On April 9, 1852, Brigham Young, the second president
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), rose to
the pulpit of the Salt Lake Tabernacle and announced, "It is my
intention to preach several discourses this evening, but how many
I do not know." During his speech President Young explained that
he was going to speak on the character of the "well-beloved Son
of God, upon which subject the Elders of Israel have conflicting
At that particular moment it is doubtful any of
the people present would have realized their prophet was about to
give one of the most controversial sermons, not only of his life,
but perhaps in the entire history of his church. Following a long
one-paragraph introduction, Young proclaimed that Adam was Michael
the Archangel, and that he was also the Ancient of Days. Young went
on to conclude that Adam was, in fact, "our Father and our God,
and the only God with whom we have to do." In this message, Mormonism's
second president explained that Eve was only one of Adam's wives
and that Jesus Christ "was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." Instead,
Young said, He "was begotten in the flesh by the same character
that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven."
For years Mormon authorities have attempted to
downplay the severity of Young's statements. It is not uncommon
to hear Latter-day Saints excuse Young's conclusions by saying he
was either misunderstood or even misquoted. This thought has been
echoed by numerous Latter-day Saints who feel uncomfortable admitting
their prophet may have really believed such teachings. However,
there is plenty of evidence available to prove neither was the case.
Young was speaking under the authority of a Mormon Prophet and was
not just making a public statement regarding his personal opinions.
Doctrine or Theory?
LDS Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith and Spencer
W. Kimball attributed their predecessor's ideas to being merely
a "theory." In his book Doctrines of Salvation, Smith discounted
Young's message by saying, "in all probability the sermon was erroneously
During a Priesthood session of conference in October
of 1976, Spencer W. Kimball labeled Brigham's teaching "false doctrine."
He stated, "We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which
are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have
been taught by some General Authorities of past generations, such,
for instance is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and
hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds
of false doctrine" (Church News, 10/9/76). In light of all the evidence
to the contrary, to say the Adam-God teaching was only alleged to
have been taught causes tremendous credibility problems on the part
It would be difficult for the Mormon to prove Young
was only theorizing by the simple fact that Young, in this sermon,
clearly claims his teachings to be "doctrine." In one of his closing
remarks, Young warns, "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." A fair question
to ask would be, "Since Joseph Fielding Smith and Spencer W. Kimball
did not believe what Young had to say on this matter, does that
mean Smith and Kimball are damned?" If Young was truly a prophet
of God, would this mean all Latter-day Saints who reject the Adam-God
teaching are also damned?
Certainly Brigham was not misunderstood since his
first counselor, Heber C. Kimball, declared on June 29, 1856,
"I have learned by experience that there is but
one God that pertains to this people, and He is the God that pertains
to this earth--the first man. That first man sent his own Son
to redeem the world, to redeem his brethren; his life was taken,
his blood shed, that our sins might be remitted. That Son called
twelve men and ordained them to be Apostles, and when he departed
the keys of the kingdom were deposited with three of those twelve,
viz.: Peter, James, and John" (Journal of Discourses 4:1).
It is evident that the one sent to redeem the world
is none other than Jesus Christ. If we are to accept Kimball's statement
that the "one God" who sent him was in fact, "the first man," we
have no choice but to conclude it was Adam who sent Jesus to redeem
In his journal dated February 19, 1854, Wilford
Woodruff, who would later become Mormonism's fourth president, wrote
that Brigham Young "said that our God was Father Adam. He was the
Father of the Savior Jesus Christ -- Our God was no more or less
than ADAM, Michael the Arkangel (sic)."
History shows that Orson Pratt's understanding
of what Brigham was teaching actually caused a severe rift in LDS
leadership. Pratt strongly disagreed with Young's doctrine and made
it clear he had "no confidence in it" (Dialogue:
A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1980, pg. 30).
Mormons must insist Brigham Young was a true prophet
if they wish to demonstrate an unbroken chain of succession in their
leadership. To do so, however, is utterly inconsistent. For example,
in his "Seven Deadly Heresies" speech of 1980, LDS Apostle Bruce
McConkie taught "anyone who has received the temple endowment and
who yet believes the Adam-God theory does not deserve to be saved."
Using this rationale, a Mormon can't even be sure Brigham was a
saved individual. Young received his temple endowment, and Young
believed Adam was God.
In a letter dated February 19, 1981, McConkie again
expounded this thought when he wrote, "...people who teach false
doctrine in the fundamental and basic things will lose their souls.
The nature and kind of being that God is, is one of these fundamentals"
(pg. 7). Again, if the Adam-God doctrine is false, as leaders such
as Kimball and McConkie agree, then we must conclude that Brigham's
soul is lost.
Just Brigham's Opinion?
Some have argued that Brigham Young was merely
touting his own personal opinion and never meant for this teaching
to be accepted as doctrine. "Because this sermon is not a part of
the "standard works," some say, "it should not be accepted as doctrinal
truth." As pointed out earlier, the problem with such an assumption
lies in the fact that Brigham Young said those who make light of
this teaching will "prove their salvation or damnation." Apparently
Young took this teaching very seriously.
Let it also be noted that just four years before
his death, Brigham Young declared it was God Himself who gave him
the Adam-God doctrine. Apparently Young's position on the matter
was still an issue with some LDS members; otherwise he would would
not have had to ask,
"How much unbelief exists in the minds of the
Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is
revealed to them, and which God revealed to me -- namely that
Adam is our father and God...Our Father Adam is the man who stands
at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation
to all his children who have or ever will come upon the earth"
(Sermon delivered on June 8, 1873. Printed in the Deseret Weekly
News, June 18, 1873.) How can a Latter-day Saint maintain this
was just Brigham's opinion when he insisted God gave him the teaching?
Some have excused Young's statements by claiming
he was not speaking as a prophet because he did not begin his sermon
with "Thus saith the Lord." However, LDS leaders have long said
such a testing standard is incorrect. J. Reuben Clark, a former
member of the LDS First Presidency, said,
"There are those who insist that unless the Prophet
of the Lord declares, 'Thus saith the Lord,' the message may not
be taken as a revelation. This is a false testing standard" (Church
News 7/31/54, p.10).
Apparently Young was confident with his message
for on January 2, 1870, he said,
"I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it
out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture"
(Journal of Discourses 13:95). Brigham would repeat this again
in October of the same year (Journal of Discourses 13:264).
How Could Young Come Up With Such an Idea?
It may surprise some, but Brigham Young's Adam-God
connection is in harmony with the teachings of Joseph Smith. It
was Joseph Smith who declared that Adam was, in fact, the Ancient
of Days. Doctrine and Covenants 27:11; 116:1; 138:38 all state that
Adam is the Ancient of Days.
Joseph Smith even attempted to get the Bible to
concur with this thought when he said, "Daniel in his seventh chapter
speaks of the Ancient of Days, he means the oldest man, our Father
Adam..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 157). Smith
was referring to Daniel 7:13 which reads, "I saw the night visions,
and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,
and came to the Ancient of Days and they brought him near before
In order to properly interpret Daniel we must compare
it to a similar account given in Revelation chapter five. Here we
find the lamb as it had been slain, Jesus Christ, approaching the
one who sits on the throne and takes the seals of judgment. Since
John 5:22 states that it is the Father who has committed all judgment
unto the Son, a proper understanding of this passage would conclude
that it is God the Father, not Adam, who sits on the throne. If
Mormons choose to insist that it is Adam sitting on the throne,
they are, in fact, equating Adam to God. According to Joseph Smith,
Brigham was right!
Brigham Young places the honest Latter-day Saint
on the horns of a dilemma. If the Mormon wishes to claim Young as
a true prophet, he must also accept his Adam-God teaching since
a true prophet must have a correct theology concerning God (Deut.
13:1-3). If Young's teaching is not accepted, then the Mormon must
conclude that Brigham Young was a false prophet. The Mormon can't
have it both ways.
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:12 that it was through
Adam that sin entered into the world. The first Adam represents
man's failure to abide by God's law. The second Adam, Jesus Christ,
makes it possible for man to pass from that dead, sinful state and
be made alive. As Paul so eloquently pointed out, "For as in Adam
all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22).
Our prayer is that the Mormon people see they are being led by false
prophets and turn to the True Prophet of the Christian faith, Jesus
Christ (Acts 3:22, 23). Jesus Christ is the living prophet we are
commanded to listen to and believe. He is "God manifest in the flesh."
Our trust should be in Christ, not the inconsistent and unbiblical
teachings of the prophets of Mormonism.
Brigham Young's entire 1852