Adam as Our Father

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It is well known among Mormons that critics of the church accuse Brigham Young of teaching a doctrine that stated Adam, the first man, was the god of our spirits. Often we hear that Brigham Young was misquoted or the quotes were taken in context.

I came across a number of quotes today by Brigham Young regarding this doctrine. If it was a single quote, I can see how members of the Church could use the defence that is was misquoted or out of context. Given the number of references to the principle, it would seem that this was something Brigham Young believed and taught. Not only that, but he claimed it to be true doctrine.

How much unbelief exists in the minds of Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God ..Then he said, ‘I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state. I was faithful. I received my crown and exaltation…I want my children that were born to me in the spirit world to come here and take tabernacles of flesh that their spirits may have a house, a tabernacle…’ (Brigham Young, Deseret Weekly News, June 18, 1873, page 308)

Who was the Savior begotten by?….Who did beget him? His Father, and his father is our God, and the Father of our spirits, and he is the framer of the body, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who is he? He is Father Adam; Michael; the Ancient of Days. (President Brigham Young, Feb. 19, 1854, Brigham Young Addresses, 1850-1854, Vol. 2, by Elden J. Watson, sheet 179 (in chronological order), Historical Dept. Church, Ms d 1234, Box 48 Fd. 11 )

Some have grumbled because I believe our God to be so near to us as Father Adam. There are many who know that doctrine to be true. (Brigham Young, October 7, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:331).

Some years ago I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our Father and God…It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven… (President Brigham Young, in the Tabernacle, General Conference, October 8, 1861, 10:30 a.m.; Brigham Young Addresses, 1860-1864, Vol. 4, by Elden J. Watson, sheet 134 (in chronological order), Historical Dept. Church, Ms d 1234, Box 49 fd 8 )

I tell you more: 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. (Brigham Young, October 8, 1854, Brigham Young Addresses, 18509-1854, Vol. 2, by Elden J. Watson, sheet 221 (in chronological order), Historical Dept. Church, Box 49 fd 12)

These aren’t all statements made in an interview with Mike Wallace or Larry King; some are statements made by the president of the Church during General Conference.

So, why was it dropped? President Kimball declared it a false doctrine in the October 1976 General Conference.

We warn you against the dissemination of doctrine 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.

If President Hinckley came to General Conference and announced a doctrine that was not in the scriptures, would we be able to use President Kimball’s admonition to denounce it as false doctrine? This isn’t like revealing a new practise (such as plural marriage) or stopping an old practise (such as withholding priesthood from Blacks); this is revealing a new doctrine.

25 thoughts on “Adam as Our Father

  1. Some argue that BY preached the AG theory for the purpose of equating the office of presiding High Priest with God–the reason being his concern that the saints receive his (BY) counsel without reservation in those precarious times.

    Don’t know if I agree–kind of interesting, tho.


  2. President Kimball did not denounce it for it not being “in” the scriptures, but rather for not be “according to” the scriptures. I think that any new doctrine announced by any prophet would come with a long list of scriptural supports. (Although Brigham thought his idea was according to the sciptures too.)

    Anyway, we have been told (and I believe) that Brigham specifically made a mistake on the exact identity of Adam. Such is life — we do not teach that our leaders are infallible and there was no unity among the brethren at the time on this concept. What remains unclear is how much Brigham got right…

  3. “President Kimball did not denounce it for it not being ‘in’ the scriptures, but rather for not be ‘according to’ the scriptures.”

    Which is what I meant. I used them synonymously.

  4. I pointed that out because being in the scriptures precludes anything that is not specifically already there. Being according to the scriptures allows for most any doctrine that is not clearly contradicted by canonized scriptures.

  5. Right. I just wanted to clarify that I meant according to the scriptures.

    That being said, I am sure we could find some scriptures that imply (even vaguely) that the Adam-God theory is plausible.

    D&C 27:11, for example, states Adam is the father of all. One could state that this is literal and that it extends to more than just mortality. In that case, the idea that Adam is Jehovah’s father is plausible.

  6. Kim,

    A new book by Drew Briney shows us that you are correct about why it isn’t preached in the church; it ain’t in the scriptures as we have them today.

    A look at some of Brother Nibley’s thoughts on OT ideas might come in handy:

    As LDS we believe that we can become as God is. Father to son and father to son and father to son
    also mother to daughter and mother to daughter and mother to daughter

    Wilford Woodruff stated:
    The fact is, there are a great many things taught in the building up of this kingdom which seem strange to us, being contrary to our traditions, and are calculated to try men. Brother Joseph… taught a great many things which, in consequence of tradition, required prayer, faith, and a testimonu from the Lord, before they could be believed by many of the Saints. His mind was opened by the visions of the Almighty, and the Lord taught him many things by vision and revelation that were never taught publicly in his days; for the people could not bear the flood of intelligence which God poured into his mind. JofD 5: 83-4

    Sounds like maybe not everything there is to be had from the Lord is in our scriptures, conference reports etc., but can be had by going to the Lord on our own.

    Looks like you are following in Joseph’s footsteps, asking questions, now to find a grove of trees somewhere in Canada…

  7. Kim,

    This is one where you and I are at opposite ends of the pole.

    You said:
    “That being said, I am sure we could find some scriptures that imply (even vaguely) that the Adam-God theory is plausible.

    D&C 27:11, for example, states Adam is the father of all. One could state that this is literal and that it extends to more than just mortality. In that case, the idea that Adam is Jehovah’s father is plausible.”

    Adam-God is not only not plausible…it is patently false.
    Facsimiles #1 and #3 clearly teach the principle of substitution. At no time and in no way could Adam ever conceivably be our Father in Heaven, or the Father of our spirits, or the Father of the Saviour in mortality.

    Adam is the father of all in mortality – in that we are all descended from him and Eve. As the patriarch of the human family, he will ultimately hold all the keys that will be turned back to the Saviour when He returns.
    Adam, being Michael in the pre-earth existence, plays a significant role in the welfare of this earth, and can therefore be said to be the only one with whom we have to deal, but that does not make him God…only one in a direct priesthood line that reports to the Father.

    When the Saviour was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was visited by an angel, I believe that angel was Adam, or Michael.
    Adam was responsible for the Fall, and was present giving comfort to the Saviour as He performed the atonement.

    I claim no insight as to why Brigham Young taught the doctrine, but it does not stand up to scripture, or to other comments that he made in direct contradiction to that theory.

  8. “This is one where you and I are at opposite ends of the pole.”

    Not so fast, Larry. I never said I believe the Adam-God doctrine. I am a supporter of evolution and some of Brigham Young’s statements run counter to that.

    You may want to reread my post.

  9. Kim,

    I was commenting on your reply, not on your original blog. Sorry if it sounded harsh.
    I would be interested in your commenting on evolution that you mentioned. That would be an interesting blog that would draw some attention.

  10. AG is really a muddy topic, IMO. I’ve seen all kinds of things done with Brigham’s words.

    I’m suprised nobody has mentioned Buerger’s article. See also this letter.

    Regarding whether the scriptures could support AG, a little known (I assume) fact is that the original source for D&C 137 reads:

    “I saw father Adam, and Abraham, and Michael, and my father and mother…” (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, by Dean Jesse, p. 145, available here under “21 January 1836 – Thursday”.)

    I’m guessing Michael was dropped from the text when B.H. Roberts edited History of the Church.

    It may or may not support AG, but it is interesting. (FYI, I do not believe in AG.)

  11. Kim,

    I like that post on evolution. I haven’t had cause to speak up in Church yet, but I’m sure the day will come. I just hope I can be clear, curtious, and non-combative. (Actually I’m a pretty non-combative person, so that part will probably be easy.)

    Larry, if you liked Kim’s post on evolution you may be interested in Mormons and Evolution.

  12. Jared,

    Thanks for the link to that article. It has to be the most in-depth analysis of Brigham Young’s doctrine I have read.

    I was not aware of the omission of “Michael” from D&C 137. It makes me wonder whether the word ‘adam’ somehow means ‘father’, as ‘eve’ means ‘mother’. If so, that would be a simply explanation for Brigham Young’s teaching that our Heavenly Father is Adam.

    Good luck if it ever comes up. You’ll likely be alone in defending evolution. I have done it in two wards and was without support on both occasions.

  13. Since it had been a number of years since I had read the Adam-God theory, I took the opportunity to go to the Dialogue article (thanks Jared)and reacquaint myself with what Brigham had actually said.

    I am now more convinced than ever that not only is it not scriptural, it is patently false.
    (I should point out that Orson Pratt married the sister of my great-great grandfather, and was closely associated with my gg all his life, so maybe my gg passed this down to me genetically) :>)

    If we look at Mosiah15:1-3, we read that “…God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem His people.”
    Alma42:15 points out that”God himself atoneth for the sins of the world” and so on.

    Laying aside the principle of substitution taught in the scriptures, and the facsimiles, it is clear that if Adam had been our God that he would have been the one to be our saviour and not the first man.
    In other words Brigham has him playing the wrong role.

    There are all sorts of discussions that we could get into here, I guess, but I for one am grateful that this theory is not promulgated, but rather decried by the Brethern.

  14. I am a Latter-day Saint, and I affirm that Brigham Young was a true prophet, and what he taught was correct and was a direct revelation. Adam is our Father and Our God. He was the literal Father of Jesus Christ. It is Him that we Worship and it is Him to whom we pray. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks on the subject, the Lord has spoken through his Prophet, and to me, that is enough – it is finished. Anyone seeking prophetic statements beyond that is merely wasting the Lord’s time like those seeking a sign.

    The fact that most Mormons disagree is just an indicator of lack of faith, perhaps not theirs directly, but those who came before, and paved the road of this teaching’s history with deceptions, half-truths and lies.

    Open your eyes and see what the Lord said through his prophet. Do not deny the simple truths apparent in it. Do not try to twist his words like a snake to support those who have spoken ill of God’s holy word.

  15. So Jeff, what Prophet do you follow today? (Now that, according to you, the Church has gone astray from the truth and the Presidents, at least since Spencer Kimball, are teaching falsehoods?)

  16. One of the primary features of this Church that I find most attractive is the principle of continuing revelation – that is that we can learn more and understand better today than we did yesterday. I love that. Because we have continuing revelation and living prophets, we have the capacity to learn more and understand better.

    Joseph Smith brought to the Christian world, indeed to the whole religious world, the principle of continuing revelation. Brigham Young and the early saints who followed him preserved that principle by walking half way across the continent. Now, if we continue to believe in this principle as our pioneer forebearers did, then we have to accept that, over 100 years later, we are going to believe in and understand some things that they didn’t – we are going to grow beyond the point that they were at when they passed the torch to us. This does not dishonour them, but rather honours the heritage of continuing revelation that they blessed us with.

    And besides all that, I don’t insist that my prophets be right about everything all the time. It’s okay for me to miss the odd shot – and it’s okay for them too. Let’s cut our Prophets a little slack.

  17. Years before the simple lessons of today, the Gospel Doctrine Class was often a deep thinking class (at least in my ward) and we discussed many topics. The story of the Da Vinci code was discussed way before any of the current books were written.

    One of the topics was the concept that Adam and Eve were not on this planet. This planet (earth) became home to the human race at the time of Noah. Bringham Young’s statement – “I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state. I was faithful. I received my crown and exaltation”… Would this statement lend credence to the Adam-God reference?

    Could it be possible that the Ark was a space ship and Noah brought the human race here and Adam could be the God of this World? The OT mentions how the life span of man was shortened with each generation after the Ark landed. Could it be that men on other planets live longer than we do on this one?

    The class also discussed if Jesus was the Saviour of this world only or the Saviour of many worlds.

    If you become a God and create your own worlds, would you use the existing plan or would it be necessary to build humans from dirt? In other words, would you take a couple from one world and move them to another world to start your own creations? What about animals? Would you move animals from an existing planet to your new world?

    Would it be necessary for your creations to have their own Saviour or would our Jesus work for all creations now and in the future?

  18. Possibilities, Bill. The reason that I subscribe to the Theory of Evolution (and I personally put God into the equation – I have ample reason to do that if the world of science does not) is because of the weight of evidence for the theory. I’ve spent many years studying the theory. In my judgment, the weight of evidence speaks very strongly. But I must empasize that, in my version, God remains at the helm and we are sons and daughters of God in evey important sense. To my mind, the Theory of Evolution does nothing to diminish our contection to God as our Father.

  19. ugh, Bill, your Gospel Doctrine class of elder days sounds like a nightmare to me, the inescapable worst of speculative seminary theology. Give me simple. I hate it when people make the gospel more interesting than it actually is.

  20. I am not a Mormon, and do surprise myself to be in agreement with one of its prophets or leaders. I like Mr. Young have come to the same conclusion that “our Father which art in Heaven” is none other than the father of the race of Men… ADAM. Truly Adam is the father of us all and when he died at the ripe old age of 930 years old his soul went to heaven. Dominion was given to Adam and then lost to Satan in what we call the fall of man in paradise. It is therefore the job of Adam’s Kinsman redeemer…ABEL, reborn in Christ “conformed”…” together formed” with God the Holy Spirit, to redeem his father and by so doing redeem the entire race of men. Its the only possible way to redeem us all . Redeem Adam and as the federal head of the race redeem us all from his original sin. The multiverse we live in is a big place with billions of universes full of billions of stars and planets…”worlds without end”. Adam, a son of God is therefore a god himself by birth right. A member of the Elohim “the gods”..Since the fall of Man Satan has dominion and is called the god of this world, the prince of the age (of Pisces). at the end of the age Christ will come to redeem his father Adam for he is the second Adam and in the Jubilee year restore the title deed of the earth to its rightful owner. This is what is meant by ” I must be about my fathers business”. Adam is the Father, Abel, born again in Christ is the Son (Son of Man) and the Holy Spirit is God, the Most High and father of Adam. Adam would be therefore be likened to a planetary Diety and subject to his father EL Elyon. What a man must this Mormon prophet Brigham Young must have been to have been shown this. I can no longer lightly dismiss LDS because of this man.and his insights. ADAM is our father and his kingdom is coming again for his dominion is being redeemed by his next of kin The Son of Man in Christ…the Son of Adam…ABEL the good shepherd and the first member of the dead who was the first to be born form the dead to be born again in Christ with the authority and power to accomplish the work of eternal redemption and restore a fallen world to an offended God. Thank god for Brigham Young, few have seen what he has seen and shame on the LDS church for dismissing this man of God.

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