MMTP: “Hieing to Kolob?” Edition

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:

Is Abraham’s astronomy real or metaphorical?

Look into your Urim and Thummin and give us the answers below.


  1. StillConfused says:

    If it was real, wouldn’t we have little beam-me-up machines

  2. That’s one of my husband’s favorite hymns. No accounting…

  3. Real. In Facsimile 2, Figure 3 that is clearly the giant elliptical galaxy M87 over the person in the boat’s head.

  4. Either way, it’s entirely over my head.

  5. Anything that prompts the word “hie” surely is metaphorical.

  6. it is real. let’s not discount the astronomical abilities of the early ones here on earth, particularly if they are fairly close to God.

    Besides which, where else would God be in this wild, wacky universe?

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    There is actually a scholarly debate on this point. See volume 3 of the Studies in the BoA series, Astronomy, Papyrus and Covenant (it’s online at the website of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU).

    The first two articles in the volume take contrasting views. One holds the astronomy is real; the other that it is geocentric, reflecting ancient perceptions, but not real by today’s scientific standards. (I’m with the latter point of view.)

  8. Best hymn, I would say. Now is it metaphorical or real? I’d like to think metaphorical, but who knows. Other than Heavenly Father.

  9. Matt W. says:

    Kevin, if it really reflects ancient perceptions, then it isn’t metaphorical, but is “real” to that time period?

  10. Mike Parker says:

    A second recommendation for the articles Kevin mentioned, with links.

    Metaphorical (John Gee, Bill Hamblin, Dan Peterson):

    Literal (Ward Moody, Michael Rhodes):

  11. Im new, where and what is this? :) Thx

  12. Seanette says:

    We needed a choice for “does it matter?” ;-)

  13. Steve G. says:

    12. thats a given for every BCC poll

  14. S’truth! I don’t think we’ve had a poll that mattered yet.

  15. Mark D. says:

    There is certainly a question of accuracy that is separate from the question of whether the description was intended to be metaphorical.

    Presumably, Mormonism is committed to the proposition that our Heavenly Father has a body, and that his body is only in once place at one time. Presumably he has a home somewhere, and wherever that is we might as well call “Kolob” for lack of a better name.

    If on the other hand, we abandon the idea that God has a body that is in a certain place at any given time, I don’t see how the resulting Mormon theology would differ significantly from classical theism. Protestants with a temple, more or less.

  16. Mark A. Clifford says:

    Vaishnav Hindus are committed to the idea that God has a body, because as Srla Prabupad put it, “KRSNA cannot fail to have a quality that created beings have,” and they are not Mormon. There are a variety of ways to understand the notion of Divine embodiment. They include, but do not have to be as simple as, the proceeding formulation that “God has a body that is in a certain place at any given time”.
    Mormonism, in at least some sense, is a “new kid” on the block theologically. We are still working out what our scripture implies, intends, and insists on. There are several Mormons, even good ones, who are open to the idea that God’s embodiment can be viewed in several ways, for example Bob Millett: “God has a body but it does not have Him”.
    The point (for me at least) is that “it” never is, and should not be, as simple as “either it is metaphorical or it is not” or “either He is here or He is there.” Mormon scripture is at least as committed to God’s immanence as it is to the notion of embodiment (see D&C 93). Developing an understanding of how these things are simultaneously true is the fun part, and the “Mormon-ey” part. I doubt that we is going to end up “protestants with a temple” in any case.

  17. pablo wright says:

    Love the way people like Kevin Barney invoke expressions like scholarly debate. The scholarly conclusion is that the Book of Abraham is not real, only metaphorical. Unless it was written by an astronomer, you can also forget the astronomy.

  18. Love the way people like pablo wright ignore that people like Kevin Barney cite an actual, existing scholarly debate, and just declare that there is no debate.

  19. pablo,
    Troll ye elsewhere!

  20. Pablo Wright says:

    Scott B. Says:
    June 10, 2009 at 11:49 am
    Love the way people like pablo wright ignore that people like Kevin Barney cite an actual, existing scholarly debate, and just declare that there is no debate.

    An existing scholarly debate? Allow real peer review of the Institute’s “scholarly” output, then you’d have a real debate. Otherwise you’ve little more than the musings of the house organ.
    Thoughtful Latter Day Saints deserve better that that, Scott B. and John C.

  21. Since Joseph Smith was not an astronomer, it has to be metaphorical.