Adam-God: Bruce R. McConkie Corrects Brigham

Along with President Spencer W. Kimball and similar statements from others, Elder Bruce R. McConkie made the following statement:

The devil keeps this heresy [Adam-God theory] alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism. It is contrary to the whole plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures, and anyone who has read the Book of Moses, and anyone who has received the temple endowment, has no excuse whatever for being led astray by it. Those who are so ensnared reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day.

Ironically, Elder McConkie’s June 1980 condemnation asks you to trust him and President Kimball as today’s living prophet. Further, McConkie is pointing to the endowment ceremony as a source of factual information. What about the Saints of Brigham’s day who were following their living prophet? And what about the endowment ceremony of their day where Adam-God was being taught at the veil?

Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine and yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.


CES Letter, Pages 62-63

The CES Letter describes a contradiction between traditional teachings about God and some of Brigham Young’s statements and declares “yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine and yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.” This dramatic assessment is untrue in many ways.

The Adam-god theory contradicts the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith and was never accepted as an official doctrine of the Church.

The theory, as advanced by Adam-god proponents, is and has always been false. Brigham Young has not been labeled a “heretic.” This is an unfortunate declaration. The Church believes in continuous revelation that may expand some teachings embraced in the past. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 9).

While Brigham Young’s actual meaning in some of his statements is unclear, God explained that if someone erred, the expectation was to be patient “And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known” (D&C 1:25).

The scriptures and the teachings of Joseph Smith (and some of discourses of Brigham Young) give us pieces of a puzzle that together provides us with an understanding of the identity of Adam.   However, it appears that on a few other occasions, Brigham Young provided us with other puzzle pieces that just don’t seem to fit, neither the interlocking edges nor the overall panorama that restored gospel principles creates. Adam-god proponents seem comfortable ripping out the scripture based pieces and forcefully introducing a few of Brigham’s quotations.

Since Brigham Young never defended the Adam-got theory as advanced by dissenters, nor did he provide us with explanations so his listeners might correlate his ideas with scriptures and the Prophet’s teachings, substituting Brigham’s puzzle pieces leaves many gaps.  Adam-god supporters seem eager to rush in with their own views and their self-generated pieces, but they don’t agree amongst themselves and the overall gospel picture formed doesn’t seem to make sense.

Until more information is revealed, it seems wise to patiently wait. Knowledge of the specific name of God the Father does not change the way we worship or our hopes for exaltation. Patience in understanding the “mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16; D&C 19:10) will be rewarded. We are promised that “the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him” (D&C 88:49) and that at a future time “nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth” (D&C 121:28–29).


Additional Resources:

DIFFERENT THOUGHTS – #7 ADAM – GOD by Elden Watson

Brigham Young’s Teachings On Adam (PDF) (2009 FAIR Conference) by Matthew Brown

Brigham Young and the Adam-god Theory by FairMormon

Van Hale’s “WHAT ABOUT THE ADAM-GOD THEORY?”

Do Mormons believe that Adam is God?

Six Reactions to the Adam-God Theory By Brian C. Hales

Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration (2006 FAIR Conference) by Matthew Roper

Best of Fair 6: Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration, Matthew Roper, 1:09:45

Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration

Stephen E. Robinson, “The Exclusion by Misrepresentation”.