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God our Father

Catholic Doctrine

Catholic doctrine presents a God who is living, the creator of all things, a being who is the first and the last (Isa. 44:6). God is merciful and gracious, the essence of love and “truth itself, whose words cannot deceive” (Catechism 215). God’s love is described as being that of a Father’s toward his son, even stronger that a Mother’s love for her own children. In his omnipotence, God is from everlasting to everlasting (Catechism 207).

While the characteristics of God can be described in earthly terms, the physical nature of God is less comprehensible to mankind—a mystery: “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is not place for the difference between the sexes” (Catechism 370).

Thus, in Catholic doctrine, the word, “Father,” and the masculine pronouns used to refer to this word, are entirely metaphorical, and this metaphorical reference is exceedingly—one might say, infinitely—broad.

God cannot be thought of as being a father in the physical sense, since he is without form or gender. So, although there are “characteristics” ascribed to God, God remains a “mystery beyond words” (Catechism 230). Saint Augustine said, “If you understood him, it would not be God” (St. Augustine, Sermo 52, 6, 16: PL 38:360 and Sermo 117, 3, 5: PL 38, 663). Saint Augustine’s mixture of the pronouns “him” and “it” is noteworthy.

See Catechism 200-207, 210, 211, 215, 219, 230, 338, and 370.

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

Latter-day Saint doctrine describes God as the one supreme being and creator of all things, the father of Jesus Christ, and the ruler of heaven and earth.

God is ascribed the characteristics of love, mercy, charity, truth, power, faith, knowledge, and judgment, having all power, all knowledge, and from whom all good things come (Gospel Principles 9). This mixture of tangible and the intangible characteristics does not negate that God is our Heavenly Father; it affirms this truth. God is the Heavenly Father of all men and women who have ever lived on the earth; all of us are the spiritual sons and daughters of the living God.

With all mankind being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), it follows that God has some form of the physical characteristics of man: a body of flesh and bones. However, unlike our bodies, his is glorified, perfected, and beyond our ability to comprehend.

See chapter 6 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on God our Father

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