Joseph Fielding Smith wrote ( https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1998/01/in-the-beginning-a-latter-day-perspective?lang=eng):

In contrast to most readers of the Bible, we believe that Adam and Eve both should be commended for what they did to bring about the Fall.

The Genesis account clearly shows God commanding the man not to eat of the fruit of one particular tree and assigning consequences for disobedience to this singular command:

And 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: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. - Genesis 2:16-17

Later, when Adam and Eve are interrogated by God regarding their violation of God's command, God does not commend them in any way but rather pronounces curses:

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. - Genesis 3:16-19

There is no biblical passage which commends Adam and Eve for disobeying the command of God. In 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul indicates that Eve was deceived and Adam was not, thus placing responsibility for the Fall upon the man but there is no commendation in Paul's theology of the Fall. Additionally, there is no biblical passage which commends any disobedience of God anywhere, ever.

How can Joseph Fielding Smith's statement of commendation for Adam's disobedience be reconciled with the overwhelming testimony of the Bible pronouncing condemnation and not commendation for disobeying God?

  • 3
    The Church of Jesus Christ believe in additional scripture, such as the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, which is referenced in the article cited and also in modern prophets, one of which who is quoted.
    – depperm
    Sep 23, 2022 at 12:41
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    I'm not sure combining LDS & Biblical basis will lead to effective questions. It would be akin to asking Protestants to argue their views without using the epistles of Paul. Since the church accepts modern revelation to be as authoritative as ancient revelation, the church doesn't restrict its teachings to only a subset of what God has said. A careful study of the Gospels convinces me that there are things Jesus taught that were not preserved in the New Testament. Sep 23, 2022 at 20:04
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    @depperm I understand that LDS also claims that these additional scriptures and prophetic utterances do not contradict the biblical revelation but, rather, expand on it so there should be some biblical basis for commending Adam's disobedience, right? Sep 24, 2022 at 12:18
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    @MikeBorden I was only able to find a handful of LDS/Biblical basis questions on the site (tags aside, I looked at what the questions were actually asking); they all are essentially versions of this question. My answer to that question shares essentially the same thoughts I would offer to any LDS/Biblical basis question. I would be genuinely interested in reading a Protestant theology of grace derived only from the Gospels or a Catholic view on apostolic succession from only the OT. Sep 24, 2022 at 20:10
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    @HoldToTheRod That answer clearly shows that doctrines need not appear in all of the revelations and I understand that point. This question has more to do with contradiction as the Bible is not silent on Adam's disobedience, i.e. how can Joseph Smith's commendation of Adam's disobedience be reconciled with the Bible's condemnation of same. Sep 26, 2022 at 12:01

2 Answers 2


I believe there is a slight misinterpretation (missing the point) of Joseph Fielding Smith's quote

In contrast to most readers of the Bible, we believe that Adam and Eve both should be commended for what they did to bring about the Fall.

This comment does not end at ...commended for what they did (sin/transgress, which is condemned by God/bible), it continues on to explain exactly what they should be commended for exactly (bringing about the Fall, moving God's plan forward).

The Church of Jesus Christ believe (from 2 Nephi 2:15-16)

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, 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.

16 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.

Later on (2 Nephi 2:22-25) (see also Luke 23:34, 1 Tim 1:13, referencing accountability tied knowledge)

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 children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

So even though Adam transgressed1, it was part of God's plan (agency and future necessary atonement) and without the transgression progress for all of mankind would've been halted/frozen/stuck there in the Garden.

From FAIR (unofficial LDS apologist site)

LDS doctrine does not praise the decision to disobey. However, it acknowledges that God anticipated their disobedience, and that this eventual disobedience was part of God's plan. God had prepared the atonement of His Son to permit us the benefits which came from Adam and Eve's disobedience, without requiring that they or we suffer forever because of it. Because of the atonement and God's plan of happiness, LDS doctrine does not see the Fall as unalloyed tragedy.

All emphasis mine

1 Articles of Faith, by James E Talmage or this SE answer

  • I believe that God foreknew Adam's disobedience. Does LDS believe that God, by creating with this foreknowledge, actually desired it to occur? Oct 8, 2022 at 12:53
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    yes? in that he wanted us to have our agency. He also wants us to be obedient
    – depperm
    Oct 8, 2022 at 19:14
  • Exactly. He wanted Adam to obey. In fact, Adam was created to obey and God wanted him to choose obedience. Knowing Adam would not obey does not commend the choice since it is not what God wanted. Oct 9, 2022 at 16:47
  • @MikeBorden He wants all his children to come to earth, which did require Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree. This does not negate his desire for our obedience. He also commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, which could not be done while innocent in the garden
    – depperm
    Oct 9, 2022 at 18:49
  • If Adam had not sinned they couldn't have procreated and brought God's kids to earth? Oct 10, 2022 at 12:30

Orson Pratt answered your question back in June 1853.

"The Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." (Gen 3:22) God and the heavenly host had attained to the knowledge of good and evil, and therefore they were capable of enjoying happiness and judging righteously according to the principles of right and wrong, justice and mercy. Adam, by his transgression, had become like one of the Gods to know good and evil. Now can it be supposed, for a moment, that the Lord did not wish Adam to become like himself? Was He not desirous that he should learn how to distinguish between that which was good, and that which was evil? Or did He design that man should forever be deprived of that information which alone could give him joy? Was not the only Begotten Son willing, even before the world was made, to be sent forth in the meridian of time to suffer and die, in order to atone for a transgression which would place Adam in the same condition as the Gods in respect to good and evil? The Son did not consider death to be too great a sacrifice, in order that man might be raised from the very depths of ignorance and be placed on an equal footing with the Gods, as far as it regards good and evil and all their accompanying consequences.

  • Orson Pratt, "The Pre-Existence of Man" (June 1853)
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    – agarza
    Feb 15, 2023 at 14:08
  • @mzen This answer doesn't explain how Adam could transgress by doing what God ultimately wanted him to do. Adam could, in fact, discern that which was good and that which was evil through obeying God. What he chose to do was to decide for Himself. He did what God did not want him to do. He transgressed. He kicked God to the curb and died, killing us all. The Son didn't die to make us equal to God in knowledge. He died to return us to obedience. Feb 15, 2023 at 20:50
  • My answer gives the Biblical basis for commending Adam's decision. Genesis 3:22 shows God Himself commends Adam's decision. Partaking of the fruit made Adam as "one of [the Gods]." And since God wants us to become like Him (Matthew 5:48), Adam ultimately did what God wanted him to do.
    – mzen
    Feb 16, 2023 at 5:01

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