“And I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri…
I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob”
In May of 2007, the leadership of the LDS Church released a statement called “Approaching Mormon Doctrine“. They write,
“Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.
“Based on the scriptures, Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” “
Do Latter-day Saints have beliefs regarding the Garden of Eden’s location, or Kolob’s proximity to the throne of God? Certainly. But these beliefs are not at the center of a burning testimony. In fact, it’s likely that most Latter-day Saints think very rarely on these things, and what beliefs they do have are connected to other, more important doctrines (for example, with the Garden of Eden’s location, a belief in Joseph Smith, from whom the teaching came). These beliefs are, as the Church leaders suggest, periphery.
At the center of our testimony is a belief in Jesus Christ – that he lives and died for all men, that he restored the fullness of his gospel through Joseph Smith, and that he guides his Church today through a prophet like he has in times past. All other things are appendages.