Brigham Young appears to be a favorite punching bag in the church and especially on the Bloggernacle. I read and interesting post over at Unofficial Manifesto asking “Is Brother Brigham our black eye?” Apparently many in the church feel he is on several counts, but none more so than on the now infamous doctrine he taught about Adam.
Our own resident no-fear blogger Jeff Gilliam recently chimed in with another kamikaze post on the subject. In his normal full-throttle style Jeffrey not only to posted lots of details on the Adam-God teachings, but when I questioned him about it he admitted it holds some appeal for him.
I have to admire Jeff for that honesty. It is horribly taboo socially in the church today to even bring the subject of BY’s Adam-God teachings up, but are we sure God hates it so much? After looking in to Jeff’s opinions on it I can say that even if Brother Brigham was dead wrong, at least he could claim his theory was not completely illogical.
The basics of the theory go like this: There are lots of Gods. The Gods who headed up the creation of our planet were three in a generation – A father in the middle with his father and son around him. Adam/Michael was that son, Jehovah was his father, and Elohim was the grandfather. The major twist is that Brigham believed that Jesus is not Jehovah but rather the Son of Adam/Michael. (I think the theory was that Jesus spoke on behalf of his Fathers via Divine Investiture of Authority). So there are 4 Gods in that scenario plus potentially others involved in earth’s creation. In addition I believe he saw the Holy Ghost as an office not a person per se.
Ok, so maybe Brigham was just plain wrong. It certainly goes against notions of the Godhead we understand today. I just think it is worth our while to recognize that his theory was not necessarily non-sensical. The biggest problem is that it is completely foreign to us.
No official revelation ever came from his successor’s to say Brigham’s theory was patently false, though there were documents officially backing away from its being taught. There are lots of practical reasons for the church to distance itself from it of course. It is so strange and radical that missionary work would be severely hampered by such teachings. Besides, since it was never presented and sustained as a direct revelation from God it is accurate to call it a theory.
Nowadays we mostly admit that we know little of the details of the identities and ancient activities on the Father and Son. That, of course is a good answer. But since we know so little of those details, maybe we ought to be wary of Brother Brigham scolding us in the future for passing such judgment on him for things we don’t really understand ourselves… He doesn’t strike me as the type that would appreciate being our punching bag.