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The Adam-God Doctrine and

Why It's Important

Contender Ministries

Posted June 27, 2002

If you’ve done much research into the heretical and unusual doctrines of Mormonism, you’ve probably come across something called the “Adam-God Doctrine,” known also as the “Adam-God Theory.”  Today, LDS leaders and the Mormon faithful have distanced themselves from this doctrine, originally put forth by Brigham Young, the second prophet of Mormonism.  In light of the apparent Mormon abandonment of this teaching, why then is it so important?  We’ll answer that question, and a few others as we tackle Young’s Adam-God Doctrine.

Brigham Young was the second prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the Mormons.  On April 9, 1852, in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, Young delivered perhaps his most controversial sermon.  The sermon consisted of two main parts; the first pertaining to the nature of God, and the second concerning the importance of tithing.  It is in the former topic that Young put forth more than one heretical doctrine – the carnal conception of Jesus by a physical God, and the identification of Adam as God.

Young, the prophet of Mormonism, said, “Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do.”[1]  This is the section of the sermon that defines the Adam-God Doctrine. 

A little bit further on, in the same paragraph, Young states that Jesus was the result of a sexual union between Mary and Elohim.  Young and Joseph Smith both taught that Elohim (Father God) possessed a physical body, not spiritual.  In this paragraph, Young departs from the biblical account of the gospel, and said, “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.”[2]  Later on he continues, “What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.”[3]  This last statement not only argues to case for the physical conception of Jesus, but also for the Adam-God doctrine.

One of the first questions a thinking person asks here is, “How in the world did Brigham Young come up with such an odd notion?”  Most false doctrines begin with at least one thread of truth in them.  That’s how the deception is accomplished, and that is undoubtedly the case here. 

Young’s predecessor, Joseph Smith, Jr., had already stated that Adam was the Ancient of days.[4]  Smith got this idea by misinterpreting Daniel 7:13, which says, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.”  To Smith and his followers, this verse refers to Jesus coming before Adam.  This misinterpretation could have been averted if Smith had read Revelation 5.  Here, John relates the same story.  However, it is clear that Jesus Christ approaches the throne and takes the judgment seals from God the Father.  The case for this is bolstered in John 5:22 where John says “For the Father…hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”

The LDS Church does not argue with Young’s assertion that God has a physical body, and that Jesus was the result of a physical (sexual) union between God and Mary.  However, Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35 talk about the conception of Jesus Christ as one where Mary is “overshadowed” by the Holy Ghost.  The Greek words in play here for the Holy Ghost are “pneuma” (spirit) and “hagios” (holy).  The modern English words pneumatic and pneumonia are based on the Greek pneuma, which conveys a sense of air or breath – decidedly not physical.  Pneuma is also the same word used in John 4:24, which says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

While the Mormons proudly proclaim the doctrine that God had physical relations with Mary, most will shy away from the Adam-God doctrine.  Some will theorize that Young was simply misquoted.  Others admit that Young was properly quoted, but argue that he was not speaking as a prophet at the time, because he did not begin this sermon or any portion of it with “Thus saith the Lord.”  LDS hierarchy adamantly opposes the Adam-God doctrine.  In 1976, LDS prophet and president Spencer Kimball told attendees of a Priesthood session of 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.”[5]      

This diminishing of Brigham Young’s teachings would be quite troublesome to Young, who strongly defended this and every sermon he preached.  In 1870, he stated that he had “never yet preached a sermon and sent out to the children of men that they may not call Scripture.”[6]  Back in his 1852 sermon, when wrapping up his teachings on the nature of God (including the Adam-God doctrine), Young concluded, “Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation.[7]  These are serious words that make the less-than-subtle point that belief in the Adam-God doctrine is a belief on which a person’s very salvation hinges!

These are important points, because Mormonism lives or dies on the authenticity of modern-day revelation to its prophet.  In just this area, we have demonstrated that the first two prophets of Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young, were blasphemously in error on the nature of God.  Yet these prophets staunchly defended these teachings as scripture!  How can a true faith be based on the teachings of false prophets?  It cannot. 

Adam was not God.  He was not a creator – he was a creation.  Through Adam, sin entered into the world, and separated man from God.  Through Jesus Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid, and man may be redeemed to God.  Every Mormon who reads this should ask themselves if they’re willing to follow the teachings of false prophets.  If not, it is time to claim redemption through Jesus Christ.  Jesus offers forgiveness from sins, for all who accept him.  For those who do not – who choose to follow false teachings – Jesus holds the judgment seals from God.  Jesus holds the Book of Life, while Joseph Smith and Brigham Young hold only deception and false doctrine.  It is the most important decision anyone can make.  Choose wisely.



1 – Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 50.

2 – Ibid.

3 – Ibid. p. 51.

4 – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157.

5 – Church News, October 9, 1976.

6 – Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 95.

7 – Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 51.


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