovah (Jesus)

Also, it appears Brigham Young split the persons of Jehovah and Jesus. Most LDS see them as one and the same, but Brigham Young knew that Jehovah was superior to Michael/Adam in the temple endowment, but often and clearly taught that Jesus is the firstborn spirit of Adam/Michael in the premortal existence.

This perhaps deflates some of the 'heretical' controversy surrounding Adam-God, since you suggest Brigham always taught Adam is inferior/subservient to Jesus.

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Really? I thought Adam-God essentially taught:

Adam --> is the mortal identity of --> Elohim, the father or Jehovah

Jesus --> is the mortal identiy of --> Jehovah, the son of Elohim

And that there are essentially only two personalities in the creation: Elohim (Micheal) & Jehovah (Jesus)

A common misunderstanding. BY appeared to have viewed it as a Patriarchal Hierarchy:

Michael --> Adam --> Father of spirits and flesh, "Heavenly Father"

Jehovah --> Michael's God and Father (not Jesus)

Elohim --> Jehovah's God and Father

Although it is possible at times that Jehovah and Michael were conflated, as there appear to be references by BY to 'Yahovah Michael'.

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When I first began my journey out of the LDS Church, Adam-God is what initially attracted me to the Fundamentalist Mormon movement as I still had a lingering belief in eternal progression. If you are a believer in EP, Adam-God is a beautiful teaching that ties in nicely with the overall concept- I have really no earthly idea why it has been rejected b y the modern LDS Church, other then it is tied to the "Plygs".

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I have really no earthly idea why it has been rejected b y the modern LDS Church, other then it is tied to the "Plygs".

It was rejected by the 1870s LDS church, and later Brigham Young himself.

It was never accepted as doctrine by anyone besides Brigham Young and a few early saints he directly preached it to - and even then for only a short time.

Nobody taught Adam-God after BY's death.

Fundamentalist Polygs later 'resurrected' it and adopted into their belief.

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Mudcat,

It is apparent that there is a lot of confusion as to what the "Adam-God Theory" ACTUALLY is.

Most likely, because BY didn't make the effort to clearly document exactly what it was he meant.

This alone is sufficient reason to not accept it as doctrine.

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Most likely, because BY didn't make the effort to clearly document exactly what it was he meant.

In another thread, I posted 22 statements from Brigham Young in which he clearly and exhaustively documented exactly what it was he meant.

The feeling that he did not do so is a result of later attempts to discount and/or diminish the teaching itself.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

P.S. to Silver Knight--Brigham Young never rejected his own teachings regarding Adam-God.

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P.S. to Silver Knight--Brigham Young never rejected his own teachings regarding Adam-God.

I thought he backed off, said he was misunderstood, and said things like it is "considerable a mystery" and "not pertinent to yours or my salvation" and effectively ceased teaching the concept for the latter part of his life.

Did he ever disavow the teaching?

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