Note: this is the sixth of a six-part series examining the Adam-God theory from the viewpoint of three modern (though deceased) apostles, and now giving the position of the Church on the matter.
The position formally taken by the Church on the Adam-God theory:
The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles (1916):
Scriptures embodying the ordinary signification—literally that of Parent—are too numerous and specific to require citation. The purport of these scriptures is to the effect that God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted name-title “Elohim,” is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race. Elohim is the Father in every sense in which Jesus Christ is so designated, and distinctively He is the Father of spirits….
Jesus Christ is not the Father of the spirits who have taken or yet shall take bodies upon this earth, for He is one of them. He is The Son, as they are sons or daughters of Elohim. So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or states by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation. (As quoted from “The Father and The Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve”; cited in James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [
Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, 1982], 466, 473. See also James R. Clark, comp., Messages
of the First Presidency, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75],
5:26, 34 [23-34].)
The First Presidency:
An answer to Bishop Joseph H. Eldredge,
Utah February 26, 1931 by the First Presidency:
We have before us your letter of February 18, in which you say that in your Priesthood class one Brother claims that Adam “had been through the experience of mortality on another sphere before he came here; that he was a celestialized being when placed in the Garden of Eden.”
What this brother means by “celestialized being” is not clear. We are informed that we all lived in the presence of God in the spirit world before we came here. In one sense we might say that this was a celestialized existence. If what is meant is that Adam had passed on to celestial glory through a resurrection before he came here, and that afterwards he was appointed to this earth to die again, the second time becoming mortal, then it is not scriptural or according to the truth. See Moses 3:7; Moses 4:29; Abraham 5:7; Alma 42:2; Compare Genesis 2:7; 3:23; Moses 4:25-29, and many other passages of scripture—D&C 107; John 11:25-56; Rev. 21:4; Alma 11:45; Alma 12:18; D&C 63:49; D&C 88:14-16; 93:33-34; 2 Nephi 2:22; D&C 29:41-43.
Adam could have remained in the Garden of Eden indefinitely if he had not transgressed the law which brought to pass mortality. Since Adam had not passed through the resurrection his spirit and body were not inseparably connected, hence it was possible for him to become mortal by partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By so doing he received the seeds of death and brought to pass mortality in himself and caused all of his posterity to partake of like conditions and be subject to death. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75], 5:289-90.)
Spencer W. Kimball (then President of the Church, speaking for the Church, and acting as the Prophet):
We hope that you who teach in the various organizations, whether on the campuses or in our chapels, will always teach the orthodox truth. 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 of the 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. (Conference Report, October 1976, 115.)
President Heber J. Grant:
Referring to your letter—The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are the books which are accepted as the standard works of the Church. I know of nothing in these books which would sustain the contention that Adam is the God of this world and is a resurrected being.
If there is any one thing more than another which I have endeavored to impress upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints it is to keep the commandments of the Lord and to follow the instructions of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the effect that they let mysteries alone. The best way to answer questions such as those advocated by the aged brother to whom you refer is to say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints having made no pronouncement upon such subjects, therefore what may have been spoken or written on them must be regarded as the views of the individuals and not Church doctrine.
There is no need of your reading this letter in meeting, but if the president of your branch wishes to read it I have no objection to his doing so, as I shall take the liberty of forwarding him a copy of your letter as also a copy of my reply.
With kind regards,
Your brother in the gospel,
Heber J. Grant (January 24, 1927)
These pronouncements and declarations should settle these questions for all, and they do for those with the gift of the Holy Ghost and that follow the prophet. President J. Reuben Clark said it well:
You know there never has been, so far as I know, any church in the history of the world, organized under conditions that are similar to ours. We began with publicity and the press. From the time of Joseph until now our enemies have gone over the records, great parts of which have been published. Our enemies have usually seen to it that the unwise things, perhaps the wrong things, which on occasions we have tried to do, have been fully exploited…. After all that our enemies have been able to do, we are still walking with the iron rod. We are still clinging to the great fundamental truths which through the inspiration of the Lord, Joseph proclaimed to us. (“Preparation of Teachers—Build a Simple Faith,” Pre-School Faculty Meeting Address, Sept. 19, 1956, 23.)
At this point, these words of President Boyd K. Packer are worth referencing in relation to the course the present senior councils of the Church have taken in relation to this theory and other similar distractions:
We are in the middle of the opposition of [to] the Church. That has gone on forever. We see so much published in the newspapers and particularly on the Internet, those who are criticizing the Church or criticizing the leaders, the priesthood or auxiliary leaders.
Sometimes I have been asked, "What do the Brethren think of this?"
And I can say, "Not much. We don't have time!"
We are trying to operate the Church across the world. We don't talk about those things, and in one way are not interested in them. When we see the enormous growth of the Church, the marvel that is there and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are not turned away by that opposition. It has always been there.
There are doctrinal beliefs that will continue to be misunderstood and disturb our critics. . . . One need not have answers to all those questions to receive the witness of the Spirit, join the Church, and remain faithful therein. There is a knowledge that transcends rational explanations, sacred knowledge that leads to conversion.
While we can provide answers, they will not be satisfactory, however, to those who do not accept continuing revelation. To argue or debate over sacred things usually generates much more heat than light. (Mine Errand from the Lord, chap. 19.)