The Adam-God theory
is a Mormon
doctrine taught by Brigham Young
, dismissed as false by most Latter-day Saints
, that Adam
was a god prior to the creation, and that he created the earth and colonized it with Eve
, one of his wives from another planet. The doctrine may have also included the idea that Adam was the father of Jesus Christ
through the Virgin Mary
, although Young's view on this latter subject is somewhat ambiguous.
A pet doctrine of Brigham Young and his associate Heber C. Kimball, it was unpopular even among many other contemporary Latter-day Saint leaders, and is widely rejected in the Latter Day Saint movement. Brigham Young first taught the doctrine in a sermon on April 9, 1852, when he stated:
- "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.... 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....
- "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael....
- "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." (1 J.D 50-51).
After this sermon, Young's close associate Hosea Stout wrote in his diary: "Another meeting this evening. President B. Young taught that Adam was the father of Jesus and the only God to us. That he came to this world in a resurected [sic] body &c more hereafter." (Diary of Hosea Stout, vol. 2, p. 435 (April 9, 1852)).
Despite the objections of some other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at that time that the doctrine was misunderstood, Young continued teaching the doctrine, which he claimed that God had revealed to him (see Deseret News, p. 308 (June 18, 1873)), although he never fully explained it and said that most would misunderstand his teachings in the matter. Speaking of the doctrine nine years later, Young stated:
- "Some years ago (9 to be exact) I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our Father and God. That will be a curse to many of the elders of Israel because of their folly with regard to it. They yet grovel in darkness and will. It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven. Yet the world holds it in derision." (Manuscript Addresses of Brigham Young, Oct 8, 1861).
Though Young referred to Adam as the "Father" in his 1852 sermon and thereafter, it is clear that Young did not equate Adam with "Elohim
" (who Mormons
usually identify as God the Father
) for he stated in his sermon that "Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael" were "three distinct characters". Moreover, in 1873, when discussing the Adam-God theory, he stated:
- "We say that Father Adam came here and helped make the earth. Who is he? He is Michael, a great prince, and it was said to him by Eloheim, 'Go ye and make an earth'.... Adam came here, and then they brought his wife.... Then he said, 'I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state. I was faithful, I received my crown and exaltation'." (Deseret News, p. 308 (June 18, 1873)).
Many scholars, Latter-day Saint and others, apologists and non-Latter-day Saint critics have subsequently debated Young's precise meaning. Some think he meant that Adam was an eternal God-like being and the father of the human race (and thus a god
, and a literal Son of Eloheim
born with an immortal body without blood), who chose to partake of the forbidden fruit, thus causing his Fall and Mortality (As Adam was given dominion over the Earth and its peoples, in this context, Adam is very well a God, and the God that the human race is responsible to). In a comparison to that teaching, Christ was an eternal being (although he could also die), and also a Son of God (the only in the flesh), who chose to give back immortality to all men, and making eternal life possible for those who accept Him. This coincides with Paul's teachings in the New Testament about the "two Adams."
According to Mormon theology, Christ is the only begotten Son of God "in the flesh." Adam could have also been a Son of God, but by his transgression became the "first flesh," thus placing responsibility on Adam, not God, for mortality. Regardless, the mystery of Young's teachings in regard to exactly what he meant in the few statements he made on the subject apparently died with him and his close associates.
The Adam-God theory has never been officially recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its members at large, and Latter-day Saint president Spencer W. Kimball, who stated, "We denounce [the Adam-God] theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." Conference Report, p. 115 (October 1-3, 1976).
The doctrine, however, is still accepted by a few small fundamentalist Latter Day Saint organizations.
See also: Controversies regarding Mormonism
- Journal of Discourses http://journals.mormonfundamentalism.org/ (public domain)
- "Origin of Man: the Doctrinal Framework," by Robert J. Matthews.
- Scanned images of various 19th century LDS publications with statements on Adam-god from Brigham Young and other LDS General Authorities