The Adam-God Doctrine
There is a mountain of evidence that President Brigham Young, while President of the church, taught something called the Adam-God doctrine. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie and President Gordon B. Hinckley have both admitted it as well. President Hinckley in The New Yorker:
We don’t speculate on that a lot. Brigham Young said if you went to Heaven and saw God it would be Adam and Eve. I don’t know what he meant by that.
So what is the doctrine that the President of the church taught?
He taught that Adam is God the Father. He came to this Earth, bringing along Eve, one of his plural wives. They became mortal by eating the fruit, established the human race, and eventually returned to heaven.
The first solid piece of evidence of the doctrine being taught was from General Conference in April 9, 1852. Brigham Young gave a sermon, recorded by his personal secretary, which ended up being included in the Journal of Discourses, which was accepted by Brigham Young and the rest of the First Presidency.
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…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 overrighteous mankind…. 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.
The doctrine was, as you would expect, rather shocking to many church members at the time. President Young gave another sermon a few years later, which was printed in the Deseret Weekly News:
How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is revealed to them, and which God revealed to me — namely that Adam is our father and God…Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or ever will come upon the earth.
Although it was controversial and surprising, the church leaders did support it at the time. We have records of Apostle Franklin D. Richards and Apostle Heber C. Kimball both proclaiming it as truth. Apostle Orson Pratt seems to have been the only one who disagreed with it.
In 1861, President Brigham Young had this to say:
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. It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven, yet the world hold derision. Had I revealed the doctrine of baptism from [sic.] the dead instead Joseph Smith there are men around me who would have ridiculed the idea until dooms day. But they are ignorant and stupid like the dumb ass.
So what does the church believe now?
After Brigham Young’s death, the church slowly distanced itself from the revelation. In 1897, President Joseph F. Smith had this to say:
With reference to Prest. B. Youngs remarks, in a discourse delivered in 1852. with reference to ‘Adam being the only God with whom we have to do’ &c. I will say:—Prest. Young no doubt expressed his personal opinion or views upon the subject. What he said was not given as a revelation or commandment from the Lord. The Doctrine was never submitted to the Councils of the Priesthood not to the Church for approval or ratification and was never formally or otherwise accepted by the Church. It is therefore in no sense binding upon the Church nor upon the consciences of any of the members thereof….
President Spencer W. Kimball:
We denounce [the Adam–God] theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.
Why is this significant?
The First Presidency Message in the June 1981 Liahona was an address from President Ezra Taft Benson. It was called “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” And this was the fourth fundamental:
Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
President Wilford Woodruff stated:
“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.”
President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:
“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’”
So which is it? Was President Brigham Young’s doctrine correct and perhaps we are just not ready to understand it? Or did the prophet of the church lead its members astray?
The Blood Atonement Doctrine
Just as with the Adam-God doctrine espoused by President Brigham Young, Blood Atonement is a doctrine taught in the church by church leaders at the time that is now no longer accepted as doctrine. Again, there is plenty of evidence that it was taught by Brigham Young while holding the mantle of prophet as well as other leaders of the church until it was officially renounced in 1978.
So what is the doctrine?
As I talked about here, the scriptures and teachings of the church are not clear on whether or not murder is a forgivable sin. The concept of Blood Atonement was that murderers could only obtain forgiveness through shedding their own blood until death, ideally as a voluntary choice by the sinner.
Brigham Young taught that it was charitable and that their mortal life might be ended but they would have a chance at exaltation they would not otherwise have been able to obtain. He also apparently expanded the doctrine to include sins like adultery, apostasy, and miscegenation.
President Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal, Wilford Woodruff Journal:
“And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground- it would also take the life of his children.”
Wikipedia does a fine job elaborating on how this doctrine evolved and what effect it had on Utah and the church for over a hundred years.
What does the church teach now?
The church’s official position can be found here:
“In the mid-19th century, when rhetorical, emotional oratory was common, some church members and leaders used strong language that included notions of people making restitution for their sins by giving up their own lives.
However, so-called “blood atonement,” by which individuals would be required to shed their own blood to pay for their sins, is not a doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in and teach the infinite and all-encompassing atonement of Jesus Christ, which makes forgiveness of sin and salvation possible for all people.”
Interestingly, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, the man responsible for the 1978 renunciation of the doctrine wrote in early editions of Mormon Doctrine that execution by firing squad was preferable to execution by hanging, because without the actual blood being spilled there would be no redemption.
Contradictions are a mark of falseness. If two statements contradict each other, then one of them must be false. If both statements come from the same person, then the suspicion must arise that the person is lying (or at least grossly mistaken) in one of them, or perhaps both.
Aside from the many historical and doctrinal contradictions already listed in the other posts here, there are a number of other significant ones.
Is there more than one God?
Scriptures that clearly say there is only one God: Alma 11:26-29, D&C 20:19, Moses 1:6, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 44:6, Isaiah 45:6
Passages that clearly say there is more than one God: Abraham Chapter 4, D&C 132:37, and modern teachings
Are God the Father and God the Son separate personages?
Passages that clearly say they are separate: D&C 130:22, JS-Hist 1:17, and modern teachings
Passages that clearly say they are the same: Mosiah 15:1-4, Ether 3:14
It’s also very interesting to note the differences in the early version of the Book of Mormon (before the First Vision was every mentioned) and the current version.
The 1830 version:
1 Nephi 11:21: “And the angel said unto me: Behold, the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!”
1 Nephi 13:40: “…the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world…”
1 Nephi 11:18: “And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God.”
1 Nephi 11:32: “And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.”
1 Nephi 11:21: “And the angel said unto me: Behold theLamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!”
1 Nephi 13:40: “…the Lamb of God is the Son of Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world…”
1 Nephi 11:18: “And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.”
1 Nephi 11:32: ” And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.”
What happens to people that didn’t have the chance to hear and accept the gospel in this life?
D&C 137:7-8 says they will make it into the celestial kingdom if they would have accepted it given the chance
D&C 76:71-78, especially verse 72, says they will only make it into the terrestrial kingdom
What happens to children who die?
But as the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead…. It will never grow: it will still be the child, in the same precise form as it appeared before it died out of its mother’s arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God. Children dwell in the mansions of glory and exercise power, but appear in the same form as when on earth,… with not one cubit added to their stature.
Joseph Fielding Smith, in Doctrines of Salvation, stated that their resurrected bodies would be
…The same size as it was when the child died. It will then grow after the resurrection to conform to the size of the spirit.
How was Jesus conceived?
Alma 7:10 and 1 Nephi 11 make it fairly certain that He was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost.
President Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51:
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… 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, remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine:
Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.
What did God think of David and Solomon’s polygamy?
It’s important to note here that what is presented is God’s view of polygamy during a single time. It’s different than saying that polygamy under Brigham Young was okay and polygamy now is not. It’s akin to God saying that Brigham Young practicing polygamy himself was approved and then later saying that it was an abomination.
Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me…
Also see 2 Samuel 12:7-8.
Is murder a forgivable sin?
3 Nephi 30:2, Alma 39:6, Matthew 12:31, and Jeremiah 33:8 all say that it is.
Joseph Smith in the King Follet Discourse, Journal of Discourses 6:8:
All sins, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come,… unless he has committed that unpardonable sin [the sin against the Holy Ghost]…
And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
Joseph Smith in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 339:
A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness… They [can] not be baptized for the remission of sins for they [have] shed innocent blood.
Where was the Garden of Eden?
Moses 3:10-15 has it in or near Ethiopia.
D&C 116 has it in Missouri.
Natural man, good or bad?
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man…
Apostle George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 21:79:
The natural man is at enmity with Christ and with God;…
Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 9:305:
Paul says in his Epistle to the Corinthians, ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of God,’ but I say it is the unnatural man that receiveth not the things of God. That which was, is and will continue to endure is more natural than that which will pass away and be no more. The natural man is of God.
Are people punished for the sins of their ancestors?
D&C 101:78, the second Article of Faith, and other Mormon scriptures state that men will punished for their own sins and not others’ transgressions.
But D&C 98:39-46, the Book of Mormon, and the Old Testament have examples of people being punished for the sins of their fathers, grandfathers, etc.
Who was the angel who appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823?
Modern editions of JS-History have it as Moroni, as is the common belief of the church now.
But the 1851 version of the Pearl of Great Price, the biography of Joseph Smith by his own mother, and multiple early Mormon periodicals had it as Nephi.
The ordinance of baptism has been changed by the modern church
3 Nephi 11:24-25, D&C 20:73, Mosiah 18:11-14 all have different wording for the ordinance of baptism.
Nowadays, any deviation whatsoever from D&C 20:73 means the ordinance was done improperly and must be done again. The church teaches that ordinances should never be changed.
In the August 2001 Ensign:
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, ‘Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. It is this principle of consistent and unalterable requirements that gives true meaning to the performance of vicarious ordinances in the temple.