The Fall - Divine Decree or Sin? (Part 1)
How do Mormons view The Fall of Adam and Eve?
What does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teach about The Fall? Was it a Divine decree or sin? To read what the Bible teaches, go to:
WHAT IS THE FALL IN MORMONISM?
In their book, Gospel Principles, the Mormon church teaches:
- When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. In this state, "they would have had no children" (2 Nephi 2:23). . . . God commanded them to have children. . . God told them they could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree God said, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Moses 3:17). Satan. . . tempted (Eve) to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. . . Eve yielded to the temptation and ate the fruit. When Adam learned what had happened, he chose to partake also. The changes that came upon Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit are called the fall of Adam. (Gospel Principles, 1981 p. 30)
The Fall then, according to Mormonism, is a condition of changes that came upon Adam and Eve resulting from their disobedience to God by eating of the forbidden fruit.
COULD ADAM AND EVE CHOSEN OBEDIENCE?
God commanded Adam and Eve to have children, but Mormonism teaches they could not have offspring in the state God originally created them on earth (Edenic state). The only way they would be able to produce children, was to eat from the tree God commanded them not to eat. A children's resource from Ensign titled, 'The Fall of Adam and Eve' explains:
- Partaking of the fruit brought mortality, with its many opportunities to choose between good and evil, and enabled Adam and Eve to have children.
The choice Adam and Eve were faced with, was to either. . .
disobey God of not having children by not eating of the fruit.
disobey God by eating of the fruit he commanded them not to eat so they can have the ability to produce children.
As you can see, there were only these two choices, and either of them resulted in disobeying God's commandment. Mormons are thankful for Adam and Eve's choice to disobey God by eating of the fruit.
Because of this disobedient act, Mormons believe they gained physical bodies from a spiritual state of existence (called pre-mortal existence), and now have the ability to progress to become exalted like God did himself. (For more information see Humanity)
DOES THIS MEAN GOD PLANNED FOR ADAM AND EVE TO FALL?
Ensign's 'The Fall of Adam and Eve' continues:
- Thus the Fall opened the door for Heavenly Father’s children to come into the world, obtain physical bodies, and participate in "the great plan of happiness" (Alma 42:8)
Pearl of Great Price (considered Mormon scripture) teaches there was a plan to make the earth for the spirit-children to dwell upon and be tested:
- 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; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; (Abraham 3:24-25)
The Book of Mormon (considered Mormon scripture) explains sending his spirit-children to earth was the Lord's purpose:
- Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it. (1 Nephi 17:36)
Adam and Eve were our first parents to be sent to earth, but they could not produce children in their original Edenic state. This meant the rest of God's spirit-children could not be sent. A Mormon Missionary Preparation manual explains how The Fall was the means to further this plan of exaltation:
- The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise, and was the means of furthering the purposes of the Lord in the progress of man, rather than a means of hindering them.
The Lord's purpose was for mankind to progress, and The Fall was necessary for this to happen. So the dilemma Adam and Eve were faced with was to decide which of the two commandments of God they would transgress. They chose the transgression that would bring blessings to the rest of the spirit-children.
BUT ISN'T AN ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE SIN AGAINST GOD?
In Mormonism, what Adam and Eve did was not considered sin. Gospel Principles teaches:
- Some people believe Adam and Eve committed a serious sin when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, latter-day scriptures help us understand that their Fall was a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us. Because of the Fall, we are blessed with physical bodies, the right to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life. None of these privileges would have been ours had Adam and Eve remained in the garden. (Gospel Principles, 1981, p.p. 31-32)
In 'The Fall of Adam and Eve', it reads:
- Transgression, Not Sin - President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: "I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. . . . This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin . . . for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!"
In The Great Plan of Happiness, Dallin H. Oaks (Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) taught about The Fall:
- This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose. . . But the Fall was planned, Lehi concludes, because "all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" (2 Ne. 2:24). . . Joseph Smith taught that it was not a "sin," because God had decreed it.
Mormon Elder Bruce C. Hafen stated:
- The fall wasn't a disaster. It wasn't a mistake or an accident. It was a deliberate part of the plan of salvation.
Pearl of Great Price expands Genesis 2:17 so as to show God giving Adam and Eve allowance to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but in the same breath forbidding them from eating of it. Moses 3:17 has God commanding Adam:
- But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Pearl of Great Price, considered Mormon scripture)
Joseph Fielding Smith (10th President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) taught:
- Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, forbidden in a rather peculiar manner for it is the only place in all the history where we read that the Lord forbade something and yet said, 'Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself.' He never said that of any sin. I do not look upon Adam’s fall as a sin, although it was a transgression of the law.
DO MORMONS VIEW THE FALL AS A GOOD THING?
Mormon scripture teaches:
- Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:25)
Both Adam and Eve rejoiced after they transgressed against God's command not to eat of the fruit:
- And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:10-11)
Mormons believe if it wasn't for The Fall, no one would be born on earth. The Book of Mormon says:
- 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. (2 Nephi 2:22)
Had they not partaken of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve would have remained immortal, and the rest of the multiple billions of spirit-children would never have had the chance to come to earth to experience mortality and exaltation.
- Adam and Eve did not sin because it was necessary for them to eat of the forbidden fruit in order to produce children.
- Mormons are thankful for Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God's command not to eat of the forbidden fruit.
- Had it not been for Adam's transgression, we would not be here to progress.
- The Fall was decreed by God.
To read a Christian response to Mormonism's view of The Fall. See The Fall - Divine Decree or Sin? (Part 2).