In honor of the Protestant Reformation, I did a series where I critiqued the theology and history of Roman Catholicism. Now, I am beginning a new series where I will critique the beliefs of Mormonism and contrast them with biblical Christianity.
One of the best pieces of historical evidence which proves that the prophets of Mormonism do not speak for God is that many of the things they taught as doctrine have now been changed. The Book of Mormon has also been changed to hide Joseph Smith’s early belief in modalism before he became a polytheist. Some of the early doctrinal beliefs of Mormonism that are no longer believed by Mormons today include the practice of polygamy, withholding the priesthood from black people, teaching against interracial marriage, forbidding contraception, and the Adam-God doctrine of Brigham Young.
Young taught that:
“When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50-51).
This teaching caused no little controversy among the Mormons. Young responded with an article in the Deseret News where he declared:
“How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God. . . . Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or ever will come upon the earth” (Deseret Weekly News, June 18, 1873, p. 308).
In case you were wondering whether this was simply Young’s opinion or Scripture from God, Young claimed:
“I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom. . . . I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).
“I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264).
“I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).
The origin of the belief that Adam is God did not originate with Brigham Young, but was taught by Joseph Smith as well in the Doctrine and Covenants where he states that the titles Adam, Michael, and the ancient of days are all referring to the same person:
“And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days” (D&C 27:11).
“Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all” (D&C 138:38).
The title “Ancient of Days” is used exclusively in the Bible to refer to God (Dan 7:9, 13, 22). This is the one who bestows a kingdom upon the Son of Man who is Jesus (Mark 14:62).
But today, Mormons no longer follow this teaching of Young. The Apostle Bruce R. McConkie admitted:
“Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel.”
McConkie preached that the Adam-God doctrine was heresy:
“There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship. The devil keeps this heresy 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 and who yet believes the Adam–God theory does not deserve to be saved. Those who are so ensnared reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day. ‘We will follow those who went before,’ they say. And having so determined, they soon are ready to enter polygamous relationships that destroy their souls.”
So, who are Mormons supposed to believe: Brigham Young or the modern leaders of Mormonism? If you can’t trust Young when it comes to who God is, how can you trust him with anything else? If the Mormons living today had been living during the days of Young, they would have taken his view against that of McConkie. But why should the era in which we were born determine the truth?