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MORMONISM: A DETAILED LOOK AT SOME OF ITS' TEACHINGS TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT IT IS A CHRISTIAN RELIGION
IMPORTANT NOTE: BECAUSE OF THE ENORMITY OF THE CONTENT OF INFORMATION ON THESE PAGES, I HAVE USED RED TYPE TO DISTINGUISH MY COMMENTS AND NOTES FROM THOSE OF THE MORMON AUTHORITIES.
THE CASE AGAINST MORMONISM
ANSWERS TO MORMON APOLOGISTS REGARDING THE
Mormon apologists dismiss the charges by evangelical Christians that Brigham Young taught the Mormon Church that the god they serve is none other than Adam (Journal of Discourses 1, 50). They assert that their prophets and teachers are fallible like the rest of mankind, and so those things written in the Journal of Discourses are not to be taken as canon.
Teachings of Brigham Young
In leading the Latter-day Saints for over thirty years, Brigham Young wrote comparatively little, except for his letters, but he spoke frequently and on numerous subjects. He was constantly obliged to speak ex cathedra on many topics relative to life in this world and the next. His discourses were vigorous and forthright, filled with candid realism and common sense, and many of his speeches were recorded in shorthand by scribes. Along with his practical attainments and mechanical skills, he was one of the most discursive and lucid of men. Here was a man tested by fire (e.g., he was actually driven from his home five times) and who knew all the trials of life, from the corridors of power to the roughest frontiers. He sometimes made statements that surprised or even offended those who tended to accept his every utterance as doctrine, but with a New Englander´s passion for teaching and learning, he plunged ahead.
All the commentators concede that Brigham Young was one of the ablest and most dynamic leaders in American history. He was one of the supremely practical men of his age, a hardheaded, even-keeled, no-nonsense realist who got things done. But, for him, all of that was incidental. The important thing was that the people should know what they were doing and why. His orders and recommendations came with full and persuasive explanations.
His teachings begin with faith in Jesus Christ: "My faith is placed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and my knowledge I have received from him" (JD 3:155). "Jesus is our captain and leader; Jesus, the Savior of the world-the Christ we believe in" (JD 14:118). "Our faith is placed upon the son of God, and through him in the Father, and the Holy Ghost is their minister to bring truths to our remembrance" (JD 6:98).
Brigham Young gained much of his knowledge of Jesus Christ through his constant association with the Prophet Joseph Smith: "What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith" (JD 6:279). To the end of his life, Young testified of the mission of Joseph Smith in restoring knowledge of Christ to earth. "I love his doctrine," he said. "I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained" (JD 13:216; 3:51). His dying words were "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph."
On this foundation, Brigham Young emphatically taught the law of eternal progression. This life is a part of eternity. Eternal knowledge and glory are to be obtained and promoted on this earth.
Improvement, learning, training, building, and expanding are the joy of life: "We do not expect to cease learning while we live on earth; and when we pass through the veil, we expect still to continue to learn" (JD 6:286). And eternal progression leads to godhood: "The faithful will become gods, even the sons of God" (JD 6:275).
Brigham Young recognized that many people were not prepared to understand the mysteries of God and godhood. "I could tell you much more about this," he said, speaking of the role of Adam, but checked himself, recognizing that the world would probably misinterpret his teaching (JD 1:51).
It is this very teaching found in JD 1:51, that we are going to address in this study of Mormon doctrine. But before we study this "Adam-God" teaching of Brigham Young's, I offer the commentary below as a typical example of how a Mormon apologist addresses the questionable doctrines which are taught in the Journal of Discourses in an effort to defend the Mormon faith:
(THIS STATEMENT CAN BE FOUND ON THE WEBSITE: MORMON FORTRESS.COM)
“A favorite source of material frequently cited by anti-Mormons is the Journal of Discourses. This twenty-six-volume collection of writings of early General Authorities was first published in England between 1853 and 1886 for the intent of providing an income for George D. Watt, the stenographer and publisher for the collection. (Watt, 55.)
The First Presidency approved the publication and the collected volumes filled the need of getting published conference reports into the hands of members in England. Gerald Jones notes however,
In considering the reliability of the Journal of Discourses, we should remember certain circumstances.
Though the First Presidency endorsed the publication of the Journal, there was no endorsement as to the accuracy or reliability of the contents. There were occasions when the accuracy was questionable. The accounts were not always cleared by the speakers because of problems of time and distance. This was especially true during the persecution of the 1880s, which finally forced the cessation of the publication.
...Doctrinally, members of the Church were growing and learning. Most adults were converts who had to unlearn and relearn many doctrines. They were learning things that our children learn in Primary and Sunday School. Remarks were frequently impromptu. Close, friendly audiences frequently invited formal discussion of varied topics. There was occasional speculation about doctrines that have since been determined unimportant or even misleading. (Jones, 200-01.)
(I MIGHT INTERJECT HERE THAT THE DOCTRINE IN QUESTION HERE, (Adam-God) WAS MENTIONED IN A SERMON BY BRIGHAM YOUNG, AN ACKNOWLEDGED AND REVERED PROPHET OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS. IF WHAT HE HIMSELF SAID ABOUT ADAM WAS MERELY SPECULATION, AND WAS UNIMPORTANT OR MISLEADING, THEN WE COULD INFER THAT THIS DOCTRINE WAS A FALSE DOCTRINE, WHICH WOULD MAKE BRIGHAM YOUNG A FALSE PROPHET. WE ALSO MUST CONSIDER THE FACT THAT BRIGHAM YOUNG'S OWN TESTIMONY WAS THAT THOSE THINGS THAT HE TAUGHT WERE WHAT HE HAD LEARNED FROM JOSEPH SMITH. I REPEAT THE WORDS QUOTED EARLIER:
“Brigham Young gained much of his knowledge of Jesus Christ through his constant association with the Prophet Joseph Smith: "What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith" (JD 6:279). To the end of his life, Young testified of the mission of Joseph Smith in restoring knowledge of Christ to earth. "I love his doctrine," he said. "I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained" (JD 13:216; 3:51). His dying words were "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph.")
THE MORMON APOLOGIST CONTINUES :
The Journal of Discourses contains many interesting and insightful teachings by early church leaders and well as intriguing and speculative assumptions and hypothesis of these same leaders. The Journal of Discourses is not, and never has, carried the same weight as scripture (for a definition of scripture-- or “official” scripture-- see my forthcoming article “Journal of Discourses/As Good as Scripture”). It is also important to note that Latter-day Saints do not believe that their leaders (including the Prophet) is infallible. Prophets are entitled to their own opinions, prejudices, and errors, just like everybody else (this topic will be discussed in greater detail in my forthcoming “Doctrinal/Prophets Fallible”).
Anti-Mormon arguments which rely on quotations from the Journal of Discourses are often straw-man arguments, attempting to claim Mormon doctrine from speculative remarks by early leaders. As Stephen Robinson has expressed,
...time and time again the Latter-day Saints are denied ...[the] basic privilege of defining and interpreting their own doctrines. Quite frequently a Latter-day Saint attempting to explain the tenets of his or her faith to non-Mormons will be interrupted by some self-styled expert who says, “No, that's not what you believe; this is what you believe!” There generally follows a recital of some hocus-pocus that is certainly not taught by the LDS Church. Ponder the absurdity of it-- “You don't know what you believe, but I know what you believe; I know your thoughts better than you do!”
...When non-Mormons attempt to impose doctrines on the Latter-day Saints or interpret them for us, the resulting fictions generally fall into one of three categories: outright fabrications, distortions of genuine LDS doctrines into unrecognizable forms, or the representation of anomalies within LDS tradition as mainline or official LDS teaching. (Robinson, 1991, 9-10.)"
IT MUST BE POINTED OUT HERE THAT STATEMENTS LIKE THE ONE JUST QUOTED ARE DESIGNED TO SUCCESSFULLY PROTECT A PERSON WHO WISHES TO WRAP HIMSELF IN THE DELUSION OF A LIE AND GIVES HIM A SELF-PERCIEVED JUSTIFICATION TO CONTINUE IN HIS DECEPTION. The Scripture is true which says:
2 Tim 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION of the state of those who have joined themselves to the Mormon church.
For the purpose of context, and to show that Brigham Young taught nothing inconsistent with Mormon doctrine in this particular sermon. On the next page, I will deal with the first part of Brigham Young's discourse, which consits of sermonettes concerning many subjects (MISSIONS, TITHING, AMUSEMENT). I WILL INCLUDE THE ENTIRE DISCOURSE MADE BY BRIGHAM YOUNG WHICH INCLUDED THIS “ADAM-GOD” DOCTRINE.
ON THE PAGE FOLLOWING THE NEXT PAGE, WE WILL DEAL SPECIFICALLY WITH THE "ADAM-GOD" DOCTRINE.
I will ALSO show how this same doctrine is encouraged in the Doctrine and Covenants, which ARE recognized by the Mormon Church to be Canon.
FROM TIME TO TIME I MAY UNDERLINE SOMETHING OR COMMENT ON SOMETHING IN THE TEXT. THE PLACES WHERE AN EMPHASIS IS INSERTED ARE MY DOING, AND NOT THAT OF BRIGHAM YOUNG.
CLICK ARROW FOR JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES 1:51