Adam-God: Spencer W. Kimball's Take

Contrary to the teachings of Brigham Young, subsequent prophets and apostles have since renounced the Adam-God theory as false doctrine. President Spencer W. Kimball renounced the Adam-God theory in the October 1976 General Conference:

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.


CES Letter, Page 62

President Kimball defined the “Adam-God theory” as the combined interpretations placed on Brigham Young's words by present day dissidents. He also declared that it is false.  

Shortly after President Kimball’s statement, Elden Watson was privileged to meet with the Church President to ask more precisely what he meant. “In a private interview President Kimball made the following clarifications: He said that he did not say that President Brigham Young did not make the statements which are attributed to him, nor did he claim that they were falsely reported. Neither did he say that Brigham Young taught false doctrine. What he did say and what he meant is that the Adam-God theory is false, and the Adam-God theory is that interpretation which is placed on Brigham Young's words by present day apostates and fundamentalists - their understanding of what Brigham Yong meant is false.”

President Kimball distinguished between the Adam-god Theory and the teachings of Brigham Young, calling the former “false” without elaborating on the meaning of President Young’s references.

Adam-god theorists seem willing to ignore all of Joseph Smith’s teachings and revelations regarding Adam because they all contradict it.

Some Adam-god supporters alleged that deities simply carry different titles at different times (like changing hats or assignments). Supportive revelation for this idea is absent and it contradict multiple plain teachings about God in LDS theology.

It is unsurprising that later prophets clarify what former prophets have declared. Spencer W. Kimball clarified Brigham Young's teachings. In contrast, when Brigham taught of Adam, he did not attempt to address Joseph Smith's teachings on the subject, but apparently believed them to be congruent and possibly expansive.

It seems less likely that President Young would blatantly disagree with Joseph without explanation, but that is the position of advocates of the Adam-god theory.

The CES Letter fails to address the entire issue, instead embracing a sound-bite mentality on a topic that has been discussed for over a century. This approach is at best incomplete and at worst, useless from a scholarly standpoint.

 


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”.