August 7, 2009

Matthew Brown: Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam

Matthew B. Brown holds a B.A. degree in history from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is the author of nine books (with one more forthcoming), has had articles published in the FARMS Review and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Matthew has lectured at a number of seminars, symposiums, and firesides and has been featured on several radio and TV programs. He has done some writing for FAIR projects and has been a speaker at three previous FAIR conferences.

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR is going to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out.  

April 9, 1852 in the old tabernacle Brigham Young was going to straighten out an issue of debate. Who was the father of Jesus Christ in the flesh; Elohim or the Holy Ghost. He announced it was neaither.

 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. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, the thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. (Journal of Discourses 1:50-51).

He talked about these things publicly about 30 times throughout the rest of his life. People have referred to this as Doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, mysteries. I label them as "teachings," and want to explain why. 

LDS Mythology in Response: 
1. 1852 sermon wrongly transcribed
2. Was referring to Heavenly Father not Adam
3. There was no error of doctrine, we misunderstand him.
4. Charles C. Rich said he was there and corrected it.
5. Only taught it a few times
6. Never explained it fully. 

They believed God the Father took on the role of Adam? Did all Mormons believe it? Was it official doctrine? 

Take a close look between 1852-1877. 

In 1852, it needs to be acknowledged that various elements of these teachings were circulating even in the Nauvoo era. He mentioned in the talk that he had a lot more to say than he said, but the elements don't come from SLC in 1852. Stretch back into Kirtland period and Nauvoo. 

Brown mapped out the Adam-God teachings and highlighted aspects Young changed over time. [Brown used Brigham Young quotes to map out the following plan or understanding:]

Adam born n another earth, died, became exalted, then After the resurrection of Adam he was crowned with glory, with thrones, and it was said it was his right to organize the elements and to his posterity there would be no end. 

Creation of Spirit Children. 
After resurrection had the ability to create spirits and organize a world. Begoitten, born, educated in spirit world. Adam and Eve natural father and mother of all spirits that come to this planet. Each person crowned in Celestial Kingdom becomes a Father and a God. Adam is Father of all living and Eve mother of all living, so Adam is their God. 

Pre-Mortal Council
Adam called for volunteers etc. for a Savior, organize new earth, the one son becomes creater and redeemer, but "Grandfather" remains the chief commander. 

It was said to Adam or Michael by Eloheim, go and make the earth, he gathered the materials and with help of Brother brought earth into existence. An adam and eve are necessary for every earth. 

Garden and Fall:
Let us lay aside celestial glory for a season, become earthly, offspring will be mortal. We will begat mortal bodies for spirit children. We have power to lay celestial glory by and power to take it up again. They will follow the pattern and may become like us. When Adam came, he knew he would forget the past and commence anew. Bodies were pure until partook of fruit. 

Create Physical Bodies:
Tabernacles organized from course materials of this earth, etc. 

-Now first point of contradiction. BY had taught death and burial ended the Adam-God cycle. Mentioned it in Conference 8, Oct. 1854. This would mean that Adam would have to be resurrected again in order to regain celestial glory that he lost through "reduction." This contradicts that people can die no longer. So by 7 Feb 1877, BY taught when Adam and Eve finished work on earth they did not lie bodies down to the dust, but experienced some kind of translation and went back to heaven to begin cycle again. 

Closer look at terms and definitions, how BY and associates applied them

-Typically an exalted being of celestial order, a pre-mortal spirit (like Christ,) or a resurrected person. They held to an expanded view, and a god could include someone who organizes elements and someone mortal or otherwise who is the leader of a group. Such as Moses, who had "god-like" ability, he was a "God" to the people Israel. Waters obey command as if he was God, etc. Exodus 1, made thee a God to Pharoah. Title of God on mortal leader with granting of godlike power. 

8 April 1844 Joseph Smith, said God will make me the god to you in his stead. 

BY and Heber C. Kimball understood it. HCK said "Brother Brigham was my god, etc." all the way up to Jesus Christ being God. He was God before and after his mortal life. 

Brigham said "And in this manner, you may go right back to Father Adam." 

Gods Many? Expressing a few biblical scriptures in his own way. 1 Cor 8:5-16 "many gods" and Heb 4:13 speaks of "him with whom we have to do." John 17:3, ;ife eternal to know only true god. No man could have eternal life without that knowledge, they must become acquainted with out father and god. 

How did BY come to conclusion that Adam was the "only god with whom we have to do?" 

He relied upon Sec 107 D&C 53-55. Lord appointed Adam to be at the head of a multitude of nations, who would be his posterity. He would be prince over them forever. 

18 June 1873, "Father Adam is man who stands at gate and holds the keys of salvation all his children," D&C 78:16 mentions Adam having keys, and appointed as prince. BY seems to be referring to canonical texts. 

Adam: At head, holds salvific keys, called a prince (a ruler, a king, or governmental sovereign)

Some claim he was teaching that God the Father Elohim was Adam, but this is not the case. This is important distinction to remember. 

Emphasized to BY on 4 May 1842 in Red Brick Store, received temple endownment rites. Separate identities of Elohim and Adam is clear, and he, along with HCK, learned about the order of the Ancient of Days (Adam). Late 1845 BY and HCK became temple workers in Nauvoo, playing dramatic roles, knowing that Eolim and Adam were not the same person, etc. Orson Pratt was also a participant in the endowment presentation. Keep it in mind for later. 

shed light on why BY justified its formulation, etc. 

Points of focus in April 1852 was on how Jesus's physical body was created. Did not believe there was any other way to do it than what we know. Thus, both Jesus and Eve were procreated. "Adam was not an adobe." Didn;t believe it was literal a dust creation from the earth. From the dust a "baby story." 

29 Jan 1860 1st Pres (BY, HCK and Daniel H. Wells) issued formal statement against dome of Elder Orson Pratt's teachings. "With regard to him being formed out of dust of ground, etc. it is wise to leave it without further explanation at present." Thus, 1st presidency did NOT encase the adam god info in an official capacity here though had the chance. 

1. males personify Adam. > 
2. [not understood] Kingship initiation rituals, king personified Adam. > 
3. There is an Adam on every earth. > 
4. [Reckoned] each God became Adam on his earths. 

I think BY put item 1 and 3 together to come up with item 4. 

Claims of revelation from BY? How did BY compare himself as revelator with his predecessor? Didn;t receive revelations through the UandT, also said he professes to be an apostle, didn;t receive revelations in same way or capacity as JS. 

"Well, brother Brigham, have you had visions?" Yes, I have. "Have you had revelations?" Yes, I have them all the time, I live constantly by the principle of revelation. I never received one iota of intelligence, from the letter A to what I now know, I mean that, from the very start of my life to this time, I have never received one particle of intelligence only by revelation, no matter whether father or mother revealed it, or my sister, or neighbor. No person receives knowledge only upon the principle of revelation, that is, by having something revealed to them. "Do you have the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ?" I will leave that for others to judge. If the Lord requires anything of this people, and speaks through me, I will tell them of it; but if He does not, still we all live by the principle of revelation. Who reveals? Every body around us; we learn of each other. I have something which you have not, and you have something which I have not; I reveal what I have to you, and you reveal what you have to me. I believe that we are revelators to each other. (JD 3:209)

Bother Heber C. Kimball is known to have claimed to be the originator of the Adam-God theory, according to TBH Stenhouse. (he was an apostate at the time so some might counter his assertion.) But Orson Pratt said also that the Adam God thing was advanced by Kimball from pulpit and afterwards approved by BY. [Matt theorizes that HCK was the originator of Adam God]

I have never looked into the Bible, Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, or any of our church works to see whether they agreed with them or not. When I have spoken by THE POWER OF GOD AND THE HOLY GHOST, it is truth, it is SCRIPTURE, and I have no fears that it will agree with all that has been revealed in every particular Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly, June 6, 1877).

1 March 1832, Luke Johnson? [Here I got sidelined for a moment and missed the argument. The whole paper will set this straight, basically about JS teaching about Adam receiving authority, subordinate to Savior, but appointed as prince. D&C calls him the "prince of all," and the "father of all," has been given "keys of salvation for us under Christ's direction."

21January 1836, vision at Kirtland Temple, 137 section of D&C but not all components have been put into the canon, yet some of the staements have relevance. Describes the gate leading to kingdon, a father and son seated on throne, and Adam residing as king seperate from that Kingdom. Heber C. Kimball reported other things, that Joseph saw until the 12 apostles had accomplished work and apporached gate, Adam waited at gate and embraced them one by one, led them to throne of God, where they embrced Jesus, etc. This vision included HCK and BY, and seems to have elements incorporated into later comments. BY said people will "embrace Adam" when arriving at the CK. People would see the hair of father adam. Adam stands at the gate, etc.

Did JS teach Adam-God concepts?

8 August 1839, 5 October 1840, 7 April 1844. All three of these sermons are in the ball park, but off in left field of the ballpark of Adam-God so to speak. [Brown has compared all of this forthcoming]

Helen Mar Kimball claimed that JS originated the idea in the 1880s, but her dad is HCK. Did HCK rely on sermons being put together for HC stuff? [need more info, this is when adam-god stuff is emerging]

Book of Moses, Lectures on Faith, Articles of Faith, Book of Abraham. Other writings of JS to consider. Adam teachings here, especially Moses, are relevant when talking about the AG theory.

After BY ended his 1852 sermon. A range of response.
Millennial Star "Adam, the Father and God of the Human Family." People interpreted it as official truth because BY said it. Other saints were disturbed; feelings of fear and anxiety. Some even thought it was blasphemous. Others sniped. Some believing saints accused unbelievers of weakness ignorance folly and lack of faith. Some Ecclesiastical officers did not meet in council because of what was being taught. Some investigators refused to join, etc.

Orson Pratt strongly opposed. Also Amasa Lyman possibly. Anti-Adam-God cause was headed up by Pratt, who pointed to the revelations from God to Smith. 1860 enlisted the Book of Moses vin his defense, but only had 1851 version of Pearl of Great Proice which did not have the full text of Book of Moses. It came through the RLDS folks, worried about tampering. Full version would have discounted several elements. The year after BY died John Taylor directed Pratt to out the full version of PoGP together, canonized two years later.

[showed a chart of opposition to BY's theory] How did BY react to reactions? Became more precise.

When BY first introduced the ideas he said they would prove ones salvation or damnation. 2 and a half years later this assurance changed dramatically. He said "I propse to speak upon a dsubject that does not immediately concern our welfare...they are not neccessary for us to know, etc." He specified they were his views, and said "I reckon" so to speak, 13 times. Admitted he was guessing about the elemets of AG theory that were most problematic.
"I reckon"

7 Feb 1877, summary lecture to patrons in St. George temple at the veil, they were interpretive, but this material is prefaced in Nuttal's diary by a reminiscience in Nauvoo. "Pres. Young was there in Nauvoo etc." given a charge to arrange and systematize what he had learned. He did just that for Nauvoo temple and gave explanatory lectures there, but nothing like what he taught and explained in the St. George Temple. 

Why did he do it? Not clear at all.

The Lord Steadies the Ark:

George Q. Cannon explained that some people since the death of BY have admitted they did not approve of BY's approach because they felt it would be no use to oppose him. He took liberties beyond the authority he legitimately held. Not immune from mistakes and weaknesses, was not infallible. etc. 

Charles Penrose said no prophet is infallible, but truth is. No president has claimed infallibility. 

7 January 1897, letter written by Joseph F. Smith stating Pres. Woodruff helped with leter, in accord on subject, mentioned 1852 sermon as not official, not approved, not a revelation, not accepted. Therefore, in no sense binding, etc. 

Geroge Q. Cannon 28 November 1898, it is not wise to advocate those matters, etc. was never consensus among the leaders until then. Consensus rejected. 


BY was legitimate successor of JS but was not infallible. Learned some things about Adam from written and unwritten JS, he and HCK used these things to make assumptions about Adam and about Saints who achieve godhood, etc. Made mistakes because not aware of how Adam material functioned in the ancient context. Some assumptions are not compatible with canonized scripture and are not binding on any LDS.

Conclude with BY last word:

The First Presidency have a right of great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness, each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray.

Q: Sources?

A: see the footnotes, a lot of material! 

Q: O Pratt censured for not backing AG doctrine?

A: No, he was censured for his published things in the Seer. Get to the nitty gritty where they are duking it out and AG is a side issue. They deal specifically with OP's doctrinal problems. So does Amasa Lyman. These two stood against the doctrinal problems but had their own, so you get a stalemate. It was a war of ideas. 

Q: is it not possible that he backed off because people not ready for it. 

A: No. I don't see it that way myself. As far as I am concerned, BY admitted they were his ideas. Also backed off their importance. Clarified himself. Footnotes will have list of contradictions to get the big picture. Dealing with history is complex and if you see a piece of that history and see a few pieces, you need to remember there are many more things that need to be considered. Read everything that you can get your hands on. You really need to know how this works. When I prepared this paper, I spent about a full month just reading this stuff. Study a long time and see all you can.

Q: What are your views of Free Masonry and Temple

A: Book should be forthcoming, history of free masons etc. and the Nauvoo period, and restoration.


J. Stapley said...

It seems to me that some of BY's comments to the SL School of the Prophets contradict some of Brown's conclusions.

Matt W. said...

How so, Jonathon?

BHodges said...

J., I couldn't type near as fast as Brown can talk, but at some points he rattled off quotes I couldn't keep up with, so I am looking forward to seeing his paper with footnotes to follow him more closely. He advanced some possibilities I hadn't considered yet so I am interested to see more.

J. Stapley said...

Matt, BHodges makes a good point; I think I'll wait to read the paper before making explicit criticisms.

J + A said...

Could it be that BY was teaching that Elohim was an Adam (Adam being a title, like Elias) and is the true progenitor of the human race. That Elohim gave birth to Adam and Eve (also titles). That Elohim or Father Adam (not the mortal Adam) also gave birth to Christ. Taking this from 1 Cor. 15. Any thoughts? Does this make sense?

Aaron said...

B Hodges,
One thing I noticed about distinct LDS teachings vs many views held by both Christians in Jews is in Daniel Chapter 7. In this chapter, it refers to the ANCIENT OF DAYS coming in on his chariot of 4 beasts from the waters. It also talks about the Son of Man on his right hand side. Most scholars believe the Ancient of Days is referring to God, but the LDS footnotes refers to him as Adam. I have only speculated, but may this understanding of Daniel helped aid in the Adam-God teachings? I have also heard some scholars argue that Son of Man could also be translated to be Son of Adam, which would have fit with Paul's teachings in 1 Corinthians 15. This is speculation, but could the title Ancient of Days be referring to both God and Father Adam?

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

Any word on why Brown's paper hasn't been posted yet, nor the video or audio from the 2009 conference?

BHodges said...

No clue, email FAIR and see if that lights a fire.

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