September 10, 2007

Obscure Thoughts on Adam

Brigham Young October 23, 1853

Did God the Father come into the Garden of Eden, take a patch of mud and fashion man like a sculpture? LDS theology offers a unique view of Adam; and for that matter, all of God's children. Adam existed before his physical tabernacle was created, and was named Michael.
In the Bible, Luke offers a small glimpse into the literal Fatherhood of God when he lists the genealogy of Jesus Christ, who was:
...the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi...[insert about 64 names]...Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God (Luke 3:23-38).
This literal fatherhood is likely what Brigham Young had in mind when he talked about the Biblical account which says man was "formed of the dust of the ground," (see Genesis 2:7). Was this literal or figurative? In the theology of the restored gospel, matter is uncreated and eternal.[1] This adds a little weight to a more figurative interpretation of the scripture as found in Genesis. I don't use the immortality of matter as proof of Pres. Young's statements on Adam, but mention it to ponder the implications of what the "dust" was.
At any rate, this brings me to the discourse wherein Brigham Young discussed the creation of Adam.[2]
In typical Brigham prose, his discourse covered a range of topics: the importance of the sacrament, the effects of baptism, the perfecting influence of persecution, the philosophical aspects of eternity, curbing a bad temper, and of course, what goes better with those doctrines than the nature of the creation of Adam?
Brother Brigham:
Listen, ye Latter-day Saints! Supposing that Adam was formed actually out of clay, out of the same kind of material from which bricks are formed; that with this matter God made the pattern of a man, and breathed into it the breath of life, and left it there, in that state of supposed perfection, he would have been an adobie to this day. He would not have known anything.
So Adam would have been nothing more than a brick, should we take the Biblical account literally. That is pretty blunt and straightforward, but Pres. Young isn't finished; just in case you missed the point. As an aside he says people can write to the United States about his doctrine; he was aware of recent noise being made in the eastern papers about what the renegade 'Mormons' were preaching out in the wilderness:
You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe, though it is supposed that it is so written in the Bible; but it is not, to my understanding. You can write that information to the States, if you please-that I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child (Journal of Discourses 2:29-43).
Footnotes: [1]
Eternity of matter
"...there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes" (D&C 131:7).
"The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end…Intelligence [generally speaking] is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle" (Joseph Smith, TPJS, pp. 353-54).

[2] I should add the statements of Pres. Young are not official doctrine of the Church, whether I believe them or not. A recent press release explains:

"Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted. Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine."


1 comment:

LifeOnaPlate said...

I should add: Christ was #70 in that list of names given in Luke. There is some significance to that, but that's a discussion for another day.

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