Elder Harold B. Lee, Rodney Turner, and the Adam-God Theory

Note: This blog is the first in a six-part sub-series examining some reaction from selected apostles to a false historical/doctrinal theory.

Although the so-called “Adam-God theory” might be losing some of its presence and staying power in modern times, it is still continually dug up, dusted off, and falsely pronounced to be Mormon doctrine by anti-Mormons, cultists, and other critics of the Church.1 Each group has its own agenda: some who believe it seek its acceptance by the Church, others seek to embarrass the Church with it, and a third group seeks to jeopardize Brigham Young’s standing as a prophet of God with it. Each of them has failed in their efforts. Most Latter-day Saints have never heard of it and are (thankfully) ignorant of the much-ado-about-nothing fuss being made.

Introducing the theory

Because of the internet and the ever-growing number of websites run by antagonistic and critical activist groups, it is increasingly possible for average and often uninformed Latter-day Saints to encounter what must seem to them to be one weird and incomprehensible bit of theorizing; also to encounter explanations and bias that hinders instead of helping. Just when a person needs the best light and understanding they can get for proper contextual inoculation, the self-serving activist/critic/cultist/ignorant evangelical throws them a curve ball hoping to shake their testimony and faith in whatever way they can.

For this reason, before getting to then-Elder Harold B. Lee’s explanations, we can profit from author Stephen E. Robinson’s excellent overview as a means of introducing the infamous Adam-God theory:

A classic example of an anomaly in the LDS tradition is the so-called “Adam-God theory.” During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brigham Young made some remarks about the relationship between Adam and God that the Latter-day Saints have never been able to understand. The reported statements conflict with LDS teachings before and after Brigham Young, as well as with statements of President Young himself during the same period of time. So how do Latter-day Saints deal with the phenomenon? We don’t; we simply set it aside. It is an anomaly. On occasion my colleagues and I at Brigham Young University have tried to figure out what Brigham Young might have actually said and what it might have meant, but the attempts have always failed. The reported statements simply do not compute—we cannot make sense out of them. This is not a matter of believing it or disbelieving it; we simply don’t know what “it” is. If Brigham Young were here we could ask him what he actually said and what he meant by it, but he is not here, and even expert students of his thought are left to wonder whether he was misquoted, whether he meant to say one thing and actually said another, whether he was somehow joking with or testing the Saints, or whether some vital element that would make sense out of the reports has been omitted.

For the Latter-day Saints, however, the point is moot, since whatever Brigham Young said, true or false, was never presented to the Church for a sustaining vote. It was not then and is not now a doctrine of the Church, and—like the chemist who can neither explain nor reproduce her results—the Church has merely set the phenomenon aside as an anomaly.

Nevertheless anti-Mormon critics have not only interpreted Brigham Young’s remarks; they have also elevated their own interpretation, the “Adam-God theory,” to the status of official LDS doctrine. Once again our theology is being dictated to us by our critics. According to them Brigham Young taught that Adam, the husband of Eve and father of Cain, is identical to that Elohim who is God, the Father of spirits and the Father of Jesus Christ. But for Latter-day Saints this interpretation has always been simply impossible. It contradicts the LDS scriptures; it contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith; it contradicts other statements by Brigham Young made during the same period of time; it contradicts the teachings of all the prophets since Brigham Young; and it contradicts the sacred ordinances of the LDS temples, with which Brigham Young was intimately familiar.

The point is that while anti-Mormons can believe whatever they want, the Latter-day Saints have never believed that Brigham Young taught the “Adam-God theory” as explained in anti-Mormon literature, and that whether Brigham Young believed it or not, the “Adam-God theory” as proposed and interpreted by non-Mormons simply cannot be found in the theology of the Latter-day Saints. I do not believe it; my parents do not believe it; and neither did their parents before them. Yet there are few anti-Mormon publications that do not present this “Adam-God theory,” the doctrinal creation of our opponents, as one of the most characteristic doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. This is certainly misrepresentation; I believe it is also dishonest; and when used to justify a charge that Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians, it is another example of condemning the Latter-day Saints for things they do not believe or teach. (As quoted in Are Mormons Christians? [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 19-20.)

With such a strange and untenable notion floating around and having supposedly originated with a prophet, it is no wonder that letters of inquiry would reach various of the Brethren, as well as becoming a subject of curiosity and research for others in the Church.

We might therefore conclude that the subject is one that has been grappled with in one way or another by many. One might also imagine that for busy general authorities running a vast multi-million-member church, such antiquated distractions represent an annoyance that they spend precious little time worrying about. (It will be interesting to see if one day the church makes this theory the subject of one of its Gospel Topics essays.)

Some of the General Authorities and others who have privately commented on the Adam-God theory have noted that they have concerns about the accuracy of the supposed Adam-God quotations found in LDS literature, such as the Journal of Discourses and the Deseret News. See the previous blog #19 for a discussion confirming the validity of these concerns.

A letter from a former First Presidency

As will be seen, in his own personal and unofficial response to an inquiry, Elder Lee referred to a commonly reproduced and circulated unofficial letter prepared by a past First Presidency on the subject. The text of the referenced letter is here reproduced:

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.

But President Young went on to show that our father Adam—that is, our earthly father—the progenitor of the race of man, stands at our head, being “Michael the Archangel, the Ancient of Days,” and that he was not fashioned from earth like an adobe, but “begotten by his Father in Heaven.” Adam is called in the Bible “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). It was our Father in Heaven who begat the spirit of him who was “the Firstborn” of all the spirits that come to this earth, and who was also his Father by the Virgin Mary, making him “the only begotten in the flesh.” Read Luke 1:26-35. Where is Jesus called “the only begotten of the Holy Ghost?” He is always singled out as “the only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14; 3:16, 18, &c) The Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and her conception was under that influence, even of the spirit of life; our Father in Heaven was the Father of the Son of Mary, to whom the Savior prayed, as did our earthly father Adam.

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.)

While, as Paul puts it, “there be gods many and Lords many (whether in heaven or in earth), unto us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worships Him, and Him alone, who is the Father of Jesus Christ, whom He worshiped, whom Adam worshiped, and who is God the Eternal Father of us all.

Your brethren,

Joseph F. Smith

Anthon H. Lund

Charles W. Penrose

At the time the First Presidency wrote this letter, it was not yet known that President Young had given more sermons identifying Adam as God than the one or two references in volume one of the Journal of Discourses (a twenty-six volume collection of early sermons) that critics and cultists first pounced on. Since then, and especially in the last few decades, perhaps an entire volume worth of Adam-God-related teachings by Brigham Young and others have surfaced (although all of them are now subject to question of accuracy). Therefore, the explanations given by Church leaders that responded to inquiries are necessarily narrowly focused on the quotations in the one 1852 sermon (probably poorly rendered) then known about (see JD 1:50). The letter’s main value is that it teaches true doctrine about the position of Adam in the over-all plan of salvation. Obviously if what was known today was known in Joseph F. Smith’s time, such explanations would have recognized and dealt with the existence other since-discovered possible Adam-God teachings.

(As a side note, even though Charles W. Penrose was a skilled writer and former newspaper editor, at the time this letter was sent [February 1912], Elder Orson F. Whitney was ghost writing a great deal of the First Presidency’s correspondence and articles. It is therefore entirely possible, though perhaps not provable, that Elder Whitney wrote the above letter. Having stated that, those whose signatures are found on it remain responsible for its contents.)

This brings us to Elder Harold B. Lee’s astute explanations:

The so-called “Adam-God theory” has risen out of a discourse delivered by President Brigham Young recorded in the Journal of Discourses, volume 1, page 50. There have been many and various attempts to make it appear from these teachings that Brigham Young taught that Adam was our Father in Heaven and the only God with whom we have to do.

We have an organization who call themselves the Fundamentalists whom we choose to call the “Cultists,” which I think better describes their organization. Three people who are near converts of that organization had come in—a man and his wife and his sister-in-law whose husband was killed in the last war. She is almost persuaded that she should become his plural wife. These three, with their bishop, came in and talked with me about some of these matters. In addition to the discussion and teaching of plural marriage, they have adopted as one of their pet teachings what they choose to call the Adam-God theory. At the close of our discussion one of them asked, “Why has the Church abandoned its teachings that Adam was our God?” I said, “The Church never did teach that doctrine.”

Then there grew out of that blank denial a very interesting discussion that prolonged our visit another hour. In that hour, they brought forth some writings from one of our Church leaders of a very early day in which he was quoted as having said bluntly that Adam came and superintended the organization of the world and the bringing of the seeds to plant, that one of his wives was then brought to him from another planet, and that from this other planet there were to come spirits which he and his wife before had created and organized.

My answer was, “I am not sure whether he was correctly quoted by the one who wrote it down, because in many cases they took their sermons down in longhand. We have found, for example, that in reading the King Follett discourse there is a footnote which suggests a mistake in the word ‘co-equal,’ which undoubtedly was ‘co-eval,’ conveying a wholly different thought and suggesting that the faulty way of reporting sermons might have accounted for that seeming error. Now, that same thing may well have been true in recording this sermon. I don’t know whether this is exactly what he said.” And then I pointed out that in that same sermon the speaker had contradicted himself, which evidenced the fact that he apparently had not read over the report of his sermon before it was published in the Deseret News.

Then I said, “I am not sure whether the Deseret News has printed accurately what was said, but the final thing I want to say is that if such a doctrine was taught, it is incorrect because it does not square with the scriptures. It would suggest that Adam and Eve were resurrected beings and as resurrected beings had begotten spirits. They had afterwards come here upon this earth and died the second time, which is contrary to what the Lord taught to the prophet Alma as written in Alma and also in the Doctrine and Covenants.” (“Relationship of God to Man,” Lecture Given to Seminary and Institute Teachers, Brigham Young University, June 18, 1954, 36-38)

Further explanation is found in a letter written by Elder Lee, which references a BYU master’s thesis prepared by Professor Rodney Turner (formerly of BYU religious education, now deceased) that examined the position of Adam in Mormon theology:

Your letter expressed your concern over the statement of the First Presidency in a letter to Elder Samuel O. Bennion; and again, a statement by Elder John A. Widstoe in his book “Evidences and Reconciliations” to the effect that Brigham Young never did teach that God, the Eternal Father is Adam. If you will read carefully these letters you will find that what they do say is that in the sermon contained in Vol. 1, page 50 of the Journal of Discourses Brigham Young did not intend to teach the doctrine that Adam was our God. Whether or not at other times he did or did not, was not the subject of these particular writings to which you have made reference.

Inasmuch as you have referred to Rodney Turner’s Thesis on the position of Adam in Latter-day Saint scriptures and theology, I quote two paragraphs on page 54:

“There are many instances where Brigham Young speaks of Adam on the one hand, and God on the other; as, for instance, when he said ‘We believe that He made Adam after His own image and likeness, as Moses testifies… Our God possesses a body and parts and was heard by Adam and Eve walking in the garden in the cool of the day.’” Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, page 231.

And again, “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 knowledge of.” (Vol. 13, page 311.) Then Rodney Turner makes this statement: “This certainly suggests that if Brigham Young ever did entertain the Adam-God theory he has contradicted himself in these statements.”

I trust these comments may be helpful to you in clarifying your thinking on this point of controversy. (Harold B. Lee Correspondence, 1963.)

In closely examining the master’s thesis written by Professor Turner, I have been unable to locate the exact quotation used by Elder Lee at the conclusion of this letter, though the first two are found on the referenced page number. Perhaps the thesis underwent revision or changes for some purpose. The copy of the thesis I examined does, however, contain wording similar in substance to that used by Elder Lee, which follows:

Rodney Turner:

These quotations bring us to grips with the apparent contradiction in his statements; for how can he claim that Adam is “our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do” at one time, and yet assert that Adam and Eve heard “our God” walking in the garden, and that they are the “children of our Heavenly Father” at other times? We must either assume that he has contradicted himself, or that he has not. If he has, then one of the other, if not both, of his statements must be discarded as being false. (“The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology,” unpublished master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1953, 55.)

Because of the subject of his thesis, Rodney Turner continued to receive inquiries about the theory as the years passed. This happened enough that he prepared a statement that he could send to anyone asking his opinion. As part of that statement he wrote: “Did Brigham Young identify Adam with the Father of our spirits? The discourses, journals and other materials available to me in 1953 convinced me that President Young did teach that Adam and God the Father were one and the same individual. I also felt that any subsequent information would only further substantiate that conclusion. This has proven to be the case. While new data from now-available discourses, journals and minutes of the Twelve have provided further confirmation, I don’t know of a single contemporary item that has been found to refute it. Regardless of any personal inclinations, integrity in research obliged me to state the foregoing. So widespread is this information that a growing number of Mormon historians no longer question it. . . .” (Neither Turner nor other historians knew the extent to which the printed/published Adam-God quotations could not be relied upon as verbatim accounts.)

Turner also wrote: “Did Brigham Young explain his views? For the most part, he did not. He made little effort to reconcile them with the scriptures or with the then-held beliefs of the members as to Adam’s place in the scheme of things. His statements are characteristically categorical, being left to the hearer to accept or not as he or she saw fit. His failure to make such a reconciliation has tended to create confusion in the minds of those who wish to uphold him as a prophet while at the same time preserving the integrity of the Standard Works. Just what did he mean? How did it all relate to the roles and interrelationships of the Father, Son and Michael/Adam? He did not say.”

Turner goes on to explain that the general authorities did little with the theory for decades, but recognized that it was out of harmony with the scriptures. He also noted that it was never accepted as a doctrine of the Church. On the contrary, it was officially labelled as false doctrine by President Spencer W. Kimball. Turner’s conclusion: “No honest person will suggest that it is an official doctrine (a dogma) of the Church. It should be viewed, like other concepts advanced from time to time, as personal opinion or speculation” (“Adam-God Controversy,” Dr. Rodney Turner, unpublished circular/memo, 1-2).

Elder Lee’s brief reference is one of the first we have from a reputable authority recognizing that Brigham Young contradicted himself with these teachings, if the report is correct.

One arresting statement made by President Young (that Professor Turner did not have but that has since come to light) was given after he made some confusing comments about Adam as God. President Young said: “I care little about those theories” (VanWaggoner, Complete Discourses, 2485). Seems like good counsel for all.

[Cross posted at truthwillprevail.xyz]


  1. I personally see and hear less about the Adam-God theory now than I did twenty to thirty years ago, if that means anything. It may be that it is being overshadowed or crowded to the side of the anti-Mormon stage by the much more popular issues of gay marriage and feminist extremism being promoted and used to bash the Church today. It is likely that these issues are seen by the devil as more palatable and useful to lead people astray than sniping about the meaning of old sermons. However, neither the devil nor his spokespeople miss a trick when it comes to trying to weaken confidence in modern prophets and revelation. 

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About Dennis B. Horne

Dennis B. Horne grew up in south Davis County and he served in the Independence Missouri mission. He attended BYU and Weber State Universities, earning a degree in Communications. After working in television broadcasting for a number of years he became a technical writer for the LDS Church Material Management Department. He became an independent researcher/author because of his love of church history and doctrine. This pursuit led him to write a biography of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an edited publication of the diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, and biographies of President Lorenzo Snow and Orson F. Whitney. He also wrote about callings to serve in the church, the doctrine of giving healing blessings, and a compilation of the teachings of prophets and apostles about how to determine doctrinal authority. He has twice presented at the BYU Church History Symposium. His articles occasionally appear at “truth will prevail,” “Interpreter,” and “FAIRMormon.”

29 thoughts on “Elder Harold B. Lee, Rodney Turner, and the Adam-God Theory

  1. Dennis, I’m LDS. Why do you role play Adam and why does your wife role play Eve in the temple if that’s not the path to Godhood?

    Study the original Saint George temple ceremony and you might come to understand more of what Brigham was getting at when plainly teaching Adam God.

    I understand the sensitivities of this topic but when Joseph taught that God was the Ancient of Days it was understood he meant none other than Adam.

    • Jason, To answer your question: Adam and Eve serve as examples or representatives for their descendants of the plan of salvation: the fall, repentance and redemption and covenant making and keeping, and an eventual return to the presence of God for the obedient. Those elements of the St. George Temple lecture at the veil that contained reference to Adam being God were incorrect and were removed long long ago for that reason. I suggest you reconsider pinning your eternal fate on such and instead anchor it on the scriptures and they are interpreted and taught by current church leaders who hold the keys for all saving gospel ordinances, including temple work.

      • Dennis,

        The lecture at the veil was incorrect? So you think Brigham Young, prophet of God, just whipped that up on a whim not knowing what he was doing. Just bumbling some words down on paper I guess.

        I too have keys that were they made known to you would open your eyes – but this is not the forum for such.

        I appreciate your concern for my salvation but we must agree to disagree on this particular doctrinal point. I fully sustain current church leaders so you shouldn’t make assumptions there. And you shouldn’t make assumptions that current church leaders fully agree with your assumptions.

    • Dennis,

      I’m curious as to your thoughts on the same question I asked Elden:

      Brigham plainly taught that if God had truly formed Adam from clay he would be an adobe to this day – albeit quite sun-dried by now.

      So, since a good portion of the Adam story is allegorical, how in your opinion did the first man get here?

        • To me: Elder McConkie, Elder Petersen, Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. and others that dealt in writings with President Young Adam-God teaching worried about the false fundamentalist ideas but did not critically analyze what President Young actually did teach. To be fair, President Young was not fully consistent and was not easy to understand. Still, why should Apostles — or you for that matter– be the ones I should trust and not the First Presidency President Brigham Young? Especially when I can see they are not fully understanding him? He was ordained as the main Revelator for the church, not them, or you. He organized the Temple ceremony under Joseph’s direction and he claimed his Adam-God doctrine came from Joseph. Presidents Taylor and Woodruff received Word of the Lord revelation after President Young died, and the Lord did not condemn anything President Young had taught. All is not well in Zion. I hate it when people condemn President Young’s teachings and then place the present church leadership above possible failure– that is hypocritical and idolatrous. Faithful Elders have the right to not reject President Young’s teachings (but should not teach it) until the church accepts further Word of the Lord revelation on the matter.

  2. [Moderator’s note: This post does not cite, nor reflect the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Interpreter does not endorse the “Second Book of Commandments,” nor should it be implied that posting this response suggests any agreement with the post.]

    Hi. My own prayerful research into the Adam-God teachings of President Young, beginning around 1972, eventually led me to receive a witness confirming the revelations found in the Second Book of Commandments. Check out especially Sections 22 and 23. http://2bc.info/pdf/2BC-P100.pdf These revelations show that there was one significant error in what President Young was teaching, but he was basically correct. So the church was justified in laying it aside at that time.

    • Hi Heber Frank,
      I would only suggest that when your personal revelation is in conflict with that of the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, who holds all the keys of the priesthood and serves as God’s spokesman, his Counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve, and also with the four (4) standard works of the Church that have been sustained as binding upon them by the body of the Church assembled in conference, you might reconsider the source of your inspiration.

      • Hi. It is because I have studied the scriptures carefully for many years, and have been careful to not accept ideas that contradict the scriptures, that I know 1. the President of the High Priesthood (you would say the Prophet) is not above failing the church. (D&C 107:81-84; JST Mark 9:40-48; etc) 2. All those that receive the Melchizedek Priesthood correctly are equal brothers with the Prophet– he is not their “superior”. 3. All Priesthood Keys belong to the Melchizedek Priesthood as a body not just to the President. [For example, if I hand you a key and you take it with your hand, then your entire body HAS the key. Your hand HOLDS the key as a servant for then entire body. Likewise, the Head of the Priesthood is a servant to the body to use the Keys that the Priesthood hold collectively.] 4. JST Mark 9 makes it completely clear: EVERY MAN has the responsibility to live by every word of God. If a brother, leader, or even the Prophet (the Eye) fails he is responsible to stand against this failure. One who is not the head does not have the right to change doctrine or practice in the church, but he does have the right to NOT SUSTAIN even the President of the church, and to have a CONTROVERSY over him until it is settled fairly. 5. The Lord warned that He would try the Saints in all things. (D&C 136:31) Those who say the President of the church is above controversy are simply denying the revelations of God.

        • Moderator comment: This is becoming a discussion of personal faith for the various respondents. The comments in the queue will be accepted, but it is time to move on. One’s faith and interpretation may differ from another. That is fine. I sincerely doubt that this conversation will change minds.

  3. I’ve found this little gem to be interesting:
    In 1896, Edward Stevenson, one of the Seven Presidents of Seventy, had “a deep talk” with President Lorenzo Snow about the Adam-God doctrine. Afterwards, Stevenson wrote in his diary concerning the temple creation gods: “Certainly Heloheim and Jehovah stands before Adam, or else I am very much mistaken. Then 1st Heloheim, 2nd Jehovah, 3rd Michael-Adam, 4th Jesus Christ, Our Elder Brother, in the other World from whence our spirits come…. Then Who is Jehovah? The only begotten [sic] Son of Heloheim on Jehovah’s world.” This reference clearly distinguishes between the Jehovah who presided over Michael at the creation and Jesus. Unfortunately this distinction was not clearly made by General Authorities who were publicly promoting the idea that Jesus was the Jehovah-god of the Old Testament. Naturally, Church members continued to be confused.
    With the passing of the Mormon practice of plural marriage around the turn of the century, anti-Mormon critics began to attack other doctrinal issues, notably the Adam-God doctrine. Church leaders responded mainly by claiming that Brigham Young’s published statements on the subject had either been misinterpreted, or were wrongly transcribed. President Joseph F. Smith, who as an Apostle had earlier endorsed the doctrine, permitted Charles Penrose, his counselor in the First Presidency, to pursue this line of defense.~ Buerger, “The Adam-God Doctrine,” pp. 36-42

    • Hi Amanda,
      While I appreciate your sharing that note, I would suggest that Edward Stevenson’s diary, even if relating a conversation with Pres. Snow, is not the best source for obtaining truth about the Godhead. Pres. Snow had many private doctrinal conversations, filled with speculation, with people like Orson F. Whitney, Rudger Clawson, members of the Twelve, etc. These private conversations have occasionally been preserved in diary form. In my book on Orson F. Whitney I relate several he had with Snow himself. If the Church believed what Orson wrote that Lorenzo privately speculated to be possibilities, we would believe in reincarnation and that in order to become like God we must be crucified and endure the pains of an atonement ourselves. None of this, including what Stevenson wrote, is church doctrine, nor is it truth. Joseph F. Smith never believed that Adam was God. He did receive a vision (D&C 138) in which Jesus personally instructed Adam and the other prophets in the Spirit World. I would caution you and any other reader about getting doctrine from Buerger or any source other than the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles that harmonize with them. Thanks for your comments.

      • Thank you for your reply, Dennis. Please don’t suppose that because I shared that idea I take it as “doctrine” – merely a really great clue. We let these kinds of ideas stay with us for a while and compare them against all of scripture until we decide whether or not they sit right, don’t we? I’ve read Orson Whitney’s statement in question that leads some to believe in reincarnation. I don’t think President Snow’s response recorded in Whitney’s journal necessarily supports it. To say that something cannot be truth without being “doctrinal” seems a little far-fetched to me. We are ever learning – and I won’t throw out decent gems like this without weighing it completely. Thanks for your sincere concern, but I don’t need protection from “crazy ideas” – I know how to deal with them myself.

        • Instead of attempting to discredit the source, maybe a better approach (for the furtherance of honest discussion) would be to show where you find fault with the idea presented in Edward Stevenson’s journal entry. The idea that (1)Elohim and (2)Jehovah are our God, Adam’s, (1)Heavenly Father and (2)redeemer on his world. That is the part that I’m still weighing against all of scripture. Do you know of anything that would discredit the idea?

          • I have a few scriptures which discredit the ideas you present, and I strongly recommend that you rely first of the Four Standard Works; other statements must be reconciled to them.

            First, about Adam being our God. There are no scriptures which identify Adam as God, in fact there are some scriptures which refute the concept. For example Moses 6:51 “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.” Men before they were in the flesh were spirits, besides it’s difficult to talk to yourself out of the heavens (see the context). In fact Moses 6:22 testifies that Adam was not God, because he was the son of God. “And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed.”

            Second, about Jehovah being redeemer on some previous world.
            The Law of Moses was given to Moses by “the LORD thy God” (Ex 20:2), so the LORD was the God of Moses and the word “LORD” is the king James translation of Jehovah from the Hebrew: i.e Jehovah was the God of Moses. In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ identifies himself as the Jehovah of the Old Testament: “behold, I [Jesus] am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.” If you would like to see a detailed scriptural examination of the word Jehovah, see my website at http://www.eldenwatson.net/5Jehovah1.htm.

            Third, about Elohim. The word Elohim does not appear anywhere in our four Standard Works. Elohim is the Hebrew word which has been translated in the King James Bible as “God,” so we have a lot of scriptures about him, for example in Genesis 1: In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth … And God [Elohim] said, Let there be light … And God [Elohim] said, Let there be a firmament … and God [Elohim] said Let there be lights … and God [Elohim] said, let the waters bring forth abundantly … and God Elohim] said Let the earth bring forth the living creature … and God [Elohim] said let us make man in our image, after our likeness, (etc.). In fact the word God [Elohim] appears over 10,000 times in our Old Testament. It seems redundant to have to say that God [Elohim] is the God of this earth and not of some previous earth.

          • Elden,

            Brigham plainly taught that if God had truly formed Adam from clay he would be an adobe to this day – albeit quite sun-dried by now.

            So, since a good portion of the Adam story is allegorical, how in your opinion did the first man get here?

          • I will use Young’s teachings, and my explanation, to show that this doctrine does not contradict the scriptures. Adam was true and faithful to “His Savior” on a previous earth. Thus Adam was a Joint-Heir with his Savior. (Joint-Heirs being a New Testament doctrine.) Thus, as President Young taught, Adam came here with a resurrected body and helped create this earth. Then he fell, according to the plan, and provided a way for his Spirit children to obtain bodies. If we are true and faithful, we can become Adams and Eves on future earths as Joint Heirs with our Savior Jesus. Any problem so far? Thus we will tread in the tracks of our Father and God (Adam), even as Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father and God (The Savior of Adam). To clearly understand this, one has to reject the fundamentalist idea that Adam was a previous Savior and thus we can become Saviors on future earths. That is false doctrine. So the Adam-God teachings of President Young are simply a further understanding of the New Testament doctrine of Joint Heirs.

  4. Eldon – And what about Daniel chapter 7, where Joseph Smith identifies “the ancient of days” – a figure believed to be God by the rest of the Christian world – with Adam?
    Do we grasp that the names “God”, “Elohim”, “Jehovah”, and “Lord” are all titles? That means that the scriptures you quote don’t nail down identities quite as neatly as you describe. They are examples of how the scriptures about God are both accurate and veiled – like the parables of Christ.
    I understand that it’s possible to become so invested in our own theories that it’s hard to keep a mind open to instruction. I think you might be selling yourself short.

  5. Let me reply to Jason’s question:
    In my personal opinion, God created Adam from the dust of the ground, and he became a living soul, (Ge 2:7) just as we were created from the dust of the ground; and we were born into the world by water and blood and the spirit and thus became of dust a living soul (Moses 6:59). In other words Adam was born, and then later placed in the garden (Ge 2:8). But remember, this is only an opinion, and only mine at that. 🙂

      • Let me be as clear as possible about my personal opinion. I believe that a small portion of our universe, including this earth, is isolated from the rest of eternity during the process of our plan of salvation. I believe that there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. (D&C 130:5) I believe that spirits are incapable of procreation. I believe that before the fall of Adam there were only two beings who belonged to this earth who were not spirits, and that would be our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Mother, two divine resurrected beings. These beings were the only beings capable of procreation at that time. I believe that they came to live on this earth for a while and by partaking of the fruits and/or vegetables grown on this earth they charged their bodies with physical particles of this earth so that the body of the child produced in the womb of the mother would be comprised of the elements of this earth. Eve was conceived and born in the same manner. Adam, when he was born, was not mortal, but existed and remained in what Bruce R. McConkie termed an “unmortal” state (to distinguish it from the word “immortal”) until after the fall. There was a spiritual fluid in their veins instead of blood prior to the fall, and they would have lived forever in that state had it not been for the fall. In their unmortal state Adam and Eve were still incapable of procreation. I’m not sure I could make my opinion any more clear, but if you have further questions, just ask.

    • In my opinion, when we all get to the other side we will find out that Micheal the Arch-ANGEL [D&C 129:1] did in fact come to this earth with a resurrected body having been an Abraham like man faithful to his Savior on a previous earth. He is the Father of our Spirits, and we also can become Adams and Eves. And we will find that Joseph did in fact teach this doctrine to Brigham as he claimed.

      • This is fine as a declaration of your own faith. It is not required of anyone else. As suggested previously, these comments are accepted, but I will not post further comments that continue this line of discussion. Thank you all for reading Interpreter.

  6. Now my comment’s on Heber’s thoughts:
    I find it difficult to see how your idea does not contradict the scriptures. In Alma 11:45 Alma says that a resurrected being cannot die. Yet God said to Adam that in the day you partake of the forbidden fruit thou shalt surely die. We know that Adam did partake, so either Adam died or God is a liar (see Alma 12:23). Further, in D&C 138:16, President Joseph F. Smith saw in vision the assembled righteous waiting for Christ to enter the spirit world and declare their redemption from the bands of death. Among those in the vast congregation of the righteous assembled to be released from the bands of death was “Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all.”(verse 38). So again, I don’t understand how your explanation does not contradict these and other scriptures which say that Adam died (eg. D&C 107:42 and 53; Ge 5:5 and Moses 6:12) . If you can explain it to me I would be happy to listen.

    • Well, your point at first seems valid enough. However, Alma 11:45 is not God speaking, it is Amulek speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost. And he was not speaking to a people ready to hear the mysteries, they were rejecting the simple gospel. Sometimes we explain general truths, and then later if we have time we bring out certain exceptions to what we taught. Everyone and their dog among his enemies says Joseph’s revelations make God a liar. Rather than try to do apologetics, I pray the Lord will give further revelation concerning the seeming contradictions in the revelations He has given. I simply do not believe Alma 11:45 proves the teachings of President Young on Adam coming here with a resurrected body are incorrect.

      • D&C 138 does not contradict my beliefs. Adam did die and his body separated from this spirit as in the death of any, but his body being eternal did not deteriorate. (Which is why Noah took the body of Adam on the ark.) So Adam definitely would have been there with His spirit children when Jesus came. Adam will take his body back up when he returns at the council of Adam-Ondi-Ahman as the ancient of days.

  7. Now my thoughts on Amanda’s comments.
    My name is Elden, with an “e.”
    I am not overly impressed with what the rest of the Christian world believes. For example: they believe in what they call the Holy Trinity – I do not. For the Ancient of Days I prefer to put my trust in the Doctrine and Covenants. See D&C 27:11. As for what you call “titles” I prefer to think of Jehovah as a name. For example: “For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jehovah, is a jealous God.” [JST Ex 34:14]. Elohim can be considered a Name-Title, but it it doesn’t exist outside the Mormon faith and can only be applied to one individual. God is pretty generic and can be applied to any of the Godhead; it is even applied to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (D&C 132:37). Lord can be applied to almost anyone of importance, even some of the British nobles. I have been through the exercise of treating these names as titles and I feel that it leads to inconsistencies, untruths, and confusion, but thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Dennis B. Horne:
    It should be maintained that to know what Brigham meant: it is necessary to know what and how he viewed the Endowment of his day and that he was either taught by Joseph Smith Jr. or he added thereto. I know the Brethren can change anything they want. I do not dispute that in anyway. But, my purpose is to understand the ideas that the second prophet taught, by stepping back and looking at all that was taught in the 1850’s.

    I have many scripture that reflect those original ideas. In my view Brigham Young taught things that were most certainly scriptural and couched in HIS Endowment of his day.

    Even with todays Endowment of 2016 there is still enough to verify his 1852 sermon is not an anomaly.

    It is sad to think that Mark E. Peterson and Bruce R. McConkie, Spencer W. Kimball were unable to step back in time and see
    as Brigham did. 1850 in the west with sage brush for the Internet Brigham was a miracle.
    james n. hall

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