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The Big Question: What Does God Look Like?

In moments of deep prayer and contemplation, we can even feel his presence. But what does God look like? It’s a question that many people—philosophers, theologians and even poets—have tried to answer.

Many people have heard God’s voice—be it a small, quiet voice in their hearts or, like Moses, booming across mountaintops. When we pick up the Bible, we can read God’s words. In moments of deep prayer and contemplation, we can even feel his presence. But what does God look like? It’s a question that many people—philosophers, theologians and even poets—have tried to answer.

Woman covering her eyes; Getty Images

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Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of Eyes Remade for Wonder

“It’s not that you shouldn’t make any graven images of God, you can’t. Not only is God’s Name made of vowel letters and, therefore, effectively the sound of breathing and not only is the only thing God says at Sinai the letter aleph, which is only the noise you make as you begin to make any sound, but God doesn’t look like anything at all. There’s nothing to see!”

Bright light from the sky; Getty Images

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1 Timothy 6:16

“He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him.”

Child playing with a toy airplane; Getty Images

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Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer

“God changes appearances every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises. One moment he is a glass of fresh water, the next, your son bouncing on your knees or an enchanting woman, or perhaps merely a morning walk.”

Abstract color powders; Getty Images

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Judith Plaskow, theologian

“If all are created in the divine image, then our images of God must be fluid and multifarious.”

Flowers in New Zealand; Getty Images

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We see God face to face every hour, and know the savor of nature.”

Shadow figure outdoors; Getty Images

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J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God

“The realization that images and pictures of God affect our thoughts of God points to a further realm in which the prohibition of the second commandment applies. Just as it forbids us to manufacture molten images of God, so it forbids us to dream up mental images of him. Imagining God in our heads can be just as real a breach of the second commandment as imagining him by the work of our hands.”

Close up of an eye; Getty Images

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Genesis 1:27

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Planet Earth from space; Getty Images

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Tommaso Campanella, philosopher

“The world is a living image of God.”

Crowd of people; Getty Images

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Philip Yancey, author of In His Image

“God reproduces and lives out His image in millions of ordinary people like us. It is a supreme mystery. We are called to bear that image as a Body because any one of us taken individually would present an incomplete image, one partly false and always distorted, like a single glass chip hacked from a mirror. But collectively, in all our diversity, we can come together as a community of believers to restore the image of God in the world.”

Two people holding hands; Getty Images

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Martin Luther

“Love is an image of God, and not a lifeless image, but the living essence of the divine nature which beams full of all goodness.”

Foggy eyeglasses; Getty Images

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Exodus 33:20

“You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Hiker looking out at a valley; Getty Images

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Ernest Holmes, philosopher

“God is all there is—God includes everything, all possibility and all action, for Spirit is the invisible essence and substance of all form.”

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