BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Article Title

Believing Adoption


Samuel M. Brown


Mormon studies, adoption, theology, Restoration, adoption theology


Adoption theology is concerned with salvation and entry into the family of God. Early Latter-day Saint (Mormon) adoption theology taught by Joseph Smith came to include priesthood, baptism for the dead, temple rites, and more. The author concludes that this doctrine informs important questions, including: Are spirits born? What is the nature of salvation? What is the shape of the heaven family (the interlocking network of familial connections that will exist in the afterlife)? Adoption theology offers an alternative to the popular doctrine of spirit birth, one that is consistent with what Joseph Smith taught about the nature of God and our relationship to him. Adoption also offers a "road between" the complex Calvinist and Arminian views of the will and salvation. Finally, adoption theology highlights how Smith was attempting to teach his followers to practice a commitment and love that extended beyond the bounds of the nuclear family.