I will confess, again, that my interest in Mormonism’s history tapers off dramatically after about 1846. In some recent work on Joseph Smith’s divine anthropology, I have returned to Adam-God issues, which I had laid to rest a decade or so ago after a quick review of the literature had suggested that a) Brigham Young did in fact teach something that was later discountenanced, and b) it only left much of an echo among Mormon sectarians and fundamentalists on the one hand and evangelical critics on the other. As my belief in Mormonism does not depend on Brigham Young never saying anything strange, I did not find Adam-God sufficiently compelling to turn a more serious eye toward it. Even now, as I turn to it with a more scholarly interest, I find it rather a tempest in a teapot. What has struck me more than anything is what appears to me to be a lack of any clear, reproducible definition of what this Adam-God doctrine is. Without such a definition, connecting it to or disambiguating it from Joseph Smith’s divine anthropology is exceedingly difficult.
So, what do people say? Can anyone offer a clear, reproducible definition of Adam-God sufficient to distinguish it from Smith’s teachings? Is it all emphasis, or are there substantive differences? Feel free to use evidence to back up your claims if you desire. For those interested the current standard treatment is Buerger’s from Dialogue in the 1980s. It’s a good read and well-researched, but it also lacks a reliable definition of Adam-God.
I am not particularly interested in debating Adam-God, just in defining it. Evans can delete polemics about Adam-God if he so desires. And for those not yet innoculated against Adam-God, we can provide something for people at a later date; interested parties can email admin, as per Stapley’s offer. For now, I would say there are large numbers of devout, non-fundamentalist believers whose faith is unaffected by Adam-God, despite being aware of it in all its gory, if poorly defined, details.
NB: Someone asked for clarification about the doctrinal status of Adam-God. Several prophets in the twentieth century have clearly stated that the church does not endorse this doctrine. There is no reason to worry that we as Mormons are required or encouraged to believe that the being we call Elohim and worship as God the Father is in fact Father Adam.
I will soon summarize the actual responses to the question posed, which are relatively few in number.