(by Dennis B. Horne)
Of all the universities in the world,
BYU should be where Jesus’s teachings and commandments
are proclaimed, discussed, and lived.
—President M. Russell Ballard
In late 2019, a liberal blogger at a liberal/progressive/semi-dissident website tried to use historical researches and interpretations and guesses to argue that “the idea that human spirits were never created or made—that they exist eternally—is a foundational idea to Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo era cosmology. The 1844 General Conference sermon known as the King Follett Discourse . . . is JS’s best documented sermon. In it, JS taught that ‘God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all’ and that spirits can never be created or destroyed.” And: “the idea that human spirits are eternal and uncreated is perhaps the single best documented Nauvoo teaching of JS.”
This (not new) speculative reasoning is largely outside the scope of this series, but does help focus attention on an issue touching on evolution—birth, whether spirit or mortal/physical. Further, our concern should not be about whether or not the Prophet Joseph Smith may be thought by some to have taught something, but whether a doctrine is true or not. The below items should settle this question for those who believe church doctrine as the church teaches it today:
Elder Harold B. Lee on the King Follet discourse:
We have found, for example, that in reading the King Follett discourse there is a footnote which suggests a mistake in the word ‘co-equal,’ which undoubtedly was ‘co-eval,’ conveying a wholly different thought and suggesting that the faulty way of reporting sermons might have accounted for that seeming error.
D&C 132:63: for they [plural wives] are given unto him [a righteous man] to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment [and only according to God’s commandment], and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they [plural wives] may bear [give birth to] the souls [spirits] of men [and women]; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified. [Official Declaration 1 ended the practice of plural marriage but did not alter this doctrine.]
From the church’s website:
God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 335).
You are a literal child of God, spiritually begotten in the premortal life. . . .
As children of God, we have a special relationship with Him, setting us apart from all His other creations.
Before you were born on the earth, you lived in the presence of your Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children.
May I remind you that there is one important identity we all share now and forever, one that we should never ever lose sight of, and one that we should be grateful for. That is that you are and have always been a son or daughter of God with spiritual roots in eternity. First and foremost, you are and always will be a spirit child of God. Those aren’t just words from a beautiful Primary song. They are words of truth. They are imbued with eternal significance for all of us.
The foundational fact of heavenly parentage is not just my truth or your truth. It is eternal truth. It is written in big, bold, capital letters. Understanding this truth—really understanding it and embracing it—is life changing. It gives you an extraordinary identity that no one can ever take away from you. But more than that, it should give you an enormous feeling of value and a sense of your infinite worth. . . .
Please remember that your eternal nature as a child of God is absolutely and completely sustainable. It will continue throughout time and eternity. You are a child of Heavenly Parents and will be forever—no matter what. . . .
For us, the group that is most important to identify with is being the children of God. We declare that we are all the spiritual children of Heavenly Parents; thus we are brothers and sisters in God’s family. . . .
Do you understand what I am saying? We have this in common with every person. We are all children of God. That makes us family—brothers and sisters bound by a common divine heritage. . . .
In particular, the God of Heaven has revealed to His servants, the prophets, who He is and who His Beloved Son is and our true relationships with Them.
We are not created objects like a smartphone. We are literal children of God, and He knows us. And we can know Him because of our unique and close relationship with Him through our prayers, obedience, and service one to another.
Paul said, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
When I received this assignment to speak to you, I felt deeply impressed that I needed to highlight the truth about being daughters and sons of God.
I believe that is the message the Lord wanted me to share with you today.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie; quoted statement signed by Reed C. Durham, Jr; witnessed by Elden J. Watson; copy in possession of the author:
I phoned B. R. McConkie on Friday afternoon, April 29th 1966, at his home in regard to his commentary of Luke 3:38 in his new text on the New Testament. He answered that he had purposely left the door opened on that point. He said it was a true doctrine that God the Father, Elohim, a divine resurrected being, came down to this earth after its creation, with a wife, and produced in the natural way of sexual intercourse, a child who grew up and became known as Adam. They did the same and brought forth a girl who grew up and became Eve. They had bodies of flesh and bone, etc., but were not mortal (not till they fell). They (Adam and Eve) were not resurrected and not translated beings. God really did create their bodies on this earth. They were not transported here (only their spirits).
He then said that his father-in-law [President Joseph Fielding Smith] told him that was a true doctrine; that it had been taught a great deal by President Joseph F. Smith (6th president). He also added that President Joseph Fielding Smith said it was too deep now for most saints—that’s the reason for saying about the creation of Adam and Eve in the temple, “It’s only figurative. . . .”
It is indeed too deep for BYU biologists and evolutionists, but for other church members willing and desiring to be enlightened by the mysteries of God, it is sweet and precious eternal truth.
We now ask a pointed and salient question: were Adam and Eve born in the Covenant? This question would seem to be a great divider. If Adam and Eve’s parents were our Heavenly Father and Mother, then the answer must be yes. On the other hand, if Adam and Eve’s parents were some kind of pre-historic creature or animal, then the answer must be no. A follow up question is whether Cain and Abel or others of Adam and Eve’s children were born in the Covenant?
Since Adam and Eve were married/sealed by God the Father Himself in the garden of Eden, our answer must be yes. We now have three generations born in what is called the Abrahamic Covenant, which is just a common way of saying that the sealing power of the Melchizedec Priesthood was used to create an eternal marriage, with continuing posterity throughout all eternity being the result.
President Romney’s entire general conference discourse should be read and studied as it pertains to this question. A brief quote: “The theory that man is other than the [spirit] offspring of God has been, and, so long as it is accepted and acted upon, will continue to be, a major factor in blocking man’s spiritual growth and in corrupting his morals.”