Adam as our spirit-brother, who was the first man, and who is dependent upon Christ for his own salvation, is taught in the scriptures, the teachings of Joseph Smith, and some of Brigham Young’s statements.  However, several quotations from Brigham seem to contrast this traditional view. Many modern polygamists discard Joseph's discourses (and revelations) that refer to Adam in favor of their interpretations of Brigham's limited teachings. 

Throughout the Standard Works and all of the teachings of Joseph Smith, the identity of Adam is consistently portrayed.  He was a spirit son of God, our Heavenly Father and he came to earth to endure a probationary period, relying on Jesus Christ’s atonement.  Moses 6:50-52, scriptures given through Joseph Smith, teaches this clearly:

God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent.

And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.

And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.

01-02 Brigham YoungSome of Brigham teachings declare this same plain orthodox description about Adam:

We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our elder brother. We believe that God is a person of tabernacle, possessing in an infinitely higher degree all the perfections and qualifications of his mortal children. We believe that he made Adam after his own image and likeness, as Moses testifies.[1]
I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character.[2]

The world may in vain ask the question, “Who are we?” But the Gospel tells us that we are the sons and daughters of that God whom we serve. Some say, “We are the children of Adam and Eve.” So we are, and they are the children of our Heavenly Father. We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of.[3]

Despite these unambiguous declarations, while serving as President of the Church in 1852, Brigham Young made statements that seem to contrast the more accepted an orthodox view of Adam. He declared that Adam “is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.”[4]  President Young made other similar comments that, if transcribed correctly, seemed to support an alternate view of Adam. Unfortunately, President Young never explained to his listeners how this fragmentary comments should be understood in view of plain statements in the scriptures or to the instructions of Joseph Smith regarding the first man.  Nor did he ever devote an entire discourse to the subject.  Of the 1500 known discourses of Brigham Young, a few dozen provides hints regarding his belief in the identity of Adam.

It is possible that understanding the identity of Adam may be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  The Standard Works, accompanied by the teachings of Joseph Smith (and some of discourses of Brigham Young), give us many pieces that seem to fit snuggly together, providing us with the traditional representation of the identity of Adam.   However, if Brigham Young was quoted correctly, it appears that on a few occasions, he provided other puzzle pieces that currently are not easily accommodated, neither their interlocking edges, nor as a part of the overall panorama that restored gospel principles creates.

It may be that the puzzle pieces from President Brigham Young were corrupted through faulty transcription.  Perhaps they indeed fit the puzzle in some unobvious way.  Maybe the picture is three-dimensional and we just do not know it yet.  A few Church scholars have suggested that “Michael-Adam” may be the name of both God the Father and the first mortal man mentioned in the Bible.  They posit that Brigham Young was just flip-flopping between the two beings, but his scribes were unclear in making the transitions, creating puzzle pieces of erroneous shapes.

Regardless, Adam-god theorists seem comfortable ripping out the scripture-based components and forcefully introducing new puzzle pieces, which are a composite of their own ideas and interpretations of Brigham’s reported comments.  Consequently, their Adam-god theory puzzles contains huge gaps, as many doctrinal pieces (from Joseph Smith and the scriptures) are forced out of the picture altogether.  Furthermore, a review of Mormon fundamentalist interpretations demonstrates that they don’t agree among themselves regarding important details Brigham failed to elucidate, creating a variety of distinct Adam-god theory puzzle artwork.

To believe that Brigham Young taught the Adam-god theory as promoted by Mormon fundamentalists is to believe that he freely contradicted Joseph Smith, John Taylor, the scriptures and importantly, himself, regarding the identity of Adam. This is untenable.  Most likely, we have incomplete information regarding his intended instructions and/or the overall identity of God.

Until more information is revealed, it seems wise to patiently wait.  Knowledge of the specific name of God the Father does not change the way we worship or our hopes for exaltation.  Patience in understanding the “mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16, D&C 19:10) will be rewarded.  We are promised that “the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him” (D&C 88:49) and that at a future time “nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth” (D&C 121:28-29).

[1] Brigham Young, July 8, 1863, Journal of Discourses, 10:230-31.

[2] Brigham Young, February 8, 1857, Journal of Discourses, 4:216.

[3] Brigham Young, April 17, 1870, Journal of Discourses, 13:311-12,

[4] Brigham Young, April 9, 1852, Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51.