August 20, 2014
sicut erat in principio has left a new comment on your post "How to mix LDS theology and human evolution":
Gary, thank you for pointing me back to these relevant posts. I appreciate your research and perspective.
> Eight years ago, there was lengthy discussion on this blog about the April 1910 Improvement Era comment you cite (click here). There is no evidence that the 1910 comment was published with Joseph F. Smith's approval and there is substantial evidence that it was not.
I remember reading that bit some time ago. I remember it being fairly convincing at the time, but I decided to go back and re-evaluate each source document again. What I found was quite striking to me.
The 1912 "statement" was a private letter to Samuel O. Bennion made in response to confusion about the Adam-God teachings of Brigham Young that Bennion apparently held. The words you quote ("our father Adam -- that is, our ... but begotten by his Father in Heaven") are the 1st presidency *paraphrasing* Brigham Young, and the emphasis is in trying to clear up the Adam-God theory. When presenting the doctrine themselves, we get a much milder version--the accepted standard doctrine: "Adam is called in the Bible 'the son of God' (Luke 3:38). It was our Father in Heaven who begat the spirit of him who was 'the Firstborn' of all the spirits that come to this earth...". Carefully read in context, the First Presidency in the 1912 private letter neither confirms nor denies Brigham Young's belief! Rather, they are merely trying to use Brigham Young's preaching to contradict the elements of the Adam-God theory in Young's preaching, but they were very careful stick to standard doctrine themselves. Whether or not you agree with this reading of the 1912 letter, the 1912 statement was a *private letter* to one individual, not a public statement.
With the 1912 letter placed in proper context, we can then appreciate words President Smith delivered in Mesa, Arizona. To requote, he said, "Adam, our earthly parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I." President Smith stops short of declaring that Adam was begotten in the flesh by the Father.
Now, if you go back and re-read the April 1910 Priesthood Quorum's table comment, you will find that none of the options given there for the creation of Adam's body contradicts the 1913 statement. The Apr 1910 statement conspicuously omits the idea that Adam was fashioned "poof-style"--Adam was born of a mother and this is inconsistent with the Adam-made-from-adobe creation model (which, ironically, is probably the creation model accepted implicitly by the majority of LDS). The *alignment* of the Apr 1910 statement and the 1913 statement is evidence (clearly of an inferential nature) that Joseph F. Smith had some oversight in the 1910 statement's publication.
So, while granting that the 1910 statement wasn't signed, it stretches credulity to think that President Smith was not consulted on the matter before its publication given its proximity in time to the 1909 statement and the fact that it was in response to a question from several High Priests' quorums. The fact that the options articulated in the 1910 statement align with another of President Smith's public statements on the matter supports this inference. What is a matter of fact is that President Smith never publicly contradicted the 1910 instruction, and in light of a careful reading of the 1912 and 1913 statements, I think it reasonable to conclude that it was because he countenanced the response.
Hence, as far as I can tell, there is no record whatsoever of Joseph F. Smith ever teaching the Adam-begotten-of-God-in-flesh doctrine.
> Apparently, Joseph F. Smith's thinking on the subject is (to you) irrelevant.
Of course I care about what he thinks, but--like you--I'm far more interested in what he taught publicly as part of his prophetic station.
I hope to respond to the second point when I get a chance. Best regards.
August 20, 2014
> note that, in a formal 1909 statement, Joseph F. Smith's First Presidency did, in point of fact, rule out the possibility for evolutionary origins of Adam's body
The 1909 statement clearly allows for an evolutionary origin for man's body. The key phrase:
"...whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both..."
It is difficult to imagine that the author of the April 1910 statement did not consult the 1909 statement when composing their response (since the 1909 statement was undoubtedly the *very reason* the several Quorums were seeking clarification). Furthermore, if the 1909 statement clearly precluded the possibility for an evolutionary origin for Adam's body, then it is equally difficult to imagine that the First Presidency would not have sought to correct the April 1910 statement.
All available data and common-sense reasoning point to Joseph F. Smith countenancing the April 1910 statement.