PICTURE OF GOD–Do you know what God looks like? Have you ever seen pictures of God? If someone ask you to draw a picture of God for him/her, would you be able to do so? If you were to draw a picture either on paper or in your mind, where did that picture come from? How did you come to know what God looks like?
At first glance, you may consider all of these questions to be ‘simpleminded’ in nature. However, I suspect that, if you were to be truly introspective and honest with yourself, you’d have to admit that any and all images of God that you may have were imprinted on your mind by pictures of God presented to you as ‘real’ during your earliest Christian indoctrination period—-I know mine are/were. Consequently, it is literally impossible to think ‘God’ without conjuring up one of those images.
Now lets examine the legitimacy of such images. In my experience, God is frequently pictured as a grizzled old man floating in semi-bust form in the clouds. Another usual presentation is that same grizzled old man in gala attire wearing a stunning crown sitting in the clouds on a brilliantly adorned throne with Jesus, in diminutive form, sitting by his right side. These are the two that stand out in my imagery. Logic demands that we, as intelligent beings, must ask ourselves the obvious question—who concocted those ideas and presented them to as a real, and for what purpose?
The Old Testament tells us that the Jews recognized God—they could talk to him and even bargain with him. In addition, they carried him around on their shoulders in The Arc Of The Covenant. I don’t recall the Old Testament describing what God looks like. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember any verbal description of God’s appearance in the New Testament or any later Christian writings—maybe there were some I missed. So, how did we become indoctrinated with those images of God?
My common sense tells me the following: the Jews imagined a God patterned exactly after their own demeanor, only much more knowing and powerful—after all, he did create the entire universe. He could be loving, helpful, pleased and forgiving. Just like them, he could be displeased, hurt, angry, hateful and vengeful. So why not imagine him as a human-like person—he had all the ‘human-like’ characteristics.
It seems to me that both that identical image and understanding of God has been perpetuated by the ‘Christian’ Church, and likely for a definite reason—they were determined to have a humanistic relationship with God—their God could not possibly be elusive or intangible—he had to be ‘real’ in their minds. That mandate eventually became very ‘profitable’. As time went on, many paintings depicting Jesus, Mary, Joseph and many saints came to be—God had to be depicted somehow. So he was, and is, and is, and is……….
Jesus never described his Father in any way except eternal and loving. Nowhere, that I am aware of did Jesus describe God in ‘humanistic terms. Throughout the ages, great philosophers and theologians alike, recognizing the miniscule depiction of God in the Bible, determined that a ‘true’ understanding of God must be ascertained. Each, in turn, determined that the ‘essence’ of God must be defined before we could know the real God. Each made a desperate effort at defining God’s essence—some came close—all systematically failed.
Why do you suppose the all failed. I think two main reasons—number one, they couldn’t abolish that image of a human-like God, and number two, they had absolutely no scientific understanding of anything in God’s creation. Had any one of them known the scientific facts of our existence, a true definition of God’s essence would very likely have been forthcoming.
The only ‘meaningful’ record we have of Jesus’ teachings about God is the Bible, and as a matter of absolute fact, we will never know exactly what Jesus said and did—so distorted and corrupted is the Bible. The earliest copy of the original writings is a copy of a copy, of a copy made 200 or more years after the original. Since that time, dozens of different versions of the bible have appeared, each with a different twist. Why do you suppose that is?
I believe, without doubt, there are several reasons. The original Christian (Catholic) church which emerged from the first Nicene council was fashioned by people who put ‘power’ over love. They lorded over their constituents in the most virulent and terrifying way. In the beginning, of course, they had the absolute protection of the Roman Army—their wish was the Roman Army’s command. After the fall of the Roman Empire, that protection ceased. The debauchery and simultaneous abuse by the hierarchy following Rome’s fall is well documented.
Based on this ‘humanistic’ image of God, well meaning mystics and ascetics alike began rationalizing the meaning of Jesus’ words. It has been shown by Prof. Bart Ehrman, that as Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, because of his extreme ascetism, he deliberately eliminated or change the meaning of almost every reference to anything good about women—after all, women were the ‘root of all evil’—women were evil. With the advent of the Protestant Reformation, Bibles began ‘sprouting up’ everywhere. Each ‘version’ was another man’s attempt to place Jesus’ words into a picture of his own God.
The ultimate result from all that confusing imagery is a Christian world fragmented into 33,000 or more denominations and sects, and each professing a God based on their own individual ‘imaginations’—not a single one of them knows the basic nature of God—Gods essence.
God cannot possibly be depicted rationally with a paint brush—God is supernatural and eternal. God has no body—God has no physical appearance. Teaching little children a depiction of God in humanistic terms is ‘criminal’ in my opinion, because it leaves an indelible false image about the most important consideration of their lives. Little children soon learn that Santa is a myth. His image will harmlessly persist in their minds forever. On the other hand, God is no myth—-he should not be presented to little children with a mythical image.
Neither I, nor anyone else can ‘paint you a picture’ of God—the invisible cannot be painted.
I can, however, and already have, irrefutably, defined for you God’s Essence— God is a Perfect Rational Being. That Perfect Rationality translates into ‘Perfect Love’. Therefore, God cannot possibly have any human characteristics—he cannot be hurt—he cannot hate—he cannot be vengeful. He can only ‘know all’ with his perfect intellect and ‘love that all’ (will, accept, choose) with his Perfect Will. Therefore Hell, Purgatory, Limbo, Higher Places in Heaven, etc. are all myths dreamed up (imagined) by various people trying to know and understand God from a humanistic standpoint—and likely for purposes of maintaining power and control which translates into owning your pocket book.
All of that imagination has engendered the biggest money-making racket the world has ever known under the guise of keeping your soul out of Hell—that racket is known as Religion.
My two little books, Wilderness Cry and Peace in Spirituality say it all. You might want to investigate.