Do Mormons believe that Adam is God?
This question has an easy answer- no! Mormons teach that God the Father is the father of the spirits of all the people on the earth, including Adam (whom Mormons believe is the same individual as Michael the archangel, by the way).
You might be wondering why this question is even asked. The reason is that Brigham Young made some statements which some interpret to mean Adam is the same as God the Father. In particular, if you go to practically any anti-Mormon website, you will find people talking about how Mormons believe Adam is God.
A more difficult question would be, did Brigham Young actually teach the Adam-God doctrine?
Let me examine this further. First, I will note that there are maybe two or three distinct doctrines in the "Adam-God theory" as it may be called. One doctrine is that Adam is the god of this Earth. A second is that Adam is God the Father, the father of our spirits. A third is that Adam is the literal father of Jesus Christ.
I believe, and will discuss my reasons below, that Young did teach the first Adam-God doctrine (in a context I will discuss), but not the second or third.
Here's some of the controversial Brigham Young quote (from Journal of Discourse, vol. 1, pg 50-51), I'll include it more fully below:
" [Adam, aka Michael] is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do."
" Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven."
Before I start dispensing quotes left and right, I'll tell you what my own feelings/questions were before I started the research project.
1. Not having modern recording equipment, do we know that the quote is even transcribed correctly?
2. Did BY mean to say what people have interpreted him as saying?
3. At any rate, we need to take BY's words in the context of other things which BY has said.
4. We also need to take the words in the context of the scriptures.
My initial take on those items are:
1. Presumably BY read the volume of Journal of Discourses after it was published, and would have commented on any severe misquotes had there been them. However, I don't know for sure when the volume was published, so maybe he didn't read it in print before his death.
2. Probably not-- the church at any rate does not teach that Adam is God the Father, nor does the church ever seem to have done so in the past.
3. BY has certainly said lots of things to the effect that Elohim, not Michael, is God the Father. For example, he said: "I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our Heavenly Father, or the great Elohim... There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being."
4. The scriptures seem to clearly teach (at least, it's clear to me) that Adam was created by God, not that Adam was God.
So, with those things in mind, let me proceed:
Here's the complete statement by BY.
from Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.46-51, Brigham Young, April 9, 1852
SELF-GOVERNMENT--MYSTERIES--RECREATION AND AMUSEMENT,
NOT IN THEMSELVES SINFUL--TITHING--ADAM, OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD
A sermon delivered by President Brigham Young, in the Tabernacle,
Great Salt Lake City, April 9, 1852.
It is my intention to preach several discourses this evening, but how many I do not know.
My next sermon will be to both Saint and sinner. One thing has remained a mystery in this kingdom up to this day. It is in regard to the character of the well-beloved Son of God, upon which subject the Elders of Israel have conflicting views. Our God and Father in heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, He has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth His works to organized beings, as, for instance, in the world in which we live, it is the result of the knowledge and infinite wisdom that dwell in His organized body. His son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his father. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord, and issues forth from Himself, and may properly be called God's minister to execute His will in immensity; being called to govern by His influence and power; but He is not a person of tabernacle as we are, and as our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are. The question has been, and is often, asked, who it was that begat the Son of the Virgin Mary. The infidel world have concluded that if what the Apostles wrote about his father and mother be true, and the present marriage discipline acknowledged by Christendom be correct, then Christians must believe that God is the father of an illegitimate son, in the person of Jesus Christ! The infidel fraternity teach that to their disciples. I will tell you how it is. Our Father in Heaven begat all the spirits that ever were, or ever will be, upon this earth; and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by His power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man. We were made first spiritual, and afterwards temporal.
Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! 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. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, and thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession. I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone. I have heard men preach upon the divinity of Christ, and exhaust all the wisdom they possessed. All Scripturalists, and approved theologians who were considered exemplary for piety and education, have undertaken to expound on this subject, in every age of the Christian era; and after they have done all, they are obliged to conclude by exclaiming "great is the mystery of godliness," and tell nothing.
It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Again, they will try to tell how the divinity of Jesus is joined to his humanity, and exhaust all their mental faculties, and wind up with this profound language, as describing the soul of man, "it is an immaterial substance!" What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, 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.
I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea--"if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties."
OK, let me give you my immediate reactions to the text:
1. BY says this is a "sermon", not a revelation.
2. The point of the sermon, as mentioned in the first paragraph, is to discuss "who it was that begat the Son of the Virgin Mary." Note that in this context, BY mentions that the Son and the Father have physical bodies ("person of tabernacle"), but not the Holy Spirit.
3. He doesn't seem to like the "infidel" view that "God is the father of an illegitimate son, in the person of Jesus Christ"
4. BY does say that Adam is "the only God with whom WE have to do".
6. Regarding the father of Christ, it is very unclear to me as to whether BY is referring to God the Father (Elohim), or to Adam. He says the father was the "first of the human family", which would imply Adam (but not necessarily, since Elohim could be interpreted as the first of the human family via the Mormon doctrine that we can become like God). Also, the antecedent in this sentence is not clear: "when he [he who?] took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven..." Is it Adam? Is it the Father? Is it Jesus? I personally think the sentence makes the most sense if "he" refers to Jesus, since the begetting of Jesus seems to be the central theme of the sermon. Thus, BY is saying Jesus's tabernacle was begotten by the Father (as opposed to the Holy Spirit). Yet, it could easily be parsed as either of the other two choices I mentioned. It is rather ironic that he concludes this very ambiguous section by saying that other preachers when trying to expound on the subject, "tell nothing".
Likewise, when BY says "the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven", it is ambiguous, since Mormon doctrine (esp. temple ceremony) teaches clearly that Elohim visited Adam in the garden of Eden. Thus, the "character" could be either Adam, or God the Father.
7. BY *does* clearly differentiate between the Father and Adam in the following paragraph, referring to "Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael".
8. The concluding statement seems to have been the heart of BY's message: "remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost".
My personal opinion is that the whole point of BY's address was to teach that Jesus Christ was begotten by God the Father, rather than the Holy Ghost. I don't think he was teaching that Adam = God the Father, since (as I mention in point #7) he clearly distinguishes between the two. I'm not sure where he was going with the statement that Adam is our Father and our God; perhaps it was symbolic of the priesthood "chain of command". I also do not think that he was claiming Adam was the father of Jesus Christ, since the entire point of the sermon seems to be that Jesus was begotten by God the Father (as compared to the Holy Ghost).
I think that many of these ambiguities were due to problems in the recording; however, it seems like BY should have cleared them up before written publication (assuming he was still around when it was published).
In any case, it seems that if BY really believed that Adam is the same as God the Father, he would have said so on other occasions. Practically no other references to him teaching this exist. If BY wanted the church to teach this doctrine, other church leaders would have also taught the doctrine. That does not seem to be the case. As near as I can tell, the LDS church has *never* taught that Adam is God the Father, or that Adam is the Father of Jesus.
So, what have church leaders said on the subject? I'm glad you asked.
___begin Joseph Fielding Smith
From Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.96-106
(This is a rather lengthy debunking of the Adam-God theory; I'll snip quite a bit of it, but the interested reader can look it up for more info.)
President Brigham Young is quoted -- in all probability the sermon was erroneously transcribed! -- as having said: [the above BY quote].
...President Brigham Young definitely declares that Adam is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days, which indicates definitely that Adam is not Elohim, or the God whom we worship, who is the Father of Jesus Christ.
[In BY's Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael statement] he places Adam, or Michael, third in the list, and hence the least important of the three mentioned, and this President Young understood perfectly.
To believe that Adam is a god should not be strange... Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god.
To make clear what President Young had in mind [by saying Adam is the only God with whom we deal], I will give this illustration: The army is composed of a great number of privates and officers of various ranks. The private in the army is, of course, under the captain, and the captain is under the colonel who receives instructions from his superior officers. In other words the only person with whom the private has to do is his captain. This illustration may seem rather crude, but I think it will convey the thought.... When he said Adam was the only god with whom we have to do, he evidently had in mind this passage given by revelation through Joseph Smith: "[The Lord] hath appointed Michael [Adam] your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days and end of life."
[snip a few more D&C scriptural references to Adam]
From these passages President Brigham Young could very properly say that we are subject to Adam: that he rules over his posterity, and he gives us commandments, even as he receives commandments from Jesus Christ, who directs him in his ministry and will do so to the latest day of time. And this does not detract anything from the power, greatness, and glory of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.
This is from one of the discourses of Brigham Young: "We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the Highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of." Now, if he believed what some people like to interpret him as saying, then he could not say such a thing as that!
Another ambiguous statement from President Brigham Young -- also, quite likely, not recorded exactly as he said it -- is torn from its context and used by enemies of the truth to make it appear that he believed something entirely different from the whole burden of all his other teachings. It is: [BY's statement as quoted above]
[snip claim that BY referred to Elohim, not Adam, as "first of human family"]
Let me comment first upon the expression that God is the "first of the human family." This same doctrine was taught by Joseph Smith. It is a fundamental doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the teachings of Joseph Smith, he beheld the Father and the Son in his glorious vision, and he taught that each had a body of flesh and bones...He also taught that, literally, God is our Father; that men are of the same race -- the race called humans; and that God, the Progenitor, or Creator, is the Father of the human race...It is a doctrine common to the Latter-day Saints, that God, the Great Elohim, is the First, or Creator, of the human family.
In discussing the statement by President Brigham Young that the Father of Jesus Christ is the same character who was in the Garden of Eden, it should be perfectly clear that President Young was not referring to Adam, but to God the Father, who created Adam, for he was in the Garden of Eden; and according to Mormon doctrine Adam was in his presence constantly, walked with him, talked with him, and the Father taught Adam his language. It was not until the fall, that the Father departed from Adam and no longer visited him in the Garden of Eden.
Now let me present one or two expressions in other discourses by President Young -- of course, the critics never think of referring to these:
"Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him"
"How did Adam and Eve sin? Did they come out in direct opposition to God and to his government? No. But they transgressed a command of the Lord, and through that transgression sin came into the world."
"Our Lord Jesus Christ -- the Savior, who has redeemed the world and all things pertaining to it, is the Only Begotten of the Father pertaining to the flesh. He is our Elder Brother, and the Heir of the family, and as such we worship him. He has tasted death for every man, and has paid the debt contracted by our first parents [that is Adam and Eve]."
It is very clear from these expressions that President Brigham Young did not believe and did not teach, that Jesus Christ was begotten by Adam. He taught that Adam died and that Jesus Christ redeemed him. He taught that Adam disobeyed the commandment of the Father, or God, and was driven from the Garden Of Eden. He said that Adam was conversant with his Father in the Garden of Eden. This is believed by all members of the Church...
The statement, "And when he took a tabernacle it was begotten by his Father in heaven..." has reference to the body of Jesus Christ.
We worship Elohim, the Father of Jesus Christ. We do not worship Adam and we do not pray to him.
___end Joseph Fielding Smith
Interesting that JFS seems to believe a number of the same things I do, namely:
1. most of the confusion is likely to a bad transcription
2. the reference to Adam as our God is likely a priesthood chain of command thing
3. BY clearly taught (in many other places) that Adam is different than God the Father
4. BY's point in the sermon was that Jesus was begotten by God the Father
5. The ambiguous "he" I discussed above, referred to Jesus.
Let's now here from others:
(from Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.103-104)
This so-called Adam-God theory is false. We are bound by the truths set forth in the Standard Works, and the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price sets forth the true and proper relationship between Elohim (the Father), Jehovah (the Son), and Michael, who is Adam.
(from Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.18)
Cultists and other enemies of the restored truth, for their own peculiar purposes, sometimes try to make it appear that Latter-day Saints worship Adam as their Father in heaven. In support of their false assumptions, they quote such statements as that of President Brigham Young to the effect that Adam is our father and our god and the only god with whom we have to do. This statement, and others of a similar nature, is perfectly consistent and rational, when viewed in full gospel perspective and understood in the light of the revelations relative to the patriarchal chain binding exalted beings together.
I must note here, some Mormon critics claim that upon further investigation, McConkie came to believe that BY did in fact teach the Adam-God doctrine, and often cite a letter to McConkie wrote to Eugene England as evidence. I do not know if this letter is legitimate, but in claiming it is, those people do not ever mention why McConkie, a stickler for accuracy, would have continued to allow his books (claiming BY did *not* teach it) to be published without revisions.
(from John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.68-69)
Those who peddle the well-worn Adam-God myth, usually charge the Latter-day Saints with believing that: (1) Our Father in heaven, the Supreme God to whom we pray, is Adam, the first man; and (2) Adam was the father of Jesus Christ. A long series of absurd and false deductions are made from these propositions... Certain statements [in BY's sermon] made are confusing if read superficially... Enemies of President Brigham Young and of the Church have taken advantage of the opportunity and have used these statements repeatedly and widely to do injury to the reputation of President Young and the Mormon people.
[snip]In the discourse... President Brigham Young discussed the earthly origin of Jesus Christ. He denied that the Holy Ghost was the father of Jesus Christ; and affirmed that the Savior was begotten by God the Father.
A discourse delivered August 8, 1852, within four months of the discourse in controversy (Journal of Discourses, 3:94) contains the following: "The Lord sent forth His gospel to the people: He said, I will give it to my son Adam, from whom Methusaleh received it; and Noah received it from Methusaleh; and Melchizedek administered to Abraham." Clearly, President Young here distinguishes between God, the Father, and Adam, the first man.
The sermon of April 9, 1852, also makes the statement that, "Jesus, our Elder Brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven." The dishonest inference has been drawn and advertised widely that President Young meant that Adam was the earthly father of Jesus Christ. This deduction cannot be made fairly, in view of the context or of his other published utterances on the subject. Adam and Eve were not the only persons in the Garden of Eden, for "they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." (Genesis 3:8). President Young undoubtedly had this personage in mind, for he did not say Adam, but "our Father in heaven."
[Here's a few quotes to illustrate the priesthood chain and importance of Adam to which BY may have been referring]
"Adam holds the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times, i.e., the dispensation of all the times that have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ, and from Christ to the end of all the dispensations that are to he revealed.... This, then, is the nature of the Priesthood, every man holding the Presidency of his dispensation, and one man holding the Presidency of them all even Adam." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 207-209)
On another occasion the Prophet Joseph Smith stated further: "...Our Father Adam... presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. ... The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol 3, pp. 385-387)
The perspective of years brings out the remarkable fact, that, though the enemies of the Latter-day Saints have had access, in printed form, to the hundreds of discourses of Brigham Young, only half a dozen statements have been useful to the calumniators of the founder of Utah. Of these, the sermon of April 9, 1852, which has been quoted most frequently, presents no errors of fact or doctrine, if read understandingly and honestly.
Here's some of the First Presidency's statements from 1912:
(from James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.4, p.264)
January 31, 1912
*The Improvement Era comments editorially as follows:
Relating to the identity of Adam, it might be further stated that the Prophet Joseph Smith, at Far West, about 1839, gave some information on this subject, which is found in one of his sermons (page 465, Historical Record). From this we learn that Adam is Michael, the archangel, spoken of in the scriptures. He is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men. Jesus Christ stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Jesus, the Son of Man, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, and retains his standing as head of the human family. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. He is the great High Priest; Adam next.
From these statements, and from many others that might be quoted, it is clear that Adam and Christ are two persons -- not the same Person. It is erroneous doctrine to consider them one and the same person, for Jesus is the Christ, a member of the Trinity, the God-head, and to whom Adam, the father of the human family upon this earth, is amenable. Adam will have to account for his stewardship to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose blood atones for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam.
Speculations as to the career of Adam before he came to the earth are of no real value. We learn by revelation that he was Michael, the archangel, and that he stands at the head of his posterity on earth. (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107:53-56.) Dogmatic assertions do not take the place of revelation, and we should be satisfied with that which is accepted as doctrine, and not discuss matters that, after all disputes, are merely matters of theory.
Your brethren, (Signed) JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTHON H. LUND, CHARLES W. PENROSE. First Presidency.
[also, this in a letter to a mission president, from James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.4, p.266]
Salt Lake City, Utah February 20, 1912
Prest. Samuel O. Bennion Independence,
Your question concerning Adam has not been answered before because of pressure of important business. We now respond briefly, but, we hope, plainly. You speak of "the assertion made by Brigham Young that Jesus was begotten of the Father in the flesh by our father Adam, and that Adam is the father of Jesus Christ and not the Holy Ghost," and you say that Elders are challenged by certain critics to prove this.
If you will carefully examine the sermon to which you refer, in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, you will discover that, while President Young denied that Jesus was "begotten of the Holy Ghost," he did not affirm, in so many words, that "Adam is the father of Jesus Christ in the flesh." He said, "Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden and who is our Father in Heaven. Who is our "Father in Heaven"? Here is what President Young said about him; "Our Father in heaven begat all the spirits that ever were or ever will be upon this earth and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by his power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man." Was He in the Garden of Eden? Surely He gave commandments to Adam and Eve; He was their Father in Heaven; they worshiped Him and taught their children after the fall to worship and obey Him in the name of the Son who was to come.
When President Young asked, "who is the Father?" he was speaking of Adam as the father of our earthly bodies, who is at our head, as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107, verses 53-56. In that sense he is one of the gods referred to in numerous scriptures, and particularly by Christ (John 10:34-36). He is the great Patriarch, the Ancient of Days, who will stand in his place as "a prince over us forever," and with whom we shall "have to do," as each family will have to do with its head, according to the holy patriarchal order. Our father, Adam, perfected and glorified as a God, will be the being who will carry out the behests of the great Elohim in relation to his posterity. (See Daniel 7:9-14.)
Your brethren, (signed) JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTHON H. LUND, CHARLES W. PENROSE, First Presidency.
These statements all seem to make perfectly clear that the LDS church has never taught either of the two controversial doctrines.
However, I will not let BY entirely off the hook (assuming he was around when the JoD was published). His statements have caused some confusion, and were interpreted by some LDS members to support the two erroneous doctrines. Joseph Taylor wrote:
(from Collected Discourses, Vol.1, Joseph E. Taylor, June 2nd, 1888)
It might be well at this point to enquire who was the Savior of the world; and what relation did He bear to our father Adam? For the veil of the mysterious past has been lifted just a little to enable us to see within. I will first quote from a discourse preached by President B. Young: [BY quote, as above]
[additional quote from Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse]
I think these two quotations from such a reliable authority fully solve the question as to the relationship existing between Father Adam and the Savior of the world, and prove beyond question the power that Adam possessed in regard to taking his body again after laying it down--which power he never could have attained unless he had received first a resurrection from the grave to a condition of immortality. We further say that this power was not forfeited when as a celestial being he voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, and thereby rendered his body mortal in order that he might become the father of mortal tabernacles, as he was already the father of immortal spirits--thus giving opportunity to the offspring of his own begetting to pass through the ordeals necessary to prepare them for a resurrection from the dead, a celestial glory.
All that Father Adam did upon this earth, from the time that he took up his abode in the Garden of Eden, was done for his posterity's sake and the success of his former mission as the savior of a world, and afterwards, or now, as the father of a world only added to the glory which he already possessed. If, as the savior of a world, he had the power to lay down his life and take it up again, therefore, as the father of a world which is altogether an advanced condition, we necessarily conclude that the grave was powerless to hold him after that mission was completed. All those who have now for the first time taken upon themselves mortality, must wait for their resurrection through Him who alone possesses the power to bring it to pass. It is these, and these only, whose resurrection we here wish to consider. [snip rest of speech]
So Taylor seems to be claiming BY's quote means that Adam was a savior of a different world prior to coming to the garden of Eden, and that Adam maintained a celestial body even after partaking of the forbidden fruit, and thus did not need Christ's resurrection. Those all seem to be very false doctrines, especially in the light of the First Presidency's statement.
Likewise, people have quoted for me Wilford Woodruff's journal entries which, (assuming the quotes are accurate-- I don't have the journal) indicates he believed BY taught Adam was the father of Jesus Christ. For example, he says "He [Brigham Young] said that our God was Father Adam. He was the Father of the Savior Jesus Christ -- our God was no more or less than ADAM, Michael the archangel." (That's from Wilford Woodruff Journal; 2/19/1854) "At meeting of School of the Prophets: President Young said Adam was Michael, the Archangel, and he was the father of Jesus Christ and was our God and that Joseph taught this principle."
(That's from Wilford Woodruff Journal; 12/16/1867)
Note that calling Adam the father of Jesus is consistent with calling Adam the father of the human race. That BY did not mean to imply that Adam was the literal Father of Jesus Christ is evident from the other comments by BY which I will quote below. Thus, I believe BY taught the first of the three doctrines I outlined at the start, but not the other two. However, from Woodruff's journal, it certainly seems that BY was unclear in the way he phrased his statements.
So, I've discussed BY's controversial quotes, I've discussed what other church leaders have said about the Adam-God doctrine. I should also discuss what BY taught about Adam/Michael at other times. I looked at a bunch of BY's quotes on Michael or Adam. Here is a sampling:
Journal of Discourses, Vol.3, p.94, Brigham Young, August 8, 1852
"The Lord sent forth His Gospel to the people; He said, I will give it to *my son Adam*, from whom Methuselah received it; and Noah received it from Methuselah; and Melchizedek administered to Abraham. In the days of Noah, the people generally rejected it." (emphasis added)
Note that Adam is clearly referred to as a son of the Lord, and put in the category with other prophets.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.238, Brigham Young, July 24, 1853
"I believe the Father came down in His tabernacle and begat Jesus Christ. Mr. B. [unclear from context who that is-- perhaps a Methodist or Baptist misinter] believes He has no tabernacle. I believe He has a tabernacle, and begat Jesus Christ in His express image and likeness, because the Bible expressly declares it. You disbelieve it, because your priest and your mother have taught you it is not so. When your mothers first read this Scripture, it was so plain to their understandings and to their children, that they understood it as an angel would, but deacon Jones must be called in to explain, and he explained it away. So I disagree with you, Mr. B., in the first point we have noticed, for you believe that God is without body and parts, while the Bible declares He has a corporeal body; that in His likeness, precisely, He created Adam. The priests of this age declare it is not so. The God Mr. B. believes in, is without body, parts, and passions."
Note that here Adam is clearly referred to as having been created by God the Father (the one who begat Jesus Christ).
Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, p.301-302, Brigham Young, June 3, 1855
"...if Adam had not sinned, and if his posterity had continued upon the earth, they could not have known sin ... In my fullest belief, it was the design of the Lord that Adam should partake of the forbidden fruit."
Note that Adam is referred to as a sinner, and is clearly subservient to the Lord.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.3, p.319-320, Brigham Young, April 20, 1856
"Suppose a number of our sons were going to Carson Valley to build houses, open farms, and erect mills and workshops, and that we should say to them that we wish them to stay there five years, and that then we will come and visit them, when I go there will they be afraid of me? No, they would receive me as their father, just as Adam received his Father. The very man who walked and talked with and knew the God of heaven, and knew and understood all about making this earth had associates who were associated with Enoch [continues on about Enoch]"
Note that of Adam it is said that he "walked and talked with and knew the God of heaven", and that God is "his Father".
Journal of Discourses, Vol.5, p.128 - p.129, Brigham Young, August 9, 1857
"Did I ever see a man who could instruct me in those matters, until I saw Joseph Smith? I never did. And after I had made a profession of religion, I would ask the most powerful preachers whether they knew anything about God--where He is located, where Heaven is, and where Hell is, who is the Father, who the Son, and what the distinction is between them, who is Michael the archangel, who is Gabriel, and so on. Could they tell a thing about it? No"
Note that Michael is clearly presented as an archangel, and *not* as the God the Father or the Son.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.3, p.334, Brigham Young, June 15, 1856
"It would be strange indeed [talking about the uniqueness of the restored gospel] should people receive such ideas, upon such subjects, as revelations from God, from the Supreme of the Universe, the great Eloheim, the Creator and upholder of all things, who is enthroned in eternity in glory and in power, yet who condescends to talk about such matters as building store-houses, sending men to do this or that, to go to this or that land, to gather up money for this or that purpose."
Note that Eloheim is clearly referred to as God, the Supreme.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, p.216, Brigham Young, February 8, 1857
"I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. I told you a little last Sabbath about forgetting things. There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth..."
Note that he equates "God our heavenly Father" with "the great Eloheim".
It goes on and on and on. I only looked through about 50% of the references in my database before getting tired. I have only quoted here a small fraction of references I read. But, they are all very clear and consistent-- Adam is Michael the archangel, and is subservient to God the Father (and God the Father is the father of Jesus Christ). Note that at times, Adam *is* referred to as our father. However, the context is clearly different than God the Father, who is also referred to as Eloheim.
BY *does* clearly teach that Adam is our god, though. What does he mean by that? Well, it is standard Mormon doctrine that men may become gods. Adam, having been an exceptionally righteous individual (he's Michael the archangel, after all), would naturally be one to which this happens (or happened; we know that Mormon doctrine teaches that some men have been resurrected already). So speaking of Adam as *a* god is entirely consistent with standard Mormon doctrine. But BY refers to him as "our God". My own interpretation, and I think the only one that makes any sense (and is consistent with all of BY's remarks) is that BY is teaching that Adam, as the father of the human race, has been given additional responsibility with regards to us. In other words, God the Father, has delegated some (much?) of his authority with respect to this Earth to Michael, the archangel.
OK, now I've discussed BY's controversial statements, comments by other church leaders on those states, and other quotes from BY about Adam. I should also see what the other church leaders had to say about Adam, the ones who were preaching at the same time BY was alleged to have taught the Adam-God doctrine. (Don't worry, I'm nearing the end!)
Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.282 - p.283, Orson Pratt, July 25, 1852
"For instance, here is the Sabbath day: a person that never heard the revealed law of God upon the subject, never could conceive that it was an evil to work on the Sabbath day; he would consider it just as right to work on the first day of the week, as on the seventh; he would perceive nothing in the nature of the thing by which he could distinguish it to be an evil. So with regard to eating certain fruits; there is no evil in it of itself, it was the commandment of the Great God that made it an evil. He said to Adam and Eve, "Here are all the fruits of the garden; you may eat of them freely except this one tree that stands in the midst of the garden; now beware, for in the day you eat thereof you shall surely die.""
Note that the Great God is giving commandments to Adam and Eve.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.157 - p.158, John Taylor, June 12, 1853
"We will go back to old Adam, and see him coming on the earth, as he is the head and father of us all. Well, now I want to know if the old gentleman would like to see his children packed off by nations into a place of torment, millions and millions turned off into the Catholic hell, to roast there to all eternity. I think he has fatherly feeling to his numerous offspring, and would desire, and seek earnestly to have them saved, to have them redeemed from their fallen and degraded condition. For they are no worse fallen, no more degraded and corrupt, than the Israelites are, and have as much right to be brought forth at the proper time, and be blessed, as they have. This is my doctrine, and these are my feelings. You may go to the head fountain of all, to the God who made Adam, and say, O Lord, why did you make the earth, and cause the sun, and moon, and stars to be made to give light to it, and man to inhabit it, telling him to multiply, and replenish the earth, and cause it to bring forth in its strength for man and beast?"
Note that the "head fountain of all" is the "God who made Adam".
Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, p.4 - p.5, Heber C. Kimball, June 29, 1856
"I will go into the celestial kingdom with [Brother Brigham] and with Joseph, also with Peter, Paul, Adam, Noah, Job, Daniel, and all the ancient worthies, Prophets and Apostles, that ever lived in this world, and we will dwell there forever."
Note that Adam is counted in the list of prophets and apostles, just as one of the crowd.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.5, p.206, Heber C. Kimball, October 12, 1856
"The Father, and the Son, and all the servants of God of every dispensation that ever was on the earth, are engaged in inspiring those brethren who now faithfully hold the Priesthood in the flesh. You are aware that the Lord said that in the last days he would have labourers who would labour with their might to gather up the wheat for the last time; and this is the last time. You need not ask who administer to brother Brigham; for I will tell you: They are Moses and Aaron, Elijah, Jesus, Peter, James, and John, brother Joseph, Michael the Archangel, and the hosts of the righteous behind the vail: they are all engaged in this great work."
Note that Michael the Archangel is included in the list of "servants of God", which are clearly distinguished from the Father and the Son.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p.235, Heber C. Kimball, June 27, 1863
"We have been taught that our Father and God, from whom we sprang, called and appointed his servants to go and organize an earth, and, among the rest, he said to Adam, "You go along also and help all you can; you are going to inhabit it when it is organized, therefore go and assist in the good work." It reads in the Scriptures that the Lord did it, but the true rendering is, that the Almighty sent Jehovah and Michael to do the work."
Note that "our Father and God", "the Almighty", is giving orders to Adam (Michael).
Journal of Discourses, Vol.5, p.237 - p.238, John Taylor, September 13, 1857
"The society that I represent comes with the fear of God--the worship of the great Eloheim: they offer the simple plan ordained of God--viz., repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying-on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost"
Note that we worship the great Eloheim.
Again, it goes on and on and on. I have only included a small fraction of the available quotes.
Here are my conclusions.
1. Brigham Young, and other church leaders clearly taught that we worship Eloheim (God the Father), not Adam (Michael).
2. BY often referred to Adam as our father, and quite likely made some ambiguous statements which led some people to falsely conclude Adam is God the Father. However, his many many statements saying Adam is Michael and God the Father is Eloheim (in my opinion) show that is a false conclusion.
3. BY *did* say that Adam is our god. The only context that makes any sense is if he said this to imply that (a) Adam has been celestialized, and (b) as father of us all has been given a special stewardship over the Earth.
Any reference which claims that Young taught that Adam was God the Father and the Father of Jesus Christ, if it is intellectually honest, must deal with the many issues which I have brought up here, and which all of the anti-Mormon sites discussing the Adam-God doctrine ignore (*without exception!*).
1. When taken in context, the whole point of Young's 1852 sermon seems to be to contrast views of the Holy Ghost fathering Jesus vs. God the Father. In the sermon he indicates Eloheim is God the Father.
2. In numerous places, Young states that Adam is Michael, not Eloheim.
3. The statement that Adam is our god is consistent when viewed in a "chain of command" context. There are numerous statements by both Young and Smith to the effect that Adam presides over the spirits of all men.
4. In numerous places Young refers to the Father as a separate being from Michael.
5. In numerous places, Adam is referred to as having "sinned".
6. In many places, Young says that Jesus was begotten by his Father in heaven.
7. Church leaders from as far back as I can find (~1910) have denied that the church teaches the doctrine of Adam being God the Father.
8. In many places Young refers to Adam as being distinct from the Lord (having received commandments from the Lord, etc.), and in many places Young equates the Lord with our Father in heaven.
9. In the hundreds and hundreds of pages of Young's sermons, only a handful (2 or 3) of them have reference to his supposed view of Adam as God the Father; conversely there are plenty of references to the traditional view of Adam.
10. In at least one case I quoted, Young is crystal clear about distinguishing between the Father of Jesus and Adam: (Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.238, Brigham Young, July 24, 1853) "I believe the Father came down in His tabernacle and begat Jesus Christ... the Bible declares He [the Father] has a corporeal body; that in His likeness, precisely, He created Adam."
11. In another case, Young says Adam "walked and talked with and knew the God of heaven."
12. In many other cases, Michael is called an "archangel", and is clearly distinguished from the Father and the Son.
13. Young calls Eloheim, "God our heavenly father."
14. Adam in included in lists of the prophets (i.e., along with Enoch, Noah, etc.), clearly equating Adam's role in history with that of other mortal men and not with God.
15. Other church leaders from the same time period (Pratt, Taylor, Kimball) also clearly distinguish between Adam and God the Father (including mentions of God our Father giving instructions to Adam, and Adam being mentioned as a "servant of God", distinct from "the Father and the Son").