Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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60 I Dialogue praisal of the text, its background, and its meaning to later presidents, indicates that such a judgment is inaccurate. The document is carefully and sensitively worded. Its message is an affirmation that man is the spirit child of divine parentage, is in the image of God both in body and spirit, and that all men are descendants of a common ancestor, Adam. Lengthy scriptural passages are cited in affirmation of man's divine spiritual pedigree. And the origin of man's physical body? Three paragraphs are relevant, and form the crux of the matter; we shall denote them Paragraphs 12 to 14:71 Adam, our great progenitor, "the first man," was, like Christ, a pre-existent spirit, and like Christ he took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, and so became a "living soul." The doctrine of the pre-existence,—revealed so plainly, particularly in latter days, pours a wonderful flood of light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man's origin. It shows that man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality. It teaches that all men existed in the spirit before any man existed in the flesh, and that all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner. It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was "the first man of all men" (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father. True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ or embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man.72 The anti-evolutionary sentiment is evident, though guarded. Did the article really constitute an authoritative pronouncement against evolution as a possibility for the origin of man's body? The likelihood that it did was strengthened by a statement in the 1910 manual for the Priests of the Aaronic Priesthood, which indicated that man's "descent has not been from a lower form of life, but from the Highest Form of Life; in other words, man is, in the most literal sense, a child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also. There never was a time, probably, in all the eternities of the past, when there was not men or children of God. This world is only one of many worlds which have been created by the Father through His Only Begotten."73 But the statement continues, in a markedly less definitive vein: ". . . Adam, then, was probably not the first mortal man in the universe, but he was likely the first for this earth." And two pages later, the tone of indefiniteness is further continued as a matter of reasoning: One of the important points about this topic is to learn, if possible, how Adam obtained his body of flesh and bones. There would seem to be but one natural and reasonable explanation, and that is, that Adam obtained his body in the same way Christ obtained his—and just as all men obtain theirs—namely, by being born of woman. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also." (Doc. & Cov., 130:22). Then what is more natural than to conclude that the offspring of such Beings would have bodies of flesh and bones? Like begets like.74 Such sentiments were certain to evoke questions from Church members, and it was equally certain that they had to be handled at the highest level of the Church,