On 8-9 March 1842 Joseph Smith worked on his Book of Abraham, "and they organized and formed, (that is, the Gods,) the heavens and the earth" (Times and Seasons 3 [15 March 1842]:720, words rearranged in Abraham 4:1). Who or how many Gods were involved is not known for sure. In the Nauvoo temple endowment as organized by Brigham Young the Gods were identified as three in number, that is, Eloheem [Elohim], Jehovah [also spelled Yahovah] and Michael. Michael had been previously identified by Joseph Smith as "Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days" (LDS D&C 27:11, added to early text in 1835).
Nauvoo Temple Organization: 10-13 December 1845:
H. C. Kimball presides as Eloheem,
Orson Hyde as Jehovah and
George A. Smith as Michael
(Heber C. Kimball Journal kept by William Clayton, entry of 10 Dec. 1845, LDS archives)
The following persons officiating
Orson Hyde as Eloheem
Orson Spencer as Jehovah
George A Smith as Michael
later that day -
Heber C. Kimball acting as Eloheem
George A. Smith as Jehovah
Orson Hyde as Michael
(Heber C. Kimball Journal, entry of 11 Dec. 1845)
Pres[ident] Young acting as Eloheem
P.P. Pratt as Jehovah
Orson Hyde as Michael
"During the whole of the three days already spent in the endowment, President Brigham Young presided and dictated the ordinances and also took an active part in nearly every instance except when entirely overcome by fatigue through his constant labors to forward the work." (Ibid., 12 Dec. 1845)
"Last evening an arrangement was made establishing better order in conducting the endowment. Under this order it is the providence of Eloheem, Jehovah and Michael to create the world . . ." (Ibid., entry of 13 Dec. 1845).
Here we have the name/titles of the three creation Gods. Except for Michael the identities of Eloheem and Jehovah are not spelled out. Brigham Young mentioned, "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael . . ." (Journal of Discourses 1:51, 9 April 1852).
In this same discourse (as published) President Brigham Young said:
When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. . . . the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. . . . When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal" (Journal of Discourses 1:50, emphasis in original).
What we have are three creation Gods, Eloheim, Yahovah [spelled that way in the Endowment House records] and Michael. They are not the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) but a different trinity. They are like a LDS priesthood presidency of three (Elder's Quorum, High Priest Quorum, First Presidency, Mission Presidency, Temple Presidency). But there are now two trinities, the regular Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the creation Gods Eloheim, Yahovah (Jehovah) and Michael. Brigham Young taught that in order to create a world a man would have received his exaltation as a God. At a Special Conference held on 28 August 1852 he explained it as an important key to understanding:
After men have got their exaltations and their crowns--have become Gods, even the sons of God--are made Kings of kings and Lord of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. How can they do it? Have they to go to that earth? Yes, an Adam will have to go there, and he cannot do without Eve; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation, and they will go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children. This is a key for you" (Journal of Discourses 6:275).
Some individual journals mention the teachings of Brigham Young about Adam/Michael but not all church members believed in Adam being God or understood what he was talking about. Apostle Orson Pratt opposed the doctrine from 1852-1868. It is evident that if the interpretation of the creation Gods was taught in the Nauvoo Temple like Brigham Young was explaining then Pratt probably would have accepted it. But it appears to have first been publicly taught in April 1852.
At the church conference held on 8 October 1854 Brigham Young preached a powerful discourse that was not published until the 1970s. Warren Foote recorded, "8th We went to conference again. President B. Young delivered an interesting discourse concerning Adam's being the father of our spirits as well as bodies" (Warren Foote Journal, 8 Oct. 1854, original in LDS archives, typed copy).
Joseph Lee Robinson also recorded what Brigham Young taught:
Oct. 6th. Attended conference, a very interesting conference, for at this meeting President Brigham Young said thus, that Adam and Eve were the names of the first man and woman of every earth that was ever organized and that Adam and Eve were the natural father and mother of every spirit that comes to this planet, or that received tabernacles on this planet, consequently we are brother and sisters, and that Adam was God, or Eternal Father" (Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, 6-8 Oct. 1854, LDS archives, typed copy).
This "Discourse by Pres. Brigham Young Oct 8th 1854" (in LDS archives) has been published in an edited version. A copy is in The Essential Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992), 86-103. A few quotes from the discourse:
But let us turn our attention to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our spirits (93).
The God and Father [of] our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of our spirits (94).
I tell you more, Adam is the Father of our spirits. He lived upon an earth; he did abide his creation, and did honor to his calling and Priesthood; and obeyed his Master or Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same, and they lived, and died upon an earth, and then were resurrected again to Immortality and Eternal Life (96).
Our spirits and the spirits of all the human family were begotten by Adam, and born of Eve (97).
Adam planted the Garden of Eden, and he with his wife Eve partook of the fruit of this Earth, until their systems were charged with the nature of Earth, and then they could beget bodies, for their spiritual children (98)
I tell you, when you see your Father in the Heavens, you will see Adam; when you see your Mother that bear your spirit, you will see Mother Eve (99).
At the School of the Prophets in June 1871 President Brigham Young taught, "Elohim, Yahova & Michael, were father, Son and grandson. They made this Earth & Michael became Adam" (Joseph F. Smith Journal, 17 June 1871, LDS archives). So this would mean:
Elohim = Father of Yahovah
Yahovah = Son of Elohim
Michael = Grandson of Elohim = Adam = God the Father
Jesus would be the only begotten son of Michael/Adam. This may explain the words of President Young made in 1862:
The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with their Grandfather, and their children were more or less acquainted with their Great-Grandfather . . ." (Journal of Discourses 9:148, 12 Jan. 1862).
Brigham Young died in August 1877. At the October 1880 conference the Pearl of Great Price was accepted as the fourth standard work of the church. In various publications on gospel topics many writers emphasized that Adam and Eve were spirits before earth life. They used the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price (portion dictated in 1830) as their basis. This was more in line with Orson Pratt's position. There were church members who believed what President Young taught and others who had views based upon LDS scriptures. James E. Talmage wrote his book Articles of Faith which was published by the church.
Finally in June 1916 Talmage wrote the official statement on The Father and the Son which was accepted by the First Presidency and the Twelve as the position of the church on the Godhead. In essence Adam/Michael as God, the Father of our spirits and Father of Jesus Christ as taught by President Brigham Young was replaced by Elohim as God and Father. This statement has the following relating to Elohim:
The purport of these scriptures is to the effect that God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted name-title "Elohim," is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race.
Prior to 1916 the interpretation of who the creation Gods were (as described by President Young) gradually changed. There was confusion over this issue for many years. It appears that during the Presidency of Joseph F. Smith the Michael in the temple endowment ceremony changed from being an exalted God who helped create the world to being a spirit personage "God." Elohim became God with Jesus Christ becoming the Jehovah creation God.
So part of Brigham Young's teaching expressed in his April 1852 discourse to priesthood members is rejected and part is accepted. At the time when President Young preached he was considered inspired. The conference minutes stated that the Holy Ghost rested upon Brigham Young at the time.
Current LDS Godhead:
Father = Elohim = God the Father
Son = Jehovah = Jesus Christ
Holy Ghost = spirit personage
Those who go through the endowment ceremony are taught that three Gods planned and organized the world and all things on it. Two of these Gods, that is, Jehovah and Michael were organizers under the direction of the third, Elohim. When the Gods had pronounced the world good, Michael, now designated as Adam, with Eve, was to commence the procreation of the children of men. Adam was given dominion over all the earth.
In the endowment ceremony men must follow Adam, and women follow Eve through all the priesthood ordinances if they are to become Gods. They are promised, if they are faithful, that they can become as Adam and Eve and create their own worlds and beget their own spiritual children to inhabit them. This is what Brigham Young was teaching. Currently in the church it is taught, after the change in the creation Gods, not to believe that the above applies to Adam. Church leaders teach that men can become Gods by following Adam but we are not to believe that Adam attained to that position.