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Radio Free Mormon: 155: The Essay That Started It All!

RFM performs the essay that got him into the podcasting biz!  In it, RFM reveals the lengths the LDS Church will go to in order to keep its members from learning about the Adam-God Theory; and that Brigham Young taught it as doctrine for half a century!


21 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 155: The Essay That Started It All!”

  1. Very interesting.

    Where did Brigham Young come up with this? Was there an identifiable specific revelation or vision which gave rise to this doctrine?

    Why didn’t Brigham Young add this to the official canon of scripture in the D&C? Why didn’t Brigham Young add anything to the D&C?

    Also, were the Adam-God theory to survive and continue to be preached, what real difference would it make (other than adding support to the arguments made by mainstream Christians that Mormons are non-Christian heretics)? The distinguishing features of Mormonism include the concepts that there is not an inseparable division between God and humanity and that God has a physical body and that God (and Mrs. God or the multiple Mrs. God’s) used their perfected physical bodies to create spirit children. If men and women can become Gods and Goddesses, why couldn’t a God step down and participate in the physical creation as well as the spiritual creation?

    Also, if Adam were God, does that mean that Eve would be Mrs. God (or at least one of the Mrs. God’s)?

    If Adam were God, what does that say about the fall? How could God be tempted and fall?

    Was there any contemporaneous theological discussion or debate around these kinds of questions and the other potential implications of the Adam-God doctrine when Brigham Young was teaching this doctrine?

    In a way, the Adam-God theory pushes the boundaries of Christianity in manner is consistent with the interesting head-scratching and mind-expanding theories that came from Joseph Smith during his later revelatory period. Those doctrines pushed Christianity beyond the bible in a very interesting way. The modern church seems in retreat by comparison.

    1. Great questions…here’s one more…how the hell does this wacked out theory/doctrine reconcile itself in any way to the Bible????? I mean please, go ahead Brigham and start your own weird cult in the dessert, but don’t hijack the Bible to give yourself some instant credibility…its just embarrassing. No wonder he had to take his followers far away from everyone else…Egads! How do you wash this shit off????

    2. Lots of great questions. Once again, I will try to answer some of these in a podcast next week.

      But yes, there was definitely a HUGE debate about this doctrine.

      Orson Pratt did not believe the Adam-God teaching Brigham Young espoused.

      The fight between the two became so acrimonious, it almost resulted in Pratt being excommunicated.

      And almost certainly resulted in Pratt never becoming president of the church, which he was in line for after Brigham died.

      This is all documented in a great book, “Conflict in the Quorum,” by Gary Bergera.

      You can also find a shorter article by the same name online if you are interested.



      1. I wish the Pratt brothers had never joined, but as it stands they did and I came directly thru the loins of Parley’s polygamist wife, Belinda Marden Pratt.

        I always cringed when my husband would tell people and I was finally able to swear him to secrecy. I felt real shame about it, never wanting anyone to think I thought I was somehow better because of the pedigree .

        It was more than that tho, as a TBM,…I felt shame and a sick pit in my stomach whenever the topic of Parley came up. And I didn’t know any of the dark truths.

        Now that I’m out the other side, I feel strongly validated in my shame over that family, even tho they weren’t as bad as some.
        Now a fuller truth is emerging and believe me, I want to distance myself even further. That book sounds interesting.

        My convert husband, a First Nations Canadian West Coast Salish Aboriginal ( Lamanite ) couldn’t resist using my ‘royalty’ as a way of evening up the playing field for himself in the church. It wasn’t conscious on his part. It wasn’t uncommon for someone in the church every couple of years to call him “chief” with a small c for sure.

        I can’t stand how loyal he has remained to an organization that doesn’t respect him and one that he doesn’t even know what is actually believed. He wouldn’t be impressed with the Adam- God thing and yet I continue to launder all his BYU hoodies and sportswear. …Damn Brigham!

        1. You are a descendant of Parley P. Pratt? He was always one of my heroes!

          Not so much anymore, I admit. But polygamy aside, it is hard not to admire a person who gave his all to his faith, and Parley sure did that in spades!

          I remember one of the books I had “smuggled” into me on my mission was Parley’s autobiography.

          I absolutely loved it! And a few years back, I had to read it again for old time’s sake.

          I think my favorite part is his escape from the Missouri jail on the Fourth of July, 1839.

          That story can stand alongside almost any Mark Twain story of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer!

          I imagine you know the story I am talking about.

          Of course, Parley’s involvement with plural marriage ended up being his undoing, which I believe he discovered to his dismay in the summer of 1857 upon being overtaken by the husband of his new bride.

          Anyway, pleased to meetcha!


          1. Hahahahaha! yes I enjoyed Parley’s autobiography. He was a ‘valiant’ man and I thought a good writer. I appreciate what Grant Palmer revealed just before he died when the church declassified some of the minutes from the group of 50 meetings.

            it was when Joseph was rallying the Indians to make an army to take over the US basically and fulfill the prophesy in the BOM, that conveniently had Joseph wearing the crown….not on the front lines, mind you.

            Parley was quoted as saying something like…”if this doesn’t come to pass…the BOM is the biggest crock of shit there is, and I’m outta here”….paraphrasing of course. I loved him in that lucid moment, but he never followed thru.

            I knew of an exmo that named her feline, ‘Parley P. Cat’ LOL. If I wasn’t so allergic to cats ,Id get one just to name him that!

            I’d don”t think my mini wiener dog, ‘Magnus’ would take kindly to being called a cat, tempting as it is…LOL

  2. WOW RFM…..Didn’t know I would find this so fascinating. It really proves how little the roots of Mormonism have to do with actual Christianity…many of the same names but NOT the same characters or roles.

    If the evolving church has ultimately deemed this doctrine so unpalatable, why then have they not done a better job scrubbing it from the temple endowment???

    When I went thru the temple in 1978 in Washington DC…the only thing that was news to me was that Adam was identified as ‘Michael” who” helped form the world.” When I tried to find out more about that, I couldn’t get any answers!

    I see from your essay and excellent research that this is part of what remains from the original Adam God theory! I didnt know that he was originally claimed to be Michael, the Archangel…and God etc, etc. How truly bizarre…like a really far out there episode of Battlestar Gallactica or something.

    Bruce R. McKonkie’s loose relationship with the truth makes me wonder if it was perhaps someone else’s feet or hooves he ultimately washed with his tears! To think I allowed that beast to terrorize my inner peace for as long as he did. I’m so angry.

    1. Bingo! Once you actually know what the Adam-God Theory is, it is hard not to see it all over the endowment.

      I mean, the endowment is sort of framed around that doctrine. It doesn’t come out and teach it (anymore), but the endowment suddenly makes so much more “sense” when viewed through the lens of the Adam-God Theory.

      And remember, we have only a sketchy understanding of the endowment as it was introduced by Joseph Smith. At least, that is my understanding.

      It was given to Brigham Young to work out the kinks, or that’s what Brigham Young said.

      So it is hard to know what parts were original to Joseph Smith, and what parts were modified by Brigham Young.

  3. Great podcast RFM. What do you make of arguments that place the origin of the Adam God theory with Joseph Smith? From what I can tell the only evidences of this are occasions in the D&C where Joseph refers to Adam as “the ancient of days” which seems to be a title that refers to God throughout the Old Testament. That and Brigham Young stating that he received the doctrine from Joseph. It seems plausible that Adam God is a logical continuation of the King Follet discourse and could have been where Joseph was headed. What are your thoughts?

    1. Great question!

      I am going to try to address these questions in an episode next week.

      A little too complicated for just a comment here.

      Don’t let me forget!



  4. I just wanted to state that I appreciate your apologetics. The body of apologetic work you provide adds to your credibility. Anything else you put forward is balanced because I know that you have a deep well to draw from and have considered things carefully. All the apologetics you put out will be appreciated by me. Wow I just accidentally did an ABBA chiasm. That one episode 15 about the evidences to support the Book of Mormon with important number sequences was amazing and then this other work recently on complexity in the Book of Mormon strengthened the numbers thing. I was recently listening to Jonathon Cahn, a messianic Jew, explain some interesting historical events and shows this 7 year gap over and over like you did back in episode 15.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Jim.

      I have to walk a fine line here, trying to appeal to both sides of the coin without offending anybody or driving anybody away.

      That is certainly not my intent!

      So glad to hear you liked the episode!


  5. Skullduggery indeed—you have exposed scandalous prevarication on the part of Mormon leaders, to say the least. But I’ve always wondered WHY, why, why, did Brigham cook this idea up? Clearly it solved some problems, like bolstering the idea of getting one’s own planet, but it created many new problems. Here’s my solution to why: If Adam is the God of this world, he is both the father of humankind’s spirit AND body. If two separate men were involved in creating a human (Heavenly Father made the spirits, and Adam made the bodies) then they have shared paternity and men don’t dig the idea of shared paternity. (Of course mainstream Christianity doesn’t have spirit children, so no problem.) As my university religion prof termed it, clear paternity of children was a “male psychosis” very evident in the Bible and ancient lit in general. So true. Shared paternity: bad. That’s my explanation, and I’m stickin’ to it.

    1. I just put up a podcast today, the second half deals with “bad apologetics” as they relate to the Adam-God Theory.

      But even though I went over lots of ground in this regard, I didn’t get to the issue you raise, which is where did Brigham Young come up with this, and why.

      I did mention his claim to have received it from Joseph Smith, which I tend to discount.

      I am going to try to remember to go into this question tomorrow.

      I don’t want to beat a dead Adam-God Horse to death or anything, so I will just spent around 10-minutes on this subject, but hopefully it will be worthwhile.

      Thanks for raising the question.

      And I like your proposed answer, by the way.

      But I think there may be more at play . . .

      Thanks for listening!


  6. “Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!” I love the reference. For the record, “I aim to accuse you of heresy in one minute, RFM!”

  7. Ha ha. So on the mission we used to listen to the Seven Deadly Heresies talk (someone had a cassette tape), and then we would try to imitate McKonkie. Now you’ve got me thinking of him as Rooster Cogburn, saying (in his slow, deliberate, cadence–perhaps from the pulpit in the old tabernacle) the last line of this memorable exchange: “Fill your hands, you son-of-a-bitch!”

  8. Please! do that podcast about Philander Smartt that you mentioned in this podcast. Let’s just say I knew him in a personal way when we were 19-20 years of age, I was not surprised by his behavior as a church leader but I was disturbed with the way the church (attempted to) covered up the reason for his release.

    1. If you have inside information about the church’s cover up, I would like include it in the podcast.

      Is it something you can share?

      1. Nothing about the cover up, sorry, we were mission companions so I just wanted to know more about the story. I didn’t care for him too much in those days, he was very full of himself. Love your podcasts RFM!

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