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Matt Slick and the Fall of Adam

I imagine the majority of people who search for information on the church go to Google and type in "Mormons" or "Mormonism." A Google Search on "Mormonism" today brings up the Wikipedia entry before it brings up the official website of the Church. The Church has a paid entry under "Mormons" so a search there brings up our site first and it is highlighted.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

On that same first page of Google searches for "Mormons" or "Mormonism" you will find the site for CARM - The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. If you haven't heard or read about Matt Slick before, then you aren't a regular visitor to Christian Apologetics websites. Although many have done so, I'm not sure if I would characterize the site as particularly Anti-Mormon.

While Mr. Slick is clear that he opposes Mormonism, he does not seem to be rabid or vitriolic in his writings. As he says, "I can't speak for all who oppose Mormonism, but I have no grudge against it at all. I was never a Mormon and no Mormon injured me in the past. They are nice people. The problem isn't with them. It is with what they teach. It simply isn't Christian."

In other words, his material seems palatable to the intellect, does not seem to be written for shock value or to offend and may be worth considering. Let's face it, the man has gone to a lot of trouble and effort in his writings on Mormonism. The focus of his site is not particularly the LDS Church, but it does comprise a large portion of the activity there. Mr Slick is based in Idaho.

The challenge from Mr. Slick

On his page, "Are you a Mormon?" Mr. Slick offers a rambling explanation to members of the Church as to why he feels we are wrong. He suggests that we hold Joseph Smith in higher esteem than we hold the Savior, and that our understanding of the role of the Redeemer is flawed. He quotes the eighth article of faith and announces that it is the source of our problem, that we have allowed non-biblical teachings to creep into our church.

Obviously, Mr. Slick has missed the main focus of our message, that we believe in a "Restored Christianity." This is such an age-old complaint from mainstream Christian religionists that I am surprised he uses this argument here. If he wants to hold an intelligent dialog with Mormons, he needs to focus on the concept of modern revelation. Instead he closes with this observation:
"It is interesting to note that in Mormon theology it was a blessing for Adam to have transgressed God's word so that his eyes could be opened. Both Adam and Eve specifically pointed to their transgression as a blessing. But the Mormon will say that it was the transgression that allowed the seed to come, the knowledge of good and evil, and the truth of redemption. My point is simple, the fall, the sin of rebellion is celebrated in Mormonism. I thought only the ungodly celebrate sin."
Why the fall was a good thing

This is the fourth time in the past week that I have had the opportunity to refer to 2 Nephi chapter 2 starting with a wonderful essay from my fellow LDS blogger, S. Faux on Mormon Insights. I have used it in a previous blog post, in a home teaching visit and in Bishopric meeting this morning. Mr. Faux is correct. With the focus on agency, the fall and redemption, 2 Nephi chapter 2 is indeed the core of the Book of Mormon.

I am constantly amazed when I have discussions with my Christian friends about the fall of Adam that they view it is as a bad thing. Don't they get it? If it weren't for the fall, we would not be here! I guess having grown up with doctrines like this found in the Book of Mormon, I have been so blessed to understand this basic doctrine as found in verses 22 and 23.
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no achildren; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no bjoy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no csin.
Summary and conclusion

I'm not trying to call Mr. Slick out on this one. I'm just trying to point out that yes, we do indeed celebrate the fall of Adam as being a major part of the theology of salvation. Were it not for the fall, there would be no need for redemption. How can he imply that it was not necessary and not the central focus to accomplishing the purposes of God? I am so grateful for the fall of Adam.

Mr. Slick obviously does not understand the doctrines of salvation. Perhaps a reading of Bruce R. McConkie's talk on The Three Pillars of Eternity would be helpful. Even better, if he can handle it, is Elder McConkie's last talk, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane, in which he ties together the fall, the atonement and the resurrection. If there were no fall, we would not be here.

We have so much more to offer you, Mr. Slick. Your website is impressive. You have gathered a lot of material and written a lot of essays about our faith. But you have missed the central theme of Mormonism - a more complete understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of Salvation. This all came about because a boy went into the woods to pray after reading the Bible.


S.Faux said…
Again, many thanks for the citations. I need all the publicity I can get. I aspire to get as many hits as you do. In any case, I love your essays.

Got to run. Lunchtime is over.
Anonymous said…
According to the Bible Adam and Eve were living in perfect harmony with God and without sin. The Bible never says Adam and Eve would never have children without sin. They had all the plumbing to carry on producing children plus God commmanded them to "multipy", not to sin, Gen 1:28.

Adam and Eve's decision to sin brought spiritual death not life. They did not become "gods" as the Serpent told them. God drove Adam and Eve from the garden and told them, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life," Gen 3:22-24.

God said, Adam and Eve's sin brought them to know "good and EVIL." The only "good" in sin is repentance and we know Adam and Eve were sorry. So, God gave them a sacrifice and animals skins.

Thus, the Book of Mormon is not telling the truth about the first sin. Sin is NEVER a good thing.

Matt Paulson
Tim Malone said…
Hi Matt,

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I think it is wonderful that we have the Book of Mormon to clarify the teachings of the Bible on the Fall of Adam. So many good people have come to so many different conclusions about what really happened in the Garden of Eden. That's why I am so grateful to have modern prophets and apostles who can help us understand the truth about the fall of Adam.

One of the best summaries I have found is from "Adam and Eve were the first of God’s children to come to Earth. They were created in God’s image, with bodies of flesh and bones. God placed them in the Garden of Eden. Here they did not remember their former existence though they were still able to enjoy God’s presence and could have lived forever.

"As Heavenly Father has blessed all of His children with the freedom to choose, Adam and Eve were given agency to make their own choices on the earth. He commanded them not to eat the forbidden fruit, or the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obeying this commandment meant they could remain in the garden, but they could not progress by experiencing opposition in mortality.

"They could not know joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain. Thus, as a part of the plan Satan was allowed to tempt Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and they chose to do so. As a consequence, they were separated from God’s presence physically and spiritually—an event referred to as the Fall. Adam and Eve then became mortal—subject to sin and death—and were unable to return to Heavenly Father without His help.

"They could now experience disease and all types of suffering. They had moral agency, or the ability to choose between good and evil, which made it possible for them to learn and progress. It also made it possible for them to make wrong choices and to sin. In addition, they could now have children, so the rest of God’s spirit children could come to Earth, obtain physical bodies, and be proven.

"All this was in accordance with the plan of God. Only in this way could God’s children progress and become like Him." Isn't this a great summary? I completely agree with the points made. For more details on what we believe, I refer you to the articles I have linked to at the end of my original essay. Again, thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your comments on your understanding of the Fall of Adam.
Matt said…
You said, ""They could not know joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain. Thus, as a part of the plan Satan was allowed to tempt Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and they chose to do so. As a consequence, they were separated from God’s presence physically and spiritually..."

MATTS RESPONSE: Let's see. The choice of Adam and Eve was to stay in God's perfect Garden and have all their needs fulfilled (without joy?) or sin and be cut off from God, right? Why would people living in harmony and fellowship with God not have joy??? I would like to know.

You said, "In addition, they could now have children, so the rest of God’s spirit children could come to Earth, obtain physical bodies, and be proven."

MATTS RESPONSE: The Bible says you are wrong. Gen. 1:28 says that Adam and Eve were commanded to have children BEFORE they sinned. Do you think God would command them to multiply and fill the earth if they could not do it? The LDS view makes NO sense at all.

Anonymous said…

You said, "So many good people have come to so many different conclusions about what really happened in the Garden of Eden. That's why I am so grateful to have modern prophets and apostles who can help us understand the truth about the fall of Adam."

MATTS RESPONSE: Actually, in the end times, (right now), there will be many FALSE prophets who will lead people astray with false doctrines. I am glad that I am following Christ and no false prophets.

You said, "Here they did not remember their former existence though they were still able to ENJOY God’s presence and could have lived forever."

And then you said in contradiction: "They could not know joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain."

MATTS RESPONSE: Did Adam and Eve "enjoy" living in the garden or did they not have "joy"? Could they have "enjoyed" the garden wihtout "joy" at the the same time? You have contradicted yourself.

You said, "They had moral agency, or the ability to choose between good and evil, which made it possible for them to learn and progress. It also made it possible for them to make wrong choices and to sin. In addition, they could now have children..."

MATTS RESPONSE: Have you read Gen 1:28? It says that Adam and Eve were commanded to MULTIPY: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth," Gen. 1:28.

Now, you can believe the Bible or you can believe Mormonism. They each say something different. Which book will you choose to believe?

I hope you believe God's first and only true Revelation, the Bible.

In Jesus,

Matt Paulson
Tim Malone said…
Matt, thanks for your ongoing comments about the Fall of Adam. It would be helpful to this discussion if you were to go to the LDS temple and receive the instruction that can be obtained there. It has to do specifically with this subject - the fall of Adam. Thus I can restate things several times and you still wouldn't get it because we don't have a common point of reference.

I am coming from the point of view that I believe in sources other than the Bible for understanding doctrine. Modern revelation - the words of living prophets and apostles as well as revealed scriptures that you do not have - are what I base my understanding of the doctrine of the Fall. That's what I always mean when I say that we have so much more to offer the world - modern prophets.

Yes, Adam and Eve received a commandment from God to multiply and replenish the earth while they were yet in the Garden of Eden. But no, they could not fulfill that commandment while they were in the garden. They had to become mortal by partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That allowed them to become mortal and to be able to conceive and bear children.

I know, that's not a doctrine that is taught outside the LDS Church. That is why they could not grow and progress. We would not be here if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit and become mortal. God's plan for us to come to earth required that Adam and Eve bring mortality and death into the world so we could be born and die. There was no death before the fall of Adam. They also did not have blood in their bodies.

Oops! There's another one that is not based on solely on the Bible. You've got me, Matt. I simply do not base my understanding of the doctrines of salvation strictly on the Bible. It's a good thing too. Look how much confusion in the world there is when people interpret the same passages of scripture so differently. That's why we need modern prophets.

We invite all to listen to the message of the restoration from our missionaries and determine for themselves if it is true. The Book of Mormon is the evidence of our message that modern revelation is real. Read it, pray about it and determine for yourself if God could have Joseph Smith power to translate it from the plates as he said he did. I know he did. And because I know that, I also know that what he and subsequent prophets taught about the fall of Adam is also true.
Unknown said…
I like to avoid personal comments and just stay with LDS Four Standard Works.
Since your focus is on II Nephi 2, I would like to point out the conflict of LDS scripture on the purpose of man.
Notice in II Nep 2:25 we have "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
However, the opposite statement is made in Moses 6:48 (one of the books of the Pearl of Great Price): ""Because that Adam fell, we are, and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe."

So, please clarify: are we supposed to have joy, or misery and woe?

This is the problem we have with made-up revelations.
Tim Malone said…
Jim, this is a simple one to answer. Thanks for asking.

The ultimate purpose of our existence is to become like God, to inherit all that he has and to have joy in so doing. Thus, man is that he might have joy. While we are mortal, we live in a world of sin and we experience sin within ourselves.

We know that sin brings misery and that death brings woe. Were it not for the hope of the resurrection, we would be miserable forever. Gratefully, we will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God.

Through the atonement of Christ, our faith in Him and our repentance, we can be forgiven of our sins, thus alleviated of the consequences of suffering, and find the joy that God has revealed is the purpose of our existence.

Man is that he might have joy. It’s the journey through the world of misery and woe that helps us to appreciate that joy once it is bestowed as a reward to all those who love the Lord and live their lives as they can in accordance with His will.

That is the beauty of revelations – they support each other once you understand them. Isn’t it wonderful? I’m so grateful for modern revelation and a prophet with the courage to share them.
carmstuff said…
Apparently Matt Slick does not know that the story of Adam and Eve is a parable of the first church (and first people)?

Oh, but that is "Swedenborgianism" right Matt? You cannot hold the truth that the Bible is written in parables then. That is not part of your church.
evangelical said…
Ever hear of Sethianism? Sethianism is a branch of Gnosticism which was an ancient heresy in Christianity. They believed the fall of Adam was a good thing. They also shared other similarities to Mormons. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this Tim. Thank you.

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