Question: Was the "Adam-God" theory ever taught as part of the temple endowment ceremony as something called "the lecture at the veil"?

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Question: Was the "Adam-God" theory ever taught as part of the temple endowment ceremony as something called "the lecture at the veil"?

Brigham Young attempted to introduce the concept of Adam-God into the endowment, as far as it had been revealed to him and he was able to interpret it

The endowment was and is a ceremony that can be adapted to the needs of its audience. Brigham Young attempted to introduce the concept of Adam-God into the endowment, as far as it had been revealed to him and he was able to interpret it. He was not able to fully resolve the teaching and integrate it into LDS doctrine. After his death, Adam-God was not continued by his successors in the Presidency, and the idea was dropped from the endowment ceremony and from LDS doctrine. If there is anything true in that doctrine, one would expect that truth to be in harmony with what is already revealed. Only further revelation from the Lord's anointed can clear up the matter.

The full meaning of Brigham Young's teachings on Adam-God is not well understood, and the endowment ceremony was not written down until the late nineteenth century

Two points need to be made prior to any discussion of this subject:

  1. The full meaning of Brigham Young's teachings on Adam-God is not well understood. What he taught appears to have been a failed attempt to establish a new doctrinal belief. He did not live to reconcile it with LDS scripture, and later prophets did not continue his teaching. (See the main article on Adam-God.)
  2. The endowment ceremony was not written down until the late nineteenth century. Before and since that time, it was and has been modified occasionally by Church leaders to clarify and refine the presentation. (See the main article on temple endowment changes.)

How the endowment came to be written, and how Adam-God become part of it

The following is probably the best description of how the temple endowment came to be written, and what part Adam-God played in it:

Shortly after the dedication of the lower portion of the temple, Young decided it was necessary to commit the endowment ceremony to written form. On 14 January 1877 he "requested Brigham jr & W Woodruff to write out the Ceremony of the Endowments from Beginning to End," assisted by John D. T. McAllister and L. John Nuttall. Daily drafts were submitted for Young's review and approval. The project took approximately two months to complete. On 21 March 1877 Woodruff recorded in his journal: "President Young has been laboring all winter to get up a perfect form of Endowments as far as possible. They having been perfected I read them to the Company today." [1]

The St. George endowment included a revised thirty-minute "lecture at the veil" first delivered by Young. This summarized important theological concepts taught in the endowment and contained references to Young's Adam-God doctrine. In 1892 L. John Nuttall, one of those who transcribed Young's lecture, recalled how it came about:

In January 1877, shortly after the lower portion of the St. George Temple was dedicated, President Young, in following up in the Endowments, became convinced that it was necessary to have the formula of the Endowments written, and he gave directions to have the same put in writing.

Shortly afterwards he explained what the Lecture at the Veil should portray, and for this purpose appointed a day when he would personally deliver the Lecture at the Veil. Elders J. D. T. McAllister and L. John Nuttall prepared writing materials, and as the President spoke they took down his words. Elder Nuttall put the same into form and the writing was submitted to President Young on the same evening at his office in residence at St. George. He there made such changes as he deemed proper, and when he finally passed upon it [he] said: This is the Lecture at the Veil to be observed in the Temple.

A copy of the Lecture is kept at the St. George Temple, in which President Young refers to Adam in his creation and etc.

On 1 February 1877, when Young's lecture was first given, Woodruff wrote in his journal: "W Woodruff Presided and Officiated as El[ohim]. I dressed in pure white Doe skin from head to foot to officiate in the Priest Office, white pants vest & C[oat?] the first Example in any Temple of the Lord in this last dispensation. Sister Lucy B Young also dressed in white in officiating as Eve. Pr[e]sident [Young] was present and deliverd a lecture at the veil some 30 Minuts." The copy of the veil lecture which Nuttall describes is not presently available. But on 7 February Nuttall summarized in his diary additions to the lecture which Young made at his residence in Nuttall's presence:

In the creation the Gods entered into an agreement about forming this earth, and putting Michael or Adam upon it. These things of which I have been speaking are what are termed the mysteries of godliness but they will enable you to understand the expression of Jesus, made while in jerusalem, "This is life eternal that they might know thee, the ony true God and jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." We were once acquainted with the Gods and lived with them, but we had the privilege of taking upon us flesh that the spirit might have a house to dwell in. We did so and forgot all, and came into the world not recollecting anything of which we had previously learned. We have heard a great deal about Adam and Eve, how they were formed and etc. Some think he was made like an adobe and the Lord breathed into him the breath of life, for we read "from dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Well he was made of the dust of the earth but not of this earth. He was made just the same way you and I are made but on another earth. Adam was an immortal being when he came on this earth; He had lived on an earth similar to ours; he had received the Priesthood and the keys thereof, and had been faithful in all things and gained his resurrection and his exaltation, and was crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives, and was numbered with the Gods for such he became through his faithfulness, and had begotten all the spirit that was to come to this earth. And Eve our common mother who is the mother of all living bore those spirits in the celestial world. And when this earth was organized by Elohim, Jehovah and Michael, who is Adam our common father, Adam and Eve had the privilege to continue the work of progression, consequently came to this earth and commenced the great work of forming tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in, and when Adam and those that assisted him had completed this kingdom our earth[,] he came to it, and slept and forgot all and became like an infant child. It is said by Moses the historian that the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam and took from his side a rib and formed the woman that Adam called Eve—This should be interpreted that the Man Adam like all other men had the seed within him to propagate his species, but not the Woman; she conceives the seed but she does not produce it; consequently she was taken from the side or bowels of her father. This explains the mystery of Moses' dark sayings in regard to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve when they were placed on this earth were immortal beings with flesh, bones and sinews. But upon partaking of the fruits of the earth while in the garden and cultivating the ground their bodies became changed from immortal to mortal beings with the blood coursing through their veins as the action of life—Adam was not under transgression until after he partook of the forbidden fruit; this was necessary that they might be together, that man might be. The woman was found in transgression not the man—Now in the law of Sacrifice we have the promise of a Savior and Man had the privilege and showed forth his obedience by offering of the first fruits of the earth and the firstlings of the flocks; this as a showing that Jesus would come and shed his blood.... Father Adam's oldest son (Jesus the Saviour) who is the heir of the family, is father Adam's first begotten in the spirit world, who according to the flesh is the only begotten as it is written. (In his divinity he having gone back into the spirit world, and came in the spirit to Mary and she conceived, for when Adam and Eve got through with their work in this earth, they did not lay their bodies down in the dust, but returned to the spirit world from whence they came.)

Brigham Young died August 29, 1877, shortly after introducing this version of the veil lecture. The evidence is indeterminate as to whether the St. George lecture with its Adam-God teaching was included in all temples or that it continued to the turn of the twentieth century. Buerger writes:

It is not clear, in fact, what did become of the lecture. The apparent ignorance of the subject matter implied by Abraham Cannon's [1888] account—despite his having been a General Authority for six years—suggest it was not routinely presented in the temple. Similar ignorance among some missionaries [in 1897] and their president ... who also presumably had been through the temple prior to their missions supports this conclusion. Although exposes of the temple ceremonies published about this time do not include any reference to this lecture, "fundamentalist" authors have asserted without serious attempt at documentation that Brigham's lecture was an integral part of the temple ceremony until about 1902-1905. In support of this has been placed the testimony of one individual who in 1959 distinctly remembered hearing during his endowment in the temple in 1902 that "Adam was our God." On returning from his mission in 1904 he noted that these teachings had been removed. While one would expect more extensive evidence than this were it true that the lecture was regularly given for twenty-five years, it ... should also be recalled that other "discredited" notions were still being promulgated in some temples by a few individuals during the early years of the twentieth century—such as the continued legitimacy of plural marriage, also a cherished fundamentalist tradition. [2]

Notes

  1. David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness (Smith Research Associates, 1994), pp. 110–13.
  2. David John Buerger, "The Adam-God Doctrine," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 no. 1 (Spring 82), 14–58.