The Fortunate Fall of Adam and Eve

Daniel K Judd

Daniel K Judd, “The Fortunate Fall of Adam and Eve,” in No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues, ed. Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 297–328.

Some believe Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9) to be the cause of all that is evil and tragic in the world today. Others believe our first parents merely to be mythical beings whose existence is only a metaphor used to explain mankind’s existence. The doctrines of the restored gospel concerning the historical reality of Adam and Eve and the doctrine of the Fall provide a wealth of understanding concerning the purposes of adversity and opposition and the vital need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Adam and Eve Kneeling at an AltarDel Parson, Adam and Eve Kneeling at an Altar. © Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning the Fall of Adam and Eve is both distinctive and meaningful. While including some similarities with the teachings of other faiths, the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Fall provides an unparalleled context for understanding key theological constructs such as the nature of man, free will, the purposes of suffering and opposition, physical and spiritual death, and most importantly the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Understanding this fundamental doctrine also provides insight into what philosophers have termed “the problem of evil,” which addresses the question of why God allows evil and tragedy. This chapter articulates the doctrine of the Fall by comparing Latter-day Saint theology with the teachings of other Christian faiths.

The Fortunate Fall

Jacob Boehme, a sixteenth-century Christian theologian and philosopher, described the Fall as “the horrible, lamentable and miserable fall of Adam and Eve.” [1] Although Boehme’s description of the Fall was written hundreds of years ago, it is still representative of the current view held by much of traditional Christianity. Most religions, especially creedal Christianity, believe and express the idea that “there was nothing fortunate about the fall of man. It was a total tragedy for God and man.” [2]

Latter-day Saints embrace the doctrine of the Fall as taught by latter-day prophets as a restoration of one of the “plain and precious” (1 Nephi 13:28) principles that had been lost to mankind through apostasy. Latter-day prophets acknowledge that “Adam’s fall was a step downward,” but teach that “it was also a step forward . . . in the eternal march of human progress.” [3] Latter-day leaders have also taught that mankind “should rejoice with [Adam and Eve], that through their fall and the atonement of Jesus Christ, the way of eternal life has been opened up to us.” [4] Instead of disdainfully looking at the Fall as a tragedy, Latter-day Saints believe Adam and Eve’s eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17) to be one of the most theologically significant and fortunate events in human history. While many condemn Adam and Eve for what they believe was their sin in the Garden of Eden and for the depravity of man that followed, Latter-day Saints reverence the choice made in Eden. Elder James E. Talmage stated, “It has become a common practice with mankind to heap reproaches upon the progenitors of the family, and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude for their legacy to posterity—the means of winning title to glory, exaltation, and eternal lives.” [5]

The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi recorded, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Lehi also taught, “If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen” (2 Nephi 2:22), and he and Eve “would have had no children . . . [and] no joy, for they knew no misery” (2 Nephi 2:23). Latter-day scripture also contains the testimonies of Adam and Eve concerning their fall from innocence. Adam recorded, “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” (Moses 5:10). Eve also testified, “Were it not for our transgression we should never 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 the obedient” (Moses 5:11).


While much of traditional Christianity views the Fall of Adam and Eve as a necessary evil at best or an avoidable abomination at worst, there is evidence that some of the early Christian fathers, select members of the Christian clergy, and several ancient and modern scholars have embraced views more consistent with Latter-day Saint theology. St. Ambrose (AD 337–97), one of the most influential leaders of the early Catholic Church, wrote that the Fall of Adam and Eve “has brought more benefit to us than harm” and that “sin is more fruitful than innocence.” [6] Pope Gregory the Great (AD 540–604) stated, “And certainly, unless Adam had sinned, it would not have behooved our Redeemer to take on our flesh. Almighty God saw beforehand that from that evil because of which men were to die, He would bring about a good which would overcome evil.” [7]

The idea of a fortunate fall is also expressed in a portion of Catholic Liturgy called the “Exultet,” whose authorship is often attributed to St. Ambrose, and continues today in connection with the tradition of lighting of the paschal candle during the celebration of Easter. [8] The part of the Exultet that refers to the Fall reads as follows: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” [9] One of the Latin phrases of interest in the Exultet is “felix-culpa,” which literally means “blessed fault,” “happy fault,” or “fortunate fall.” It is also significant to note that St. Ambrose’s description of the Fall included both the words happy and necessary. This liturgical passage was deemed to be so controversial in some circles that it was reported by one Catholic monk that his abbot (the leader of his monastery) “had [the phrase] removed from books at the abbey.” [10]

Thomas Aquinas, the noted thirteenth-century Catholic philosopher and theologian, also referred to the doctrine of the fortunate fall in his Summa Theologica as follows: “For God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom; hence it is written (Rom. 5:20): ‘Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.’ Hence, too, in the blessing of the Paschal candle, we say: ‘O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!’” [11]

While acknowledging the idea that good can come from evil, Thomas Aquinas omitted the words “O necessary sin of Adam” that are traditionally a part of the liturgy. He may have been editing the Exultet to be more consistent with traditional Catholic theology and to correct those who were teaching the doctrine that the Fall was essential to God’s plan for the salvation of man. [12] John Wycliffe (AD 1320–84), one of the earliest of the great reformers, said the following as part of a Christmas Day sermon sometime in the 1380s: “And so, as many men say, all things come about for the best; for all [things] come forth from God’s ordinance, and so they come forth from God himself; and so all things that come about happen for the best whatever that thing may be. Moreover regarding another interpretation men say, that this world was made better by everything that happens therein, whether it be good or evil and thus says Gregory [the Great], that it was a fortunate sin that Adam sinned and his descendents, therefore as a result of this the world is made better; but the foundation of this goodness exists in the grace of Jesus Christ.” [13]

In the seventeenth century, St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), bishop of Geneva, wrote the following: “’O sin of Adam, truly necessary’ [notice he is quoting from the Exultet] . . . our loss has been our gain, since human nature has received more gifts of grace (plus de graes) from its redemption by its Savior than it would ever have received from the innocence of Adam, if he had preserved it.” [14]

Teachings concerning the fortunate fall are not limited to the clerics and theologians of the past. Notre Dame professor of philosophy Alvin Plantinga recently wrote, “A necessary condition of Atonement is sin and evil. But all the highly eligible worlds contain atonement; hence all the eligible worlds contain sin and evil, and the suffering consequent upon them. You can’t have a world whose value exceeds [a given value] without sin and evil; sin and evil is a necessary condition of the value of every really good possible world. O Felix Culpa indeed!” [15]

Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor recently stated, “Some lovers of this story [of the Fall] say that Adam and Eve were destined to do what they did—not because of original sin but because of God. God knew that they had to eat the fruit. It was the only way for them to wake up, so that they could make real choices from then on.” [16]

Space constraints limit an exhaustive review of the teachings of those who have taught the doctrine of the fortunate fall, but it is clear that in addition to the doctrine of the fortunate fall being an integral part of Latter-day Saint theology, the teaching can also be clearly identified in both ancient and modern writings of those not of the Latter-day Saint faith. In addition to the sampling of theological writings we have briefly reviewed, the idea of the fortunate fall is found in such diverse places as the literary writings of John Milton (Paradise Lost), [17] the teachings of mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, [18] and the music of the band The Felix Culpa. [19]

Sin and Transgression

One major distinction between Latter-day Saint theology and the teachings of other faiths, even those which believe the Fall was necessary, is the Latter-day Saint belief that Adam and Eve did not sin in the Garden of Eden. While it acknowledges that scriptural texts often use the words “sin” and “transgression” synonymously, Latter-day Saint theology teaches that these terms can also have significantly separate meanings. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained,

This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall. [20]

By way of personal illustration, I vividly remember driving my wife to the hospital for the birth of our last-born son, Adam. It was late at night, Kaye was in labor, and the traffic light we were approaching had turned from yellow to red. After observing that ours was the only car in blocks, I didn’t even hesitate to drive through the red light and several others that followed. We made it to the hospital in time for Adam’s safe delivery. I readily acknowledge I transgressed the law of the land, but in my judgment I was not guilty of sin, for I had chosen what was right over what had been legislated as legal. Did Adam and Eve transgress the law God had given them? Yes. Did Adam and Eve sin? No. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “In a general sense and in most instances the terms sin and transgression are synonymous, although the use of the term transgression lays emphasis on the violation of the law or rule involved whereas the term sin points up the wilful nature of the disobedience. There are situations, however, in which it is possible to transgress a law without committing a sin, as in the case of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.” [21]

According to the definition of sin given in the Epistle of James—“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17)—the case can be made that it would have been a sin for Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because Latter-day Saints believe that the Fall of Adam and Eve was foreordained and an essential part of God’s plan for the salvation of his children, not partaking of the fruit would have been a failure to “do good,” even the greater good. Elder John A. Widtsoe taught, “In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others—the greater law—rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves—the lesser law. The greater must be balanced against the lesser. The greater must be chosen whether it be law or thing. That was the choice made in Eden.” [22]

The Nature of Man

During a discussion in which Joseph Smith commented on two Protestant religions’ contrasting positions on a particular doctrine, the Prophet taught, “They are both wrong, truth takes a road between them both.” [23] The Prophet’s words are also an apt description of the contrast between Latter-day Saint beliefs concerning the nature of man and those of other faiths. Latter-day Saint theology takes a road between the other teachings. While they agree with parts of some theological and philosophical teachings concerning the nature of man, Latter-day Saints do not accept such beliefs as original sin or human depravity. Neither does Latter-day Saint theology include the belief that a man is born good or that an infant is “tabula rasa” (a blank slate) at birth. It is noteworthy that such terms are not generally a part of Latter-day Saint vocabulary. Elder Parley P. Pratt explained, “As to ‘Calvinism,’ ‘Arminianism,’ ‘Trinitarianism,’ ‘Unitarianism,’ ‘Total-Depravity,’ and a thousand other such-like terms, which have confused, distracted, and divided the religious world, we know of no such terms in the Bible, and therefore have nothing to do with them.” [24]

The intent of this chapter is to discuss such terms as a means of helping Latter-day Saints and those of other faiths to better understand similarities and differences between Latter-day Saint theology and these doctrines.

Original Sin

St. Augustine (AD 354–430), the bishop of Hippo, added the idea of “original sin” (originale peccatum) to the doctrine of the Fall as taught in Genesis and by the early Christian Fathers. [25] Augustine’s doctrine of “original sin” does not simply refer to Adam and Eve eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17), but also suggests that the consequences of their sin, guilt, and depravity were imputed to their posterity. John MacArthur, president of the Master’s College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College) and pastor, explains,

Adam passed to all his descendants the inherent sinful nature he possessed because of his first disobedience. That nature is present from the moment of conception (Ps 51:5), making it impossible for man to live in a way that pleases God. Satan, the father of sin (1 John 3:8), first brought temptation to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1–7) through one man. When Adam sinned, all mankind sinned in his loins (v. 18; cf. Heb 7:7–10). Since his sin transformed his inner nature and brought spiritual death and depravity, that sinful nature would be passed on seminally to his posterity as well (Psalm 51:5). [26]

The doctrine of original sin that Augustine espoused anciently, and that has been embraced by much of the traditional Christian community today (especially by Protestantism), did not gain acceptance until the later part of the fourth century and early part of the fifth. Ironically, the Roman Catholic Church, in which Augustine was a bishop, has never totally accepted Augustine’s formulation of human depravity. Christian historian Philip Schaff (1819–93) wrote, “The Roman Catholic Church, while retaining the greatest reverence for St. Augustin[e] . . . never sanctioned his views on total depravity and unconditional predestination.” [27]

St. Augustine’s motive for creating the doctrine of original sin can be explained in part by his own personal struggle to understand and explain the moral battle that he had experienced and was experiencing within his own soul. Augustine recorded, “It was not I, therefore, who caused it, but the sin dwells in me, and being a son of Adam, I was suffering for his sin which was more freely committed.” [28] Augustine wrote that in his early days, “the madness of lust . . . took the rule over me.” [29] In his classic work Confessions, Augustine also admitted to having multiple mistresses before his conversion to Christianity. [30] He is also reported to have said (before his conversion), “Give me chastity and continency, only not yet.” [31] It appears that his particular troubles with temptation continued with him throughout his life. After his conversion to Christianity and during the early days of his ministry, Augustine believed that he and all men possessed freedom of will to overcome temptation and sin, even producing a book entitled On Free Choice of the Will. [32] Augustine later reconsidered his teachings on free will and came to believe that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, he and all mankind were irreparably damaged and did not have free will unless predestined by God. Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, offered the following explanation of Augustine’s reconsiderations: “Given the intense inner conflicts involving his passionate nature and the struggle to control sexual impulses he reveals in his Confessions, Augustine’s decision to abandon his predecessors’ [and his own] emphasis on free will need not surprise us.” [33] Professor Pagels also argues that, in addition to Augustine’s personal battle with temptation and sin, he also had political and ecclesiastical motives for formulating his arguments for original sin and the depravity of man. Pagels’s arguments also explain the widespread acceptance of much of Augustine’s ideas by the early Roman Catholic Church and the Roman government of the day. Professor Pagels states, “By insisting that humanity, ravaged by sin, now lies helplessly in need of outside intervention, Augustine’s theory could not only validate secular power but justify the imposition of church authority—by force, if necessary—as essential for human salvation.” [34]

Augustine’s doctrinal formulations on the depravity of man and his opposition to free will were also written in response to the arguments in favor of free will and the innocence of man articulated by the British monk Pelagius (ca. AD 354–420). Believing the writings of Pelagius to be heretical and extreme, Augustine’s reconsideration of his position on free will may also have been an exaggerated attempt to correct what he perceived as false doctrine. Noted Christian writer and Cambridge University professor C. S. Lewis described how one extreme view often fosters another: “He (the devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.” [35]

While it has some similarities to both Augustine’s and Pelagius’s teachings on the Fall, Latter-day Saint theology is distinct from them both. Latter-day Saint doctrine includes the teaching that the Fall of Adam and Eve brought spiritual and physical death to mankind but excludes the Augustinian doctrines of “original sin” and “the depravity of man.” Elder M. Russell Ballard explained: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discounts the notion of Original Sin and its ascribed negative impact on humanity. Indeed, we honor and respect Adam and Eve for their wisdom and foresight. Their lives in the Garden of Eden were blissful and pleasant; choosing to leave that behind so they and the entire human family could experience both the triumphs and travails of mortality must not have been easy. But we believe that they did choose mortality, and in so doing made it possible for all of us to participate in Heavenly Father’s great, eternal plan.” [36]

While it does not accept the doctrine of original sin, Latter-day Saint theology does accept that the Fall brought significant consequences to Adam and Eve and to their posterity. In the Pearl of Great Price we read the words of the ancient prophet Enoch: “Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe” (Moses 6:48). Because of their transgression, Adam and Eve were “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Helaman 14:16), both physically and spiritually (see also Alma 42:9). Not only did Adam and Eve experience these consequences personally, but their actions brought about consequences for their posterity and the very earth upon which they dwelt. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit they brought mortality not only upon themselves, but upon the whole earth and every living thing upon it, in the air, the waters, or on the face of the land. Even the earth itself partook of the seeds of death. Since that day all living things, including the earth itself, have partaken of mortal existence.” [37] In addition to bringing physical and spiritual death to all mankind, the Fall also brought the inevitability and reality of sin to the accountable posterity of Adam and Eve (see Moses 6:55).

The Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Fall is vitally connected with the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Like most Christians, Latter-day Saints accept the words of the Apostle Paul: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Paul’s teachings are similar to those of the Book of Mormon prophet 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” (Mormon 9:12). Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit and their subsequent fall did much more than, in the words of Pelagius and his followers, “set a bad example” for their posterity. [38] President Ezra Taft Benson explained the importance of understanding the consequences of the Fall of Adam and Eve in connection with the need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ when he stated, “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.” [39]

Latter-day Saints believe that the consequences of the Fall of Adam and Eve affect all mankind, all living things, and even the very earth on which we dwell. Such consequences can be fully addressed only through the infinite Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fallen and Innocent

Latter-day Saints believe that even though children are born into the world in a fallen condition, subject to spiritual and physical death, they are neither sinful in nature nor morally depraved. Even though children are born into a fallen state, they are innocent in nature because of the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. To embrace the doctrines of original sin and human depravity is to deny the infinite nature of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. The Savior taught, “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (D&C 93:38, see also Mosiah 3:16). Professor Robert J. Matthews stated that the doctrine of original sin “seems to stem from an awareness of the effects of the Fall without complete awareness of the results of the Atonement. This concept is a false doctrine, because it recognizes the Fall and the consequent death and sin but fails to acknowledge the work of the Savior in redeeming mankind from the Fall. The doctrine of original sin would be partly true if there had been no atonement wrought by Jesus Christ.” [40]

Just as Latter-day Saint doctrine is both similar to and different from the teachings of those who have embraced the Augustinian tradition concerning the nature of man, the same is true about the beliefs and teachings of those who espouse Pelagian beliefs. Unlike Augustine’s beliefs in original sin and the depravity of man, Pelagius believed that man was born innocent and that he was responsible for his own sins. [41] While the Pelagian doctrine of innocence is somewhat similar to Latter-day Saint doctrine, there are also major differences. Pelagius taught that mankind is largely unaffected by the fall of Adam and Eve and comes into the world in a state of natural innocence. Latter-day Saint theology states that children are born into the world in a fallen condition, directly experiencing the consequences of Adam’s transgression, but become innocent because they are redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As stated earlier, because God has “redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (D&C 93:38). Pelagius and his followers did not adequately acknowledge the significance of the scriptural doctrines of the Fall or the Atonement of Christ and their direct effects on the nature of man. Latter-day Saint theology fully acknowledges and embraces them both.

Pelagius and his followers also taught other doctrines that are not consistent with LDS theology. Because he was accused of heresy by Augustine and others, Pelagius and his followers were asked on several occasions to formally respond to these charges before church councils. The following is a summary of seven doctrinal teachings of Pelagius that were considered heretical. Pelagius and his followers taught, “Adam was made mortal, and would have died, whether he sinned or did not sin; that the sin of Adam injured himself alone, not the human race; that new-born children are in that state in which Adam was before his sin; that the whole human race does not, on the one hand, die on account of the death or the fall of Adam, nor, on the other, rise again on account of the resurrection of Christ; that infants, even though not baptized, have eternal life; that the law leads to the kingdom of heaven in the same way as the gospel; and that, even before the Lord’s coming, there had been men without sin.” [42]

Of these seven doctrinal statements of Pelagian theology, Latter-day Saints would agree with one—that infants who die will have eternal life (see Moroni 8:8–10). While they agree with Pelagius’s belief that there is no need for infant baptism and with some of his teachings on free will and personal responsibility for sin, Latter-day Saints are not Latter-day Pelagians, as some have suggested. [43] Semi-Pelagianism and Semi-Augustinianism are more accurate descriptions of Latter-day Saint theology, but Latter-day Saint beliefs also differ significantly from Augustinianism and Pelagian teachings.

Understanding the theological assumptions underlying the practice of infant baptism helps differentiate between the beliefs of Latter-day Saints and other Christian denominations. The Book of Mormon prophet Mormon (approximately AD 311–85) included the Savior’s words about the nature of children and infant baptism in the Book of Mormon: “Little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them” (Moroni 8:8). The “curse of Adam” that has been “taken from them” includes more than spiritual and physical death. Because of the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, children are not subject to the temptations of the devil until they reach the age of accountability. Latter-day scripture teaches, “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me” (D&C 29:46–47). The Lord revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith “that children are not accountable before me [God] until they are eight years old” (JST, Genesis 17:11). This revelation shows that children do not need to be baptized until they arrive at the age of accountability (see D&C 68:25–27).

St. Augustine taught, “It remains for us, even if we are as yet unable to understand, at least to believe that infants inherit original sin.” [44] Fabius Fulgentius (AD 463–533), bishop of Ruspe, expressed his ideas with great certitude as he defined what he believed to be the consequences of original sin in the lives of nascent and newborn infants, as well as in young children. Bishop Fulgentius stated, “Little children, whether they begin to live in their mother’s womb and there die or whether they pass on from this world after they are born, without the sacrament of holy baptism . . . are to be punished with everlasting torment of eternal fire. Because, even though they had no sin of their doing, they nevertheless drew damnation by their carnal conception and birth.” [45]

The prophet Mormon, writing in the same century and in what could have been only a few years before the time of Augustine and Fulgentius, taught a very different doctrine. Mormon stated, “He that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption. . . . For behold that all little children are alive in Christ” (Moroni 8:20, 22). Latter-day scripture also teaches that “the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world” (Moses 6:54).

“The Natural Goodness of Man”

Although Latter-day Saints reject the depravity of man and proclaim the innocence of children (see D&C 93:38), their beliefs also differ from the ideas expressed by Pelagius and humanists such as the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) concerning “the natural goodness of man.” [46] The Lord explained to the early Latter-day Saints that while children are born innocent because of the Atonement of Christ, this innocence is soon lost “through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers” (D&C 93:39). The Lord taught Adam, “Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin [born into a fallen world], even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55; see also Romans 5:12 and Psalm 51:5). A child soon passes through infancy into childhood and begins to make individual choices, some of which are good and some of which are evil. And as “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), children experience the effects not only of the Fall of Adam and Eve but also of their own personal falls, and soon become, to a greater or lesser degree, natural men—“carnal, sensual, and devilish” (Moses 6:49; see also Mosiah 16:3; Alma 42:10; Moses 5:13). All children who become accountable for their own sins are in vital need of spiritual rebirth made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. From the Book of Mormon, we read the words of King Benjamin: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

Tabula Rasa

The Latter-day Saint doctrine of the innocence of children at birth is sometimes confused with the “tabula rasa” philosophy of English philosopher and physician John Locke (1632–1704). Locke argued that a child’s mind was like a “white paper void of all characters.” [47] His description has since come to be known by the terms “blank slate” and “tabula rasa.” Locke believed that a person’s mind and life were solely the product of their experiences and that “sense experience is the only source of ideas.” [48] Locke’s emphasis on experience, evidence, and sensory perception was a major factor in the development of the philosophy of empiricism, which has become the cornerstone of modern science. While some argue that Locke “rejected the tenets of the Christian faith,” [49] his writings reveal a man of deep faith who was criticized because he did not accept some of what was being taught by the Christian churches of his day. [50] One of the doctrinal teachings Locke did not accept was the assertion made by many of the Christian theologians and clerics of his time that children were born with an evil nature. Locke spoke out specifically against the doctrine of original sin: “If by death threatened to Adam, were meant the corruption of human nature in his posterity, ‘tis strange that the New Testament should not any where take notice of it, and tell us, that corruption seized on all because of Adam’s transgression, as well as it tells us so of death. But as I remember, every one’s sin is charged upon himself only.” [51]

Locke’s beliefs are consistent with the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” The major difference between Locke’s philosophy of tabula rasa and Latter-day Saint theology is found in the words of the prophet Lehi, who says that because of the Atonement of Christ mankind has “become free forever . . . to act for themselves and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26). Man is not a passive object acted on by his internal senses or external environment but is an active agent, free to participate with God in overcoming the world and in deciding his temporal and eternal destiny.

The Doctrine of Moral Agency

One of the key differences between Latter-day Saint theology and the conflicting teachings of Locke, Rousseau, Pelagius, Augustine, and a host of others centers on the relationship between the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the moral agency of man. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught: “And to bring about his [God’s] eternal purposes in the end of man . . . it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (2 Nephi 2:15–16).

The circumstances created by God in the Garden of Eden provided the opportunity and the means by which Adam and Eve first learned to exercise their moral agency. In the Book of Moses, we read, “The Lord said unto Enoch . . . in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency” (Moses 7:32). The two separate trees that had been placed in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:9) and the two opposing commandments that had been given to Adam and Eve (see Genesis 1:28; 2:17) gave them the opportunity of exercising their God-given gift of agency. President Brigham Young taught, “There is not, has not been, and never can be any method, scheme, or plan devised by any being in this world for intelligence to exist eternally and obtain an exaltation, without knowing the good and the evil-without tasting the bitter and the sweet. Can the people understand that it is actually necessary for opposite principles to be placed before them, or this state of being would be no probation, and we should have no opportunity for exercising the agency given us?” [52]

As mentioned, even though the Fall was a fall forward, it was also a fall downward, and Adam and Eve were in need of redemption. After partaking of the fruit and being cast out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were no longer in the presence of God and were subject to death and hell. The Lord said, “As thou has fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many will” (Moses 5:9). The prophet Lehi explained, “And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given” (2 Nephi 2:26).

Lehi also taught that Adam, Eve, and all mankind “are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great Mediator of all men or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). Similar teachings are found scattered throughout the teachings of the early Christian fathers. Gregory of Nyssa (approximately 335–94) taught the following concerning human agency: “Preeminent among all is the fact that we are free from any necessity, and not in bondage to any power, but have decision in our own power as we please; for virtue is a voluntary thing, subject to no dominion.” [53] Pelagius wrote, “We have implanted in us by God a possibility for acting in both directions. . . . Nothing good, and nothing evil, on account of which we are deemed either laudable or blameworthy, is born with us, but is done by us: for we are born not fully developed, but with a capacity for either conduct; we are formed naturally without either virtue or vice; and previous to the action of our own proper will, the only thing in man is what God has formed in him.” [54]

Augustine acknowledged that while many of his peers were teaching that “free will is the cause of our doing evil,” he “could not grasp this [doctrine] clearly.” [55] Augustine and those who followed in the Augustinian tradition went on to formulate and espouse the doctrine of the depravity of man, which first contradicted and then became the doctrine embraced by much of traditional Christianity. While the Roman Catholic Church never fully embraced Augustine’s extreme views, they were accepted and championed by many of those involved in the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther (AD 1483–1546), one of the greatest of the Protestant reformers and a former Catholic priest, taught, “One must concede that the will is not free to strive toward whatever is declared good.” [56] John Calvin (AD 1509–64) taught the following concerning mankind’s absence of free will:

The Scripture testifies often that man is a slave of sin. The Scripture means thereby that man’s spirit is so alienated from the justice of God that man conceives, covets, and undertakes nothing that is not evil, perverse, iniquitous, and soiled. Because the heart, totally imbued with the poison of sin, can emit nothing but the fruits of sin. Yet one must not infer therefrom that man sins as constrained by violent necessity. For, man sins with the consent of a very prompt and inclined will. But because man, by the corruption of his affections, very strongly keeps hating the whole righteousness of God and, on the other hand, is fervent in all kinds of evil, it is said that he has not the free power of choosing between good and evil—which is called free will. [57]

The theological argument over free will began with the debate between Augustine and Pelagius and then continued in classic dialogues between such pairs as Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus, John Calvin and Jacob Arminius, and George Whitefield and John Wesley. [58] This same debate continues today between theologians, philosophers, and pastors such as Alvin Plantinga, John Piper, Clark Pinnock, John MacArthur, Gregory Boyd, R. C. Sproul, and Roger Olson.

How is it, one might ask, if we are not capable of doing anything for ourselves towards gaining salvation, “why are some men saved, and others are not?” Pastor Erwin Lutzer explains that “God has predestined some men to eternal life. God gives to these both the desire and the ability to believe on Christ; they do so because of God’s choice—not their own. As for those who are not saved, they are predestined to damnation.” [59] Other Christian scholars have differing perspectives—views more compatible with Latter-day Saint theology. One such example is found in the writings of C. S. Lewis, who taught, “God created things that had free will. That means that creatures can go either wrong or right. . . . Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” [60] The following statement from Pelagius concerning the relationship between free will and the Fall of Adam and Eve also is remarkably similar to Latter-day Saint theology:

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge they were exercising their freedom of choice; and as a consequence of the choice they made, they were no longer able to live in the Garden of Eden. . . . Before eating the fruit they did not know the difference between good and evil; thus they did not possess the knowledge which enables human beings to exercise freedom of choice. By eating the fruit they acquired this knowledge, and from that moment onwards they were free. Thus the story of their banishment from Eden is in truth the story of how the human race gained its freedom: by eating fruit from the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve became mature human beings, responsible to God for their actions. [61]

Conflicting Commandments

Some believe that the circumstances presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were a part of the divine method used by God to introduce the doctrine of moral agency to mankind. And, as has been outlined in this paper, some believe Adam and Eve succeeded and others believe they failed. Two of the commandments Adam and Eve were given in the Garden of Eden were to (1) “be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28) and (2) not to eat “of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). It is not difficult to understand why many who accept the account of Adam and Eve as recorded in the Bible as the word of God believe Adam and Eve rebelled against God when they partook of the forbidden fruit. The biblical account reads that Eve “did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). Latter-day Saint scripture and teachings, while they do not provide all of the answers to the hows and whys of the story of Eden, do reveal additional information lost from the biblical record. The prophet Lehi taught that “if Adam and Eve had not transgressed, . . . . they would have had no children” (2 Nephi 2:22–23). Lehi’s words reveal a paradox in Latter-day Saint theology—Adam and Eve could not obey the Lord’s first command to multiply and replenish the earth without transgressing the second, to not eat of the fruit of the tree. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained, “Adam and Eve . . . did the very thing that the Lord intended them to do. If we had the original record, we would see the purpose of the fall clearly stated and its necessity explained.” [62] President Smith continued by quoting from the Book of Moses:

“And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, 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” (Moses 3:16–17).

President Smith then explained, “It is that the Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain as he was in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so. So really it was not in the true sense a transgression of a divine commandment. Adam made the wise decision, in fact the only decision that he could make.” [63]

While there are no official statements of Latter-day Saint theology that explain all the reasons why God gave what appear to be “conflicting commandments,” Elder McConkie taught:

Thus we see why the Lord gave two conflicting commandments—one to become mortal and have children, the other to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil out of which mortality and children and death would result. The issue is one of choosing between opposites. Adam must choose to become mortal so he could have children, on the one hand; on the other hand, he must choose to remain forever in the garden in a state of innocence. He chose to partake of the forbidden fruit so that the purposes of God might be accomplished by providing a probationary estate for his spirit children. Adam must needs fall so that he would know good from evil, virtue from vice, righteousness from wickedness. He could not have done this without breaking a law and becoming subject to sin. He chose the Lord’s way; there was no other way whereby salvation might come unto the children of men. [64]

Latter-day Saints believe that the battle over the doctrine of agency began in the premortal world with Satan’s rebellion and subsequent “fall from heaven unto the earth” (Revelation 9:1). From the Book of Moses, we read that Satan’s rebellion against God centered on the agency of man: “Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:3–4; see also 2 Nephi 2:17 and Revelation 12:7).

The Grace of God and the Agency of Man

Because latter-day scripture and the words of prophet and leaders emphasize the importance of mankind being “anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do[ing] many things of their own free will, and bring[ing] to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27), Latter-day Saints are often accused of compromising the grace of God and exalting the works of man. While some statements by Church members and even some statements that are found in Latter-day Saint scripture could be interpreted legalistically, such interpretations are not the official doctrine of the Church. The words of latter-day prophets and the scriptures of the Restoration teach a different doctrine. The ancient prophet Nephi recorded, “For we labor diligently . . . to persuade our children . . . to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added). The prophet Moroni stated, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32). Latter-day Saints believe in an inspired relationship between the grace of God and works of man. The Prophet Joseph Smith described this relationship in the third article of faith when he taught, “We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Adam and Eve Teaching their Children(Del Parson, detail from Adam and Eve teaching their Children, © 1978 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

"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 Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters" (Moses 5:10-12).

Erasmus made the following statement concerning the relationship between the agency of man and the grace of God: “I approve of those who ascribe something to free-will, but rely most upon grace.” [65] This is surprisingly consistent with Latter-day Saint theology. Like some present day Christians who are critical of Latter-day Saint theology because it includes good works, Martin Luther rebuked Erasmus for his attempt to clarify and reconcile the controversy over the relationship of grace and works:

I do not accept or tolerate that middle way which Erasmus (I think with good intentions) recommends to me, namely, to allow a very little to “free-will,” so that the contradictions of Scripture and the aforementioned inconveniences may be more easily removed. The case is not bettered by this middle way, nor is anything gained. For, unless you attribute all and everything to “free-will,” in the way the Pelagians do, the contradictions in the Scripture still remain, merit and reward are done away also, and the inconveniences which we intend to avoid by allowing to “free-will” this tiny, ineffective power continue with us; as I explained above. So we have to go to extremes, deny “free-will” altogether, and ascribe everything to God! [66]

The Problem of Evil

The prophet Lehi taught his son Jacob, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11). While being sensitive to covenantal responsibility to “mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those who stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9), Latter-day Saints understand that God allows opposition and evil as an instrumental part of accomplishing his divine purposes. With some similarities with the teachings of Irenaeus, the second-century bishop of Lyons, and modern philosophers such as John Hick, Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided a brief summary of the Latter-day Saint perspective on why God allows human tragedy and suffering:

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. [67]

Elder Whitney’s words reflect the words of the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he pleaded with the Lord to help him understand the purposes of the severe afflictions of his people. The Lord’s response to Joseph Smith’s questions includes the following counsel: “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:7–8; emphasis added).

Modern scholars have used the phrase “soul-making” to describe how God allows evil and consecrates suffering to help transform mankind from God’s image to his likeness (see Genesis 1:26). [68] The writings of the Apostle Paul to the Romans describe this theodicy, wherein he recorded that mankind may become “heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17; emphasis added, see also Hebrews 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:16–17). [69] In addition to allowing suffering, Elder John A. Widtsoe explains the relationship between human agency and why God allows evil to exist:

Now, under God’s plan, the core of the meaning of human activity is that man, while winning his body, shall progress by overcoming surrounding conditions. He must learn to be master of every improper impulse. His right of choice remains with him; and as he chooses truth he rises toward his ultimate divine destiny. To accomplish this, our Father in heaven makes use of the evil designs of the devil. God allows His fallen son to tempt the children of men, so that they may more deliberately choose between good and evil. The Lord could banish Satan and his angels from earth, and remove temptation from men, but in His wisdom He permits His wayward bodiless children to come upon earth. Thus, despite their intentions, the followers of Satan are so used as to help accomplish the divine purpose. Whether understood by the evil one or not, in his efforts among mankind he is made an instrument to secure the very plan that he opposed in the Great Council. [70]

In addition to sharing similar beliefs with other faith traditions with respect to the problem of evil, Latter-day Saint theology also contains teachings that are distinctive. It is the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that each person that has been born into mortality lived before his or her birth in a state of premortality. Each person born into mortality is literally a son or daughter of God. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “We lived in the presence of God, our Eternal Father, prior to our mortal birth. . . . God the Father announced the plan [of salvation]. It provided that we, His spirit children, already endowed with agency, would each have the opportunity to receive a body of flesh and bone and would be made free to choose between good and evil—we would be tested.” [71]

Mortality and its attendant challenges, including the presence of evil, provide the means by which man can learn the lessons of life not available in the premortal existence and that are necessary for mankind to truly and eternally worship the Father and the Son. Like the mortal Jesus, “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

The progression from man’s creation in the premortal existence, to their fallen condition in mortality, and on to a postmortal existence in the presence of God provides the context for another distinct doctrine in Latter-day Saint theology: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” [72] Not only is this doctrine an accurate description of the mortal and postmortal life of Jesus Christ as he became as his father but it also reveals the potential found in the sons and daughters of God. A similar doctrine was taught by several of the early Christian fathers. St. Athanasius, the fourth-century bishop of Alexandria, taught, “God became man so that man might become God.” [73] The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” [74] Latter-day Saints believe that eternal life entails more than being with God; it also includes being like him. God will always be mankind’s Father and God, but the central reason for the Creation of this world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is to enable humankind to become like God.


The Fall of Adam and Eve was a blessed event in the development of humankind. And even though there are many questions about the Fall yet to be answered, we can be assured that all God does is designed “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). This paper has illustrated that Latter-day Saint theology includes many doctrinal teachings concerning the Fall of Adam and Eve that are unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that there are also many beliefs that are held in common with those of other faiths. Latter-day Saints share the understanding of many that we live in a fallen world that is in desperate need of redemption and that salvation can come only through the Lord Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 3:17; Acts 4:12). Latter-day Saints testify with all Christians that God “created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man” (Mormon 9:11).


[1] Jacob Boehme, Concerning the Three Principles of Divine Essence, trans. John Sparrow (London: J. M. Watkins, 1910), 1:369.

[2] William T. Bruner, Children of the Devil: A Fresh Investigation of the Fall of Man and Original Sin (New York: Philosophical Library, 1966), xv.

[3] Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, April 1908, 90; emphasis added.

[4] Franklin D. Richards and James A. Little, Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1898), 4.

[5] James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 41st ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1960), 70.

[6] St. Ambrose, in A. O. Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1948), 287–88.

[7] Gregory the Great, in Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas, 288–89.

[8] David L. Jeffrey, A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 274–75.

[9] Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 32.

[10] Thomas Forest Kelly, The Exultet of Southern Italy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 65.

[11] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, (Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press, 1925), 3674–75.

[12] Jeffrey, Dictionary of Biblical Tradition, 275.

[13] Select English Works of John Wyclif, ed. Thomas Arnold (Oxford: Claredon, 1896), sermon XC, I, 320–21. Thanks to BYU professor Miranda Wilcox (Notre Dame, 2006) for her translation of this document.

[14] St. Francis de Sales, in Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas, 294.

[15] Alvin Plantinga, “Supralapsarianism, or ‘O Felix Culpa,’” in Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil, ed. Peter Van Inwagen (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 12.

[16] Barbara Brown Taylor, Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation (Lanham, MD: Cowley Publications, 2000), 33.

[17] See John Milton, Paradise Lost, book 12, lines 585–87.

[18] G. W. Leibniz and A. M. Farrer, eds., Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil, trans. E. M. Huggard (Chicago: Open Court, 1998), 129, 378.

[19] See < style="color:windowtext; text-decoration:none"> .

[20] Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, November 1993, 72; emphasis added.

[21] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977), 804.

[22] John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1943), 194.

[23] The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, comp. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 330; emphasis added.

[24] Parley P. Pratt, “Editor’s Address to His Patrons,” Millennial Star, May 1840, 3.

[25] N. P. Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin: A Historical and Critical Study (London: Longmans, Green, 1927), 327–28.

[26] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), Romans 5:12.

[27] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 7:4, 432.

[28] The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner (New York: Signet, 2009), 168–69, book 7, chapter 3.

[29] E. B. Pusey, ed., The Confessions of St. Augustine (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), book 2, chapter 2.

[30] Pusey, Confessions of St. Augustine, book 6, chapter 15.

[31] Pusey, Confessions of St. Augustine, book 8, chapter 7.

[32] Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, trans. A. S. Benjamin and L. H. Hackstaff (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964).

[33] Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 99.

[34] Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, 125.

[35] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1984), 160.

[36] M. Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 86.

[37] Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), 5:7.

[38] Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:150, 806.

[39] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 83.

[40] Robert J. Matthews, “The Fall of Man,” in The Man Adam, ed. Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 56.

[41] Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:147, 793.

[42] Paulinas, in Philip Schaff, ed, Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, vol. 5 of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956), 1. Paulinas (ca. 354–431), the bishop of Nola, made these particular charges.

[43] Sterling M. McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1965), 67. Latter-day Saint theology is much more consistent with many of the principles of Semi-Pelagianism and Semi-Augustinianism.

[44] Augustine, in Schaff, vol. V., Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, 71.

[45] Fabius Fulgentius, De Fide sive de Regula Vera Fidei ad Petrum, Caput XXVII, seu Rex. XXIV, in W. T. Bruner, Children of the Devil: A Fresh Investigation of the Fall of Man and Original Sin (New York: Philosophical Library, 1966), 284.

[46] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2005), 334.

[47] John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), 104, book 2, chapter 1, line 15.

[48] P. Markie, “Rationalism vs. Empiricism,” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward D. Zalta (2004).

[49] P. P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 546.

[50] See John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1958).

[51] Locke, Reasonableness of Christianity, 27.

[52] Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 66.

[53] Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, vol. 5 of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series (New York: Christian Literature, 1893), 405.

[54] Pelagius, quoted by Augustine in The Works of Aurelius Augustine: Bishop of Hippo, ed. Marcus Dods (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1874), 19. Pelagius’s words are apparently from a book he wrote entitled In Defense of the Freedom of the Will, which exists only in these fragments quoted by Augustine.

[55] The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner, 127, book 7, chapter 3.

[56] Martin Luther, “Disputation against Scholastic Theology,” in Timothy F. Lull and William R. Russell, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 35.

[57] John Calvin, Instruction in Faith, trans. Paul T. Fuhrmann (Philadelphia:Westminster Press, [1537/1949]), 22.

[58] See Edwin R. Lutzer, The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998), 153–223.

[59] Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide, 158.

[60] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 37.

[61] Pelagius, in Robert Van de Weyer’s The Letters of Pelagius: Celtic Soul Friend (Worcestershire: Arthur James, 1995), 11.

[62] Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:80.

[63] Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:81.

[64] Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 91.

[65] Erasmus, in P. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 6:428.

[66] Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), 270.

[67] Elder Orson F. Whitney, in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 98.

[68] John Hick, Evil and the God of Love, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), 253–59.

[69] Richard Swinburne, Providence and the Problem of Evil (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

[70] Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 209.

[71] Boyd K. Packer, Our Father’s Plan (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984), 14, 16–17.

[72] Lorenzo Snow, Millennial Star, June 27, 1892, 404.

[73] Athanasius, in Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, From Death to Life: The Christian Journey (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 41.

[74] First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102.