(by Dennis B. Horne)
In the 1950s Elder Bruce R. McConkie spent much free time going through copies of his father-in-law’s correspondence that answered doctrinal questions. This work of selecting and organizing these letters and papers eventually became three published volumes of President Smith’s gospel teachings, titled Doctrines of Salvation.
These volumes soon became very popular and influential in the Church and many orthodox gospel scholars readily acknowledge that they read them deeply and owe much them. These facts are well known to most students of the gospel, at least of the older generations. What is much less-well known is that in the year 2000 the First Presidency authorized the creation of a book (only one volume) containing selections from the three volumes of Doctrines of Salvation. This work was done and the resulting volume was reviewed and approved by Church Correlation, and then published by the Church in 2001 to be given as a Christmas present to church employees.
The Brethren kept in the approved Selections book the teachings against evolution, and those about the true origin of man:
Many revelations attest the truth that Adam was the first man. The Prophet corrected the genealogy of Christ as given in Luke so that it includes this statement: "Adam who was formed of God, and the first man upon the earth."
The First Presidency has given the doctrine of the Church in these words: "It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was 'the first man of all men,' and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of the race."
Joseph Smith has given us this statement: "Commencing with Adam, who was the first man, who is spoken of in Daniel as the 'Ancient of Days,' or in other words, the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael, because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but the first to hold the spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the salvation of his posterity unto the end.". . .
ADAM NOT END PRODUCT OF EVOLUTION. Adam was placed here, not a wild, half-civilized savage, but a perfectly-developed man, with wonderful intelligence, for he helped to create this earth. He was chosen in pre-existence to be the first man upon the earth and the father of the human race, and he will preside over his posterity forever.
Now, the Lord did not choose a being that had just developed from the lower forms of life, to be a prince, an archangel, to preside over the human race forever! Adam, as Michael, was one of the greatest intelligences in the spirit world and he stands next to Jesus Christ. When he came upon the earth, the Lord gave him a perfect form of government.
ADAM SPOKE CELESTIAL LANGUAGE. The first man placed upon this earth was an intelligent being, created in the image of God, possessed of wisdom and knowledge, with power to communicate his thoughts in a language, both oral and written, which was superior to anything to be found on the earth today. This may sound very sweeping and dogmatic to those who hold to the other view, but it is not any more so than their statements to the contrary. Moreover, I do not say it of myself, but merely repeat what the Lord has said; and surely the Creator, above all others, ought to know!
ADAM TAUGHT BY GOD. The first man was instructed by the best teacher man ever had, for he was taught of God, and spoke the language of the Most High, in which angels conversed. This language he taught to his children. It is true that he was left to work out, through the use of his faculties, many of nature's great secrets; but the Lord did not leave him helpless, but instructed him, and he was inspired by the Spirit of the Lord.
GOSPEL REVEALED TO ADAM. The Lord gave him commandments after he was driven out of the Garden of Eden, revealed to him the plan of salvation, and he taught his children, and he set up a government. It was a perfect government, for Adam listened to the counsels of the Almighty, his Father, and our Father. He taught his children principles of divine truth and endeavored to establish them in the knowledge and understanding of the things of the kingdom of God. . . .
We find, then, Adam's status before the fall was:
1. He was not subject to death.
2. He was in the presence of God. He saw him just as you see your fathers; was in his presence, and learned his language. Now if any of you are professors from our schools of language, and have an idea that language came as these theorists say, I am going to tell you that Adam had a perfect language, for he was taught the language of God. That was the first language upon this earth. So much for those theories.
3. He had no posterity.
4. He was without knowledge of good and evil. He had knowledge, of course. He could speak. He could converse. There were many things he could be taught and was taught; but under the conditions in which he was living at that time it was impossible for him to visualize or understand the power of good and evil. He did not know what pain was. He did not know what sorrow was; and a thousand other things that have come to us in this life that Adam did not know in the Garden of Eden and could not understand and would not have known had he remained there. That was his status before the fall.
[Included below are quotations from President Smith’s well-regarded work, The Restoration of All Things]
I have often wondered why these men so learned in worldly wisdom almost universally reject all that the Lord has revealed regarding this earth and its destiny, and the destiny of man upon the face of the earth, and speak with such confidence in relation to their theories which are so greatly in opposition to all that the Lord has revealed.
Life is not an accident. The earth upon which we dwell is not an accident nor a by-product in the universe. On special occasions the Lord has permitted his servants the prophets to see through the veil, and they have obtained glimpses of the great work and glory of the Almighty. To Moses the Lord said: "And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten." This remark was for the purpose of impressing upon Moses, not only the vast extent of the universe, but to convey to his mind the purpose for which these numerous worlds were and are created, for the Lord adds that his great work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." No world, no matter how vast or how small it may be, has been created as a thing of naught. Nothing has come by chance in this universe; everything is by design. Moreover, the Lord taught Moses that earths, such as ours, which are innumerable, have been created as habitations for his sons and daughters, and Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon bear witness that they heard the voice of the Almighty saying that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, and "that by him and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."
The great change which shall come when Christ our Savior begins his Millennial reign, is to be a restoration to the conditions which prevailed before the fall of man. The tenth article of faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches us that Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed, or restored, and receive its paradisiacal glory when that day comes.
This new heaven and earth which will come into existence when our Lord comes to reign, is this same earth with its heavens renewed or restored to its primitive condition and beauty. Everything is to be brought back as nearly as it is possible to its position as it was in the beginning. The mountains, we are informed, are to be thrown down, the valleys are to be exalted, and "the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided."
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