Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making A Little Scripture

I read this quote today, and it made me laugh, it was so Brigham Young-ish. But it also brought up some questions, as reading the words of early prophets tends to do.

Brigham Young, teaching of Adam/God:

I feel inclined to make a little scripture. (Were I under the necessity of making scripture extensively, I should get Brother Heber C. Kimball to make it, and then I would quote it. I have seen him do this when any of the Elders have been pressed by their opponents, and were a little at a loss; he would make a scripture for them to suit the case, that never was in the Bible, though none the less true, and make their opponents swallow it as the words of an Apostle, or one of the Prophets. The Elder would then say, "Please turn to that scripture, gentlemen, and read it for yourselves." No they could not turn to it, but they recollected it like the devil for fear of being caught.) I will venture to make a little scripture. This God [Adam] is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ precisely as He is our Father-varying from mortality to immortality, from corruptible to incorruptible, and that is all the difference. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, both body and spirit; and He is the Father of our spirits. You may add these words to it, or let it alone, it is all the same to me, that He is not only the Father of our spirits, but also of our flesh, He being the founder of that natural machinery through which we all have obtained our bodies. (Brigham Young, Oct. 8, 1854)

Is it OK for a prophet to "make a little scripture?" Isn't that what our scriptures are: efforts on the part of prophets to explain the workings of Deity to the best of their understanding? Is Brigham's attempt any wackier than some of the stuff we get in the OT?


J G-W said...

Well, few attempts on the part of Bro. Brigham to "make a little scripture" are more infamous than this. I've always thought of the Adam-God theory as an example of how a prophet could have his own theories about something and be mistaken (or have the Church collectively decide he was mistaken, and sweep it under the rug).

But the Adam God theory does have a certain internal logic. It's a fascinating notion. But it's also scandalous when you consider some of the theological ramifications. Could God the Father as Adam really "fall"? That's probably the most scandalous aspect of it. Not to mention the idea of a real, embodied, Heavenly Mother as Eve. (Not sure he actually went there, but it's where you have to go if you follow the logic.)

But then Mormons have a rather idiosyncratic view of the Fall too, as a "necessary" sin, as something that had to happen in order to lay the groundwork for God's plan and for the happiness of man... That's pretty scandalous too, though we haven't backed away from that one, because it's pretty much spelled out in the Book of Mormon.

Bored in Vernal said...

I love scandalous Mormon doctrine! I think you have to just take all your preconceptions and say to yourself, "Well, why not?" So what if God was once a mortal? Does it fit with the rest of the scriptural record? Could it work theologically? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But it's fun to play with. And I think it's cool that Joseph and Brigham felt fairly free to explore and reinvent doctrine regularly.

Anonymous said...

Certainly you have read Joseph F. Smith's interpretation of this as collected in the Doctrines of Salvation, Volume I.

Bored in Vernal said...

No... but do tell, Anon!