In the teacher’s manual for “Preparing for Exaltation”, the Sunday school course for 12 and 13 year olds, towards the beginning of the lesson on the fall, this note is made to the teacher. “The decision of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was not a sin, as it is sometimes considered by other Christian churches. It was a transgression – an act that was formally prohibited but not inherently wrong.”
This quote illustrates something that many Mormons and non-Mormons don’t realize, namely, just how different the teachings of Mormonism are from Christianity in most aspects. It’s not just sometimes that Christian churches consider Adam and Eve’s fall a sin – I have never once heard it described as anything less! That is how it is always described.
And I have never heard anybody but a Mormon say that transgressions are not sins. That’s a pretty hard case to make in light of 1 John 3:4. “Whosever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” It is also difficult not to call Adam’s action a sin in light of Romans 5:18 -20 where it is quite obvious that offence and sin are synonymous. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
But what is more striking is how the focus of much of this lesson is on how Adam and Eve did something good at the fall – something that brought us joy. This lesson teaches that Adam and Eve had no joy before the fall. The fall brought them joy! This interpretation is based on 2 Nephi 2:22-25. Therefore, as this lesson states, “they wisely chose to eat the fruit.”
There are other aspects to Mormonism’s teaching on the fall that are found in no other church. For example, Mormonism stresses that Adam and Eve could not have children until they fell. Or how about this from their Bible Dictionary? “Before the fall, Adam and Eve had physical bodies but no blood.”
The main point that I am trying to make is that often Mormons assume that Christians believe similarly as they do on many Bible details and vice versa with Christians. If there is going to be any rue progress made when talking with each other, both Mormons and Christians alike need to realize how dramatically different each reads the Bible.
Adam and Eve’s fall did not bring me any joy. It only brought sin, death, pain, and condemnation. When they ate the fruit, they were not wise; they were rebellious. What they did was “not inherently wrong” it was terribly wrong. Thank God, as Paul stated in Romans, through the righteousness of Jesus we received the free gift of justification. My joy comes not from Adam and Eve’s fall, but from Jesus’ complete sacrifice for me.