A Hitchhiker's Guide to Kolob
A Fictitious Discussion between a Mormon Missionary and a Catholic Layman
By Patrick Madrid
Now let me get this straight, Elder Kimball. Are you trying to tell me God the Father lives on a planet named Kolob somewhere out in space?"
"Well, yes, and no. Actually, he lives on a planet near a star called Kolob, but we don't know exactly where it is."
"How can you people possibly believe God lives on a planet near a star named Kolob?"
"Well, the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from God in which. . ."
"...How? Did God transport him to this Kolob so he could get a good look at it?"
"No. Joseph Smith received this revelation in the form of a divine record contained in an
ancient Egyptian papyri which he translated by the gift and power of God. The message is now known as The Book of Abraham."
"How can I get to Kolob?"
"You can't. God wouldn't permit it."
"Then how can I find out more about Kolob?"
"As I said, the bulk of the information is in The Book of Abraham." "Where could I get a copy?"
"It's in this copy of Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Abraham is part of the Pearl of Great Price and the section on Kolob begins in chapter 3."
El"Thanks der Kimball, I'll read it later, but for the moment I'd like you to tell me why you believe in a God who lives on a planet like we do."
"That's an excellent question. But let me ask you — do you believe Jesus is God?" "Of course I do."
"Fine. We also believe that. Now, do you believe that Jesus was God when he was here on
"Yes I do. So what?"
"Well, that means that a god lived on this planet for a while, doesn't it? And if Jesus lived on
this planet as a god, why is it so hard to believe that God the Father also lives on a planet?"
"Why did you just refer to Jesus as a god? As you know, we Catholics believe that Jesus is God, not a god. He is the second person of the Trinity."
"Yes, we understand that you've been taught that, but in reality Jesus is as much a separate god from God the Father as I am a person separate and distinct from you."
"Hold on there. I also believe Jesus is distinct from the Father (and from the Holy Spirit, for that matter), but he's not a separate god. There is only one God. The Bible tells us that in Isaiah 43:10-11 and 44:6-8, 'Before me no god was formed, nor after...I am the first and the last, besides me no other.'"
"Well, those verses just mean that there is no other god for us here on earth. God the Father was saying that we are only supposed to worship him."
"No. Those verses, and the many others I could cite, don't mean that — they mean just what they say — there is only one God, and he doesn't live on a planet near Kolob."
"But if we both agree that Jesus was God and lived on this planet, why couldn't God the Father live on another planet? What's so hard about that?"
"The problem is that you're separating Jesus and the Father into two gods and they're not.
When Jesus was incarnated he lived here on Earth as true God and true man but, at the same time, as God he was everywhere present in the universe — just as now. He and the Father aren't separate beings as far as the divine nature is concerned."
We believe they are. In fact, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from God saying the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's. That's in Doctrine and Covenants section 130, verse 22."
"But you see, I don't accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, and I don't recognize the Pearl of Great Price, or the Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants as revelations. So you quote those things to no effect."
"I testify to you that these things are true. I testify to you that the Savior lives, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church, and that. . ."
"...Hold on! Your testimony proves nothing. I have a testimony that God does not live on Kolob..."
"...on a planet near Kolob."
"Whatever. Anyway, I have a testimony contrary to yours. I testify to you that God is a pure
spirit who's not confined to a planet. I testify to you that the Catholic Church is the true Church and that the Pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth. Does my testimony convince you?"
"Does my testimony prove that I'm right?"
"Because you're sincere but wrong. The Holy Ghost has manifested the truth to us." "Why should I accept your testimony if you won't accept mine?"
"Well we've studied it out in our minds and prayed about it and we've received the witness of the Holy Ghost — the burning in the bosom."
"So have I, Elder Kimball."
"It can't be from the Holy Ghost."
"Because it disagrees with your testimony?"
"That's hardly objective. In fact, that's a pretty shoddy way to prove anything. You see we've both prayed and studied, and we've come up with contrary testimonies. One of us must be
wrong. The Holy Ghost won't testify to you that God the Father lives on Kolob and then testify to me that he doesn't."
"I agree. The Holy Ghost wouldn't contradict himself."
"So how can you be sure that you're not wrong and the Holy Ghost isn't giving Catholics the correct testimony?"
"We just know we're right. You can't explain this kind of a feeling. We also have continuing revelation from living prophets. Your church doesn't."
"Look. If God lives on a planet, that means he's limited. When he's there, he's not here. That means he has parts and is limited by time and space. And if that is true, he isn't God in the sense that Catholics use the word God."
"But Jesus said that he only did what he saw the Father do. That implies that since Jesus came down and lived here on Earth his Father must live on a planet like ours. That's where Kolob comes in. What's so unreasonable about that?"
"It's unreasonable because, if your logic is correct, that would mean the Father was born in a manger, was scourged at a pillar, was spat upon, was crowned with thorns, and was crucified. Do you really believe that?"
"...You can't have it both ways. If Jesus really meant what you say he meant, then you have a problem because you'd have to believe that God the Father also did those things."
"Then what do you say that those words mean?"
"Jesus meant that what he does (not in the strict physical sense as I just showed you), he sees the Father do — things like loving, judging, forgiving, healing, consoling, etc."
"Hmm. I'd never looked at it that way. I don't buy what you're saying but it's an interesting
"You see, we Catholics believe in an infinite God. If God isn't infinite — meaning unconfined by time and space — then he wouldn't really be God. He'd be more of a cosmic super-hero like Superman. We believe in a God who is infinitely perfect, not merely an exalted man. Doesn't that concept interest you just a little?"
“Well, it's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure I could believe it. It goes against what Joseph Smith and the rest of our prophets have revealed to us."
"What would it take to convince you God is an infinitely perfect God who transcends all limitations?"
"I don't know. The arguments would have to be pretty convincing. But then again, how can I argue with my burning in the bosom? I know that's true."
"Don't argue with it, just take some Rolaids, concentrate on the facts, and read Theology and
Sanity by Frank Sheed — here's a copy. Continue praying about it, and let's talk next week,
— Patrick Madrid is an author, host of the EWTN radio show "Open Line" (Thursdays at 3:00 p.m.
ET), and is the publisher of Envoy Magazine, a journal of Catholic thought. This article was
originally published in the January, 1990 edition of This Rock Magazine.
Main site: htto://www.patrickmadrid.com