In every religion, there are core doctrines that define belief and peripheral beliefs that are of secondary importance. For example, fundamentalist evangelical Christians believe every word of the Bible to be literally true. Consequently, they literally believe that God sent a she-bear to kill a group of little children because they made fun of the prophet Isaiah’s baldness (2 Kings 2:23-24). Additionally, they literally believe in a talking donkey, as described in Numbers 22:28-30. But how often do the stories of the she-bear and the talking donkey show up in the sermons of evangelical preachers? How much time each week do evangelical Christians think about she-bears and donkeys? Would it be fair to define Evangelical Christianity as the church that believes in vengeful she-bears and talking donkeys? Of course not. It is Christ that is central to Evangelical thought. Like Mormons, Evangelicals are, above all else, Christians, not she-bearists or donkeyists.
The Mormon concept of Kolob is just like the story of the she-bear or the story of the talking donkey. It is not among the core doctrines of the Mormon Church, which center on Jesus Christ and the restorationalist message. Mormons almost never think about Kolob, and I cannot remember ever hearing it mentioned in a sermon given from a Mormon pulpit.
With this understanding–that Kolob has almost no theological importance in Mormonism–allow me to explain further. In the Book of Abraham, part of the Mormon scriptural cannon, God explains the organization of the universe to the prophet Abraham. The account describes the astronomical object nearest to God’s throne (a star, perhaps?) using the name Kolob. Whether Kolob was simply the word Abraham used (indeed, the Semitic root QLB does mean heart, center, middle, in harmony with Kolob’s hypothetical central position in the universe), or whether it is the name God actually uses to describe the astronomical object nearest His thrown, we do not know. Some Mormons even doubt the literal existence of Kolob, suggesting it may simply symbolize Jesus Christ Himself.
Far more significant than the name of the star nearest God’s thrown is the fact that such a star could exist at all. Unlike most other Christians, Mormons believe in a corporal deity, a spirit being that chooses to dwell in a physical albeit glorified and immortal body. Most Mormons believe that God chooses to live within the bounds of the universe He has created. His thrown–like His person–is not a metaphoric or ethereal force. Both are physically real, not mysteriously transcendent.
As an interesting side note, the original creators of the sci-fi classic Battle Star Galactica were Mormons. They playfully borrowed from Mormon theology in creating the fictional world of their show. In both the original version of Battle Star Galactica, as well as the remake series currently airing on the Sci-Fi channel, the fictional religion of the twelve colonies centers on the worship of the Lords of Kobol.
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