Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review: Adam: Who is he?, by Mark E. Peterson

A while back I mentioned the 'Adam-God' theory, which was supposedly attributed to Brigham Young. This is the book by the apostle that refutes this theory and makes it abundantly clear that Brigham Young was misquoted.

It's a short book, about 100 pages long, and it's written in a very straightforward style. Though Elder Peterson lived until 1984, I can't say that I'd almost ever heard of him. Reading a little about him, I found that he was an apostle for a very long time; about 40 years or so. He was a very prolific writer and published quite a few books on various gospel topics. And he has become somewhat of a controversial figure outside of the church, having given some talks that today would be considered politically incorrect on racial issues. One moron apparently even posted something that said he left the church because he was offended by a Mark E. Peterson talk (which is kind of like saying you no longer believe in the sun because one day the sky was cloudy).

The book was very good, but I didn't think so at first. At first, it was very redundant. Some of the chapters were very similar to each other and didn't move forward very quickly, and tended to overstate their supporting references. Like, at one point he quotes literally 20+ scriptures that say Michael was an angel and only an angel. But I started to notice that I was learning things, or at least very much clarifying things I maybe only partially understood. Namely:

1. First, Adam wasn't Heavenly Father or any kind of Deity at all. He is Michael the Archangel, or the head of all the angels. He couldn't have been Christ's father because 1) there is overwhelming scriptural evidence to the contrary,  2, he died. He couldn't have fathered anyone after dying because he didn't have a physical body anymore. He wasn't translated. And 3, by disobeying a commandment, he committed a sin. God is without sin. Granted, it was a sin he was openly required to commit to lay the groundwork for mortality, but committing any kind of sin can't be done by a God. It would have to be done by a man.

2. He used a really excellent quote a few times from President Joseph Fielding Smith: "If I ever say anything contrary to the scriptures, the scriptures prevail." This hearkens back to the recent talk that Elder Bednar gave on inspiration from the general authorities.

3. Church history scribes didn't get everything 100% correct. Some things were published with errors, which is where the whole 'Adam/God' stuff came from the in the first place. Brigham Young specifically, and in writing, refuted any such quote or talk later in his life. He was misquoted. Adam wasn't and isn't a god.

4. I finally get the 2nd article of faith that says mankind will be punished for our own sins and not for Adam's transgression. That never made sense to me, but Elder Peterson explained that the concept of 'original sin' is very very big in the rest of the world. People think that Adam's fall has caused all of mankind to be born into a 'fallen' and sinful state, and therefore you have to be baptized as a baby or you'll go to hell. Joseph showed very clearly that we reject this and believe that the only punishment for Adam's transgression was that mankind would become mortal and experience death.

5. Though I've read the book of Moses before, I didn't really catch in there that Adam was baptized. But he was.

6. Elder Peterson said that the book of Moses was written by direct revelation to Joseph Smith. It wasn't translated from scrolls or a manuscript or plates but was directly revealed word for word.

Overall, a great read. He over-simplified some things here and there and kind of got off topic with some still very interesting things about modern science and intelligent design. He even addressed cavemen and carbon dating and rejected both. But the diversion was OK with me. He's also given me about a dozen new great quotes for future cartoons from people he referenced. Thanks, Elder P!


Heidi said...

Interesting and informative post. My mother used to read a lot of his books and liked him. What made you decide to read this?

Christian said...

Just wanted to figure the Adam/God stuff out. Am very interested in church history and had heard of these supposed 'Adam was deity' talks. Wanted to get the truth...