OK, I have a great follow up on Joseph Smith on Adam-God. According to Buerger, Joseph Smith always taught Adam as subservient to Christ. He does a fantastic job so it's my turn to cut and paste large chunks of text!
This claim that Joseph Smith taught "that Adam was God" is the first of three known occasions on which Brigham Young attributed the origin of Adam-God to Smith.39 While there is no reliable primary source documentation from Smith's era to support this assertion, much later testimony from other intimates of Joseph Smith such as Helen Mar Kimball (one of Joseph's plural wives) in 1882, and Benjamin F. Johnson in 1903, endorse Brigham's claim.40 It is therefore appropriate to consider briefly the merits of this assertion.
Joseph Smith unquestionably viewed "Adam" as an individual whose importance extended well beyond the role of first parent to the human race. Five years after the organization of the Church, the Prophet published a revelation which identified "Michael, or Adam, [as] the father of all, the
prince of all, the ancient of days[.]"41 Four years later, in a sermon in Nauvoo in 1839, he went much further. As recorded by Willard Richards, Smith announced that
"The Priesthood was . . .first given to Adam: he obtained the first Presidency & held the keys of it, from generation to Generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed as in Gen. 1, 26:28,—he had dominion given him over every living Creature. He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures . . . . he will call his children together, & hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He, (Adam) is the Father of the human family & presides over
the Spirits of all men, & all that have had the Keys must stand before him in this great Council . . . . The Son of Man stands before him and there is given him glory & dominion. —Adam delivers up his Stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the Keys of the Universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family." [emphasis in original]42
The centrality of Adam's role was reiterated by the Prophet in a major discourse on the priesthood the following year. He spoke of Adam being the "first and father of all, not only by progeny, but he was the first to hold the spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the Salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth." This has, in retrospect—and in isolation—the ring of Adam-God to it, but Smith then said,
"Adam holds the Keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times, i.e. the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ and from Christ to the end of all the dispensations that have [been and] are to be revealed . . . . This then is the nature of the priesthood, every man holding the presidency of his dispensation and one man holding the presidency of them all even Adam, and Adam receiving his presidency and authority from Christ, but cannot receive a fulness, untill [sic] Christ shall present the kingdom to the Father which shall be at the end of the last dispensation."43
In both of these 1839 and 1840 sermons, Joseph clearly places Adam in a position subservient to Christ, a relationship seemingly incompatible with the Adam-God doctrine later articulated by Brigham. As Orson Pratt noted, there also were other important inconsistencies between the fully developed Adam-God doctrine and the scriptures revealed by Joseph Smith. A problem with our present D & C 29 and Book of Moses has already been alluded to; all three of these scriptures clearly place the speaker ("I, the Lord God") in authority above Adam. Moreover, Adam is commanded to repent and seek redemption "through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son."
Pratt's discomfort with Brigham's Adam-God doctrine was not limited to Young's insistence that Adam was not created from the dust of this earth. Other Latter-day Saint scriptures such as the Book of Mormon also pose some difficulties. The prophet Amulek, for example, is there reported as saying a resurrected "mortal body . . . can die no more," that in the resurrection, "spirits [are] united with their bodies, never to be divided" (Alma 11:45). As both the Book of Moses (6:12), and the Doctrine and Covenants (107:53) report the death of Adam, there is at least a theoretical problem with the notion that he had been resurrected prior to his earthly experience.
Additionally, Section 107, which was the third section in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, said in part, "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 said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever."44
Another early revelation (March 1832), now D & C 78, also appeared in the 1835 edition, and made a very similar point. The "Lord God," the "Holy One of Zion," it reported, "hath appointed Michael your prince and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given him the keys of salvation under the council and direction of the Holy One."45 As the "Lord," "Lord God," and "Holy One" in these passages are all understood in Mormon theology to refer to Jesus Christ,46 these scriptures are as irreconcilable with Adam being the father of Christ as were Joseph's later sermons quoted above. Indeed, the sermons essentially restate the message of these scriptures.
These later sermons are all the more significant when one recalls that Brigham had asserted that "it was Joseph's doctrine that Adam was God when in Luke Johnson's." Johnson was ordained one of the original Apostles in mid-February 1835; briefly (six days) disfellowshipped and removed from the Council of the Twelve in September 1837; went again into apostasy in December 1837; and was excommunicated in April 1838. Although he was re-baptized into the Church well after Smith's death (in 1846), it follows from his church career that any preaching on Adam-God by Smith "in Luke Johnson's" would have to have occurred in Kirtland well before the Nauvoo sermons.
On the other hand, the Nauvoo period also marked the first major synthesis of the Mormon perception of the nature of God, and all of Smith's later teachings are not necessarily known. The Prophet's sermons and writings in his last years more clearly identified God the Father as an actual being who possessed a physical, but "glorified" corporal body such as our own. Smith's important discourses on April 7, 1844 (the "King Follett Sermon") and June 16, 1844 (on the plurality of gods) crystallized ideas on the eternal evolution of mankind. God himself, the Prophet taught, was once a mortal man who had experienced a similar existence to our own. Indeed, both Joseph and
Hyrum Smith preached an eternal patriarchal lineage of gods; as there never was a son without a father, so also the God of this earth has a father, as does
his father ad infinitum.47
While stopping well short of an "Adam-God doctrine," such ideas clearly were necessary precursors to the notions advanced by Brigham. The one
fragment of evidence that Smith may have carried this at least a step further is found in a poem by apostate Mormon William Law, recently of the First
Presidency, published in the Warsaw Message in February 1844. Entitled "Buckeye's Lamentation for Want of More Wives," this poem satirically spoke
of the "greater" glory a man could have in the hereafter if he had plural wives; "Creating worlds so fair; At least a world for ever wife That you take with you there."48 (Emphasis in original.) While this notion does presage yet another aspect of Brigham Young's teachings, it obviously still falls well short of a positive link between the Adam-God doctrine and Joseph Smith.
At least as relevant as the foregoing in evaluating Joseph's possible views, is the total absence in any of his known sermons or writings, or in that of any other Mormon leader before 1852, of anything like the fully developed Adam-God doctrine. Instead, statements such as that found in John Taylor's 1852 publication, The Government of God, actually suggest that the antithesis of Adam-God was then held to be true: " . . . when God made man, he made him of the dust of the earth . . .," and "Adam is the father of our bodies, and God is the father of our spirits." Orson Pratt's 1848 discussion of "The Kingdom of God" involved analysis of the nature of God; but nothing could be cited from it which would support Adam-God in any way. Another early Mormon favorite—A Voice of Warning—first published in 1837 by Parley P. Pratt, did cover the scriptural account of Adam's creation; yet he too did not deviate from Joseph Smith's expositions cited above.49 Additionally, while Orson Pratt may have been alone in speaking out against the doctrine after 1852, it is notable that no other Mormon leader—aside from Young—seemed willing to ascribe it to Smith, even after 1852.50 The one other apostle to volunteer a source, Heber C. Kimball, seems to ascribe it to himself. In April 1862, Kimball—long an advocate of the doctrine—testified, "[T]he Lord told me that Adam was my father and that he was the God and father of all the inhabitants of this earth." Orson Pratt, as noted below, also inferred that the doctrine originated with Kimball, and T. B. H. Stenhouse, after leaving the Church, made this claim as well, in Rocky Mountain Saints (1873).51
The fact that Brigham Young claimed at least three times that Smith was the originator of Adam-God nonetheless strongly suggests that Brigham thought Smith taught something related to this doctrine. As illustrated above, this indeed is the case. Possibly Young misconstrued or misremembered what he heard (or heard something no one else did?). Whatever the explanation, it can safely be said that with our current understanding it is a very big step from what is known of Joseph Smith's teachings on Adam to those later articulated by Brigham Young.