The Mormon Creation according to Joseph Smith
“In the beginning God created the heaven and earth … ” is the first sentence in the Bible. And one to which Joseph Smith, prophet and seer of the Mormon Church, has given his own peculiar interpretation.
To comprehend the Mormon version of Creation, one has to first understand their teaching on God. The Heavenly Father, according to Joseph Smith, is the literal father of our spirits. Together with his many spirit wives (our Heavenly Mothers) he has propagated millions of little spirit babies which live in the Spirit Kingdom (pre-existing) awaiting their birth into human bodies here on Earth. One of the firstborn spirit children was Jesus and to Him was given the responsibility of redeeming mankind. Another spirit child of Heavenly Father, Lucifer, wanted this responsibility for himself, but the Council of the Gods rejected Lucifer’s plan after which he rebelled and became Satan. So, in Mormon theology, we have many gods—Elohim our Heavenly Father, the Gods of the Council and Jehovah, one of the firstborn spirits, also known as Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind.
In regard to Creation, Joseph Smith taught that all matter is eternal—without beginning or end. Therefore, the Earth was not created by God, but merely ‘organized’ from existing elements.1
Smith also claimed that Elohim, our Heavenly Father, was the supervisor of Creation (not actually involved) and that Jehovah (or Jesus) together with many helpers from the spirit kingdom, acted under direction to organize the existing elements into the Adamic world. It is interesting to note that these helpers supposedly included such worthy spirits as: Michael (who later became Adam), Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, James, John and of course, Joseph Smith—all the “noble and great” worthy ones of Mormonism.2
Mormon writings such as the Book of Moses and Doctrine and Covenants also teach in several places that this earth was not the first of the Lord’s creations—apparently, He is supposed to have organized many worlds similarly—all for the purpose of inhabitation by His many spirit children. In Moses 1:35, it is acknowledged that the order of creative events as revealed to Joseph Smith and Moses only pertain to this earth, and no knowledge of other creations is available.
A spirit earth
Joseph Smith taught that the earth was first a ‘spirit earth’ and was then clothed with tangible physical elements. He taught that after the Fall, the earth fell from its terrestrial form to a ‘telestial’ form—condition destined to continue for 6,000 years. After its baptism of fire, the earth is supposed to be renewed and receive its terrestrial glory for the space of the millennium then it will die and be resurrected to attain its sanctified, immortal and eternal state of celestial glory.3
In the secret temple rituals practiced daily all over the world in Mormon Temples, one of the first important ‘endowment ceremonies’ consists of a play enacted before the candidates which is called ‘The Creation’. In this ceremony, Elohim is seen talking to Jehovah and Michael and He instructs them to “go down and organize yonder matter into a world like unto the other worlds that we have heretofore formed”. This instruction is repeated three times until the earth is completed much as described in the first chapter of Genesis. When the time comes to create man, Elohim causes a sleep to come over the spirit Michael and when he awakens, he is Adam, the first man. Elohim and Jehovah converse and agree it is not good for man to be alone and so Eve is also created.
Satan: as hero
In the next scene, Lucifer enters the picture and begins to play a most prominent role that continues through most of the Temple ceremony. As Lucifer begins to lead Adam and Eve astray, Elohim appears and rebukes him for tempting Eve and it is interesting to note that Lucifer is permitted to argue and contend with Elohim for quite some time before being ordered to depart. Another interesting point is that Lucifer states that he has merely done to Adam and Eve what has been done many times before on other worlds—making him somewhat of a ‘hero’ for assisting in the Fall. This is in keeping with the Mormon teaching that Adam’s fall was pre-ordained and very necessary to enable the procreation of mankind and physical birth of all the little spirit children waiting patiently for a chance at earthly existence. This is one of the first subtle indications of Satan’s pre-eminence in Mormon theology later in the ‘Lone and Dreary World’ ceremony, Adam calls out ‘O God, hear the words of my mouth’ three times, only to have Lucifer answer and enact another little play totally ridiculing the role of Christianity in the world.
In the Biblical account of creation, the serpent is only mentioned in a few verses of Genesis and is thoroughly rebuked by God with the words “upon thy belly shalt thou go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life”. Joseph Smith’s teachings and ‘revelations’ on Creation differ drastically from the Biblical account.
References and notes
- Galbraith, R.C. , Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book Co, Salt Lake City, pp. 350-352, 1938. Return to text.
- Smith, J.F., Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Co, Salt Lake City, pp. 74-75, 1954. Return to text.
- McConkie, B.R., Mormon Doctrine, Deseret Book Co, Salt Lake City, p. 211, 1958. Return to text.