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So who is God the Father — and is he a father and is he a he?
Faith » Utah religious leaders share their views, but ultimately, priest says, the Almighty is a “mystery.”

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"God is something so sacred, you cannot draw it," he says. "It is offensive to some and a type of blasphemy. You cannot create a reality of God."

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Knowing God » Baha’is address deity as "Heavenly Father," invoking God as creative, protective, wise, knowing and powerful, explains Jan Saeed, director of spiritual life at Westminster College in Salt Lake City and a Baha’i.

"We don’t believe God is male or female, though, but [God] has attributes that humans typically view as masculine or feminine. You could say that God would be like a father — kind, caring and loving, who wants to protect his children — but mothers are like that, too."

Any descriptions or titles for God ultimately have limitations, but God doesn’t, she says. "We think of God as the ‘unknowable essence.’ "

When Moses wanted to see the divine for himself, she says, God replied, "You can’t see me or you will die. You cannot comprehend me."

Followers of Jesus Christ believe they have a way to know God — through his son.

"If you know me, you know my father," Jesus says in the New Testament. "I and my father are one."

That’s why the Greek Orthodox place an image of Christ in the dome of their churches, says Father Matthew Gilbert of Salt Lake City Holy Trinity Cathedral. "We know the father through the son. It can be the same as knowing your neighbor. It’s a spiritual process."

In the Old Testament, God appeared to Abraham and Sarah in the form of three angels, which is why the Orthodox use three angels to depict the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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"God wanted to have a relationship with his creation, to heal man and bring him back to where he was meant to be," Gilbert says. "God loves us and takes care of us."

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the Bible, but not in the Trinity, says Jeffrey Tackett, a Utah representative of the faith. "That teaching is not in the Bible."

Jesus himself is clearly the son of God, Tackett writes in an email, pointing to biblical passages quoting Peter and God himself at Jesus’ baptism. "He was created by Jehovah and submissive to him."

Does God have a body? » The Bible refers to the "hand of God," "the finger of God" and "the ear of God." But most believe God is more abstract than literal.

Most, that is, except Mormons.

When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, the man Christians believe was the world’s savior addressed his words to "Abba," says Philip Barlow, Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University and himself a Latter-day Saint. In Aramaic, that is seen by some as the most intimate term for father, more like "papa" or "daddy."

LDS Church founder Joseph Smith taught that God has a body of "flesh and bones," Barlow says, and that he is literally the father of mankind.

"It is a potent and radical notion," Barlow says. "Instead of being anthropomorphic, Mormons believe that humans are theomorphic."

Smith’s celebration of God’s physicality, he says, should lead to increased respect for the material world, especially bodies.

And touch.

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