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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Dialogue: Vol 16 No 2
LETTERS Another Look at Adam-God David Buerger's article, "The Adam-God Doctrine" (Spring 1982) demonstrates a great degree of skill and scholarly research. Nevertheless, he too lightly passes over the times Brigham Young taught against the Adam-God theory and the considerable evidence that Young did not believe Adam to be our God in the normal sense of the word. This information really warrants an article of its own; but here I will try to give some idea of the type of evidence that exists, and put in perspective some of the quotes in Buerger's essay. Before beginning, I need to reemphasize a point Buerger made well, namely that President Young never equated Elohim and Adam. For example, Young asserts, "Adam. ... is Michael. . . . The earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael." x We have seven examples where Young refers to Adam as the "father" of Jesus Christ.2 But two may not refer to Adam at all (AG 14, 15). One or two are of questionable accuracy (AG 33, 18), and the rest merely state without elaboration that Adam is the "father of Jesus Christ." Thus it is possible they were intended metaphorically. It is also possible that he was merely citing Joseph Smith and was personally unsure how they should be interpreted. Apparently 1 Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Book-craft, 1977), 1:96-97; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as DS. 2 David Buerger, "The Adam-God Doctrine," Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Spring 1982) : 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 30, 33; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as AG. Young did not believe Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of Adam, for he explained: it is the Lord who "created Adam and Eve" that sent his Only Begotten Son (AG 59) and that the Father demanded "recompense" for Adam and Eve's transgression and sent his "Only Begotten Son" to die for us.3 He often preached that Adam and Eve sinned the original sin, that Jesus atoned for it, and that no man could be saved without this atonement (BY 21, 26, 27, 30, 60, etc.). He seems to have believed that Adam was dependent upon Jesus for his salvation. All this and more strongly suggests Young did not think of Adam as the literal father of Jesus. The book of Moses explicitly denotes Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of Adam's God (1:33, 34; 3:18, 20; 4:28; 6:52) and conclusively demonstrates Adam's dependence on Christ for his salvation (5:7-11; 6:59). An exhaustive search through the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants yields only scriptures agreeing with the book of Moses, for example, Alma 12:26; 42:5, 7; D&C 29:1, 26. Buerger presents convincing evidence that Young did indeed believe Adam to be the literal father of our spirits. One would think such evidence would end all thoughts that Young believed Elohim to be the father of our spirits. Strangely enough, this is not the case. It turns out Young also taught clearly that Elohim is the father of our spirits. For instance, he explains that the father of our spirits sent his Only Begotten Son to atone for Adam's sin (BY 3 John A. Widtsoe, comp., Discourses of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978), p. 59; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as BY.