Monday, October 12, 2009

Was Jesus an impostor?

The First Presidency's "doctrinal guidebook," True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, defines the plan of salvation as follows:

"The plan of salvation is the fulness of the gospel. It includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel." [1]

The plan of salvation incorporates three events:  the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.  These are the three most important events in the entire history of man.  Moroni teaches that God "created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.  Behold, he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man."  (Morm. 9:11-12.).

Quoting Moroni further, President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"The Book of Mormon Saints knew that the plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam.  In the words of Moroni,  ' By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ,... and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man'  (Morm. 9:12).

"Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

"No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind." [2]

Darwin's theory of evolution

Today, the perception of overwhelming evidence supporting Darwin's theory of evolution leads some Mormons to believe that scriptural accounts of the Creation and the Fall must be interpreted figuratively.  Why then is the Atonement not also a figurative event?

"If the hypothesis of evolution be true, if man is only a product evolved from the lower forms of life, better still producing better, until the highest type of intellectual manhood crowns with glory this long continued process—then it is evident that there has been no  ' fall,'  such as the revelations of God speak of; and if there was no fall, there was no occasion for a Redeemer to make atonement for man, in order to reconcile him to God; then the mission of Jesus Christ was a myth, the coinage of idle brains, and Jesus himself was either mistaken, or one of the many impostors that have arisen to mock mankind with the hope of eternal life." [3]

Did Jesus mock mankind with the hope of eternal life?  Was Jesus an impostor?


[1]  True to the Faith, s.v. "Plan of Salvation," p.115.

[2]  Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1987, p.85.

[3]  B. H. Roberts, "Man's Relationship to Deity," Contributor, April 1889, 10:212; found also in The Gospel and Man's Relationship to Deity, 2nd edition, 1893; as quoted from the 7th edition, 1928, pp.266-267.


Blogger Jared* said...

The problems of death and sin exist independent of how our physical bodies got here. I like how Henry Eyring put it:

"To me the important thing is that Adam is the spirit child of God. He came into this world when he received a mortal body. The Fall consisted of becoming subject to death, and everyone born into the world is subject to death and so partakes of this fallen state with Adam. Finally, through the atonement we will all receive a resurrected body." (Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring, pg. 269)

10/12/2009 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared*,  It isn't clear to me from your comment how you feel about the Creation, Fall, and Atonement being figurative.  Would you say the scriptural accounts of the following are figurative?

1.  ________  Creation figurative (True or False)

2.  ________  Fall figurative (True or False)

3.  ________  Atonement figurative (True or False)

And here is one more question just for fun:

4.  ________  B. H. Roberts evolutionist (True or False)

I respect Henry Eyring.  Sometimes it just looks a little different to me.

10/12/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Montgomery said...

I agree with Gary that the creation, fall, and the atonement were (all) real and literal. And It seems clear from B. H. Robert's quote that he was not an evolutionist, and believed in a literal creation, fall and atonement, quite contrary to what some would make us believe about Roberts.

10/12/2009 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger symphonyofdissent said...

This post just doe not work logically. All of those quotes speak about fall as the origin of the death of man. There is nothing inconsistent about that and evolution. Believing in evolution does not mean that one necessarily believes in a figurative fall. I personally don't view the fall as having happened literally on this earth, but instead on a higher spiritual plane.

10/13/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...


The atonement is the heart of the gospel because it provides for forgiveness of sins and the resurrection (ultimately uniting us with God). I don't see the value of it if it doesn't literally do at least one of those two things. So #3 = false, at least regarding those basic functions.

I don't know if I can neatly choose true or false on 1 and 2. We are taught that our spirits lived with God before mortality, and death and sin are clearly a part of our existence here. So in that sense, #2 = false. But considering only the Garden of Eden story, I would say #2 = mostly true. Parts of it may be literal, but I don't think that whether they are or aren't necessarily has any meaning for the atonement. Same for #1--I would say #1 = mostly true.

#4 is false. But, I think he was moving in the direction of evolution and may well have accepted a theistic version of it if he had lived a few decades later.

10/13/2009 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Can one comprehend the depths of the Atonement? Can one explain in complete detail its mechanisms? We can't. But that doesn't mean that what we know about it is only to be understood in a figurative sense.

I believe that the same holds true for the Creation and Fall. They are real events -- though quite mysterious according to our limited understanding of them.


10/14/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

My Two cents as an evolutionist and a believing Christian:

Was Christ an impostor if father Adam was the first modern man born from a lesser mother, a mother not capable of Adam's abstract thought, art, music, the ability to offer a primitive prayer to a being Adam could perceive but not see, etc? No!

Christ’s atonement is an individual personal gift to those who individually accept it. Hence the creation myth and the Fall of man is a collective metaphor for events all accountable individuals experience such as the choice each of us made to voluntarily enter mortality, the normal childhood transition to sentience, becoming sinful and recognizing sin vs. righteousness, feeling the burden of falling under G-d’s judgment, etc. Accepting Jesus who lifts the burden of judgment from us and then shields us from G-d’s final judgment allowing exaltation brings the matter full circle.

It’s not difficult to reconcile personal faith with the mountain of evidence for evolution. Why raise conflict were there is none?

10/18/2009 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Towers said...

The Scriptures give Adam's genealogy as him being physically the son of God (not the only begotten in the fallen flesh - Christ).

They also tell me that Adam was the first FLESH upon the earth. An inspired reading of the Scriptures with reveal this over and over.

I can say that I do know how the atonement works AND exactly how we created the earth. And it didn't require us sitting around for countless years getting eye-strain waiting for volcanoes etc. We got on with the job as fast as we were capable considering our inexperience at such a task.

10/26/2009 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I believe in Jesus Christ and "that he was the Creator of the earth on which we live." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Apr 1989, p.2.)

10/26/2009 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Towers said...

R. Gary

In Abraham chapter 3:23-24 we find the following

"And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell."

I don't see any conflict in Brother Hinkley's statement as to that of Abraham. I can have a house built by Jim Brown, yet he may not personally lift a finger in regard its construction.

Abraham has set out that Christ was personally involved, in that he lead down the team that was to accomplish the building.

I have no trouble giving him the glory for any little part I played. Heavenly Father taught us. Jesus Christ also helped in our learning. The Father gives the glory to the Son for this creation. You have no complaints from me.

Let me add that Genesis 1:1 says in a correct Hebrew to English translation, "In the beginning GODS created the heavens and the earth." Their translation is false.

10/27/2009 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Skaboss said...

I don't see why it would be impossible for there to be death before the fall. When Joseph Fielding Smith said that, he was a young apostle merely stating his opinions, not declaring church doctrine.

Something you may find of interest in Seers, Savants and Evolution, by Lester Allen, Prof. of Zoology at BYU.

11/15/2009 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Skaboss: You seem to be new around these parts. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith was called to be an apostle in 1910. And you are correct, he taught no death before the fall as a young apostle. But after he had served as an apostle for sixty years, he became the Church's Tenth Prophet and right before he died the First Presidency published the following in a Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide:

-------------- quote --------------
"The animals were all created and placed on the earth preceding the coming of Adam and Eve. In fact the whole earth and the creatures on it were prepared for Adam and Eve before Adam's fall.... The earth and all upon it were not subject to death until Adam fell.… It was through the fall of Adam that death came into the world. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions, Salt Lake City: The First Presidency, 1972, 53-54, 111.)
-------------- end quote --------------

One more thing: Seers, Savants and Evolution was NOT written by Lester Allen. That's two strikes, Skaboss. Glad you came by, though.

11/15/2009 02:23:00 PM  

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