ADAM IS GOD???
Chris A. Ulachos
BRIGHAM YOUNG'S FALSE TEACHING: ADAM IS GOD
PREFACE: This is a reprint of an article appearing in the Journal of
Pastoral Practice, Volume III, Number 2, pages 93 through 119. It is
reprinted in this form with the permission of the author.
Copyright 1979, Institute of Pastoral Studies of The Christian
Counseling & Education Foundation.
Of all the vices that entangle a man, perhaps none is as unholy as
jealousy. Jealousy, the "green-eyed monster", dwells in the deeper
regions of sin because the source of its existence is unbridled
covetousness growing out of pride and insecurity. However, in the
case of jealousy, what is a vice in human nature is a virtue in the
divine nature of God. Though among men jealousy is a ravaging and
soul-destroying cancer, in God it is a righteous zeal, based upon
His covenant love for His own people, which seeks to protect a love-
relationship and avenge it when broken. The godly zeal which the
Lord has for those whom He has chosen is an attribute worthy of all
praise and adoration.
The fact that He is a jealous God was one of the first
characteristics that the Lord made known to Israel after He had
redeemed her out of the slave market of Egypt. She became His love
and possession, and He demanded from her a love and devotion that
would extend to no other (1).
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of
the land of Egypt, out of the house of Bondage. Thou
shalt have no other gods before me...for I the LORD
thy God am a jealous God (Ex. 20:1,3,5).
Thou shalt worship no other god; for the LORD, whose
name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14).
Throughout Old Testament history the Lord taught Israel that He was
the only God with whom they had to do. For her to worship and serve
another would be sheer adultery and whoredom:
And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but
they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed
themselves unto them (Judges 2:17).
In the New Testament we find the same teaching. The New Testament
writers shared the Lord's jealousy over His covenant people:
For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I
have espoused you to one husband, that I may present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ (II Cor. 11:2).
While throughout the flow of Bible history we see God proclaiming
that He alone is to be worshiped, at the same time we find prophets
who were not of God taught the contrary. True prophets would never
be found teaching the people to worship another god - whether is
was a stone idol, and imaginary god dwelling in heaven, or a deified
man. They knew that it was Jehovah who had redeemed Israel out of
Egypt and that He alone is God. Inspired by God's Spirit, they knew
the mind of the Lord: that He would give His glory to no other.
Therefore, when these living oracles of God spoke as prophets, they
were moved to proclaim, "Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and
Him only shalt thou serve."
In light of this insistence upon the exclusiveness of the true God,
we can understand the test of a prophet that Moses taught the
children of Israel. By applying this timeless test, people
throughout all ages may detect the false ones:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of
dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the
sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto
thee, saying, let us go after other gods, which thou
hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt
not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that
dreamer of dreams: for the LORD proveth you, to know
whether ye love the LORD your God with all you soul.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him,
and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye
shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that
prophet, or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to
death; because he has spoken to turn you away form the
LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of
Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage,
to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God
commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil
away from the midst of thee (Deut. 13:1-5)
These words tell us that though a man might exercise miraculous
powers, he could not be a prophet of the Lord if he sought to
lead the people away to a strange god. Any prophet who advocates
the service and worship of another god is not a mouthpiece of the
Lord, is false, and, under the theocratic nation of Israel, was to
Holding fast to these truths let us now turn to Brigham Young, a
man who claimed for himself the station and office of prophet of
God. Recent history records the lives of few men who have
possessed the leadership qualities that Young exhibited. For thirty
years he presided as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator over the Mormon
Church, a people claiming to be led by prophets of God as in the
days of ancient Israel. On the basis of this claim the Mormons
have always regarded themselves as the only true Church on earth
today (2). Their priesthood claims sole possession of the
authority or power needed to act on behalf of God (3), and they
consider all other "Christian churches" to be in a state of
apostasy, who at best teach a partial truth about the gospel of
Christ(4). Now if Brigham Young, Mormon prophet from 1847 to 1877,
were a false prophet all along, then the claims of those who have
sought to derive their priesthood authority through him are empty
and void (5). If Brigham taught false doctrine, that cuts the
ground from under Mormonism's claim of latter-day prophetic
revelation and the Mormon Church is not divinely led. Acknowledging
this to be true, LDS Apostle Orson Hyde stated:
To acknowledge that this is the Kingdom of God, and
that there is a presiding power, and to admit that he
[Brigham Young] can advance incorrect doctrine is to
lay the axe at the root of the tree. Will he suffer
his mouthpiece to go into error? No. (6)
Any boast of prophetic guidance would be worthless if that guidance
were false. John Taylor, Mormon Apostle and later President,
admitted also this to be the case: "If that mouthpiece [Brigham
Young] has not the power to dictate I would throw all Mormonism
The Mormon Church must base the truth of her claims on the
authenticity of Brigham's calling. Yet, we shall see that Brigham
Young, who presided over the Mormon Church longer than any other
man, did indeed advance false doctrine that focused worship on a
god other than the Lord God of Israel.
ADAM-GOD FIRST PROCLAIMED
It stormed heavily on April 9, 1852, but the people turned out for
the sessions of the Spring LDS Conference that were that day. Each
session of the six-day church conference was filled to capacity.
Those desiring the best seats lined up outside the doors hours
before they opened. At times, because the crowds were so large,
many male members would leave the tabernacle to allow more room for
the women to attend.
At 6:00 on the evening of the ninth, all LDS male members gathered
together in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for another session. The house
was full. After the usual introductory exercises, Mormon Prophet and
President Brigham Young began to address his brethren upon various
subjects. He instructed them concerning the place recreation and
amusements should occupy in their lives and concerning the
principle of tithing.
Then, after a moment's pause, the Mormon Prophet took up his next
topic. The question was, Who begat Jesus Christ in the flesh? This
was a hot issue. There had been no little dispute about it among the
LDS Elders, and there were opposing views. As a Prophet and `
mouthpiece of God, Brigham Young stepped forward to silence all
erroneous opinions and to declare with finality the true answer to
the inquiry (8).
First, he repeated the fundamental Mormon doctrine that the Father
and Son each has a physical body of flesh and bones. Next, he set
forth Mormonism's belief that God the Father in a pre-existent
period, begot every spirit that would come to this earth. Then
Brigham looked out over the vast audience and boldly commanded all
of his hearers, whether near or far, Mormon or non-Mormon to take
heed to his next statements:
Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and
Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came
into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a
celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives,
with him. He helped to make and organize this world.
He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS!
about whom holy men have written and spoken - He is
our father and our God, and the only God with whom WE
have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing
Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will
know it sooner or later (9).
After declaring that Adam was the God of this world and the Father
of its inhabitants, Brigham then addressed the original inquiry
concerning the savior's birth:
When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the
Father had begotten him in his own likeness. he was
not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the
Father? He is the first of the human family; and when
he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his father
in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles
of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters
of Adam and Eve.... I could tell you much more about
this; but were I to tell you the whole truth,
blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation
of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind.
However, I have told you the whole truth as far as I
have gone... What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder
brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same
character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is
our Father in heaven. Now let all who may hear these
doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or
treat them with indifference, for they will prove
their salvation or damnation. I have given you a few
leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more
remains to be told. Now, remember from this time
forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten
by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I
was in conversation with a certain learned professor
upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea - "if
the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be
very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and
give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget
children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people,
bringing the Elders into great difficulties." Treasure
up these things in your hearts. In the Bible, you have
read the things I told you tonight; but you have not
known what you did read (10).
Having made this response, Young concluded his comments with another
reference to tithing. The Mormon choir then sang a hymn and Elder H.
G. Sherwood gave the closing benediction.
Few of the Latter-day Elders who filed out of the Tabernacle that
night missed the meaning of what their prophet had just announced.
Upon returning home that evening, Hosea Stout, the prominent Mormon
pioneer, recorded the following in his daily journal:
Friday 9th April 1852. - Stormy morning. attended
conference House much crowded, did not stay in House
long. after noon was not in because of the crowd. -
Another meeting this evening. President B. Young taught
that Adam was the father of Jesus Christ and the only
God to us. That he came to this world in a resurrected
body &c more hereafter (11).
Samuel Rogers, who also was present that night, similarly noted the
content of Brigham Young's discourse:
April 16 1852, Conference commenced on the 6 and
continued untill the 11, it was heled in the new
tabernacle, adjourned untill the 6 of next October we
had the best Conference that I ever attended during
the time of the Conference President Brigham Young
said that our spirits ware begotten before that Adam
came to the earth, and that Adam helped to make the
Earth, that he had a Celestial boddy when we came to
the Earth, and that he brought his wife or one of his
wives with him, and that Eave was allso a Celestial
being, that they eat of the fruit of the ground untill
they begat children from the Earth, he said that Adam
was the only God that we would have, and that Christ
was not begotten of the Holy Ghost, but of Father
DENIAL ADAM-GOD WAS TAUGHT
As we consider Brigham Young's claim that Adam is God, it becomes
clear that he was a false, uninspired prophet. This teaching not
only runs counter to what has been revealed in the Bible, but it is
also branded as false doctrine in modern Mormonism. LDS Apostle Mark
E. Petersen, one of Mormonism's doctrinal authorities, stated:
Some dissidents would have us believe that Adam is our
God and that we have nothing to do with any other God,
which, on the face of it, is ridiculous. To say that
Adam is God is, of course, opposed utterly and
completely to the scriptures as well as to our
Articles of faith,.(13)
Spencer W. Kimball, Mormon Prophet, also denounced the teaching that
Adam is God:
We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines
which are not according to the scriptures and which
are alleged to have been taught by some of the General
Authorities... Such, for instance is the Adam-God theory.
We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be
cautioned against this and other kinds of false
These and most other Mormon General Authorities, while denouncing
the doctrine that Adam is God, avoid or deny the fact that Brigham
Young himself was the major exponent of this doctrine. In his book,
_Adam_Who_Is_He?_, Mark E. Petersen tries to rescue Mormonism's
second prophet from teaching false doctrine by maintaining that
Brigham Young was misquoted in the address in question. On pages
16-17 of his book, Petersen sets forth as evidence for his defense
as reference in which C. C. Rich supposedly stated that Brigham was
misquoted in this sermon. Petersen claims that Rich was present on
the ninth of April and was therefor in a position to note the
misquotation which later crept into the published account of the
Elder Charles C. Rich, of the Council of the Twelve,
was present on a day when President Young gave an
address that was wrongly reported as saying that
Adam was Deity. In the copy of the Journal of
Discourses that he had, Elder Rich referred to the
misquotations as it appears in the Journal of
Discourses,and in his own hand he wrote the following
as the correct statement made by President Young:
"Jesus our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh
by the same character who talked with Adam in the
Garden of eden, and who is our heavenly Father."
(This signed statement is in the hands of the Church
Historian.) Some of the reporters at the Tabernacle
in those days were not as skill as others, and
admittedly made mistakes, such as the misquotation of
President Young as above, which was corrected by
Brother Rich and which has caused some persons in the
Church to go astray. The erroneously reported
statement has been mistakenly made to read: "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." (JD, 1:51) On the face of
it the mistake is obvious and was quickly noted by
Elder Rich, who was present and heard the sermon.
Hence the correction that he made.
What seems to be a good case made by Petersen crumbles, however,
upon cross examination. C. C. Rich, who Petersen claims "was present
and heard the sermon," was in reality not even in Salt Lake City on
that day! Rich left San Bernardino, California, on March 24, 1852,
for the Great Salt Lake (15). He did not reach his destination until
April 21. Under this date, the LDS Journal History records:
April 21, 1852:
Elder Chas. C. Rich and thirteen others arrived today
in G.S.L. from California (16).
In the May 1, 1852, issue of the Mormon _Deseret_Weekly_ the
following announcement was made:
Elder C. C. Rich arrived on Wednesday, the 21
of April, in company with 13 others...direct
from San Bernardino (17).
Hosea Stout, in his journal, also noted the event:
Wednesday 21st April 1852 Engaged as yesterday. Gen
Rich and some 15 others arrived today from
California by the South rout all well.
Furthermore, not only was C. C. Rich absent on the ninth, but the
reference which Petersen claims was written by C. C. Rich "in his
own hand" was in reality written and signed by his son, Ben E. Rich,
many years after the sermon was delivered! (18).
Whether Mr. Petersen was deliberately seeking to suppress the facts
or not, the truth is that there is no evidence whatsoever that
Brigham Young was misquoted. As we shall see, Young came under much
criticism from outside and from within the Mormon Church for
teaching that Adam was God the Father. If he had merely been
misquoted, Brigham simply could have corrected his hearers and
accusers. Instead, however, Young continued to affirm and preach
this doctrine against all opposition (19).
These facts have forced other Mormon writers to maintain that
Brigham was quoted correctly, but that he has been misinterpreted
by his hearers and readers. Realizing the implications of one of
their prophets teaching false doctrine on such an essential matter
as who God is, these LDS apologists insist that Brigham Young did
not mean to say that Adam was deity. Characteristic of this
argument are the following statements made by the tenth Mormon
President, Joseph Fielding Smith:
In discussing the statement by President Brigham Young
that the Father of Jesus Christ is the same character
who was in the garden of Eden, I maintain that
President Young was not referring to Adam, but to God
the Father, who created Adam, for he was in the garden
of Eden, and according to Mormon doctrine Adam was in
his presence constantly, walked with him, talked with
him and the Father taught Adam his language. It was
not until the fall, that the Father departed from Adam
and from the Garden of Eden (20).
In regard to Brigham's statement that Jesus was begotten by "the
First of the human family", Smith states that this is referring to
the God and creator of Adam, who was the "first of the human family",
being its "progenitor" (21).
Brigham's statement that Adam is "our Father and our God and the
only God with whom we have to do" is interpreted to mean that Adam,
being the first man, is the patriarchal head of the human race, and
in this regard he could be considered a god. In no way would these
later Mormon writer believe that Brigham is identifying Adam as God
their heavenly Father and the Father of Jesus in the flesh. (22).
YOUNG'S STATEMENTS BECOME PLAINER
It must be admitted that Brigham's statements in the 1852 discourse
can be taken in more than one way. However, it again needs to be
asserted that both Brigham's friends and his opponents had
understood him to mean that Adam was God and was the Father of
Jesus Christ in the flesh. He simply could have corrected the
misinterpretation, but he didn't. Instead, 25 years after his
original "Adam-God" sermon, we find that the Mormon "Revelator"
continued to declare in no uncertain terms that Adam was the Lord
God Almighty (23).
During a discourse given on Sunday night, February 19, 1854, Brigham
Young again addressed the question of who begot Jesus Christ in the
flesh. Speaking of Christ, he asked:
Who did beget him. His Father, and his father is our
God, and the Father of our spirits, and he is the
framer of the body, the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Who is he. He is Father Adam; Micheal;
the Ancient of days. Has he a father? He has. Has he
a mother? He has. Now to say the Son of God was
begotten by the Holy Ghost, is to say that the Holy
Ghost is God the Father, which is inconsistent, and
contrary to all the revelations of God both modern,
and ancient. I silenced this erroneous doctrine a year
ago last fall conference. It was I think when a
dispute arose among some of our best Elders, as to who
was the Father of the Son of Man pertaining to the
flesh. Some contended it was the H Ghost, and some
that it was Elohim. When I spoke upon it in this stand
before a conference of Elders, I cautioned them when
they laid their hands upon people for the gift of the
H Ghost, according to the instructions of the Savior,
to be very careful how they laid hands upon the young
women for if it begat a child in the days of the
virgin Mary it is just as liable to beget children in
these last days (24).
While Brigham in his discourse of 1852 may have been unclear, in
this 1854 address there is no question about his meaning. Here
Brigham distinctly names Adam as God the Father. Wilford Woodruff,
Mormon Apostle and later Church President, had not doubt about what
Brigham meant. Referring to this discourse under the date of `
February 19, 1854, in his journal, Woodruff recorded:
He [Brigham Young] said that our God was Father Adam
He was the Father of the Savior Jesus Christ - Our
God was no more less than ADAM, Michael the Arkangel
It should be noted that Brigham identifies Adam as the "Father of
our spirits."One of Mormonism's fundamental doctrines is the belief
that God the Father was married and that he and his celestial wife
in a pre-existent period had begotten every spirit that would come
to this earth. These spirits then enter into individual infants who
are born physically upon the earth (26). By referring to Adam as
the Father of our spirits, Brigham was clearly identifying him as
the being whom Mormons address as "Heavenly Father".
On June 26-28, 1854, a special General Council of the authorities
of the LDS British Mission convened in London, England. The council
minutes show that Brigham's doctrine of Adam being God was not
readily received by some of the members there. After the introductory
exercise, Mormon Elder Thomas Caffall rose to state the affairs of
the Southern LDS conference. Among other things he reported the
...some of the officers have not met in council for
three years. They are lacking faith on one principle
- the last 'cat that was let out of the bag.' Polygamy
has been got over pretty well, that cloud as vanished
away, but they are troubled about Adam being our
Father and God. There is a very intelligent person
investigating our principles, and who has been a great
help to the Saints; he as all the works and can get
along very well with everything else but the last
'cat', and as soon as he can see that clearly, he will
become a 'Mormon'. I instructed him to write Liverpool
upon it (27).
Elder Joseph Hall followed with a report of his district's progress.
Despite the non-Biblcal nature of the Adam-God doctrine, those in
his area were willing to receive it as truth:
Relative to the principles recently revealed, we have not
the least difficulty. If Adam's being our Father and God
cannot be proved by the Bible, it is alright (28).
On the final day of the council Elder James A. Little rose and made
the following remarks:
I believe in the principle of obedience; and if I am
told that Adam is our Father and our God, I just
believe it (29).
Mission president Samuel W. Richards followed with a concluding
exhortation concerning the Adam-God doctrine:
Concerning the item of doctrine alluded t by Elder
Caffall and others, viz., that Adam is our Father and
God, I have to say do not trouble yourselves, neither
let the Saints be troubled about that matter... If, as
Elder Caffall remarked, there are those who are waiting
at the door of the Church for this objection to be
removed, tell such, the prophet and Apostle Brigham
has declared it, and that IS THE WORD OF THE LORD. (30).
APOSTLE PRATT OPPOSES YOUNG'S ADAM-GOD
Though Richards and most of the other Church authorities accepted
their prophet's declaration as the word of God, there was one member
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who openly opposed Brigham in
his views. That man was Orson Pratt. Under the date of September 17,
1854, LDS Apostle Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal the
details of a confrontation between Young and Pratt. Pratt had been
writing and publishing a monthly periodical which contained
doctrine contrary to the Mormon President. When Young declared some
of Orson's doctrines to be false, Pratt retaliated against the
prophet by voicing his disbelief in the Adam-God doctrine:
Brother Pratt also thought that Adam was made of the
dust of the Earth Could not believe that Adam was our
God or the Father of Jesus Christ President Young said
that He was that He came from another world & made
this brought Eve with him partook of the fruits of the
Earth begat children & they ware Earthly & had mortal
bodies & if we were faithful we should become Gods as
He was. He told Brother Pratt to lay aside his
Philosophical reasoning & get revelation from God to
govern him & enlighten his mind more...
This dispute between the Mormon Prophet and his Apostle continued
for several years. Because of his disbelief in the Adam-God
teaching and in other doctrines of Young, Pratt was for years upon
the point of being severed from the Church (31).
In October of 1854, the Mormon Church held it's semi-annual
Conference. The session of October 8 was help out of doors in the
open air. The congregation, which numbered in thousands, heard
Brigham Young deliver what was perhaps the most colorful discourse
ever presented in the history of the Mormon Church. Addressing this
immense gathering upon the subject of the identity of God, Young
made the following statements:
...my text is in the Bible and reads as follows: "And
this is life eternal, that they might know thee the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent."
I will now put another text with this and then offer a
few remarks. It is one of the sayings of the Apostle
Paul:"For though there be that are called Gods,
whether in heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many
and Lords many) but to us there is but one God, the
Father of whom all things, and we in him; and one Lord
Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
This God is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ and
the father of our spirits...
Now if you believe what you have heard me say you will
believe there are Lords many, and Gods many; and you
will believe that unto us, the inhabitants of the
earth there is but one God with whom we have to do...
You and I have only one God to whom we are accountable,
so we will let the rest along, and search after the
one we have to do with; let us seek after him, the
very being who commenced this creation...
But let us turn our attention to the God with which we
have to do. I tell you simply, he is our father; the
God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the father
of our spirits...
I tell you more, Adam is the father of our spirits.
He had lived upon an earth; he did abide his
creation, and did honor to his calling and priesthood,
and obeyed his master or Lord, and probably many of
his wives did the same and they lived, and died upon
an earth and then were resurrected again to
immortality and eternal life...
I reckon that Father Adam was a resurrected being,
with his wives and posterity, and in the Celestial
kingdom they were crowned with glory, immortality, and
eternal lives,with thrones, principalities and powers;
and it was said to him it is your right to organize
the elements; and to your creations and posterity
there shall be no end...
Our spirits and the spirits of all human family were
begotten by Adam and born of Eve (32).
At no previous time had Brigham gone into as much detail concerning
Adam as he did during this discourse. While the Mormon prophet had
formerly taught that Adam was the God and Father of Jesus Christ and
the father of men's spirits, he had never expounded upon Adam's
pre-earthly course of life as he did during this 1854 conference.
to fully comprehend the implications of Brigham's statements
concerning Adam's pre-earthly development and advancement from stage
to stage, it is necessary to understand the Mormon doctrine of
"eternal progression." Mormonism's fifth President, Lorenzo Snow,
summarized this doctrine with his aphorism:
As man is, God once was;
As God is, man may become.
The doctrine of eternal progression states that God the Father was
once a man who lived, died, and was resurrected upon an earth
similar to ours. By his faithfulness to the commandments of his God
he progressed and advanced from degree until he was crowned with
exaltation, or Godhood. Having become God, he was then given the
privilege of creating this world and being the Lord over it. He
and his wife then begot the spirits which would later enter into
the fleshly tabernacles which he would form for them. In a discourse
in September of 1856, Brigham, Young described this progression to
exaltation which God the Father had passed through:
...our father in heaven is exalted and glorified. he
was received His thrones, His principalities and
powers, and He sits as a governor, as a monarch, and
overrules kingdoms, thrones, and dominions that have
been bequeathed to Him, and such as we anticipate
receiving. While He was in the flesh, as we are, He
was as we are. But it is now written of Him that our
God is as a consuming fire, that He dwells in
everlasting burnings,...God is the Father of our
spirits; He begat them and has sent them here to
This same doctrine of eternal progression teaches that men today,
if faithful as their God was, will continue on the road of
progression until they too are exalted and crowned with Godhood.
They will then not only receive eternal life, but they will as Gods
be given "eternal lives" or the power of eternal increase. They will
then have the ability to organize a world and to be the progenitors
of the spirits of its inhabitants. In a discourse delivered during a
special conference in August of 1852, Brigham, Young described this
After men have got their exaltations and their crowns
- have become Gods, even the sons of God - are made
Kings of kings and Lords of lords, they have the power
then or propagating their species in spirit; and that
is the first of their operations with regard to
organizing a world. Power is then given to them to
organize the elements, and then commence the
organization of tabernacles (34).
Having an understanding of the Mormon concept of eternal progression,
we can now clearly see the implications of Brigham Young's
statements in his 1854 General Conference discourse. When he stated
that Adam "was a resurrected being", he meant that Adam had lived,
died, and had been resurrected upon another earth. By stating that
Adam "in the celestial kingdom...was crowned with glory, immortality,
and eternal lives", he was saying that Adam had attained to
exaltation and was therefore a God. In his statement that "our
spirits and the spirits of all the human family were begotten by
Adam", he was claiming, in no uncertain terms, that Adam was
Heavenly Father. In short, by applying these statements to Adam,
Brigham meant that prior to the organization of this world Adam had
advanced along the road to eternal progression and was exalted to
Godhood. He would therefore be our Father and our God and the only
God with whom we have to do.
Throughout the lengthy address which was delivered in the open air
that day, according to the _Deseret_News_ Brigham "held the vast
audience as it were spellbound" (35). Wilford Woodruff believed
Brigham's address to be "the greatest sermon ever delivered to the
Latter-Day Saints since they were a people" (36)
_The_Journal_of_the_Southern_Indian_Mission_ also noted Brigham
Young's address, stating that it was a "discourse equaled by none"
Though many were favorable impressed with Brigham's statements that
afternoon, there were nevertheless some who opposed. Joseph Lee
Robinson, who attended the conference, noted that Orson Pratt was
Attended conference, a very interesting conference,
for at this meeting President Brigham Young said thus,
that Adam and Eve were the names of the first man and
woman of every earth that was ever organized and that
Adam and ever were the natural father and mother of
every spirit that comes to this planet, or that
receives tabernacles on this planet, consequently we
are brothers and sisters and that Adam was God, our
Eternal Father. This as Brother Heber remarked, was
letting the cat out of the bag,...but behold ye there
were some that did not believe these sayings of the
Prophet Brigham, even our Beloved Brother Orson Pratt
told me he did not believe it. He said he could prove
by scriptures it was not correct. I felt very sorry to
hear Professor Orson Pratt say that. I feared lest he
should apostatize (38).
While Pratt was publicly denying the doctrine of the Church
President, others who trusted their prophet's counsel and doctrine
were adopting his revelations into their own writings. On January 9,
1855, during a social party in the Great Salt Lake City, Eliza R.
Snow (39) recited the following from a poem she had written:
Father Adam, our God, let all Israel extol, and Jesus,
our Brother, who died for us all:... (40).
Shortly after this a new edition of the LDS Church hymn book was
printed. Among the hymns contained in the book was one which
confessed Adam along with the other two members of the Godhead:
We believe in our God, the great Prince of his race,
The Archangel Michael, the Ancient of Days,
Our own Father Adam, earth's Lord as is plain,
Who'll counsel and fight for his children again.
We believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, who in love,
To his brethren and sisters, came down from above,
To die to redeem them from death, and to teach
To mortals and spirits the Gospel we preach.
We believe in the Spirit most holy, that's given
From God our great Father, who dwells high in heaven,
To instruct and enlighten, to comfort and cheer-
Tongues, dreams, visions, healings proclaim it is here
In the spring of 1856 another confrontation erupted between Young
and Pratt over the position of Adam. Under the date of March 11,
1856, Samuel Richards recorded in his journal the events which
transpired between the two that evening:
Evening with the Regency in the Upper Room of the
President's office,... A very serious conversation
took place between Prest. B. Young and Orson Pratt
upon doctrine. O.P. was directly opposed to the
Prest. views and very freely expressed his entire
disbelief in them after being told by the President
that things were so and so in the name of the Lord.
He was firm in the Position that the Prest's word in
the name of the Lord, was not the word of the Lord to
him. The Prest. did not believe that Orson would ever
be Adam, to learn by experience the facts discussed,
but every other person in the room would if they lived
Brigham's statements, that Pratt would never be "Adam", suggest that
the two were again disputing over the subject of the first man.
Wilford Woodruff, who was also present that night, noted this
indeed was the issue discussed.
I spent part of the day in the committee room and met
with the regency in the evening...the subject was
brought up concerning Adam being made of the dust of
the earth and elder Orson Pratt pursued a course of
stubbornness and unbelief in what President Young said
that will destroy him if he does not repent and turn
from his evil way For when any man crosses the track
of a leader in Israel and tries to lead the prophet...
he is no longer led by him but is in danger of falling.
A few months after this event, Brigham Young's first Counselor,
Heber C. Kimbell, publicly sustained the Church President as the
Prophet of God whose doctrines were inspired:
Just think of your position; you have heard the
teachings and instructions of President Young, and his
instructions are the word of God to us, and I know
that every man and woman in this Church who rejects
his testimony, and the testimony of those that he
sends, rejects the testimony of God his Father. I know
that, just as well as I know that I see your faces
Because rejecting Brigham's word was rejecting God, Orson Pratt was
walking on thin ice. According to Wilford Woodruff, Pratt's Church
membership was on the line:
President Young made some remarks about Orson Pratt and said that
if he did not take a different course in his philosophy..he
would not stay long in this Church (44).
OPPOSITION TO ADAM-GOD INTENSIFIES
Brigham's opposition did not consist of Orson Pratt alone.
Apparently there were a number of Mormons who were muttering their
disbelief. It was to this group that the prophet addressed the
following remarks during a discourse delivered on October 7, 1857:
Some have grumbled because I believe our God to be so
near to us as Father Adam. There are many who know
that doctrine to be true... Now, if it should happen
that we have to pay tribute to Father Adam, what a
humiliating circumstance it would be! Just wait till
you pass Joseph Smith; and after Joseph lets you pass
him, you will find Peter; and after you pass the
Apostles and many of the Prophets, you will find
Abraham, and he will say, "I have the keys, and except
you do thus and so, you cannot pass"; and after a
while you come to Jesus; and when you at length meet
Father Adam, how strange it will appear to your present
Nevertheless, it was the Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt who was the real
thorn in Brigham's side, and it was inevitable that the President
would seek its removal. In 1860 Young gathered his Apostles to
consider the case of Orson Pratt's remarks.
After the Mormon General Authorities assembled in the President's
office on the evening of January 27, Brigham read to them various
doctrinal statements written by Pratt. He followed by expressing his
disbelief in these doctrines. Wilford Woodruff then confessed his
trust in Young:
...it has ever been a key with me that when the
Prophet who leads presents a doctrine or principle or
says thus saith the Lord I make it a point to receive
it even if it comes in contact with my tradition or
views being well satisfied that the Lord would reveal
the truth unto his Prophet whom he has called to lead
the Church before he would unto me, and the word of
the Lord through the prophet is the End of the Law
unto me (46).
One by one the Apostles expressed their faith in their prophet and
sought to lead Pratt to a confession and repentance. The stubborn
Apostle did not budge, however. Having no confidence in the
prophet's declaration, Pratt refused to confess what he believe to
I must have something more than a declaration of
President Young to convince me. I must have evidence.
I am willing to take President Young as a guide in
most things, but not in all.... President Young said
I ought to make a Confession But Orson Pratt is not a
man to make a Confession I do not believe. I am not
going to crawl to Brigham Young and act the hypocrite
and confess what I do not believe.... President Young
condemns my doctrine to be false. I do not believe
them to be false... I will not act the hypocrite. It
may cost me my fellowship But I will stick to it. If
I die tonight I would say O Lord God Almighty I
believe what I say.
The Apostles stood amazed. After a moment's pause Apostle John
Taylor tried to convince Orson of his error. Wilford Woodruff
Brother Orson Pratt, I wish to ask you one or two
questions. You see that the spirit and doctrine which
you possess is entirely in opposition to the First
Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and all who are
present this evening, and it chills the blood in our
veins to hear your words and feel your spirit. Should
not this be a Guidance to you that you are wrong...
Every man in this room who has a particle of the
Spirit of God knows that President Young is a Prophet
of God and that God sustains him and He has the Holy
Spirit and his doctrines are true...
Various other Apostles testified that Orson was in error. President
Young then closed by stating the importance of following God's
Prophet. The meeting was dismissed; Pratt made no concession.
It must have been a sleepless night for Orson, however; the
following day saw a change in the disposition of the Apostle.
Wilford Woodruff noted this in his journal:
I spent the day in the office. I met with the Twelve
in the prayer circle. Orson Pratt met with us. He did
not dress but said he wanted to be in the society of
the Twelve. He seemed much more soft in his spirit
then he had been.
Quite unexpectedly, Orson Pratt on the next day confessed from the
Tabernacle stand that he was in error. Woodruff informs us of the
Sunday I met at the Tabernacle. Orson Pratt was in the
stand and quite unexpected to his brethren he arose
before his brethren and made a very humble full
confession before the whole assembly for his
opposition to President Young and his brethren and he
said he wished all the Church was present to hear it.
He quoted Joseph Smith's revelation to prove that
President Young was right and that all was under
obligation to follow the Leader of the Church. I
never heard Orson Pratt speak better or more to the
satisfaction of the People, than on this occasion.
AT ISSUE: IS YOUNG TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE?
Strange and fickle as it might seem, however, within a few months
Pratt was again openly opposing Brigham! On April 4 and 5 the
Church Authorities again convened to discuss Pratt. Though the
subject of Adam was not the major issue during the January 27
meeting, it was brought up often during these sessions.
On April 4 in the Church Historians Office Pratt told the quorum
members that he did not find the Adam-God doctrine to be supported
by Joseph's revelation:
I would like to enumerate items first preached and
published that Adam is the Father of our spirits...
When I read the revelation given Joseph I read
directly the opposite.
Brigham later responded to Orson's attack by appealing to his own
It is my duty to see that correct doctrine is taught
and to guard the Church from error, it is my calling.
Orson spurned this statement; still believing that the Mormon
prophet could err in doctrine even when he was acting as a
prophet. With Brigham absent on the following day, Mormon Apostle
Orson Hyde answered Pratt by affirming that to charge the prophet
with advancing false doctrine was in reality undermining the entire
truth and foundation of their religion. God's prophets cannot
advance false doctrine. Therefore, to acknowledge that the prophet
Brigham was indeed advancing false doctrine would be to acknowledge
that he was not divinely led. This would destroy their claim to be
the Kingdom of God. Hyde insisted on this implication:
To acknowledge that this is the Kingdom of God, and
that there is a presiding power, and to admit that he
can advance incorrect doctrine is to lay the axe at
the root of the tree. Will he suffer his mouthpiece
to go into error? No. He would remove him and place
another there. Brother Brigham may err in the price of
a horse,... but in the revelations from God, where is
the man that has given thus saith the Lord when it was
not so? I cannot find one instance.
Pratt expressed his total disbelief in Brigham's doctrine regarding
In regard to Adam being our Father and God... I
frankly say, I have no confidence in it, although
advanced by Brother Kimball in the stand, and
afterwards approved by Brigham... I have heard Brigham
say that Adam is the Father of our spirits and he came
here with a resurrected body, to fall for his own
children, and I said to him it leads to an endless
number of falls which leads to sorrow and death; that
is revolting to my feelings, even if it were sustained
Orson Pratt's central argument was that Young's doctrine
contradicted the Scriptures. Joseph Smith claimed to have restored
the pure version of the Genesis creation narrative in his inspired
revision of the earlier chapters of the Bible. This "inspired"
revision later became part of Mormon scripture, entitled the Book of
Moses. In the following verse Joseph's account of Genesis distinctly
implies that Adam was not the God and Father of Jesus Christ:
And he called upon out 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 Jesus
Christ... and now, behold, I say unto you: This is
the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood
of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian
of time (Moses 6:51f., 62)
These and other passages in Joseph's Book of Moses teach that the
Father of the only begotten son, Jesus Christ, spoke to Adam in the
Garden. that clearly indicates that Adam was not God the Father. It
was to this fact that Orson Pratt appealed:
One [revelation] says that Adam was formed out of the
earth, and the Lord put in his spirit, and another
that he came with his body, flesh and bones, thus
there are two contradictory revelations. in the garden
it is said that a voice said to Adam, in the meridian
of time, I will send my only begotten son Jesus Christ,
then how can that man and Adam both be the Father of
Jesus Christ? It was the Father of Jesus Christ that
was talking to Adam in the garden. Young says that Adam
was the Father of Jesus Christ both of his spirit and
body in his teaching from the stand.
The apostles answered Pratt by reassuring Brigham's divine calling;
he was God's mouthpiece. The thought that a prophet of God could
advance false doctrine chilled their blood. It was the duty of all
to set aside any personal opinions and to be subject to the
pronouncements of their divinely led leader. Wilford Woodruff
As our leaders are inspired to talk, they are
inspired oracles, and we should be as limber as a dish
Hyde, the President of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, later in
the session asked his brethren what should be required of Orson
Pratt. George A. Smith, Church Historian, responded by suggesting
that Orson acknowledge Brigham as a prophet and inspired man. Smith
assured that if Brigham was indeed the Church President, he would be
a inspired man. On the other hand, if Orson Pratt were correct in
his doctrines, which were declared to be false by Brigham, then all
would have to conclude that the man whom they had thought was God's
prophet was in fact not divinely led. Smith told Hyde that Pratt
...acknowledge Brigham Young as President of the
Church in the exercise of this calling. But he only
acknowledges him as a poor driveling fool, he preaches
doctrines opposed to Joseph, and all other revelations.
If Brigham Young is the President of the Church he is
an inspired man. If we have not an inspired man, then
Orson Pratt it right.
Pratt's January confession sermon was then revised for publication.
Shortly after this the meeting came to a close. It was agreed that
the proceedings of the sessions would be kept silent. Brigham and
Pratt assured each other that no more would be said concerning
their disagreement, and though Orson still disagreed with the
prophet's teachings, it seemed that Brigham would not take any
drastic action. In a few months, however, Orson received a mission
call which would remove him from the Salt Lake area to the eastern
United States (48).
YOUNG'S ADAM-GOD MEETS CONTINUED OPPOSITION
All opposition did not cease with Orson Pratt's removal. This time,
though, the attack came from a group outside the LDS fold - the
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (49).
Believing the original teachings of Joseph Smith to be true, the
Reorganized Church immediately spotted the contradiction in
Brigham's doctrine of Adam becoming God. In the November and
December issues of their _True_Latter-Day_Saint_Herald_, the RLDS
Church printed a lengthy refutation of Brigham's Adam-God doctrine.
This article uses the same arguments and quotes the same scriptures
as Orson Pratt did earlier that year when he contended with the
Utah prophet. The _Herald_ sought to overthrow the words of the
living prophet by appealing to the written word.
The _True_Latter-Day_Saint_Herald_ saw clearly that Brigham Young
was teaching false doctrine though he claimed to be acting as a
prophet. They also clearly realized the implications. The man
whom many looked to as being the successor of their martyred
prophet was in reality a false prophet who taught as the word
of God the imaginations of his own heart. Seeing by this that the
Utah faction was not of God, they urged Utah Mormons to return to
the true God.
The article in the _Herald_ caused no small stir when it reached
Utah. In his diary under the date of February 3, 1861, John D. Lee,
adopted son of Brigham Young, recorded the following:
Eving attendd Prayer meeting & instructed the Saints
on the points of Doctrine refereed to by the true
Latterday Saints Herald & their Bombarding Pres. B.
Young for Saying that Adam is all the god that we have
to do with & to those that know no better, it is quite
a stumbling Block... (50).
The Utah authorities held to the revelations revealed by their
prophet. Some even claimed to have received for themselves a
revelation that confirmed what the Living oracle had spoken. In a
notebook that contained several personal revelations which he
believed God had personally revealed to Him, Heber C. Kimbell,
counselor to Brigham Young, recorded the following:
April 30, 1862, the Lord told me that Adam was my
father and that he was the God and father of all the
inhabitants of this earth (51).
Though assailed from outside and from within the ranks of his own
people, Brigham Young continued to set forth his belief in the
doctrine. Speaking in the Tabernacle on the morning of October
8, 1861, Young remarked:
I will give you a few words of doctrine, upon which
there has been much inquiry, and with regard to which
considerable ignorance exists. Br. Watt will write it,
but it is not my intention to have it published
therefore pay good attention, and store it up in your
memories. Some years ago, 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. Is is one of the most glorious
revealments of the economy of heaven, yet the world
holds it [in] derision. Had I revealed the doctrine of
baptism from the dead instead [of] Joseph Smith there
are men around me who would have ridiculed the idea
until doomsday. But they are ignorant and stupid like
the dumb ass (52).
A year prior to this statement Brigham stated that the only thing
of which he was guilty was that he had revealed too much truth to
...if guilt before my God and brethren rests upon me
in the least, it is in this one thing - that I have
revealed too much concerning God and his Kingdom,
and the designs of our Father in heaven. If my skirts
are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I
have been too free in telling what God is, how he
lives, the nature of his providences and the earth,
his designs concerning them, etc. If I had, like Paul,
said - "But if any man be ignorant, let him be
ignorant", perhaps it would have been better for the
Nevertheless, as the years passed Young was still emphatically
claiming that Adam was God the Father. In fact, he asserted this
revelation in terms stronger than he ever had before. On June 8,
1973, Brigham again addressed his audience concerning Adam, and the
week following he had his discourse published in the
How much unbelief exists in the minds of the
Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine
which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me
- namely that Adam is our Father and God... The
Christian world read of, and think about, St. Paul,
also St. Peter, the chief of Apostles. These men were
faithful to and magnified the priesthood while on the
earth. Now, where will be the mystery, after they have
passed through all the ordeals, and have been crowned
and exalted, and received their inheritances in the
eternal worlds of glory, for them to be sent forth, as
the Gods have been forever and ever, with the command
- "Make yourselves an earth, and people it with your
own children?"... Oh fools, and slow of heart to
believe the great things that God has purposed in his
own mind... Adam came here and got it up in a shape
that would suit him to commence business. What is the
great mystery about it? None, that I have seen. The
mystery in this, as with miracles, or anything else,
is only to those who are ignorant. Father Adam came
here, and then they brought his wife. "Well". says
one. "Why was Adam called Adam?" He was the first man
on the earth, and its framer and maker. He with the
help of his brethren, brought it into existence 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. I have
the privilege of extending my work, and to its increase
there will be no end. I want my children who were born
to me in the spirit world to come here and take
tabernacles of flesh..."
The opposition was still present, and there were still those who
disbelieved in the sayings of their leader. It is interesting to
note in this sermon that Brigham does not grieve over any
misquotations or misunderstandings of his previous statements
concerning Adam, but rather he laments over the disbelief which
existed among his brethren. During all the years Young never claimed
to be misquoted or misinterpreted. Instead, he appealed to his
divine calling as proof of the truth of this statements.
Young also did not shy away from claiming that his teachings were
the Word of God. He did not believe his doctrine to be just his
personal opinion, which could be wrong. On the contrary, believing
himself to be a prophet of God, he declared all of his sermons to be
revelation, directly from the Lord:
I know just as well what to teach this people and just
what to say to them and what to do in order to bring
them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to
my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in
our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have
never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the
children of men that they may not call Scripture. Let
me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it
is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have
the oracles of God continually (54).
Brother Orson Hyde referred to a few who complained
about not getting revelations. I will make a statement
here that has been brought against me as a crime,
perhaps as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not
allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in
the councils of the nations - that Brigham Young has
said "when he sends forth his discourses to the world
they may call them Scripture." I say now when they are
copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture
as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read
revelation read the sayings of him who knows this mind
of God... (55).
There is no room for thinking that Brigham was expressing what he
believed to be merely his own opinions. No. He rightly believed
that when a prophet of God acts as a prophet, he speaks the truth.
YOUNG FIRM TO THE END ON ADAM-GOD
As we come to 1877, the last year of Brigham Young's life, we find
him still teaching what he had first taught 25 years before. The
setting for this discourse is in the home of Brigham Young. There
appears to be evidence that part of this address was to be used as
the lecture before the veil in all future endowment ceremonies:
...after supper went to Prest Young's... Prest Young
was filled with the spirit of God and revelation and
said... "In the creation the gods entered into an
agreement about forming this earth & putting Michael
or Adam upon it. these things of which I have been
speaking are what are termed the mysteries of
godliness but they will enable you to understand the
expression Jesus made while in Jerusalem. This is
life eternal that they might know thee, the only
true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. we
were once acquainted with the Gods & lived with them
but we had the privilege of taking upon us flesh that
the spirit might have a house to dwell in. we did so
and forgot all and came into the world not
recollecting anything of which we had previously
We have heard a great deal about Adam and Eve, how
they were formed & some thing he was made like an
adobie and the Lord breathed into him the breath of
life, for we read 'from dust thou are art and unto
dust thou shalt return'. Well he was made of the dust
of the earth but not of this earth. he was made just
the same way you and I are made but on another earth.
Adam was an immortal being when he came on this earth.
he had lived on an earth similar to ours, he had
received the Priesthood and the he Keys thereof and had
been faithful in all things and gained his
resurrection and his exaltation and was crowned with
glory immortality and eternal lives and was numbered
with the Gods for such he became through his
faithfulness, and had begotton all the spirits that
was to come to this earth. and Eve our common mother
who is the mother of all living bore those spirits
in the celestial world. and when this earth was
organized by Elohim, Jehovah and Michael who is Adam
our common Father, Adam and Eve had the privilege to
continue the work of progression, consequently came to
this earth and commenced the great work of forming
tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in. and when
Adam and those that assisted him had completed this
kingdom our earth he came to it, and slept and forgot
all and became like an infant child. it is said by
Moses the historian that the Lord caused a deep sleep
to come upon Adam and took from his side a rib and
formed the woman that Adam called Eve - this should be
interpreted that the man Adam like all other men had
the seed within him to propagate his species, but not
the woman. she conceives the seed but does not produce
it, consequently she was taken from the side or bowels
of her father. this explains the mystery of Moses' ark
sayings in regard to Adam and Eve. Adam & Eve when they
were placed on this earth were immortal beings with
flesh and bones, and sinues, but upon partaking of the
fruit of the earth while in the garden and cultivating
the ground their bodies became changed from immortal to
mortal beings with blood coursing through their veins
as the action of life... Father Adam's oldest son
(Jesus the Savior) who is the heir of the family is
Father Adam's first begotten in the spirit world, who
according to the flesh is the only begotten as it is
written. (In his divinity he having gone back into the
spirit world and come in the spirit to Mary and she
conceived for when Adam and Eve got through their work
on earth they did not lay their bodies down in the
dust, but returned to the spirit world from whence they
I felt myself much blessed in being permitted to
associate with such men and hear such instructions as
they savored of life to me (56).
At one minute past 4:00 P.M., on August 29, 1877, Brigham Young died.
He presided over the Mormon Church longer than any other man -
30 years. Though many continued to believe in Adam as their God,
the doctrine was largely buried along with Brigham. Rather than
publicly preaching this doctrine, the Church authorities sought to
avoid controversy by remaining silent.
THE PRESENT DILEMMA AND THE TRUE WAY OUT
As time went on, not only did the Adam doctrine cease to be preached,
but it began to be denied. Most LDS General Authorities even denied
that Brigham had ever taught it. Being far removed from the time in
which the second Mormon President expounded the teaching, these
apologist were safe in dismissing his remarks as being misquoted or
misinterpreted. Those who continued to believe the Adam-God teaching
were soon to be excommunicated from the Church for believing it.
Books and articles were written to denounce the Adam-God theory These
books quoted against the false doctrine the precise verses that Orson
Pratt and the Reorganized Church had employed against Brigham a
hundred years before (57). There were no admissions that Brigham had
taught it. Instead, there were denials.
An examination of the evidence, however, will admit to no other
conclusion that that Brigham Young did teach that Adam was Heavenly
Father, the Father of men's spirits as well as the Father of Jesus
Christ in the flesh. Brigham Young, one of recent history's most
prominent religious leaders, did indeed advance a doctrine that was
to focus worship on a strange god. The doctrine that he taught for
over 25 years was false doctrine and the LDS Church admits this
today. It has, in effect, sided with Orson Pratt and has adopted his
arguments and views as being right. However, in doing this it has
unknowingly admitted that Brigham was not an inspired prophet of God.
It is caught in the words of one of its own Apostles, George A. Smith:
If Brigham Young is the President of the Church he is
an inspired man. If we have not an inspired man, then
Orson Pratt is right.
The implications certainly are obvious. The claims of the Utah LDS
church utterly collapse when they claim to be the only true church
and the sole possessor of God's authority.
The Mormon, furthermore, faces the dilemma of being unable to be
certain that his present prophet is advancing in true doctrine.
Perhaps the present teachings of the living prophet will be
tomorrow's false teachings of a dead prophet. Perhaps the present
revelations which the modern President claims to have received will
be swept under the carpet as was the revelation concerning Adam that
Brigham Young claimed to have received from God.
Today's Mormon cannot hide behind a testimony that the living
prophet is advancing in correct doctrine. His testimony holds no
more weight than the strong testimonies which past members had
concerning the truth of Brigham's Adam-God teaching. In reality, no
Mormon can test assured and have confidence that his prophet is not
uttering the imaginations of his own heart. Even when he speaks as a
prophet and is sustained and defended by his fellow Apostles, he
still cannot be fully trusted.
This frightening dilemma in which the Mormon finds himself is not
peculiar to him or his people, but is the snare in which all men
find themselves when they put their trust in men. To trust the arm
of flesh is really to have no hope at all. One's faith can be only
as firm as the object upon which he places his trust. To place one's
confidence upon erring flesh is to lack firm footing and roots:
Thus says the Lord, Cursed is the man who trust in
mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose
heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like
a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity
comes, but will live in stony wastes in the
wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant
God invites all men today to place their trust in Him directly
through His Son, Jesus Christ. Unlike a false prophet who teaches
the people to follow a strange god, Jesus can be fully trusted to
lead us to His Father. By His death, Christ has secured a place in
the presence of God for all who place their trust in him. Those who
trust Him can be absolutely sure that He will never fail.
CHRIS ALEX VLACHOS
COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES
288 NORTH 100 WEST
PROVO, UTAH 84601
Even as this article was being prepared for its publication, Mormon
Apostle Mark E. Peterson was busily revising his book. "Adam Who Is
He?" Because of previous exposure of the deception concerning
Peterson's statement on pages 16 and 17 of his book (quoted under
heading: Denial Adam-God Was Taught) they were forced to "correct"
what was apparently one of Peterson's strongest arguments alleging
that Brigham Young was "misquoted". As you recall, Peterson went to
great lengths about the "misquotation" and the proof of that being
a "signed statement" of C.C. Rich. But since it was clear that
neither assertion was factual, Peterson changed the paragraphs
in question to read as follows:
Elder Charles C. Rich was not present on the day when
President Young gave an address that was wrongly
reported as saying Adam was our Father in heaven
(see JD 1:51). The sermon was delivered April 9, 1852,
and Elder Rich returned April 21. In a copy of the
Journal of Discourses Elder Ben E. Rich, son of Elder
Charles C. Rich, referred to the misquotation as it
appears in the Journal of Discourses, and in his own
hand corrected the statement to read as follows:
"Jesus out Elder Brother, was begotten in the flesh by
the same character who talked with Adam in the Garden
of Eden, and who is our Father in heaven." In this same
statement Ben E. Rich wrote "As corrected above is what
Prest. Young said, as testified to me by my father, C.C.
Rich." (This signed statement is in the hands of the
Church Historical Department).
Some of the reporters at the Tabernacle in those days
were not so skilled as others, and admittedly made
mistakes, such as the misquotations of President Young
as above, which was corrected by Brother Rich and
which has caused some persons in the Church to go
On the face of it the mistake is obvious. We find in
Genesis 2:15-16 and 3:8-9 that God walked and talked
with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Mark E. Peterson
Adam Who Is He? (1979 Edition)
It is quite interesting to compare this version with the one that
was quoted in this booklet because we see a complete turning
around of the facts, but an attempt to stay with the
The "strength" of Peterson's argument (such as it was) was based
on the "fact" that C.C. Rich was present at the delivery of the
sermon and thus able to "correct" the "misquotation". Since we
know, and Peterson admits that C.C. Rich was NOT present, the
whole basis of the argument is now totally missing. Who cares
what Ben E. Rich wrote in his copy of the Journal of Discourses
several decades later (remember he wasn't even born until 1855)
especially when we was quoting a man who was not even there?
(1) Calvin, in his exposition of the second commandment, explains
this beautifully: The Lord very frequently addresses us in the
character of a husband...As he performs all the offices of a
true and faithful husband, so he requires love and chastity
from us; that is, that we do not prostitute our souls to Satan.
As the purer and chaster a husband is, the more grievously he
is offended when he sees his wife inclining to a rival; so the
Lord, who has betrothed us to Himself in truth, declares that
he burns in the hottest jealousy whenever, neglecting the
purity of His holy marriage, we defile ourselves with
abominable lusts and especially when the worship of His deity,
which ought to have been most carefully kept unimpaired, is
transferred to another... since in this way we not only violate
our plighted troth, but defile the nuptial couch, by giving
access to adulterers (Institutes, II, viii, 18).
(2) The Doctrine and Covenants, on of Mormonism's scriptures,
states that the Mormon people are "the only true and living
Church upon the face of the whole earth". (D&C, 1:30).
(3) Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt wrote that all other churches are
entirely destitute of all authority to administer the
But who in this generation have authority to baptize?
None but those who have received authority in the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: all other
churches are entirely destitute of all authority from
God; and any person who receives Baptism or the Lord's
Supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he
looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people. Both
Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the
"whore of Babylon" whom the Lord denounces by the mouth
of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth
by their fornications and wickedness. And any person who
shall be so wicked as to receive holy ordinance of the
gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate
churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless
they repent of the unholy and impious act
(Orson Pratt, The Seer, Washington ed., p.255).
(4) Joseph Smith claimed that in the spring of 1820 Jesus Christ
appeared to him in a vision and instructed him to join none
of the Christian denominations, "for they were all wrong and
all their creeds were an abomination and their professors
were all corrupt." (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2,
(5) Mormon Prophet Spencer W. Kimball was ordained an Apostle
under the hands of Heber J. Grant. Grant was likewise
ordained by George Q. Cannon. Cannon was ordained to his
apostolic office under the hands of Brigham Young.
Similarly, every one of the present Twelve Apostles of
the Mormon Church has received his ordination through
Brigham Young. If Brigham was false, then all those who
were ordained through him lack the very priesthood which
they believe Brigham had. A break in one link causes the
entire chain below it to fall to the ground; so a break
in the Mormon priesthood succession breaks off the
transfer of authority.
(6) "Misc. Minutes" unpublished ms., Brigham Young Collection,
Church Archives, Salt Lake City, p.1.
(7) Ibid., pp.6-7.
(8) Believing himself to be a prophet of God, Young declared
that it was his gift and calling to teach true doctrine
and to guard the members against heresy:
What man or woman on the earth, what spirit
in the spirit-world can say truthfully that
I have ever gave a wrong word of counsel,
or a word of advice that could not be
sanctioned by the heavens? (Journal of
Discourses, Vol. 12, p.127).
It is my duty to see that correct doctrine
is taught and to guard the Church from
error, it is my calling ("Misc. Minuets:,
unpublished ms., B.Y. Collection, Church
(9) Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.1 , p.50. According
to Mormon theology, Adam is Michael the archangel and the
Ancient of Days, Cf. Doctrine and Covenants, 27:11.
(10) Ibid., pp. 50-51.
(11) Diary of Hosea Stout. Copied from typed transcript. B.Y.U.
Library, Special Collections, Provo, Utah. The spelling,
grammar, and punctuation in this quotation as well as in
all others cited herein have not been changed from the
(12) Journal of Samuel H. Rogers, Vol. 1, p. 179. Copied from
the original located at B.Y.U. Library, Special Collections,
(13) Mark E. Peterson, ADAM WHO WAS HE? (Deseret Book, 1976),
(14) Spencer W. Kimball, Deseret News, October 9, 1976, Church
News Section, p.11).
(15) Leonard J. Arrington, Charles C. Rich (B.Y.U. Press, 1974),
(16) Copied from microfilm of original. B.Y.U. Library, Special
Collections, Prove, Utah.
(17) Copied from Deseret Weekly, microfilm, B.Y.U. Library.
(18) Copy of the original Journal of Discourses volume on which
statement was made is located in the Church Historian's
Office, Salt Lake City. For photo reproduction, see Bob
White, WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT?, p.77.
(19) Faced with the fact that Brigham Young made no attempt to
correct his statements, Mormon scholar, Rodney Turner,
was forced to admit that Brigham was quoted correctly:
Was Brigham Young misquoted? It is the
writer's opinion that the answer to
this question is a categorical no.
There is not the slightest evidence
from Brigham Young, or any other
source, that either his original
remarks on April 9, 1852, or any
of his subsequent statements were
ever misquoted in the official
publications of the Church... In
light of Brigham Young's attitude
toward the errors of others, and in
view of the division created by his
remarks concerning Adam, it would be
stretching one's credibility to the
breaking point to believe that he
would have remained silent had he
been misquoted. (The Position of Adam
in Latter-day Saint Scripture and
Theology, M.A. thesis, B.Y.U., pp.45-46;
thesis is presently restricted from
viewing or reading).
(20) Joseph Fielding Smith, ANSWERS TO GOSPEL QUESTIONS, Vol.
(21) Ibid., pp. 122-123.
(22) See Bruce R. McConkie, MORMON DOCTRINE (Bookcraft, 1966),
(23) In his thesis, Rodney Turner similarly discounts the
possibility that Brigham was being misinterpreted:
It is true that the original discourse of
April 9, 1852, could be taken in more than
one way; and if he had never mentioned the
subject again, his actual meaning would be
a moot point. However, he did mention the
subject again, many times. Therefore the
likelihood of misunderstanding him, in view
of his subsequent statements through the
years, becomes more remote (The Position of
(24) Brigham Young Papers, Feb. 19, 1854, call number Ms. F219
#81, Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City.
(25) Copied from microfilm of journal located at B.Y.U. Library,
Special Collections, Provo, Utah.
(26) See Bruce R. McConkie, MORMON DOCTRINE, pp.516-517.
(27) Millenial Star, Vol. 16, No. 31, August 5, 1854, p.482.
(28) Ibid., p.483
(29) Ibid., Vol. 16, No. 34, August 26, 1854, p.530.
(30) Ibid., pp.534-535.
(31) See T. B. H. Stenhouse, THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SAINTS, p.492.
Photo reproduction of original available through Modern
Microfilm Co., Box 1884, S.L.C., Utah 84110.
(32) Brigham Young Papers. Oct. 8, 1854, call number Ms. d 1234,
Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City.
(33) Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p.54).
(34) Ibid., Vol. 6, p.275.
(35) Deseret News, Vol. 4, No. 31, October 12, 1854, p.2.
(36) Journal of Wilford Woodruff, October 6-8, 1854.
(37) Journal of the Southern Indian Mission, p.88.
(38) Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, copied from typed transcript
located at B.Y.U. Library, Special Collections, p.62.
(39) Eliza R. Snow was a plural wife of Joseph Smith and was
later married to Brigham Young.
(40) Millenial Star, Vol. 17, No. 20, p.320.
(41) Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, 1856, 11th ed., p. 375. This hymn has been
deleted from present LDS hymnals. In the 20th ed. there
appeared a hymn titled, "Sons of Michael, He approaches."
In the second line Michael was described as the "eternal"
Father. In today's edition this has been changed to read
the "ancient" Father.
(42) Diary of Samuel Whitney Richards, copied from typed
transcript at B.Y.U. Library, Special Collections, Provo,
(43) Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p.2.
(44) Wilford Woodruff Journal, December 29, 1856. Typed from
microfilm of original.
(45) Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, p.331f.
(46) The minutes of this session are found in the Wilford
Woodruff Journal, under the date of January 27, 1860.
(47) The council minutes are located in the Brigham Young
Collection, Miscellaneous Papers, Church Historian's
(48) The entire Orson Pratt-Brigham Young affair cannot be
underestimated. The controversy which raged between the two
shows that Brigham was teaching that Adam was God. From the
charges that Pratt made it is clear what Brigham was
teaching. Furthermore, it is significant that Young made
no attempt to correct a misquotation or misinterpretation.
On the contrary, he defended his doctrine, and continued
to assert it. Importance should also be placed upon the
remarks of the other Apostles who rallied to their
Prophet's defense. They replied to Orson that a prophet
of God cannot advance false doctrine, therefore all
should accept the President's statements. They rightly
understood the biblical emphasis that a prophet of God
cannot advance false doctrine about God and that he
would be inspired to teach the truth. They also realized
the implications of Orson Pratt's statement. If Brigham
was advancing false doctrine, then he would be a false
prophet. Only a false prophet advances false doctrine.
To charge Mormonism's prophet with teaching false
doctrine would be to undermine Mormonism's claim to be a
divinely led people.
(49) The Reorganized Church at this time was known as the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later they
attached to themselves the title of being the "Reorganized"
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon
factions has its headquarters in Independence, Missouri.
(50) A MORMON CHRONICLE: THE DIARIES OF JOHN D. LEE (The
Huntington Library, 1955), Vol. 1, p.293.
(51) Sacred History, Solomon F. Kimball Papers, Church Historian's
Office, Salt Lake City.
(52) Manuscript Sermon, "A FEW WORDS OF DOCTRINE", Brigham
Young Collection, Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City.
(53) Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p.58.
(54) Ibid., Vol. 13, p.95.
(55) Ibid., p.264.
(56) L. John Nuttall Journal, pp.20-24, copied from original at
B.Y.U. Library, Special Collections, Provo, Utah.
(57) See Mark E. Peterson, ADAM WHO IS HE?