The culty and slightly racist [1] Primary song Follow the Prophet asserts that “Adam was a Prophet. First one that we know. In a land called Eden he helped things to grow. Adam served the Lord by following his ways. We are his descendents in the latter days.”

Being in Primary, I am subjected to this dubious song most Sundays. [2] When I heard that first verse, I remember thinking “Wait, what? Do we believe that Adam was a prophet? If so, on what basis?” I’m still not sure, and a little digging revealed that it is not a belief shared by other Christians. Muslims, however, do believe that Adam was a prophet because by their definition, after being expelled from Eden, Adam was sent as a messenger to the others living on earth which is how he meets the Islamic qualification for “prophet.” That story doesn’t really fit our doctrinal view of Adam who was looking for messengers when expelled from the garden. He wasn’t the preacher; he was the audience.

According to the Primary song, Adam was a prophet because he was a successful gardener. None of the traits ascribed to him in the song have anything to do with being a “prophet,” and they are all literally things that apply to both Adam and Eve and to my next door neighbor: gardening skills (her yard is like a cultivated parkland), serving the Lord (she’s an Evangelical, so according to some, she’s at least “pretending” to follow Jesus), and having descendents (I think?). Aside from the gardening skills, I qualify. Most other Christian sects consider Enoch to be the first prophet in the Bible, not Adam.

There appear to be several reasons that Adam’s designation as a “prophet” is suspect:

  • The title “prophet” doesn’t appear until many generations later in scripture.
  • Prophets warn an entire population, not just their own family, and are messengers for God. Adam only did this within his own family, so technically if there were no other people (if we ignore that Nephilim / race of Gods stuff), maybe he qualifies, but only on a technicality). Adam essentially did nothing more than anyone who has ever held family home evening. [3] Also, Jonah doesn’t qualify by this measure (Ninevah only, so he’s basically a missionary), and he’s also got a verse, but kids love to sing about people being swallowed by whales, so I get the appeal for including him.
  • Different religions can’t seem to agree on what a prophet is exactly.
  • Within Mormonism, there is a clear distinction between being a “Prophet” and a prophet. We can all be the latter, yes, even women (despite some harumphing and head patting from patriarchal leaders), but the former is a unique position.

Here’s what some random pastor on Quora said about Adam (not) being a prophet:

There is no Biblical text indicating that he was spoken through by the Holy Spirit. He was a prophet in the sense that he heard from God and spoke to God. But if this was sufficient then Eve would’ve been a prophet too. While there were prophecies through patriarchs and predecessors prior to the Mosaic covenant (God’s covenant with the Israelites through Moses) the role of prophet hadn’t been officially created yet. The role of the prophet is specifically to hear from God in order to guide the people. The people weren’t guided by Adam, they became wicked, including his own son. They weren’t guided by Noah, they all perished.[4] They weren’t guided by Abraham either.[5] He had a group that were led by him but there was no revealed law yet and the biblical text doesn’t say that God was giving Abraham regular revelations. . . . the official role of prophet begins after Moses (Deuteronomy 18: 16-18).

Brian S. Holmes, Pastor, Teacher, Owner of

Personally, I think the argument that an “unsuccessful” prophet is not a prophet is kind of weak sauce, especially since he doesn’t even mention Enoch, who is considered the first prophet by most Christians, and they don’t come any more successful that he was (that’s verse two for the Follow the Prophet crowd [6]). I mean, an unsuccessful politician is still a politician, right?

Anyway, the song is full of even weaker arguments about why such-and-such a person was a prophet, and most of them are at least partial failures in their ability to convince others if you’re counting (Noah, Jonah and Moses chiefly), but I suppose the constraints of rhyming have created logic fails in many songs. Some examples of “Prophet” qualifications from the song:

  • Serving in the temple
  • Praying to have a son
  • Refusing to sin
  • Being a lion whisperer (I would say “performing a miracle”, although the way the song puts it, angels are doing all the heavy lifting here)
  • Being Fox News (check out verse 7 if you don’t believe me)

It also seems that we don’t really have any Book of Mormon prophets in the song, which makes an interesting omission. This leads me to believe that the song was specifically written, not merely to teach cult-like obedience to human authorities [7], but as a way to get kids to learn some basic Bible stories and to fill the “songs about the Old Testament” gap.

The main theme of the song is that a bunch of randos were Prophets in the Old Testament, and if you obey your human leaders today, you won’t make mistakes because they are infallible guides, and if you don’t, well, you’re courting your own destruction or delaying your entrance into the promised land. Our own song leader actually added a verse about “Russell M. Nelson”[8] and specifically instructed all the children that he speaks face-to-face with Heavenly Father and Jesus [9]. Indoctrinating children (and adults) to relinquish their own burgeoning morality is the current party line. I remember back in the day when we at least occasionally talked about following the spirit, seeking personal revelation, and having a conscience, back when gas only cost $2 a gallon. The salad days.

I don’t recall ever being taught growing up in the Church that Adam was a prophet, just that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and Eve was obviously a whole lot smarter than Adam who was basically a dum-dum wearing a skirt made of leaves. Did the author of this song just pull that idea out of thin air, or was I not paying attention as a child? As the youths say, where are the receipts?

  • Was Adam a prophet in any real sense? What’s your theological justification for the claim?
  • Do Mormons have a clear definition of prophet that carries any water and would be convincing to other faiths? [10]
  • Was this song written to ret-con the role of prophets since we apply that title to our leaders, regardless of continuity of definition? Or was it written to give Primary kids some content for a song-bereft Old Testament year?


[1] Faux semitic tune, rendered worse in my ward by the song leader including dance moves to make it seem like we’re dancing the Hora at a Jewish wedding. Oy vey! As Mel Brooks would say, “Hava Nagila, have two nagilas, have three nagilas, they’re very small.”

[2] Yes, yes, I know, somebody out there is related to the songwriter who is the friggin salt o’ the earth. Mea culpa.

[3] I mean, let’s be honest. How many families really did family home evening?

[4] Shots fired on verse three!

[5] Oh man! There goes verse 4!

[6] We used to always tell our kids to “Follow the Crowd” instead of “Follow the Prophet.” They really do know the way, especially when you are traveling in a foreign country. We’ve only accidentally been caught up in political protests twice this way.

[7] A side benefit, if you will.

[8] It didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, she did insist on including his middle initial, and she also stated that he regularly speaks face to face with God directly, so that will be exciting to see these kids in twenty years or so when they find out it just ain’t so.

[9] She’s kind of the queen of fake news in Primary, but just an occasional sub. She also claimed that “stripling” warriors were called that because they were super-buff, and that the word meant that, mistaking the Frieberg painting for the actual meaning of the word, which is the opposite of what he painted.

[10] Unlike some, I do think words matter, definitions should be broadly consistent, and other churches aren’t just playing pretend, and some of them have a lot more credibility (due to scholarship) and tenure (being older than 1830).