Adam-ondi-Ahman and Garden of Eden

Related Posts: The Fall of Man: Part I ; Adam-God Theory

It is believed among Mormons that the garden of Eden was located in the area around Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. About 60 miles north of Independence is a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman. It is believed that this is where Adam and Eve went to dwell after they were expelled from the garden of Eden.

Three years prior to his death Adam called a great council at Adam-ondi-Ahman.

There [he] bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam…And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation…predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation. (D&C 107:53-56)

Prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ Adam will call another council at Adam-ondi-Ahman. All leaders who have had priesthood keys will give an accounting of their stewardship to Adam and Adam will give them instruction to prepare the church for the second coming of Christ. Christ will make an appearance, and there Adam will give his stewardship to Christ and Christ will be proclaimed king over the kingdoms of the earth. It is believed that Daniel 7 speaks of this meeting:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [Christ] came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days [Adam], and they brought him near before him. And there was given him [Christ] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:13-14; compare D&C 116:1).

Final Comments
There is no scripture that reveals the location of the garden of Eden. From the Doctrine and Covenants it can be determined that Adam-ondi-Ahman was in Missouri (D&C 116:1). Since this is where Adam sojourned after being expelled from the garden it can be inferred that the garden of Eden was located in the Northern Hemisphere, probably around the area of Adam-ondi-Ahman. The exact location of the garden of Eden is based upon tradition. Though there is no known statement by Joseph Smith that specifies its location, many early church leaders who were personally acquainted with the prophet said that it was. Brigham Young said to Wilford Woodruff, “Joseph, the Prophet, told me that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri. When Adam was driven out he went to the place we now call Adam-ondi-Ahman, Daviess County, Missouri” (Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, p. 481).

There is a LDS hymn called Adam-ondi-Ahman (lyrics).

Some Quotes about the Location of Garden of Eden
I will say more, the spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the State of Missouri, where Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam and his associates who came with him for the express purpose of peopling this earth. (Heber C. Kimball, June 27, 1863, Journal of Discourses [abbr. JD] 10: 235).

But we look forward to that land with indescribable feelings, because it is the place where God has said His city shall be built. It is the land where Adam, the Ancient of Days, will gather his posterity again, and where the blessings of God will descend upon them…But God in His revelations has informed us that it was on this choice land of Joseph where Adam was placed and the Garden of Eden was laid out. The spot has been designated, and we look forward with peculiar feelings to repossessing that land. (George Q. Cannon, March 3rd, 1867, JD 11:337)

In the beginning, after this earth was prepared for man, the Lord commenced his work upon what is now called the American continent, where the Garden of Eden was made. (Brigham Young, October 7, 1860, JD 8:195.)

See also "Adam-ondi-Ahman" and "Garden of Eden" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

Cowley, Matthias F., ed. Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1964, p. 481

Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886.

Smith, Joseph. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Selected by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, p. 157.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. The Way to Perfection. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1966, p. 290.

Image of Adam-ondi-Ahman. BYU Religious Education Archive. 2003-05. 31 March 2007. <>.

Adam-God Theory

Anti-Mormon writers use a theory called the Adam-God Theory, with which they make the claim that Mormons believe Adam is God the Father; and also, that within the Mormon faith, this is (or was) a deeply held and secret belief.

The theory stems from a sermon delivered by Brigham Young on April 9, 1852. Here is the passage in question.

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken--He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later.

…Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. (JD 1:50-51)

This is a very straightforward statement and, as far as I know, the only one of its kind. There is no easy way of getting around what it says. Though it is possible to put this statement in a context consistent with Mormons beliefs, it would require a degree of verbal and theological gymnastics to do so. But only Mormons would be interested in that, so I won’t bother.

So how can Mormons ignore the statement “[Adam is] our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do,” as well as Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden?--After all, we do not believe that Adam is God the Father or that Adam conceived Jesus. This brings up a more important, and more interesting, aspect of Mormon theology: degrees of doctrinal confidence. What follows is a somewhat loose explanation of this concept.

In Mormon theology there are core beliefs that are well defined and regarded as sacrosanct. There also exist beliefs that, though common among Mormons, are based upon tradition--what could be called popular Mormonism. At the center of doctrinal certainty is the cannon of scripture, the accepted revelations of the prophets. As far as other beliefs are concerned, repeatability and context should be considered: If something does not survive the test of time then within common LDS sensibilities there is little feeling of obligation toward it. Context must also be applied. For example, something the president of the church says to a reporter is not necessarily authoritative. These criteria can be applied to the Adam-God teaching. There seems to be only one instance of it (at least in public) and from other sermons it is clear that Brigham Young correctly understands the relationship between God and Adam: “We believe that he[, God,] made Adam after his own image and likeness” (JD 10, p. 231); and “We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens” (JD 13, p. 312). In applying repeatability and the test of time to the Adam-God theory the conclusion is that it can safely be ignored.

At best the Adam-God theory is nothing more than a bizarre thing Brigham Young once said--he said several strange things. At worst it was theory he tried to inject into Mormonism that never caught on. Whichever the case, the Adam-God theory was never part of mainstream LDS beliefs.

There are three possible reasons that non-Mormon Christians take Brigham Young’s statement the way they do. The first is that most anti-Mormon writers have an ax to grind. The second is that Young’s statement is quite plain and very strange. The third is some Christian scholars have equated Michael with Christ [1] and most consider the Ancient of Days to be God [2]; but in Mormon beliefs Adam is both the Ancient of Days and Michael the archangel (D&C 27:11).

End notes
[1] “The earlier Protestant scholars usually identified Michael with the preincarnate Christ, finding support for their view, not only in the juxtaposition of the ‘child’ and the archangel in Rev 12, but also in the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel” (“Michael”, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915)

The Christian writer Albert Barnes wrote, “There have been very various opinions as to who Michael is. Many Protestant interpreters have supposed that Christ is meant.” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, commentary on Rev. 12:7).

[2] About Ancient of Days: “An expression applied to Jehovah three times in the vision of Daniel (Dan. 7:9, Dan. 7:13, Dan. 7:22) in the sense of eternal. In contrast with all earthly kings, his days are past reckoning” (“Ancient of Days”, Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

What is Kolob?

Related Posts: The Mormon concept of Heaven(s)

It is believed by Mormons (like me) that Kolob is a planet or star which was the first of God’s temporal creations (Abr. 3:9; 3:16; 3:13; 2 Fac. 1). God measures time by the revolutions of Kolob which is the “grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides” (2 Fac.1:2). Of all celestial bodies Kolob is nearest to God’s throne, or, “nigh unto the throne of God” (Abr. 3:9). One thousand years on earth is equivalent to one revolution of Kolob (Abr. 3:4).

Mormons do not believe that God lives on Kolob.

There is an LDS Hymn, If You Could Hie to Kolob. It reads,

If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, And then continue onward with that same speed to fly, Do you think that you cold ever, Through all eternity, Find out the generation where Gods began to be? Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend? Or view that last creation, Where Gods and matter end? Methinks the Spirit whispers; “No man has found ‘pure space,’ Nor seen the outside curtains, Where nothing has a place.” The works of God continue, And worlds and live abound; Improvement and progression have on eternal round. There is not end to matter; There is no end to space; There is not end to spirit; There is no end to race. (Hymn 284)

That sums up everything known about Kolob.

Kolob Triva

The 1978-79 Battlestar Galactica series contains many striking parallels with Mormon theology. (Glen Larson, the creator of the original series, is a Mormon.) In the series the fleet is trying to reach their legendary home planet of Kobol, a spin off of Kolob. 
(See James, E. Ford, “Battlestar Galactica and Mormon Theology,” Journal of Popular Culture, Fall 1983, pp. 83-87.)

Visit Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park.

The music to the Hymn If You Could Hie to Kolob was adapted from the Hymn I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say arranged by Vaughan Williams. Listen to an excerpt from If You Could Hie to Kolob here. Listen to the original Vaughan Williams arrangement with original lyrics here.

The picture to the right is believed to be a representation of an Egyptian cosmology, with Kolob at the center. The Book of Abraham gives us the following information.

The central figure at the bottom (1) represents “Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh.”

The central figure on the top (2) represents another star “called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides; holding the key of power also, pertaining to other planets; as revealed from God to Abraham, as he offered sacrifice upon an altar, which he had built unto the Lord.” (More here.)

Heavenly Mother

The Belief in a Heavenly Mother

It would be somewhat overstating the matter to say there is a heavenly mother “doctrine,” since all we know about a heavenly mother is that such a person exists. There is no reference to her in any LDS scripture. In fact, I know of only three places in official Mormon publications--anything copyrighted by the Church--where this teaching can be found. It can be found in the hymn O My Father and in a statement by the First Presidency entitled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The hymn O My Father reads,

In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there. When I leave this frail existence, When I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high? Then, at length, when I’ve completed all you sent me forth to do, With you mutual approbation Let me come and dwell with you. (Hymn 292)

The third is another First Presidency statement issued in 1909:
“All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity” (First Presidency, “The Origin of Man,” taken from Ensign, Feb. 2002).

The heavenly mother teaching can be viewed as a conclusion from the doctrine of exaltation. Mormon theology teaches that the “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us [in Heaven]” (D&C 130:2). Thus earthly relationships can reflect eternal ones. A man and woman may be married for time and all eternity in a temple, and, if they are faithful to their marriage covenants, be husband and wife for time and all eternity and become gods in their own right: “all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (D&C 76:59). Doctrine and Covenants section 132 reads,

if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise… [they] shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths…and if ye abide in my covenant…[then they shall enter into] their exaltation…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end…then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. (D&C 132:19-20)

After they enter into their exaltation they can then do what God did: create a universe and children, and a way for them to progress and one day marry for time and all eternity and become gods--the cycle continues. This cycle is further illustrated in the First Presidency’s statement “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”.

...marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and...the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

As Joseph Smith put it, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!”[1] God became God by going through the same process that we can go through. Thus God is sealed to a wife for time and all eternity.

This process is illustrated in our hymn If You Could Hie to Kolob. It reads, “The works of God continue, And worlds and live abound; Improvement and progression have on eternal round” (lyrics).

And from here we arrive at our belief in a heavenly mother.

See “Mother in Heaven” from Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

End Notes_______________________________________
See Kaimi Wenger's "The Other Heavenly Mother Hymn" at Times & Seasons about another 19'th century Heavenly Mother hymn.

[1] Smith, Joseph, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938 p. 345.