If You Could Hie to Kolob
“If you could hie to Kolob In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever, Through all eternity,
Find out the generation Where Gods began to be?
Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, Where Gods and matter end?
Me thinks the Spirit whispers, “No man has found ‘pure space,’
Nor seen the outside curtains, Where nothing has a place.””
The above are the first two verses in the classic Mormon hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” written by early Mormon William Wines Phelps. For many people, this hymn seems very strange and unusual. What is Kolob? What is this about Gods beginning to be? Gods? What Gods? I thought Mormons were Christians who believe in only one God?
Let us start at the beginning, and according to Mormon theology/cosmology, the beginning is Kolob. Kolob is a star, where exactly it is located in the night sky is unknown. But this star of Kolob is a very special star, for it is the location of the first creation. One of the planets orbiting the star Kolob is the home planet of none other than God himself.
It is explained that on this planet orbiting Kolob, one day is the same as a thousand years of Earth time. Thus from this fact comes the statement in the Bible where it says that a day to the Lord is like a thousand years. A sort of scientific explanation to what was previously a spiritual statement.
The Exaltation of Man
So Kolob is the star around which orbits the home planet of God. But this raises further questions. Why does God have a home planet? Is he not God? Does his presence not fill the entire universe? Is that not the very definition of omnipresence?
In order to answer this question, we must explain that Mormons do not have the same ideas of God as normal Christians do. Most people assume that they do, but their conceptions of deity are in fact extremely different.
One of the most important differents (although by no means not the only) difference is this idea of the exaltation of Man. It is believed by Mormons that after the Resurrection (the Resurrection of all mankind, not just of Christ) all Mormons who have been baptized into the Mormon faith will receive new Resurrection Bodies that will make them the same as God. According to some Mormon thinkers, these resurrected Mormons will in fact go on to be Gods themselves, of their own worlds, which they will populate with their spiritual children. (This is only for the males, of course).
It is believed by Mormons that this is what happened to God. He was originally a man, just like us, before he became exalted and received the Resurrected Body. This is the first Creation, the first generation where Gods began to be, according to the hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob.” Mormon cosmology states that the universe is constantly expanding, as new generations of Gods continue to create and populate worlds of their own: endless creations.
A Plurality of Gods
Many have suggested that Mormons are in fact polytheists, who believe in many Gods. Mormons, however, maintain that they believe in a plurality of Gods, but they themselves worship only one. (That is, there are many Gods out there, Gods of their own worlds, but there is only one God per world, thus the citizens of each world only have one God).
There is also some concern over the conception of Trinity. Mormons believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, but they do not think of them as one unified Godhead. Rather, in Mormonism they are three distinct entities, there is no three-persons-in-one conception. Some have said that this belief too also makes Mormons polytheists, since they have God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, without the uniting concept of Trinity.
All in all, Mormon theology is a very confusing thing. There are so many holy texts, and there have been so many prophets throughout the years all with their own revelations that it can become difficult to sort out what is really part of Mormon theology and what is not. These ideas of the exaltation of Man have firm roots in Mormonism, but there is no telling what the Church of Latter Day Saints will believe on the morrow.
Because at any given time there is a bona fide Prophet in control of the Mormon church, he can with the snap of a fingers change anything he wants to about the religion. This has occurred quite famously in the past, such as when they finally banned polygamy (although Mormon polygamists still exist to this day) or when they decided to remove the institutionalized racism from their church. These major changes both came from so-called “Revelations” from above, as told by the Prophet of the church.
While we can say what at least some Mormons have believed in the past, it is impossible to say what they will believe tomorrow, because it is a religion that has the possibility of constantly changing. Already we see talk of Kolob and the exaltation of Man becoming less and less frequent, perhaps in the future these ideas will simply cease to be.