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Intro to Adam-God Doctrine (Part 3 of 8)

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?

David:  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.  What are your thoughts about this topic?

Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface, and I’ve left a lot of our conversation out, so be sure to check out our conversation!

David Patrick & Benjamin Shaffer of Christ’s Church discuss their beliefs about the Adam-God Doctrine, which is definitely very different that the Trinity.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with David and Benjamin to learn more about their church, which is called Christ’s Church.

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church

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Scriptures of Christ’s Church (Part 2 of 8)

Christ’s Church was organized in 1978.  In our next conversation with Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we will learn more about their basic beliefs and find out that they have an even larger canon of scripture than the mainstream LDS Church.

GT:  So you guys believe in the Book of Mormon. It sounds like you believe in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Benjamin:  Yeah. So when it comes to the canon of Scripture, we actually have a very expansive body of Scripture that we draw from. While it’s true that we don’t actually publish our own editions, that’s a lot of work.

GT:  And a lot of money.

Benjamin:  And a lot of money. We generally, of course, use the ones printed by the LDS Church. But then on top of that, we use a lot of other materials. We’ve used the Book of Jasher, for example, or the otherMidrash. I’ve put together a little booklet for people to insert in their scriptures called the Addendum to the Doctrine & Covenants, which has eight of the uncanonized revelations, or that weren’t canonized, I guess in the mainstream LDS church, but that we also accept and use and then there’s a whole other body…

GT:  John Taylor’s revelation, is that’s one of them.?

Benjamin:  That’s one of them, John Taylor’s 1886 revelation is, of course, one of the ones that I guess was controversial for the mainstreamers, but we accept that as a revelation. It’s well established historically, at the very least.

For those of you interested in these 8 revelations, they are posted at the Church of Christ website.  We’ll also talk about claims of priesthood authority for their church.  Check out our conversation….

Christ’s Church has a larger canon of scripture than the mainstream LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with David & Benjamin!

381: Intro to Christ’s Church

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Rewriting Oliver’s Words: Dirty, Filthy, Nasty Scrape? (Part 2 of 12)

Oliver Cowdery has long been quoted that what happened between Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger was a “dirty, filthy, nasty affair.”  But are those really his words?  It turns out that those are not actually Oliver’s words, but the words of his nephew!  In our next conversation with historian Don Bradley, Don will tell us how he came to that conclusion!

Don:  Here you’ve got Oliver Cowdery right around the time he’s excommunicated, writing to his brother, saying, something about Joseph’s dirty, nasty, filthy affair with Fanny Alger. So people are like, “Well, there you go. Oliver Cowdery at the time thought that it was adultery. So why would we think it was polygamy?”

But I noticed when I looked at the Church Archives microfilm, is that there was something funny. The word affair was written over top of another word. And I say, “What’s that word?” Because this seems to be a key, right? If Oliver originally wrote some other word, and then affair is written over it–you have to understand the letterbook was not written by Oliver. Oliver wrote the original letter to his brother. Then Oliver’s nephew took that original letter, copied it into letterbook for Oliver and the change is made in the handwriting of Oliver’s nephew. So the nephew is changing what Oliver said to something else. So the word “affair” isn’t Oliver’s word. Oliver’s original word is underneath that word and I had to know what it was, because everybody for decades cited this like, “Here you go. We’ve got the goods, it was an affair.”

So I could read some of the letters, but I wanted to be really sure. I had Chris [Smith] go look at it and he was able to read most of the word. Then we were able to get detailed images from the Huntington Library that Brian Hales has reproduced that show definitively what the word was. The original word is not affair. The word is scrape. You know S C R A P E, scrape. So if you look at what these words meant at the time, you can actually figure out what Oliver was originally saying and why his nephew changed it. So a scrape, according to the 1828 Webster’s, so just 10 years before Oliver’s letter was [written, the word scrape meant] a perplexity, a distress. It’s like a way of saying somebody got into a jam. They were in a scrape.

So, we’re talking about Joseph and Fanny Alger having gotten themselves into this jam and they need to get out of it. However, Webster indicates that this is, in his words, a low word. So this is actually not a really polite word. It’s sort of like slang. So Oliver’s nephew writes what Oliver had originally said and then he’s like, “I’m not going to leave this slang in there. This is not a great way to speak, to preserve this history.” So he just finds another word to write over it. He writes the word affair. We look at the word affair, and that word triggers all kinds of meanings.

GT:  We think sex.

Don:  We think sex. I’d invite listeners to like explore this for yourself. Go on to Google Books or some other database of 19th century texts and look at all the uses you can find of the word affair around this time, early to mid 19th century. Then look at later uses like late 19th century, 20th century. The connotation of a romantic affair, from just the word affair does not appear until around the end of the 19th century and it doesn’t come to mean pretty much talking about people having sex outside of marriage until even later than that. The word affair, actually, at the time, is a very general word rather than a very specific word. I’m trying to remember his wording there, but Webster defines affair and he actually says a word, a very broad word, a very general and indefinite signification. It’s just a really super broad word. Basically, as Webster defines it, the word just means anything that people do. It’s like using the word thing, right? Joseph and Fanny Alger had this dirty, nasty, filthy thing. There’s something that happened. Now, Oliver is pretty clear that it’s dirty, nasty and filthy. He’s very much against it. However, if you look at Oliver Cowdery’s known views on polygamy, he’s against it. He doesn’t think it’s a clean thing. He thinks it’s a filthy thing. So there’s nothing in Oliver’s wording that would preclude him referring to polygamy there, just referring to it in a very negative way. He says..

GT:  He would normally think it was negative no matter what.

Don:  Yeah. Joseph and Fanny had a dirty, nasty, filthy scrape. Or, they had a dirty, nasty, filthy thing going on between them. What was that thing? Sure, maybe it’s adultery here. Or maybe it’s illicit polygamy as far as Oliver is concerned.

GT:  So Oliver wouldn’t have made the distinction between polygamy and adultery. Is that what you’re saying?

Don:  Not necessarily. So we know that even when Oliver returns to the Church in the late 1840s, people are telling him about polygamy. He’s having a hard time believing it. He says, “I can’t imagine.” This shows a little naivety here when you hear this. But he says, “I can’t imagine that Brigham would condone such a thing.” {Chuckling}

GT:  So it sounds like Eliza [R. Snow] believed that the relationship with Fanny and Joseph was a marriage.

Don:  Yes.

Check out our conversation….

Don Bradley says Oliver Cowdery referred to Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger as a “dirty, nasty, filthy scrape” rather than “affair” as has been frequently cited.

And don’t miss our previous conversation with Don Bradley:   Dating Fanny Alger