Perhaps the most powerful missionary tool used to lure
unsuspecting Church members into the realms of Mormon Fundamentalism today
is the Adam-god theory.(1) Basic
to this theory is the idea that Adam, the first man to inhabit this earth,
is also God, our Eternal Father. It also promotes other interesting teachings
about him: (1) Adam was not formed from the dust of this earth. (2) Adam
did not undergo a probationary state while here (since he was already a
"god"). (3) Adam was not dependant upon Christ's atonement for his own
redemption. (4) Adam did not die. (5) Nor was he resurrected.
The scriptures do not appear to support these ideas.
The Creation of Adam
All four of the Standard Works(2)
describe the creation of Adam as having come from the "dust of the earth"
or the "dust of the ground":
And the LORD God formed man [of]
the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
Who shall say that it was not a
miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the
power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and
by the power of his word have miracles been wrought? (Mormon 9:17.)
[A]s God made the world in six days,
and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also
formed man out of the dust of the earth... (D&C 77:12.)
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. (Moses
3:7; see also 4:25.)
The Lord also instructed Adam saying:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou
eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:19.)
Some have suggested that Adam was born of the dust of
"an earth," but not this earth. The Book of Moses teaches otherwise:
Therefore I, the Lord God, will
send him [Adam] forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from
when he was taken. (Moses 4:29. See also Alma 42:2.)
The Adam-god theory suggests that Adam was not
required to endure a probationary period while upon this earth. This
seems to contrast the Lord's instructions to Joseph Smith:
Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.
Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.
And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil--for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;
And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.
And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet--
Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.
Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.
But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.
And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint
unto man the days of his probation--that by his natural death he might
be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;
The prophet Alma the younger taught his son Corianton
And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.
For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
But behold, it was appointed unto man to die--therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth--and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man.
And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.
Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.
Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.
Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state.
And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord.
And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;
Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.
And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. (Alma 42:4-14.)
Adam and the Atonement of Jesus Christ
The probationary nature of Adam's earth life can be further
illustrated by observing his obvious need for the atonement as effectuated
by our Savior in the meridian of time. God, the Father, sent angels to
Adam to teach him repentance and salvation through His Only Begotten:
And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.
And he also said unto him: If thou
wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of
all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of
mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is
Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby
salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye
shall ask, it shall be given you. (Moses 6:51-52.)
It appears that because of his sins, Adam needed the blessings of the atonement. He was required to submit to the saving ordinances, such as baptism, not to "fulfill all righteousness" as Jesus did, but for his own spiritual benefit. The account of his baptism is found in the Book of Moses:
And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.
And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.
And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever; (Moses 6:64-66.)
Adam's dependence upon the sacrifice of the Savior is
further illustrated in the following:
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell
upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am
the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever,
that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even
as many as will. (Moses 5:6-9.)
From these scriptures it appears clear that Adam committed sins and required the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to receive a remission of those sins.
All four of the Standard Works refer to Adam's death:
And all the days that Adam lived
were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. (Genesis 5:5.)
From Adam to Seth, who was ordained
by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years
previous to his (Adam's) death, and received the promise of God
by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and
that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth; (D&C 107:42.)
Three years previous to the death
of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and
Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity
who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed
upon them his last blessing. (D&C 107:53. See also Teachings of
the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 38 and Moss 6:35.)
But, behold, I say unto you that
I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should
not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send
forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith
on the name of mine Only Begotten Son. (D&C 29:42.)
But of the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose
for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it,
for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses
3:17. See also Abraham 5:13, Moses 4:9, Alma 12:23, Lectures on Faith
Since these verses are so clear, a fair amount of creativity
has been exercised by proponents of the Adam-god theory in order to explain
how these multiple references to Adam's death were not in reality references
to Adam's death. In fact, regarding the first reference listed above, Joseph
The antagonists of truth are actually
able to produce only this one text from the Bible: "and Adam died." (Gen.
5:5.) Upon this they would build their whole case, though to use such an
obscure text, torn from it source, as proof to oppose such a profound doctrine
as Adam being god, is to say the least unscholarly... (Michael, Our
Father and Our God, p. 109.)
Musser goes on to suggest that the Hebrew text was mistranslated
that the word "died" should have been translated "changed." Since the world
"died" is found 157 times in the Old Testament, we wonder how many other
times Joseph Musser would have suggested a mistranslation. Also, Musser's
discussion of Genesis 5:5 above completely ignores the other scriptures
which are equally plain concerning Adam's death. On another occasion, Musser
attempted to redefine Adam's death utilizing the following logic:
[I]t is stated that Adam died. It is singular, however, that nothing is said concerning the death of Adam's wife Eve, or the burial of either of them.
If Adam died a natural death as
his descendants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did, is it not strange that such
a world character, the "father of all living," and whom his faithful posterity
called Michael, Prince, the Archangel, should have no mention made of his
funeral rites or the place or manner of burial? The total absence of any
such mention either within the Bible or by Bible historians or commentators
is strong evidence that the death of Adam was not an ordinary death. (Michael,
Our Father and Our God, pp. 108-109.)
Joseph Musser taught that since nothing is mentioned in the Bible concerning Adam's burial, that he did not die. However, Musser chose his contrasting examples (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) with care. It is important to note that Noah's death was mentioned in almost an identical fashion as Adam's in the Book of Genesis:
And all the days of Noah
were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died. (Genesis 9:29.)
And all the days that Adam
lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. (Genesis
Using Musser's reasoning, we would probably need to conclude that Noah's death was equivalent to Musser's interpretation of Adam's demise. Likewise, we note that Noah's death is not corroborated by scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants as is Adam's (D&C 107:53). It is also peculiar that Joseph Musser would appeal to "Bible historians or commentators" to recruit support for his belief.
We are familiar with Paul's assertion that "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). (See also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 367.) Adam brought death into the world through his transgression in the Garden of Eden. The effects of the fall also demanded that Adam die. This occurred when he was 930 years old.
Adam and the Resurrection
The scriptures teach that Adam was resurrected through
the merits of Jesus Christ. God's plan did not include endless life for
Adam until sometime after his "probationary time" and subsequent death:
For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken--yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life--
Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit--
And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.
For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
But behold, it was appointed
unto man to die... (Alma 42:2-6.)
The prophet Samuel in the Book of Mormon taught that Christ's
resurrection allowed all men, including Adam, to be resurrected:
For behold, he [Jesus Christ] surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord.
Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death--that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.
But behold, the resurrection
of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them
back into the presence of the Lord. (Helaman 14:15-17.)
Lest any believe that Adam was something other than a
"man," again the scriptures are plain:
And from Enoch to Abel, who was
slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by
the commandment of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the
first man-- (D&C 84:16. See also Abraham 1:3.)
Likewise, Christ was the first to be resurrected, precluding
any possibility of Adam being resurrected over three millennia earlier:
But now is Christ risen from the
dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians
Behold, I say unto you, that there is no resurrection--or, I would say, in other words, that this mortal does not put on immortality, this corruption does not put on incorruption--until after the coming of Christ.
Behold, he bringeth to pass the
resurrection of the dead. But behold, my son, the resurrection is not yet.
But behold, the bands of death shall
be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore,
he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead. (Mosiah 15:20.)
These scriptures and essentially all citations from the
Standard Works plainly indicate that our father Adam was dependent upon
Jesus Christ for his own resurrection.(5)
Christ in the Pre-Mortal Existence
Believers in the Adam-god theory profess that Adam
is somehow superior to Jesus Christ. This is problematic. From the foundation
of the world and the creation, we are taught that the Savior has presided
over Adam. Brigham Young explained the following concerning those who participated
in the creation:
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.
(JD 1:51; see also Heber C. Kimball in JD 10:235.)
Some Fundamentalists might promote the notion that "Yahovah" mentioned above is not Jesus Christ. This expansion of the Godhead to more than three is also an integral part of the Adam-god theory.
Nevertheless, the scriptures indicate that Christ, our
Savior, was present before the earth was formed:
Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.
And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings
and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased;
behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom
thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; (D&C 45:1-4. See also
And that all things were created by Jesus Christ:
GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto
us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also
he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2.)
It is difficult to believe that Yahovah mentioned by Brigham Young above could be anyone other than Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary.
Additionally, the "Father" alluded to above is plainly
not Adam since Adam was Michael who helped organize the earth with Yahovah,
the Son, and Eloheim the Father. Jesus Christ introduced Himself to the
brother of Jared as the One who also created man in His image:
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Behold, this body, which ye now
behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the
body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will
I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3:14-16.)
We recall that Adam was taught to perform sacrifices in
"similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father" (See Moses
5:6-9.) It appears impossible for "the Father" in those verses to be Adam.
If that were so, the angel would have actually been telling Adam to perform
sacrifices and "do all" in the name of his own son (allegedly Jesus Christ).
Adam is not God the Father
Numerous scriptures may be found to show that Adam is
not God the Father. Several instances are found where God the Father, His
Son Jesus Christ and Adam are referred to individually showing that all
three entities are separate and distinct.
And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
And the first man of all
men have I called Adam, which is many. (Moses 1:32-34.)
And I, the Lord God, said
unto mine Only Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one
of us to know good and evil; and now lest he put forth his hand and partake
also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever. (Moses 4:28.)
And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. And I, God, said: Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
And I, God, created man
in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I
him; male and female created I them. (Moses 2:26-27.)
A particularly interesting reference showing clearly that
Jesus Christ, the Holy One, is superior to Adam is found in the Doctrine
That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion, who hath established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman;
Who hath appointed Michael
your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given
unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the
Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life. (D&C
The "Holy One of Zion" clearly refers to the Savior, but even if someone were to assert that it refers to God the Father, we still find Michael as someone distinct and obviously subordinate (a "prince" not a "King" or deity).(6)
It is true that Michael is nonetheless, a great prophet.
He will lead the Saints in the final battle against the devil and his armies:
And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all.
For Michael shall fight their battles,
and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon
the throne, even the Lamb. (D&C 88:114-115.)
As is obvious, Michael will be fighting to defend "him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb." This could not be any other than Jesus Christ. This again illustrates that the scriptures invariably teach the subordinate position of Adam to the Savior of the world. It is interesting to note that when discussing this passage, one apologist who believes Adam is superior to Christ omits the portion in bold. It is probable that he realized the problem with Adam fighting for the Lamb when Adam is suppose to be superior to the Lamb.(7)
Another scriptural reference showing the subservience
of Adam to God is found in Jude 1:9:
Yet Michael the archangel, when
contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not
bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
This scripture discusses how the man Michael did not rebuke the devil. Gods, such as Elohim our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, are superior to men and more powerful than the devil. Notwithstanding his prophetic calling, Adam "durst not" bring an accusation against the devil, but appealed to the Lord to do so.
In section 29 of the Doctrine and Covenants we find an
interesting account of final judgement showing that Adam, who is Michael,
could not possibly be God the Father:
But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth -- yea, even all.
All the righteous shall be gathered
on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left
hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father. (D&C 29:26-27.)
This scripture is given by Jesus Christ. He is the one who will be ashamed to own the wicked before His "Father" who plainly is not Michael, Christ's archangel.
Mormon understood the correct relationship between Adam
and the God of the Old Testament:
But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.
And he created Adam, and
by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus
Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the
redemption of man. (Mormon 9:11-12.)
One vision of Joseph Smith's which has become section
137 in the Doctrine and Covenants also shows that God the Father is someone
very different from "Father Adam":
The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.
I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;
Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.
I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.
I saw Father Adam and Abraham;
and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;
(D&C 137:1-5 and T.P.J.S. p. 107.)
Joseph Smith was impressed to see Adam and Abraham and so noted, but the description of them was far less magnificent than the description of God the Father and His Son. Neither was Adam found on a throne in the Celestial Kingdom.
Another example is found in a vision given to President
Joseph F. Smith in 1918. He received great understanding concerning the
preaching of the gospel to the dead. The revelation is now section 138
of the Doctrine and Covenants. One portion reads:
[T]he eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.
And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer's name.
All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.
While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell.
Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.
Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all,
And our glorious Mother Eve,
with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and
worshiped the true and living God. (D&C 138:11-18, 23-24, 38-39.)
In the verses that follow, President Smith viewed other great prophets, like Adam, who were there. Specifically he named Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elias and others. This passage clearly teaches that Adam died and was one of the "mighty ones" awaiting the advent of the Savior Jesus Christ in the spirit world. Despite his position of prominence, it should be plain that he was subordinate to Jesus Christ and His Father.
Further evidence of the separateness of God and Michael
is found in D&C 128:20-21:
And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets--the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!
And again, the voice of God
in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at
sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations
of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of
Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of
divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all
declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their
majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon
line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us
consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!
These verses are very consistent with the belief that Adam was a great prophet, like Gabriel, Raphael or other "divers angels," but not God, the Eternal Father. The scriptures and the teachings of Joseph Smith are very consistent on this point.
Other scriptures described God and His relationship to
man (including Adam) who he had created:
By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which in them are;
And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;
And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.
But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.
Wherefore, the Almighty God gave
his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have
been given of him. (D&C 20:17-21.)
The Book of Moses likewise teaches that Adam was not
the Father of our spirits:
But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent.
And he called upon our father
Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men
before they were in the flesh. (Moses 6:50-51.)
The Scriptures are Consistent - Adam is Not God the
As we have seen, the scriptures are very consistent in
their teachings about Adam. They show that God the Father and Adam are
two separate beings and while Adam holds an important station in the existence
of this world, he is not God the Father or superior to Jesus Christ. Virtually
any verse in the Sacred Writ that mentions Adam may be quoted to show that
the Adam-god theory is in error.
Besides restoring many of the scriptures already present,
the Prophet explained on several occasions how Adam was not and is not
superior to Jesus Christ:
God purposed in himself that there
should not be an eternal fulness until every dispensation should be fulfilled
and gathered together in one and that all things whatsoever that should
be gathered together in one in those dispensations unto the same fulness
and eternal glory should be in Christ Jesus, therefore he set the ordinances
to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them to
reveal them from heaven to man or to send Angels to reveal them. (Hebrew
1:16.) Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those
who shall be heirs of salvation. These angels are under the direction
of Michael or Adam who acts under the direction of Christ.(8)
Joseph elaborated further:
Daniel 7 speaks of the Ancient of
days, he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael; he will call his
children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the
coming of the Son of Man. He, (Adam) is the Father of the human family
and presides over the Spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys
must stand before him in this great council. This may take place before
some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before
him and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship
to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the Keys of the Universe,
but retains his standing as head of the human family. (Ibid.
p. 8-9. T.P.J.S. p. 157.)
This unambiguous teaching about the subordinate position
of Adam to Jesus Christ has prompted some innovative interpretations from
proponents of the theory. For example, Joseph Musser in his work Michael,
Our Father and Our God, develops an interesting doctrine which attempts
to unite his theories about Adam and Joseph Smith's plain teachings which
contradict them. Musser's speculations include offices which are supposedly
held by different gods at different times:
What is the true meaning [of the
various identities] then? Offices or titles are referred
to. Christ is an office, as is Michael, Adam, Jehovah, Elohim, I AM, Man
of Holiness, Ahman, etc. (Michael, Our Father and Our God, p. 94.
Emphasis in original.)
Joseph Musser then reasoned that when Joseph Smith taught
that Adam was to deliver up his stewardship to Christ, Joseph Smith was
referring to some other God holding a proposed office of "Jehovah-Christ"
and was not referring to Jesus Christ:
[W]e see "all who have held the keys" (including of course, Jesus son of Mary) standing before Adam and being subject to him, as Adam is subject to Jehovah-Christ. In the Grand Council Adam prepares to endow his son Jesus Christ with "glory and dominion," after which, having completed his work with reference to the creation, population and redemption of earth, he "delivers up his stewardship to the Jehovah-Christ, who is above him in authority, and who as a glorified, resurrected being, assisted in the organization of earth...
After Jesus (son of Mary) has
the earth redeemed, and presented it to his father, then Adam will present
it to his Father, Elohim through the offices of "The Christ," the son of
Elohim, after which it will be given back to Adam
as an addition to His kingdoms, and Jesus Christ (son of Mary) will then
be given charge of it as "The Christ," and will doubtless go on under his
Father, Adam who likely will then be the Elohim of this earth, and will
go on to the building of other earths and the further extending of his
kingdoms. (Ibid. pp. 113-114.)
This interesting convolution of terms and teachings is a bit difficult to comprehend. In his own defense, Musser quotes Brigham Young who stated that "every earth has its redeemer" (JD 14:71). But no priesthood leader has ever proclaimed doctrines of a "Jehovah-Christ." Musser was kind enough to specify that his God named "Jehovah-Christ" was actually "the son of Elohim" which would have made him the brother of Adam who was also (supposedly) Elohim's son. Therefore, Joseph Musser believed that Jesus Christ would deliver up the kingdom to Adam who would then deliver it to his brother, a god, holding an office of Jehovah-Christ who represents Elohim. Jehovah-Christ supposedly then returns it to Adam "as an addition to His kingdoms."
While we do not wish to be dramatic, we might point out that these ideas greatly expand the first article of faith. It states: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." With the addition of these two new gods, we end up with: We believe in God, the Eternal Grandfather [Elohim], and in his sons, the Eternal Uncle [Jehova-Christ] and the Eternal Father [Adam], and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Joseph Musser is revered by many Fundamentalists as a great prophet, to others he was simply an "office-holder" and writer. Regardless, there seems no other religious leader has ever suggested ideas like his.
Another defender of the Adam-god theory has proposed
a different explanation for Joseph's teaching as to why "Adam delivers
up his stewardship to Christ" and not Christ delivering to Adam. It is
written by a former Church member, Culley Christensen, in his book The
Adam-God Maze. Again, it involves redefining the entities involved,
but it differs from Musser's interpretation. Christensen attempts to change
the obvious meaning of the discourse by redefining the identities of the
individuals involved through the use of brackets. He claims Joseph Smith
was actually teaching that:
The Son of Man [Jesus Christ] stands
before him [Adam], and there is given Him [Jesus] glory and dominion. Adam
delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him
[Adam] as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his [Adam's] standing
as head of the human family. (The Adam-God Maze, p. 80.)
Two points are worth noting concerning Musser's and Christensen's interpretations of Joseph Smith's plain teachings showing Christ was and is superior to Adam. First, both men differ significantly from each other concerning their understanding of Joseph Smith's meaning in the passage cited above. Musser creates the office of Jehovah-Christ while Christensen simply changes the obvious objects of the pronouns employed. The fact that these two proponents disagree so notably illustrates the second important point which is that no one listening to Joseph Smith that day could possibly have understood his teachings as Christensen or Musser have asserted.
Had Joseph Smith ever taught that Adam was superior to Jesus Christ, listeners would have noted it and discussed it. The discourse from which these teachings are taken was given to the Church generally and therefore would have created quite a stir among the Saints. No teachings exist suggesting that Joseph Smith believed Adam was greater than Christ.
On another occasion, the Prophet taught plainly that Adam
received his authority from Christ:
This then being the nature of the
priesthood, every man holding the presidency of his dispensation and one
man holding the presidency of them all even Adam and Adam receiving
his presidency and authority from Christ, but cannot receive a fulness,
until Christ shall present the kingdom to the Father which shall be at
the end of the last dispensation. (The Words of Joseph Smith. p.
40. TPJS p. 169.)
Respecting authority, Joseph Smith noted that "Christ
is the Great High Priest, Adam next" (T.P.J.S. p. 158). Some have suggested
that the Prophet was stating that Adam was "next" because he was superior
to Jesus, making our Savior second to Adam in the priesthood.(9)
However, this is not so, Joseph Smith also identified who was second to
The Priesthood was first given to
Adam: he obtained the First Presidency and held the keys of it, form generation
to generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed
as in Gen. 1:26-28. He had dominion given him over every living creature.
He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the scriptures. Then to Noah
who is Gabriel, he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood.
(Words of Joseph Smith., p. 8. TPJS p. 157.)
These statements plainly show that Joseph Smith believed that Christ is the "Great High Priest" and that Adam is "next" and that Noah "stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood." It appears that he could not have been any clearer in this teaching.
Respecting the Priesthood itself, we note that it bears
the name of the Savior:
There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.
Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.
Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.
But out of respect or reverence
to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition
of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood
after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood. (D&C 107:1-4.)
As quoted above, Joseph Smith taught that "the Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency" (T.P.J.S. p. 157). The priesthood Adam received was the "Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God." Clearly, the Savior existed before Adam and the moment that Adam was given the priesthood and received the First Presidency.
Joseph Smith instructed us on the knowledge of God as
preached to Adam and his immediate posterity:
The reason why we have been thus particular on this part of our subject, is that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the fall; and what it was that stirred up the faith of multitudes to feel after him -- to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him, and not only commune with him and behold his glory, but be partakers of his power and stand in his presence.
Let this class mark particularly, that the testimony which these men had of the existence of a God, was the testimony of man; for previous to the time that any of Adam's posterity had obtained a manifestation of God to themselves, Adam, their common father, had testified unto them of the existence of God, and of his eternal power and Godhead.
For instance, Abel, before he received
the assurance from heaven that his offerings were acceptable unto God,
had received the important information of his father that such a Being
did exist, who had created and who did uphold all things. Neither can there
be a doubt existing on the mind of any person, that Adam was the first
who did communicate the knowledge of the existence of a God to his posterity;
ant that the whole faith of the world, form that time down to the present,
is in a certain degree dependent on the knowledge first communicated to
them by their common progenitor; and it has been handed down to the day
and generation in which we live, as we shall show from the face of the
sacred records. (Lectures on Faith, 2:34-36.)
It appears that Joseph Smith's teachings preclude any
possibility that God the Father could be Adam. Joseph teaches that after
the fall, men "became extensively acquainted with [God]" and that "Adam,
their common father, had testified unto them of the existence of God, and
of his eternal power and Godhead." We wonder: "How could these things be
if Adam were in fact God the Father?"
John Taylor, the third president of the Church was very
consistent throughout all of his discourses and writings regarding the
identity of Adam. He agrees one hundred percent with the description of
Adam as given in the scriptures. One quotation will assist in showing what
John Taylor taught, but any of his references to Adam could serve to refute
the Adam-god theory:
Here then, on the one hand, there
is the voice of God. Shall we object to it? Who made us? Who organized
us, and the elements with which we are surrounded and that we inhale? Who
organized the planetary system that we see around us? Who provides breakfast,
dinner and supper for the millions that dwell on the face of the earth?
Who clothes them, as he does the lilies of the field? Who imparts unto
man his breath, life, health, his powers of locomotion, thought, and all
the godlike attributes with which he is endowed? Where did they come from?
Who has controlled and managed the affairs of the world from its creation
until the present time? The Great I Am, the Great Eloheim, the Great
God who is our Father. We bow before him. Is it a hardship to reverence
the Lord our God? Is it a hardship to have him for our instructor? And
shall we follow the notions, theories, ideas and folly of men, who seek
to supersede the wisdom, light and paternal care of God our heavenly
Father? No, we will not. God is our God, "the Lord is our God, the
Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our King, and he shall rule over us." We
do not object to bow the knee to God and say, "Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it
is done in heaven:" and we pray that it may be hastened. We acknowledge,
we bow before, we reverence the name of our heavenly Father. That
is one thing that we do for God, who causes seed-time and harvest, summer
and winter, day and night, the God who has watched over us and all the
myriads of the inhabitants of the earth from the time of creation until
the present time; the God in whose hands are the destinies of the human
family pertaining to this world and the worlds to come. If God will deign
to teach, lead and dictate us, we bow with reverence before him, and say,
"It is the Lord, let him do as seems him good?" We ask the guidance of
the Almighty, we reverentially present ourselves before him and
we submit to his authority; for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Brigham Young also gave plain teachings about Adam. He
taught that Adam was made by God the Father. His teachings also reflect
a definite difference in the divine status of Christ versus the status
We believe in God the Father
and in Jesus Christ our elder brother. We believe that God is a
person of tabernacle, possessing in an infinitely higher degree all the
perfections and qualifications of his mortal children. We believe that
he made Adam after his own image and likeness, as Moses testifies;
He reiterated these principles on other occasions:
[T]he Lord is our God and it is He whom we serve; and we say to the whole world that He is a tangible Being. We have a God with ears, eyes, nose, mouth; He can and does speak. He has arms, hands, body, legs and feet; He talks and walks; and we are formed after His likeness. The good book -- the Bible, tells us what kind of a character our Heavenly Father is. In the first chapter of Genesis and the 17th verse, speaking of the Lord creating men, it reads as plain as it can read, and He created man in His own image and likeness; and if He created Adam and Eve in His own image, the whole human family are like Him. This same truth is borne out by the Savior....
...He sent His angels, and at
last sent His Son, who was in the express image of the Father His
Only Begotten Son, according to the flesh, here on this earth. That
is the God we serve and believe in. (JD 13:308-309.)
I believe the Father came down from heaven, as the Apostles said he did and begat the savior of the world; for he is the ONLY-begotten [sic] of the Father, which could not be if the Father did not actually beget him in person....
... [T]he Bible declares He has
a corporeal body; that in His likeness, precisely, He created Adam.
In these citations we see plainly that Brigham Young taught that the God whom we worship, our Heavenly Father, created Adam and sent His son, Jesus Christ into the world.
President Young also taught clearly about the God to whom
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.(10) 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.
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, and they lived there with
their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for
many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe
it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you
pray, pray to some other character. (JD 4:216.(11))
This clear statement identifies Eloheim as our "Heavenly
Father" and the God to whom we pray. No writer has ever suggested that
Elohim and Adam are the same being. How then can Adam be God the Father?
Likewise, who did Brigham Young pray to? The answer seems plain. Brigham
The world may in vain ask the question,
"Who are we?" But the Gospel tells us that we are the sons and daughters
of that God whom we serve. Some say, "We are the children of Adam and Eve."
So we are, and they are the children of our Heavenly Father. We are
all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of
Him who dwells in the heavens, the highest Intelligence that dwells
anywhere that we have any knowledge of. (JD 13:311-312.(12))
Did Brigham Young Contradict Joseph Smith and the Scriptures
and Even Himself Regarding Adam?
It is obvious that the Adam-god theory did not grow out of any of the teachings already cited. So we might ask, "Where did it originate?" As one reviews additional discourses by Brigham Young regarding Adam, a few questions might arise. A selected handful of his sermons mention Adam in ways which seem to contrast the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith already quoted, that Adam was a man (the Adam-man doctrine).
One quotation commonly used is found in the Journal
of Discourses 1:50. The writers of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism
have discussed that statement:
Adam has been highly esteemed by
all the prophets, both ancient and modern. President Brigham Young expressed
the idea in 1852 and later years that Adam "is our Father and our God,
and the only God with whom we have to do" (JD 1:50). This remark has led
some to conjecture that Brigham Young meant that Adam, who was on earth
as our progenitor, was in reality God the Father. However, this interpretation
has been officially rejected as incorrect.(13) Later in the same speech Brigham Young clearly stated
"that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely Eloheim,
Yahovah, and Michael" (JD 1:51)... (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p.
However, this is not the end of the issue. Other references to Adam by Brigham Young are not so easily dismissed. Nor are they easily understood. If extracted and isolated, they might be construed to form the basis for some sort of Adam-god theory. This is precisely what proponents of the theory have done. However, Brigham Young never dedicated an entire discourse to the subject, and only mentioned it a dozen or so times so far as we have record. This is significant because he gave over 1500 discourses during his presidency. Perhaps more. If it were as important as its proponents suggest, we think President Young might have referred to it more fully.
To believe that Brigham Young taught the Adam-god theory is to believe that he freely contradicted Joseph Smith, John Taylor and the scriptures (and himself) regarding the identity of Adam. In other words, we have a handful of quotations from Brigham Young which might be interpreted to support an Adam-god theory. On the other hand, we have all of the scriptures, some of the teachings of Brigham Young, all of the teachings of Joseph Smith, John Taylor and every other Church President propounding an Adam-man doctrine.
But what are we to do with the few quotations given by President Young about Adam which are difficult to understand? Should we run around waving our arms in the air shouting: "I don't understand all of Brigham's teachings about Adam?!" Should we pretend to comprehend the things President Young said and ignore the plain doctrines concerning Adam as taught in the scriptures and by Joseph Smith and all other modern prophets? Of course not.
We must be patient. We are promised that those who receive eternal life will personally know God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Concerning this knowledge, President Young encouraged the Saints to be "faithful and patient" and eventually the Lord would reveal it to them.(14) The scriptures speak of the "the mystery of godliness" (1 Tim 3:16, D&C 19:10). These are mysteries which will someday be understood by all of the Saints (D&C 121:28 [26-32]). Until we individually obtain more of the details of these things, we are wise to accept the plain Adam-man doctrine taught in the Standard Works and by Joseph Smith.
Somtimes Fundamentalists seem to be impatient. They
might embrace a dogmatic stance concerning the Adam-god theory.
That is, they may assert that we must accept their version of it right
now - this very minute - or be eternally compromised. Such a stance
is a bit puzzling. President Young was never so rigid regarding the Saints'
knowledge of the identity of God the Father (JD 11:268). He said that it
did not "matter" (JD 4:217). Wisdom suggests that we should be patient
and cautious before exchanging the plain Adam-man doctrine for somebody's
interpretation of a few statements which seem to contrast it (i.e. the
Having reviewed numerous quotations from the scriptures and the teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor, it appears that there are significantly more prophetic teachings supporting an Adam-man doctrine than an Adam-god theory. As a result, we might conclude that anyone aggressively promoting an Adam-god theory is in at least partial denial, having repressed numerous prophetic utterances which plainly contradict it.
It is true that a few comments about Adam by President
Brigham Young are not easily understood in light of other very clear teachings
on the subject. However, the Lord has promised that all things shall be
made known in His own due time. Until we are allowed a fuller understanding
of the "mystery of godliness," we would be wise to exercise patience and
hold tightly to the fundamental teachings about Adam which the Lord
has already restored. Additionally, President Wilford Woodruff's counsel
might be beneficial:
A FINAL WORD. Before I sit down I want to say a word to the elders of Israel on another subject. I am called an old man; I guess I am. I was thinking just now, in speaking of the apostles and prophets that were with Joseph Smith when he made his last speech, I am the only man living that was with him at that time. The rest are in the spirit world. How much longer I shall talk to this people I do not know; but I want to say this to all Israel: Cease troubling yourselves about who God is; who Adam is, who Christ is, who Jehovah is. For heaven's sake, let these things alone. Why trouble yourselves about these things? God has revealed himself, and when the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants is fulfilled, whether there be one God or many gods they will be revealed to the children of men, as well as all thrones and dominions, principalities, and powers. Then why trouble yourselves about these things? God is God. Christ is Christ. The Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost. That should be enough for you and me to know. If we want to know any more, wait till we get where God is in person. I say this because we are troubled every little while with inquiries from elders anxious to know who God is, who Christ is, and who Adam is. I say to the elders of Israel, stop this. Humble yourselves before the Lord; seek for light, for truth, and for a knowledge of the common things of the kingdom of God. (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 235-236 and Millennial Star 57:355-356, April 7, 1895.)
1. Ogden Kraut, Michael - Adam, Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press, N.d. Joseph White Musser, Michael, Our Father and Our God, Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing, 1938. Culley K. Christensen, M.D., The Adam-God Maze, Scottsdale, Arizona: Independent Publishers, 1981. Fred Collier, "The Trinity and The Holy Spirits - The Doctrine as Joseph Taught It," Doctrine of the Priesthood, Vol 5 (April 1, 1988) No. 4. Recently, a self-proclaimed "honest" Church member, Craig L. Tholson, has written Adam-God, Payson, Utah: Publishment, 1991.
When [Adam's] mission was fulfilled, it is said that he
died; however, the scriptures also tell us that Moses died -- but we read
that he was probably 'translated" and consequently avoided the grave (Alma
45:19). (Michael - Adam, p. 25.)
On initial inspection, this explanation might appear plausible. However, it is important to note that if Moses was translated, he was still required to await the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be resurrected. Fundamentalists believe Adam was not dependent on Christ for his resurrection.
It should be noted that Joseph is
talking here about the order of priesthood descent and not the stature
or relationship of Adam to Christ. In tracing priesthood descent, Joseph
begins with Peter, James and John, who received their priesthood from Christ;
then from Christ (who is the Great High Priest) the priesthood keys are
next traced to Adam. This quotation, because of its poor grammatical
structure has been a source of confusion and misunderstanding to many.
(The Adam-God Maze, p. 88.)
To buoy up his argument, Christensen is also critical of Joseph's grammar.