The Adam-God Doctrine is probably my most requested topic here at Gospel Tangents. I admit I am not an expert on this topic, so I sat down with 2 members of Christ’s Church to learn more about this early Mormon doctrine. David Patrick is an apostle and Benjamin Shaffer is a Seventy. Think of this as your Adam-God 101 episode.
GT: I believe that it was Bruce R. McConkie that called Adam-God doctrine, “a heresy.” And I also believe that even back to Orson Pratt [it was disputed.] Orson and Brigham had a big dispute over [Adam-God doctrine], and Brigham supported it and Orson did not. I do want to preface that before because I want to I want to make sure people understand that.
David: Joseph Smith introduces this idea, wow! We can become gods. And so that means there’s a plurality of gods. But we only have one God that we have to deal with on this earth.
GT: So the question from a Christian point of view is now your polytheistic. Right?
Benjamin: More or less. I’m not gonna shy away too much from that idea. I mean, okay, maybe we’re a little bit polytheistic. But we view our monotheism, I guess, as looking at the oneness of God, the unity of God.
GT: And so the Adam-God doctrine is basically this. Adam was once a man just like us. He made his calling and election sure. He gained his exaltation. And then he became a god. And now it was time to people on earth. So he had spiritual children in his spirit world. And now it was time to people the earth but none of his spirit children had bodies. So he and his wife or wives came down to the earth to people it. Now he had to answer to his God. And his God was his connection in the priesthood. And he told him, “Of the garden, thou may eat of all these fruits but not of this tree.” And so there were still rules of the universe to follow. And once those rules were transgressed, then change would occur. And this is what Brigham Young had placed in the temple ordinance so people could understand the mysteries of godliness; how Adam came to be; how the children came to be. Because he said basically, once they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then their bodies were changed. It became more temporal. And they were now able to have children. And then those children are now the human race. It’s kind of that simple. But there’s much more to it than that.
GT: So let me make sure I’m understanding that. This is my rudimentary understanding of the Adam-God doctrine. What we’re saying is the Adam is God. Is that a correct statement?
Benjamin: Yes. But I think that doctrinally, why this is important is a fairly foundational idea. Are we the children of God? And this lecture at the veil for example, was this explanatory portion of the endowment. So that people would understand the meaning of the ceremony itself.
Now I admit there is a lot of doctrine people would find agreement in what was said, but there is also a disagreement as to whether Adam is God. For instance, the Adam-God doctrine identifies Elohim and Jehovah as separate beings (and separate from Jesus.) However, biblical historians say that these two names were used interchangeably for the same god in the Old Testament. I asked 2 members of Christ’s Church how they dealt with that issue with regards to the Documentary Hypothesis. Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer share how they deal with this issue.
GT: As I understand the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea is the first five books of Moses were written by four different authors.
GT: The J author refers to God as Yahweh; E [author refers to] Elohim because this is the point that I want to make here. I might be getting this backwards. In the Northern Kingdom, they referred to God as Elohim and then in the Southern Kingdom they referred to God as Jehovah. And then the editors according to the Documentary Hypothesis combined them all. Really Jehovah and Elohim are really two names for the same for the one and only God. And if you go to the Hebrew, they basically alternate behind between Jehovah and Elohim as the same person. And so Mormons are heretical, because we say that Jehovah and Elohim are two different people but historically, especially in the in the five books of Moses (I hope I’m getting this right) the Southern Kingdom referred to Jehovah, the Northern Kingdom referred to Elohim but they’re really the same person. So how would you respond to that issue?
Benjamin: Textual criticism is a big rabbit hole to go down, a big gospel tangent.
Benjamin: And it is complicated, but I do have a couple things that I could say to that. First of all, we do believe in this unity of godliness. Jehovah is in Elohim as in El, right? These are different titles as David [Patrick] is explaining. Right? You can use those titles. Sometimes you can use those titles somewhat interchangeably. This is actually another evidence for the Adam-God Doctrine. If Michael is a title of God with God right in the name right there then you could call any of them by any of those titles without being incorrect.
 I got it backwards. Southern Kingdom called God “Elohim” while Northern Kingdom called God “Jehovah” according to Documentary Hypothesis.
 It should be noted that El means “god” in Hebrew. Therefore the name Michael could be written as Micha-El, which includes El (God) as part of Michael’s name.
Benjamin talks further about how the Documentary Hypothesis might support the idea that Laban was helping put together the Torah under King Josiah. What do you think of his explanation? We’ll also talk about how Christ’s Church deals with evangelicals who like to ambush Mormons at places like the Manti Pageant over the Adam-God doctrine. What are your thoughts about the Adam-God doctrine? Was the video helpful in understanding it?