Another botched joke?

Last week Massachusetts Senator John Kerry took a lot of heat from all sides for a comment he made about education. He told a group of students at Pasadena City College that if they study hard, do their homework, and make an effort to be smart, they will do well. If you don’t, Kerry said, “you get stuck in Iraq.” His comment naturally offended a number of people who felt he was slamming our military (again?). Kerry has since apologized for what he calls a “botched joke” that was really meant to criticize President Bush.This reminds me of a comment made by BYU professor Stephen E. Robinson that appeared in his book, Are Mormons Christians? On pages 19-20 Robinson was trying to fend off criticism toward second LDS President Brigham Young regarding his infamous “Adam-God” sermon. In a conference message on April 9, 1852, Young stated that the first man, Adam, was our Father and our God, and the only with whom we have to do.” Said Robinson:

During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brigham Young made some remarks about the relationship between Adam and God that the Latter-day Saints have never been able to understand. The reported statements conflict with LDS teachings before and after Brigham Young, as well as with statements of President Young himself during the same period of time. So how do Latter-day Saints deal with the phenomenon? We don’t; we simply set it aside. It is an anomaly. On occasion my colleagues and I at Brigham Young University have tried to figure out what Brigham Young might have actually said and what it might have meant, but the attempts have always failed. The reported statements simply do not compute-we cannot make sense out of them. This is not a matter of believing it or disbelieving it; we simply don’t know what “it” is. If Brigham Young were here we could ask him what he actually said and what he meant by it, but he is not here, and even expert students of his thought are left to wonder whether he was misquoted, whether he meant to say one thing and actually said another, whether he was somehow joking with or testing the Saints, or whether some vital element that would make sense out of the reports has been omitted.

First of all, to say Latter-day Saints “have never been able to understand” Young’s remarks is totally ridiculous. They may not like what Young said, but it is inaccurate to conclude that he was not understood. Young’s meaning was certainly not lost on Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie who admitted in a letter dated February 19, 1981, that Young did indeed teach that Adam was the Father of our spirits. Can we really take Robinson’s explanation seriously and somehow assume Young was perhaps “joking”? I don’t think so when we take into consideration how Young ended this conference message:

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.

If this is meant to be taken as a joke, I fail to see the humor. Perhaps it is just me, but I don’t see threatening people with damnation as something that is funny. Millions of Latter-day Saints believe Young was a modern-day prophet, yet at the same time, they, like Robinson, are reluctant to believe that Adam is God. If the former premise is true, wouldn’t it be safer for Latter-day Saints to concede that Young’s warning might also be true? If so, isn’t it also logical to conclude that most Latter-day Saints are in danger of eternal peril?

Before Mormons run to their keyboard and insist, “Yeah, but this teaching was never ‘official’ doctrine,” they might wish to think more deeply about the matter. Young’s teaching (as erroneous as it is) meets the criteria of being an LDS doctrine even by today’s LDS standards.

1. It was taught by a living prophet (last I checked Young was alive when he said it).

2. Young himself called it a doctrine (not a “theory” as most LDS apologists suppose).

3. It was taught in Conference.

4. Young’s connection between Adam and God is found in LDS scripture when the D&C (27:1; 116:1; 138:38) states that Adam is the “Ancient of Days” (the term “Ancient of Days” is an Old Testament reference to God in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22).

5. It was accepted as true by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve (though Orson Pratt admittedly had serious reservations).

6. It was actually a part of the temple endowment ceremony for a time (Mormon historian David John Beurger wrote, “The St. George Temple endowment included a revised thirty-minute ‘lecture at the veil’ which summarized important theological concepts taught in the endowment and also contained references to the Adam-God doctrine”).

Few things in Mormonism get more “official” than that.

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27 Responses to Another botched joke?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Would the author of this post please document number 5 above? Thanks

  2. Bill McKeever says:

    In response to Anonymous and point number five: Gary James Bergera, in his book “Conflicts in the Quorum,” spends several pages discussing the disagreement between Pratt and Brigham Young over this and other teachings. Several men had tried to persuade Pratt to recant and get in line behind the prophet. Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal (January 27, 1860) how John Taylor warned Pratt that his stance was entirely in opposition to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Two days later Pratt relented and offered a lengthy confession in the Tabernacle. Pratt repented for arguing against “the prophet of the living God,” and conceded that his views were incorrect. Bergera includes Pratt’s unrevised confession on pages 155-167. Pratt’s acquiesce was short-lived. It was not long before his conscience got the best of him and he again resumed his criticism of Young’s doctrine.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I understand the temptation we all have to make light of things we do not understand or comprehend. It is easy to attack doctrines that cannot be proved or disproved. But that’s just it. Why belittle things you cannot yourself explain? What insight do you have that this is not doctrine? Afterall, let’s face it, you do not have the luxury or revelation as you do not believe in it. So what makes it wrong and makes you right? What is it you are trying to prove with this post?

  4. William N. Grigg says:

    Anonymous —

    You pose a false dilemma, since the Adam-God doctrine of Mormonism is easily disproven to Christians, as well as for Mormons who accept the canonicity of that church’s Standard Works. It does pose an insuperable paradox, however, to those who wish to cling to the conceit that Brigham Young was a prophet, since he taught this “anomalous” doctrine as revealed truth for roughly a quarter-century. And if it’s true, as Bruce McConkie told Eugene England, that those who believe Brigham’s doctrine will “lose their souls,” it’s difficult to see how Brigham — and those who succeeded him — could be considered authentic prophets.

    The Adam-God doctrine of Mormonism was not revealed from God, but most likely borrowed from Kabbalistic occultism — see:

    — particularly the following passasge:

    “The complex Divine image composed of the multiple vessels of Divine manifestation was also visualized by Kabbalah as having a unitary, anthropomorphic form. God was, by one Kabbalistic recension, Adam Kadmon: the first primordial or archetypal Man. Man shared with God both an intrinsic, uncreated divine spark and a complex, organic form. This strange equation of Adam as God was supported by a Kabbalistic cipher: the numerical value in Hebrew of the names Adam and Jehovah (the Tetragrammaton, Yod he vav he) was both 45. Thus in Kabbalistic exegesis Jehovah equaled Adam: Adam was God.17 With this affirmation went the assertion that all humankind in highest realization was like God: the two realities shadowed each other.”

    Mormonism is much closer kindred to Theosophy and other strains of modern occultism than to any variety of Christianity. This hardy reflects a divine “restoration” of lost “truth,” since the component elements of Mormonism have been around, in one form or another, for centuries; I will give Joseph Smith credit for being a cunning synthesizer and a singularly adept self-promoter.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope that the person who asked for documentation on number 5 will accept the truth now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think I know who Anonymous is, because he said he posts on my blog, so it is one of three people. If it is, then I am pretty sure he will find fault with the answer provide and still will reject the truth. But I am also curious to their reply on the Adam God issue Replyed by willam. Rick b

  7. Anonymous says:

    William said: You pose a false dilemma, since the Adam-God doctrine of Mormonism is easily disproven to Christians

    Let me ask the question again. So what makes it wrong and makes you right?

    How is it easily disproven? Because you say it is? You are hardly considered a mouth piece for God.

  8. Conor Anderson says:

    A brief response to anonymous’ question, “So what makes it wrong and makes you right?”…

    As a Christian I know that Malachi 3:6 clearly states that God does not change. If Adam was God he would not be able to change. Yet it is clear from the biblical account in Genesis that Adam did change. He sinned, he died, etc. Many of the things he does constitute change, and not only that, they are things that God simply cannot do. God cannot die, yet Adam died. Psalm 90:2 says, “…from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God cannot be God from everlasting to everlasting if at one point he becomes a man and proceeds to die. Those are simply the first thoughts that came to mind, but I think they are sufficient to demonstrate that any Bible believing Christian can easily see that Adam could not be God.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What do you mean God cannot die? How do you explain Jesus Christ?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting that the Christian world latches onto a supposed statement made by Brigham Young that was most probably erroneously transcribed. It is not a doctrine that is taught.

    But to dig deeper, let’s refer to Genesis where God said, “Let US make man in OUR image.” If there is one God, then why did He use US and OUR? Why didn’t he say ME and MY?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting that mormon apologists often point out that the doctrine is no longer taught, then I can stand at work and hear LDS members in good standing talk about the doctrine as if it is simply just another part of their faith. They never precede their comments with “well, this isn’t our doctrine, but…” they simply accept that the Adam/God Theory is Doctrine and other people just “don’t get it.”

    So, while the church might not ‘officially” embrace the teaching, becasue it puts egg on the face of church leaders, the fact remains that they still talk about it and accept in local priesthood meetings and do nothing to discourage the ‘teaching’ of it at that level.

    -Rich, from Idaho

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Issue of, God saying, Lets create man in our Image, He says it that way because of the trinity, not mupitle Gods. But that is getting off topic.

    Then when we say God cannot Die, but Jesus died, The Issue is, God the father as a spirtual being cannot die, He came to eart in the form of a human, he put flesh upon himself as if we were to put a coat on us. So he could die in that sense. But again this is getting off topic.

    Then as to Adam God, I dont believe for one minute that what BY said was written down incorrectly. Just as the author stated, it is a beliefe that you will be damned for not hearing. But also BY goes on to say, saint and sinner alike MUST HEAR this Doctrine.

    If he is calling it a Doctrine, I am pretty sure he knows full well what he is talking about. But if the Adam God doctrine is true, then mormonism is a lie. In that casa I can understand why LDS would rather say stuff like, that was His Opinion or it was written down incorrectly.

    But BY also said, the saints of old taught and believed this stuff. Well You can choose to ignore the truth or simply state eveyone else is clueless while your correct, but the evidence is so strong, you must willfully reject the truth to your own destruction. Read Jude, scary verses for the unbelievers and those who will perish. Rick b

  13. Keith Walker says:

    Anonymous said”
    Let me ask the question again. So what makes it wrong and makes you right?

    How is it easily disproven? Because you say it is? You are hardly considered a mouth piece for God.”

    One does not need to be a mouth piece for God in order to understand Genesis 2:7-Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

    If God created Adam, He cannot be Adam.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think everyone should read the Adam-God sermon again, in its entirety. He is not saying that Adam is God the Eternal Father, but he is saying something close to that. Through out the history of the discussion on this sermon, people have made unwarranted assumptions about Brigham’s meaning.

    Adam is not God the Eternal Father. He is Michael. That angel that came to bear Christ up in the Garden. His role is more important than any of you realize.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Now I’m really confused: First Adam is god then Adam is Michael…what’s going on here?

    LL in Texas

  16. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous said…

    I think everyone should read the Adam-God sermon again, in its entirety. He is not saying that Adam is God the Eternal Father, but he is saying something close to that.

    Not every one has a copy of the JoD laying around to simply read. Luckly for everyone, I own an entire set of JoD. I scanned the Adam God DOCTRINE onto my blog, people can go their, get into the arcives and read the entire thing for yourselves, it is under the Topic, Adam God. BYoung WAS SAYING, ADAM IS GOD, It is clearly laid out.

    It’s easy for Anonymous to say, read it for yourselves, knowing most people, including LDS will never be able to. People can read it, then reply back here.

    And as to Anonymous saying He is not saying that Adam is God the Eternal Father, but he is saying something close to that.

    Tell us then, please, What exactly did BYoung say or mean, and give supporting Evidence as to how you come to that conclusion. Or is that to hard a task to ask? Rick b

  17. Anonymous says:

    could Rickb give better instructions on how to find the JOD you referenced? I was unable to locate it on your blog

  18. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, it is too hard a task. For those of you who do not believe in the restoration and the LDS Church, your minds are not prepared to understand what Brigham was teaching. Even Paul said he’d give milk before meat. Christ taught in parables so that those who were ready to hear could understand, while those who were not, would not be condemned by their own lack of faith. You would probably admit that you do not have the faith in the very basic teachings that must be understood to give meaning to Brigham’s teaching.

    Nevertheless, I stand by my earlier submition. I have read the text you say you posted on your blog time and again. I’m asking readers to look for other all possible meanings and not to allow others’ interpretation to distract from those other possible meanings.

    A final note, as a former protestant that used to vehemently preach against the mormons, I have concluded that if all of those who profess to have the “truth” about the mormons applied the same scrutiny to their own “Christian” beliefs, they would have no foundation to believe in anything.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Although not a mormon, I agree with Anonymous. The Bible could not bear the scrutiny that some of you folks apply to the mormon faith, including the Book of Mormon.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but I dont know how to make an automatic hot like, But the firt Link takes you to my topic on adam God with the Scanned Doctument. the second link takes you to another article given to me by a friend on the Adam God, then lastly, I just posted a nw topic called (Thats just his opinion) Speaking about how LDS claim Adam God, blood atonment and other issues are merly the prophets opinion, others wise they would have to admit they are false teachings.

    It really does not surprise me that Anonymous said he cannot tell us what BY ment. He knows what BY ment but cannot tell us. Then he tries and claims, paul said you need milk before meat. Well I guess Anonymous needs to re-read the Adam God doctrine. BY clearly told us, the saints of old spoke about this stuff, and saint and sinner alike need to hear this. BY never said we cannot handle it. So I guess I believe we have a false prophet on the board claiming to be and LDS member. Rick b

  21. Anonymous says:

    Look, Rick b, I’m not writing to you. I’m writing to those who haven’t already made up their minds. The Lord cautions us not to “cast ye your pearls before swine.”
    I don’t know for a certainty what Brigham was teaching. But when I read that sermon, and when I consider it in the context of the other truths I know, I conclude that he is saying something very important about Adam, and its not what you and all the other Mormon critics think.
    Again, the Mormon critics (I used to be one) are so full of pride. You think you know everything. We’re not supposed to believe in prophets, but we’re supposed to believe that your interpretation of scripture is correct. Yet, even ignoring the LDS Church, there are over 433 Christian (granted you wouldn’t define all of them as “Christian” because they don’t fit your interpretation) religions in the US alone, each of them claiming to have the true understanding of Christ’s Gospel. God is not the author of so much confusion.
    To those who are searching, God answers prayers. He is the source of the correct way. After interviewing many very knowledgeable men, Socrates concluded that he was the wisest because he was the only one that knew he didn’t know anything. That is where wisdom starts. With that kind of humble acknowledgement, God can teach us and give us wisdom.
    With this doctrine and the others that are so often criticized, it may turn out that when the whole picture is revealed, it will make perfect sense. An analogy (perhaps a poor one) is the movie the Sixth Sense. When we finally learn that Bruce Willis’s character is dead, so much throughout the movie that was confusing finally makes sense.

    Give room to understand that your understanding may be limited, and there is certainly other possible meanings to Brigham’s teaching. I am fully convinced that it does not mean what Rick b and other critics assume it means. Their assumptions are based on their definitions, not LDS definitions.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous, You said Socrates concluded that he was the wisest because he was the only one that knew he didn’t know anything. That is where wisdom starts. With that kind of humble acknowledgement, God can teach us and give us wisdom.

    If you admit to knowing nothing, then how can you have wisdom and knowledge? That is not what the Bible teaches. Read:

    Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.

    Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

    Then you said: I don’t know for a certainty what Brigham was teaching.

    If you admit your not sure what he was writing, how can you be sure that your correct in saying, he did not teach about Adam God, Maybe your wrong and simply are to proud to admit it.

    That would be like saying, their is no such thing as absolute truth, To which I would say, Are you absolutly sure about that?

    Lastly you said Yet, even ignoring the LDS Church, there are over 433 Christian (granted you wouldn’t define all of them as “Christian” because they don’t fit your interpretation) religions in the US alone, each of them claiming to have the true understanding of Christ’s Gospel. God is not the author of so much confusion.

    Well what about all the Off shoot LDS groups that also claim to be the true Church, yet you claim their not, Like the RLDS or FLDS for examples. Rick b.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Rick b brilliant everybody!
    You missed the point. My point about Socrates is not negated by the scriptures you pointed out. Acknowledging that on your own, you know nothing, and relying on the Lord for wisdom is exactly what I’m talking about. Relying on one’s own wisdom, and not fearing the Lord, makes one the fool that despises wisdom and instruction.

    I believe that there is absolute truth. That doesn’t mean that you know what that truth is. I do admit that I could be wrong about what Brigham was saying. My whole point in all of this is that your interpretation makes assumptions that are not warranted, or at least, my assumptions are just as warranted. Your reading is not the only possible interpretation. I wonder if you will be humble enough to admit that.

    Finally, about other Churches. I believe in a prophet. We needed prophets in the beginning (Noah, Moses, Isaiah, etc.) Christians needed correction by letter from the apostles after Christ came, and certainly we need them today. The fact that I believe that Christ leads us through the Spirit and Prophets saves me from the trouble of why are there so many other sects (Christian or LDS spin offs).

    But you don’t believe that. You think (if I may guess) that all we need is the Bible and the Spirit and we will understand.
    But if your method is good enough and we don’t need prophets, then why is there such great disagreement between honest truth seekers? I guess because they’re not honest enough, or they don’t follow what you believe to be the correct interpretation.

    Christ’s Gospel is the absolute truth. Wouldn’t He make sure it is in its pure form on the earth; not subject to everyone’s subjective interpretation?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hey Anonymous, You admited your not Sure what BY ment. Funny thing is, D and C 131:6 says a man cannot be saved in ignorence. Now I not saying, I’m just saying, you admited ingorence.

    I also would like to add, In 1980 prominent Mormon leaders gave a speech which contained the following words:

    “SIXTH: The Prophet Does Not Have to Say “Thus Saith the Lord” to Give Us Scripture. Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you.” (D&C 21:4.) And speaking of taking counsel from the Prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.” Said Brigham Young, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.” (JD 13:95.)” (Following the Brethren, Speeches By Mormon Apostles Ezra Taft Benson and Bruce R. McConkie, March 1980. Full speech online at the following link: Following the Brethren).

    Furthermore, the popular, and widely distributed, LDS Church manual Gospel Principles clearly states that the inspired words of the living prophet are supposed to be accepted as scripture by Latter-day Saints. (Gospel Principles, p. 55).

    And remember BY did say
    “I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them to the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve.” (Journal of Discourses, vol.13.p.95. Also see vol.13.p.264).

    Rick b

  25. Anonymous says:

    Rick b, please explain how everything you said last is relevant. Even if I admit everything you just said, the point here is what did Bringham mean?

    He calls Adam our Father. True, as the first man, he is the father of all man-kind. He calls him a God. Not unusual for LDS beliefs. You conclude from that that Brigham meant that Adam is God the Eternal Father (Eloheim in the JOD passage). That is a leap.

    I take it you have no answer for my other comments.

  26. Anonymous says:

    To William Grigg:

    You would admit that Adam was the first man. I believe he was taught and had the true Gospel. From him come all of the generations of mankind. You will find remnants of truth (even as any “variety of Christianity” defines truth) in all world religions, ancient and current. That is because, at some point, all generations come from Adam and a point when the truth was taught to them. Over time, each group changed and adulterated the teachings. While the changes are significant and result in incorrect teachings as a whole, similarities with the truth still exist.
    This is why it is unpersuasive to suggest that any particular doctrine is proved untrue by comparing it to some other tradition. Believe it or not, I could do the same with your beliefs.

    Assume for a moment that Brigham Young did teach that Adam was God. He also said it was taught anciently (perhaps even by Adam). Perhaps Kabbalistic occultism, as you call it, taught that doctrine (I have not verified that your citations are accurate) because it was handed down as part of its tradition, which although corrupted, originally came from Adam, but which was changed along the way. In other words, Brigham may not have got the idea from some other tradition; other traditions may just have an adulterated form of the idea from its original pure beginings.

  27. Anonymous says:

    what in the world?

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