Why did Brigham Young teach the Adam-God Theory?

Why did Brigham Young teach the Adam-God Theory?

Question

Gramps,

In a general conference talk on April 9th, 1852 he spoke of the Adam-God doctrine and said “let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation. ” We know the prophets will not lead the church astray. Why was this taught if it is not true?

Matt

 

Answer

Hi Matt,

We don’t know what Brigham Young meant. We don’t know how accurately everything was transcribed of what he said either. What we know is that what people think he meant by what was said is not true. We also know that, decidedly, the Adam-God doctrine did not lead the church astray.

See a previous response I gave concerning the Adam-God doctrine here.

Gramps

Did Brigham Young really make a comment about unmarried men?

Did Brigham Young really make a comment about unmarried men?

Question

Gramps,

“Men above the age of 25 and aren’t married are a menace to society” is a quote I hear a lot of members of the Church use. A lot of people say that Brigham Young said it. I can’t find anything about Brigham Young or any leaders in the Church ever saying something like this?  Is this a real quote or is it some weird rumor that members continue to spread?

Eric

 

Answer

Dear Eric,

I’ve never actually seen this quote either. Like you, I’ve heard others quote it, but never with an actual citation. I have, however, heard a similar sentiment expressed by George Q. Cannon.

 

“Our boys, when they arrive at years of maturity and can take earn of a wife, should get married, and there should not be a lot of young men growing up in our midst who ought to be, but are not married. While I do not make the remark to apply to individual cases, I am firmly of the opinion that a large number of unmarried men, over the age of twenty-four years, is a dangerous element in any community, and an element upon which society should look with a jealous eye. For every man knowing himself, knows how his fellow-man is constituted; and if men do not marry, they are too apt to do something worse. Then, brethren, encourage our young men to marry, and see that they are furnished employment, so that they can marry.” – George Q. Cannon, Annual Conference at Salt Lake City, Sunday morning, April 7, 1878. Reported by George F. Gibbs, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 7.

 

I must admit it amazes me to see the contributions of Latter-day Saint culture to popular culture at large. For instance, before the young people popularized sharing motivational pictures on the Internet, we were encouraging our youth to do just that in our publications. And here we see a prime example of a quote getting mangled and misattributed, years before “Abraham Lincoln” “tweeted” any sort of nonsense on a computer. If we’re hearing words Brigham Young didn’t say in this Information Age, I think it won’t be long before we see him facepalming over our foolishness.

 

Gramps

Can you explain the Adam-God doctrine?

Can you explain the Adam-God doctrine?

Question

Gramps,

Can you explain the Adam-God doctrine?

Don

 

Answer

Don,

I can certainly explain that it is not offical LDS Doctrine. There is no clear scriptural precedent for the typical understanding of Brigham Young’s comments. Did he mean something else, or did he mean exactly what he said? We just don’t know.

The reason it is not official LDS Doctrine is because the idea does not meet the criteria for modern revelation to the world. The criteria are as follows:

1. The information must be given from God by direct revelation to the church population at large. Brigham Young never declared the Adam-God theory to be revelation of any kind.

2. The information must be submitted for acceptance as true revelation from God, in order, to the First Presidency, The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Quorums of the Seventy, to the High Priests of the LDS Church, the Elders of the Church, the Aaronic Priesthood holders of the Church, and ultimately to each and every member individually. The Adam-God theory has never been submitted to this process because of the first condition; it was never claimed as revelation.

This is why the theory is in the Journal of Discourses rather than the Standard Works of the LDS Church. The Journal of Discourses is a valuable record of talks and articles by past church leaders, but none of them have any doctrinal authority on the LDS Church in any way.

Gramps

How can I help my friend her her husband to believe again in the Latter-day Prophets of the Mormon Church?

Question

Dear Gramps,
I have a dear friend whose husband of two years (a recent convert just before their engagement) has turned against the Mormon Church and no longer believes… in particular in Latter-day prophets. Much of this stems from things he feels the early prophets said or did that are just too much for him to believe. One example is the Adam-God theory from the Journal of Discourses. I hadn’t even heard that theory…. as I have steered clear of anti-Mormon literature–knowing how twisted it can be. But now, I have someone I care about very much being challenged by such thoughts. For now she isn’t buying into it…but is still disturbed by some of the questionable things Joseph Smith or Brigham Young might have said or done. Sometimes, they were acting as men…and sometimes it was just a process of growth and learning in early church days. How can I best help those I care so much about as they struggle with these issues? Hoping you can help!!
Shawn, from Utah
 

Answer

Dear Shawn,
Don’t you really believe that when a prophet of God makes a statement that we may have a hard time understanding that the problem lies with our lack of understanding rather than with their status as a prophet? How easy it is to judge another, especially if he is no longer here to defend himself. The enemies of the Church are very adept at taking things out of context and promoting them in a light in which they were never intended. These bold declarations denouncing the words of the prophets come from only two sources–either ignorance or maliciousness. And many of them are so blatant that even with the kindest intentions they cannot be attributed to ignorance alone.
Further, I think that it would be well to point out, as I’m sure you know, that the things of God are understood ONLY by the Spirit of God that moves upon a person. So the first place to look for a solution to the problem of those who disagree with the words of the prophets is in the direction of the worthiness of the person with the problem rather than in the direction of the inspiration of the prophets.
With that prelude, let’s address what the enemies of the Church have touted as the Adam-God theory. That concept can be easily generalized as the man-God theory. For as it is with Adam, so it may also be with others.
First the question, can any man become a god, or become as God? That question was recently asked by someone and is listed on the Ask Gramps site under the title, “How can the Mormon Church believe that human beings can become gods?” If you enter in the Search Ask Gramps box the phrase, human beings can become gods, that article will come up, and you will be able to read seven biblical references that indicate that men have the potential to grow to the status of their Father in Heaven, and thus become gods in eternity. Let me repeat just two references here from the Bible—

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High (Psalms 82:6).

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The very purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to prepare our Father’s children to grow up into an eternal adulthood–to become like their Father in Heaven. That Adam could be considered as the god of this earth is in no way contrary to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor to the concept of unbiased reason.
There is a fundamental point that has been missed by all the protestant churches, and that is that the incomplete and rather sketchy account of the creation given in Genesis (which is the only creation account that the sectarian world will admit to) contains the remnants of two creation accounts–the spiritual creation, which occurred first, and then the physical creation. In the spiritual creation Adam was the first man on the earth, the first flesh also, as we read in the Pearl of Great Price, in Moses 3:7 —

And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

The creation account given in Genesis 1 is of the physical creation, in which Adam and Eve come last. We relate the foregoing to point to Adam’s key role in the creation of this earth. The prophet Brigham Young did not somehow “go overboard” in expanding on the creation account. He was merely commenting on that which was revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and undoubtedly on that which God revealed also to him as a prophet.
We need to accept the words of the prophets, and if they appear to us in any way illogical or difficult to believe, we need to examine our own selves rather than to set ourselves up as judges of the prophets.
 

Gramps

 

 

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How can I sustain Brigham Young when he clearly misled the members of the Mormon Church?

Dear Gramps,

Brigham Young said a lot of stuff on the curse of Cain, blood atonement, the Adam-God Theory, and numerous other topics. I understand that sometimes prophets speak as just ordinary men and sometimes they speak as the prophet. What I have read is from the Journal of Discourses and it is hard for me to reconcile his statements over the pulpit as merely his opinion when he is proclaiming them as doctrine, not just policy or opinion. How do I sustain him as having been a prophet when he said things that clearly were misleading the members?

Bobby

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