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231: The Adam God Historical Subterfuge


Today we sit down with Corbin Volluz and discuss the nuts and bolts of the Adam/God Doctrine.  We talk about what Brigham taught, How widely it was taught and implemented, How Leaders and apologists have attempted to explain it, and How leaders have attempted to make it disappear.  Once you understand this issue in full it becomes clear that the Church has no choice but to eventually own up and acknowledge Prophets can and have taught false Doctrine and grappling with truth and error is a much more difficult process then we have let on.

Corbin has a blog post that also details the effort to make this teaching disappear.  It is found here on rational Faith’s Blog

Corbin Volluz lives western Washington state. He has been practicing law for 23-years with a focus on criminal defense and personal injury. Corbin joined the LDS Church in June of 1978, shortly after the lifting of the priesthood ban, and has been studying Mormonism ever since. He has been published in several venues, including the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and BYU-Studies.



37 thoughts on “231: The Adam God Historical Subterfuge”

  1. Corbin and Bill – Thank you SO much for sharing this. Personally for me listening to this made some really big pieces fall into place that explain the WHY of several things within recent (i.e. in my lifetime) LDS history.

    The Adam God theory/doctrine was something I have studied a bit and understood (a bit) why there was “these are not the drones you are looking for” attempt to just make it fade away. But the bonus was how that has played into the cover-up in the attempt to make it go away AND the tie to the polygamous offshoots. SOO much now falls into place.

    I have been a big Bill fan for quite a while and I have been very impressed with Corbin’s blogs that really resonated with me. Corbin got a few notches higher on my list.

    Thanks so much for the deep digging into history as well as some of the why. This has helped me quite a bit. I can’t wait until this becomes available outside of the premium listeners, as I will be sending it out to quite a few folks.

  2. Finally rumors confirmed. Thanks for clarifying this topic… sadly most members are in the dark on this one and others doesn’t even care.

    So perhaps additional rumors can be confirmed for me. Per Brigham Young, was Adam (the father of our spirits) the Savior for his world too or just a glorified celestial being?

    Was Elohim a Savior for his World?

    Will Jesus Christ play the role of Adam in His next world, and would Adam be the role of Elohim?

    Is our next role after we’re exalted the roles of Adam/Eve for our spiritual children?

    I take it that each of us will have our own only beloved spiritual firstborn / begotten son or daughter, as well as our rebellious Lucifer.

    It would seem where all of us get to play the role of Adam, not all of us would get the role of Savior/Christ.

    In some ways it would be more plausible this doctrine since how lucky are we to have the Savior of the universe born to our world when there are worlds without end. It seems more realistic that each world has their own Savior.

    But then how many firstborn’s can a man have, one per wife perhaps?

    This concept of firstborn/only begotten is sometimes difficult to grasp, and I’m not so sure how well it fits with the Glorified Christ, but interesting to ponder none the less.

    Maybe we should all just invent a theology that best works for us.

    1. In some ways it would be more plausible this doctrine since how lucky are we to have the Savior of the universe born to our world when there are worlds without end. It seems more realistic that each world has their own Savior.

      Well done Brigham Young thinks so also:

      Sin is upon every earth that ever was created, and if it was not
      so, I would like some philosophers to let us know how people can
      be exalted to become sons of God, and enjoy a fulness of glory
      with the Redeemer. Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and
      every earth has its tempter; and every earth, and the people
      thereof, in their turn and time, receive all that we receive, and
      pass through all the ordeals that we are passing through.

      Brigham Young JD Vol 14 July 10,1870

  3. FYI, The leak of the letter from Bruce R. McConkie to Eugene England was apparently from McConkie’s office, not from Eugene, as Eugene was out of the country when the letter was sent and before he got back back (5 months later) to see the letter copies were already circulating at BYU.
    “In January 1981, England began the aforementioned six-month assignment as Associate Director for BYU London Study Abroad, so he was out of the country when Elder McConkie eventually wrote a response. Before England had even received McConkie’s letter or knew of its existence, however, copies that had originated from the apostle’s office were already circulating on the BYU Provo campus.”
    About a year later Eugene, concerned McConkie would think he (Eugene) had leaked it, sent a letter (Oct 1982) to McConkie saying,
    “Perhaps you should know that I have learned recently that a copy of your letter was seen here at Brigham Young University just a few days after it was written, in early 1981 and long before I received the letter in England. It was understood that the copy had somehow originated in your office.”

    Quotes are from the Eugene England Foundation website:, accessed 8/18/2016.

  4. The Adam-God doctrine has not been abandoned. It has gone underground. The endowment still very clearly declares that Eve is the Mother of All Living, and that Earth is patterned after the world where Adam “used to live.”

    These are vestiges of Adam-God Doctrine.

    Just like all occultic groups, the LDS church hides his true doctrine behind a veneer of simple religion that is palatable for the masses. If you have ears to hear, the temple teaches, in code, the true doctrine. Adam is God. Still.

  5. Eve is declared to be the Mother of All Living. Earth is patterned after the old world, where Adam used to live.

    Adam-God has not been abandoned. It’s gone underground. It is not occult (hidden) doctrine, but it is still very much alive to those with the “ears to hear.”

  6. Mr. & Mrs. G. Paššim family

    A wonderful, and informative lesson, on a topic that has been, until now, terribly confusing. Corbin is a tremendous speaker; a real pleasure to listen to. Thank you, for this great episode of your podcast, Bill. Can we please hear more from Corbin?

    A man this well-prepared, and knowledgable, MUST have more of the same for your audience—helping those who seek truth—decipher controversial/confusing history of the teachings from the LDS leadership! THANK YOU!!

  7. This was an amazing interview, I absolutely loved it. Great job getting Corbin on for this discussion. Thanks to both of you!

    One question I had was about that quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. From that quote it sounds like the church is not denouncing this doctrine. Which is very strange with multiple individual leaders denouncing it but the encyclopedia is not.

      1. Hey Bill: Great episode. When I looked at the EOM article on BY’s teachings, it doesn’t go nearly this far into Adam-God (looking at the online version). Is the 1992 print edition different from what’s there now?
        “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).”

        Or are you thinking of the article on Adam, written by Arthur Bailey, which does make more of a defense via the “misinterpretation” line of reasoning?

      2. Great episode!

        Quick question on the EOM article. I don’t see Huh Nibley making any kind of claim about it really in the BY article. But I don’t have access to the 1992 print edition… is the online version different here?

        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).

        There is a paragraph in the “Adam” article saying how BY was miniterpreted, but that was by Arthur Bailey, nor Hugh Nibley.

        Also, another question: I’m not sure if it was in the podcast or the comments here or at Corbin’s blog post, but there was some discussion about the importance of not viewing Jesus=Jehova when trying to understand BY’s understanding of Adam-God. I’ve been aware of this development in the early church for a while, but haven’t ever read any good treatment of how/when these shifts occurred. Any good references to articles?

  8. I too did enjoy the interview and was very enlightened on the topic. Though I felt I was already fairly conversant on the subject, I did learn a few interesting facts for further “ponderance”. Okay….reflection may be a more suitable term.

    On another note, I do believe that the charge of blatant dishonesty against the Church needs another perspective that wasn’t sought in the interview. Obviously the “doctrine” of Adam-God is not an accepted or canonized feature of the current LDS Church and would then be considered only a theory based on the definition of what can be doctrine from a institutional perspective. This too is the case for any historical document that was ever given the indication of a “revelation”. Unless it is presented with complete consensus by the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve and presented to the whole body of the Church for acceptance then it can’t be considered as binding to the Saints for that time. Therefore, any instructional literature using past sources (i.e. JD of Brigham Young etc.) can be redacted under the banner of official Church authority to assure the message coincides with the current light and knowledge of what is considered doctrine for that time. Joseph Smith and his contemporaries were continuously editing and clarifying revelations and holy revealed writ. Why could they do this? It is because they possess the authority to speak and communicate for the Church. This is and has been the standard MO of the LDS Church since its beginnings.

    The battle will always continue. Do we accept today’s leadership and will even if it conflicts with a statement or belief of a past leader? What is actual doctrine? So on and on we go and the mischief and accusations keep flying from both ends of the pulpit. And yes…we are all just mortal men and women trying to do our best in God’s behalf with very limited knowledge and light. And that goes for every leader, President or Prophet that ever has and will possess the seats of power and influence in the Church.

    I wish it was as simple as just calling out the Church to apologize and admit all the failings that apparently exist. However, who is the Church? Do all the Brethren even agree in these matters? Aren’t we all the Church? These matters can’t be rectified over night unfortunately. I will refer back to an interview Bill did with Terryl and Fiona Givens back in 2014 after their book of the “Crucible of Doubt” was published. Check it out!

    Well Bill…we may not always agree on how to interpret these matters and the perspective that comes from them. Nevertheless, I hope we can at least concede that we as LDS’s must lift one another up as brothers and sisters regardless of what side of the aisle of thought we reside in.

    1. “However, who is the Church? Do all the Brethren even agree in these matters? Aren’t we all the Church?”

      This isn’t a hard question to answer. Openly express an unorthodox belief with a loud enough voice, and you’ll find out “who” the church is by being lovingly removed from it.

  9. Nice discussion, Bill and Corbin. I appreciated how Corbin framed Brigham Young as putting together some of the pieces left by Joseph Smith when formulating the Adam-God doctrine, and I would add a few more pieces to that puzzle.

    George Laub recorded in his journal that on April 13, 1844, Joseph Smith taught that the sons of God who married the daughters of men in Gen 6:1-2 were “resurrected bodies,” who “violated the celestial laws.” Here we see Joseph incorporating the idea of resurrected being, prior to the time of Christ and separate from God the Father, are descending and interacting with this earth. In other words, these beings are necessarily a result of some previous temporal existence on another world, and have some way found a place on earth.

    Anson Call gives a relevant, though certainly mistakenly remembered, quote from Joseph Smith (this is a late source, 1877), which reads, “now regarding Adam: He came here from another planet [as] an immortalized being and brought his wife, Eve, with him, and by eating of the fruits of the earth became subject to death and decay and he became of the earth, earthly, was made mortal and subject to death.” You can see how Anson Call is putting Brigham Young’s 1852 famous announcement of Adam-God into Joseph’s mouth, but you still have to wonder if there is some nugget of truth to what Anson Call is recalling here. Did he misremember the entire event, or did Joseph say something along these lines that Anson then remembers as something strongly resembling Brigham Young’s discourse.

    We also have Eliza Snow who claimed that the prophet Joseph Smith, as her husband, taught reincarnation, and she believed it herself. Consideration of this should be tempered by the fact that when questioned, she only repeated JS material we are familiar with.

    However, her claim should still be considered, particularly in conjunction with D&C 132. Verses 24-25 read, “This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law. Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.” The concepts of lives and deaths applying to an individual are certainly consistent with some kind of reincarnation or multiple mortal probation doctrine (i.e. going through multiple mortal existences with resurrections in between or something along those lines, which is a doctrine sometimes attributed to early church leaders).

    Also important is the endowment’s inclusion of physical interaction between a mortal being, Adam, and those who we assume to be spirits only, Peter, James, and John. This interaction, if it were between mortal beings and spirits, would contradict Joseph Smith’s teaching that a righteous spirit would never physically interact with a human being as nothing would be felt, a teaching that he repeated many times before and after the Nauvoo endowment began to be given. LDS now like to say that the interaction is just allegorical; however, this doesn’t match with Joseph’s intent. He said on two occasions that the Nauvoo endowment was intended to help the Saints decipher good messengers from false messengers. Considering JS’s literal approach to interaction with the divine, it would make little sense for him to teach a method of deciphering messengers in the endowment by way of a metaphor. Considering, George Laub’s recorded version of JS saying the resurrected beings could come and interact with mortals, it is more likely that JS, if we are to take the core of the endowment we now experience as originating from JS, intended temple goers to understand that Peter, James, and John were immortal beings, likely resurrected beings.

    While there is little or no evidence that JS taught Adam-God doctrine and taught plenty that contradicts it, it does seem that there were many ideas JS was toying with in the late Nauvoo that could have easily contributed to Adam-God doctrine.

    1. Ben, your comments were informative and interesting. Thanks. I have found that Anson Call is very unreliable as a witness to Nauvoo events.

      1. Grindael, it’s been a while since we discussed Adam God and the church, and I’ve come a long way since then. Nice to run into you again. I’m curious to know some of the other examples of Anson getting things wrong, considering that in my example he very clearly conflating his discussion with JS and Brigham Young’s famous 1852 pronouncement at general conference.

  10. I just had a thought about the new Gospel Principles manual that came out about 7 years ago. I was teaching gospel principles at the time and reviewed the two copies for changes.

    A major theme was that instead of referencing a quote from JD or DBY, it now referenced the TOTPOTC:BY (Teachings of the President’s of the Church: Brigham Young).

    Taken with what was discussed in the podcast about this subject it seems that we now have a Gospel Principles manual that references a book with doctored quotes to make it seem that BY was not teaching Adam-God and was promoting the virtues of monogamous marriage. That book in turn references Discourses of Brigham Young which is yet another layer of doctored quotes to make BY post mortem align with whatever current church teaching is.

    Also, I believe that understanding polygamy is not terribly difficult if we just allow for the idea that the church members of that day were practicing a significantly different theology to our modern understanding.

    Trying to make everything in the gospel past, present, and future to harmonize is a game of mental gymnastics in my opinion.

  11. Thank you for this podcast. If I understand well the Adam God teaching:
    Elohim: Michael’s father (also Adam)–Jesus grandparent
    Our Heavenly father: Michael (Adam)–Jesus’ Father

    So, here is my question: we are taught in the temple that Michael and Jesus created the earth but Jesus was in charge to report to Elohim and he was the one giving order to Michael. Shouldn’t be the way around if Michael is Jesus’ father? Does not make sens to me.


    1. Hi, Memphis.

      You ask a good question.

      What is at the heart of your question, I think, is the assumption that Jesus and Jehovah are different names for the same being.

      This was not the case until the early part of the 20th century when the writings of James Talmage formally placed this concept in LDS theology.

      Prior to that, there was no necessary connection between the person of Jesus and the person of Jehovah.

      A good example of this is the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple recorded in D&C 109.

      There you will see “Jehovah” is being addressed in the prayer, and the name is used synonymously with “Holy Father.” In other words, Jehovah is used as a name for God the Father in this prayer.

      But elsewhere in the prayer, reference is made to Jesus as the Son of the Holy Father (i.e., Jehovah.)

      Here, Jehovah is used simply as another name for God, the Father. Jesus was considered his son.

      (In order to avoid this difficulty, apologists have to posit that Joseph Smith suddenly switched to whom he was addressing the prayer in the middle of the prayer! Something that seems decidedly unlikely.)

      What section 109 tells us is that Jehovah was NOT considered to be Jesus, at least as of the time of the dedication of the Kirtland temple in 1836.

      And, in fact, this equation between Jehovah and Jesus was not set in stone for another seventy-years or so, as I mentioned, with the writings of James Talmage.

      And as you know, the temple endowment came into being long before Jehovah became equated with Jesus.

      So when you write that we are taught in the temple that “Michael and Jesus created the earth,” actually the temple does not teach that. This is the relatively recent idea of Jesus = Jehovah interfering with your interpretation. The character of Jesus, in fact, appears nowhere in the endowment ceremony.

      In the endowment, Jesus is not giving orders to anybody, much less Michael. But Jehovah most definitely is. Again, as of the time the endowment ceremony was formulated, the idea had not crept into LDS theology that the two are one and the same.

      I hope this helps make sense of what can admittedly be a confusing situation.

      Thanks for your question!

    2. I just tried to leave a lengthy reply, Mephis, but the computer deleted it. :^(

      The substance of what I was saying though, is that as of the time the endowment was formulated, the idea had not crept into Mormon theology that Jesus and Jehovah were one and the same being.

      Check out section 109 where, in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith uses Jehovah as a name for the Holy Father, and refers to Jesus as his (Jehovah’s) son.

      This is a classic instance demonstrating that the two were not considered one and the same at this point.

      It was not until about seventy-years later when, largely through the writings and publications of James Talmage, the idea that Jesus and Jehovah are the same being was cemented into LDS theology.

      Since that time, it is taken so much for granted that it can cause a lot of confusion.

      Your question is a good example of the kind of confusion it can cause.

      Thanks for listening!

  12. Very interesting discussion. I’ve learned a lot of insightful stuff. But I have two nits to pick (and I’m sure there could be more 😉 ) :

    1. I don’t think you really gave any good examples of where LDS Church leaders have come out and explicitly said that Brigham Young did not teach the “Adam-God Doctrine”. What we have are, rather, rebuttals of it, that it is not an authentic doctrine. McConkie’s claim that he hasn’t heard it taught in the Church refers to the use of his ears–meaning that he hasn’t heard it taught since he’s been old enough to remember. I think he was way overly dogmatic in his 7 Deadly Heresies talk, but I think the statement about it no longer being taught is (a) what he meant, and (b) accurate.

    2. The concept of Adam having a belly button did not, as Corbin seems to imply, originate with the LDS Church. Christians have been having that debate for centuries.

    “Adam-God” is a sticky wicket, however, that I agree with you, the LDS Church should handle head on, such as with an LDS Topics essay.

    1. “Adam-God” is a sticky wicket, however, that I agree with you, the LDS Church should handle head on, such as with an LDS Topics essay.

      Not possible until a new way of thinking is allowed in the church.
      example: see

      The new lesson in Priesthood and
      Relief Society will on come from
      living prophets or Conference addresses. History has dangerous
      ideas and old school learning.

      subterfuge means to hide by artifice
      or sophistry. This subject is hid
      by living authority.


  13. Also, I recommend NOT citing MormonThink on much of anything Mormon. As usual, the statements that MormonThink has on this subject (the Adam-God Doctrine) have very little to do with the subject, and seem to me to be carefully calculated to confuse and obfuscate the discussion.

    1. Frank the are real problems and those problems are bigger than Fair or the Church will fully acknowledge. So with that what sources can one go to get a more rounded view that you and others won’t consider toxic? Point me to critical sources that give the critical side of an issue that you consider a healthy and credible place to go? And if you maintain that the Church and Fair have the full story then I simply will disagree.

  14. Excellent topic and very interesting insights in this ever unfolding world of Mormon faith and history. Thank you Bill for keeping your podcast going strong. It’s very important! One little criticism though, it’s Brigham not Bringham.
    Again, love what you are doing, please keep going strong!

  15. An understanding of the Adam-God teachings is essential to any understanding of doctrinal development in Mormonism. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your listeners.

    The issue is not whether you accept or reject the “Doctrine” or “theory” it might be more fair to realize that different versions of the idea have been popular at different times, but that our understanding of it shapes our entire theology. This doctrine forms the basis of all Mormon doctrine and practice. I wrote on this too:

  16. Pingback: Mormonism, McConkie, and the New Seven Deadly Heresies – The Apotheosis Narrative

  17. This was a very good interview. Much of this subject has always been understood by the socalled fundamentalists, and they never gave it up as a doctrine. Some interesting books came from that corner, like “Michael our father and our God” from Joseph Musser, and “Michael/Adam” by Ogden Kraut. I am sure the doctrine originated from Joseph Smith, because he was much involved in this stuff at the end of his life, and surely he would introduce these insights to his closests associates like Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.
    Some details relating to this doctrine keep troubling me. For instance, Adam’s children only had brothers and sisters to raise families with. Was our beginning on this earth that incestuous, or could it be that Adam and Eve did not come alone when this earth became populated, and came with others like them that we know not of? Brigham said that Adam was the father of the mortal physical body of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with Mary. Now, since resurrected persons can not have mortal offspring, Adam apparently did not die and must have been translated at the end of his life to a terrestrial sphere, somewhere, just like Moses and Elijah, and stayed there in order to beget the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. But according to the doctrine revealed by Brigham, Mary was begotten by Adam in the pre-existence as a spirit child, together with all of us. Did Adam thus beget Christ by his own (spirit)child? That does’nt make much sense to me.
    I have some more questions regarding this doctrine (that I will not go into here), but I must say I find the doctrine a sympathetic one and it solves some of the questions that the protestants, the Catholics and even the Mormons (now) have no answer for. It may well be that the doctrine – as we discuss it – has been revealed to us quite fragmentary, as was the case with some other theological doctrines of the restoration.
    Anyway the interview was really refreshing, deep digging and entertaining. Thanks for going that far.

  18. Yeah, imagine prophets teaching false doctrine? Happens allll the time. The Word of Wisdom (WoW) is just one more of endless examples of proud Leaders (capitol L so you can admire them more) promoting their pet false doctrines (forcing goodness for God, Christ’s Bullies, Saint’nism…). D&C 89:2,4,10,11 is the only path to 18-21, and NOT by commandment or constraint, coercing, guilting, shaming, which isn’t possible when you realize it is about 1000’s of Do’s and 1000’s of Don’ts growing too fast to list and command. “Someone” thought that they (and the Food & Drug Companies) had become wiser than God?

    In 1902 the new prophet JFS made that old refined form of the “WoW” (4 “Sacred Trees” or Don’ts to worship) into the long coveted commandment against Christ’s loving advice. Not the first time, nor the last. But he also falsely taught that Brigham had already the “WoW” into a commandment in 1852, which he did NOT do.

    Brigham and the other 4 prophets of the 1800’s ALL refused, over and over, to make it into a commandment, saying that it would “become a stumbling block to the saints” to do so, going against verse 2 even. And has it ever become that prophesied Stumbling Block to proud and sure Leaders and saints: too few of the saints are getting the health and wisdom promises for a goooood reason. They have no wisdom to even know what the wholesome WoW is since they have been “commanded to blindly follow Leaders. Judgmentalness is flying all over hell (on earth) over a counterfeit, commanded and constrained Holy-4-Don’ts “WoW.”

    This very refined and synthetic “WoW” has also become the Sentinel to God’s Kingdom on earth and Heaven. “Obey, our made up law or you cannot pass!” Can you say “Blasphemy!?” At least those 5 prophets got that “stumbling block prophecy” dead right.

  19. Bill and Corbin, I don’t understand how Jehovah (as depicted in the endowment) fits into what you have presented here. If (physically) Jesus was begotten by Michael/Adam/Father, and Adam was begotten by Elohim, where does Jehovah fit?

    Elohim>>Adam>>Jesus……….no place for Jehovah???

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