Visualizing God & his angels

Ever since humans acquired a Mind and became aware that they were creatures, they attempted to visualize their Creator. Jesus’ disciples were no exception. They had interacted with Jesus as a fellow human, but as he referred to His Father in heaven, they asked how they could visualize Him. Jesus’ response was (John 14:9): “He who hath seen me has seen the Father.”

But this still left them puzzled. Visualizing Jesus was simple. The disciples’ eyes carried an optical image to their brains where it was processed as: “this is a fellow human being.” Yet, from what He had taught them, they realized that Jesus had some unique characteristics of His Father in heaven that could not be visualized optically. This was also true of God’s messengers, the angels who often bridged the information gap between heaven and earth. Not surprisingly, both Jesus’ disciples, and all the Christians who followed them, have wanted to visualize God & His angels.

We are all familiar how Michelangelo was given that nearly impossible task with his painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There were plenty of models for the male human, Adam. But to ‘visualize’ God & His angels, the best Michelangelo could do was to transfer to human-like form the features, the characteristics with which Scripture had endowed them. Thus God the Creator took on:
(1) an aged form befitting one whose existence predated creation of the earth.
(2) the power that befitted the creator and sustainer of the entire universe.
(3) the white beard that signified the wisdom of a patriarch.
[It is interesting to note that Michelangelo depicted the angels that surround God as cherubic but wingless. And God has His arm around Eve who has not yet appeared on the scene]

So, when each of us attempts to visualize God, perhaps we should expect that in doing so we call upon the mental images stored in our minds of the features or characteristics of Him that we have been taught. To do that in more depth, referencing the Rorschach (ink blot) Test can be informative. More on that, later.

Since leaving 8th grade in a Catholic Parochial school, I have become comfortable with a worldview that doubts that God’s first intelligent creatures were angels, one of the most prominent of whom, Lucifer or ‘light giver’, used his free will to rebel and thus became Satan and the snake that tempted Eve. As a child I was taught the prayer: "Angel of God, My guardian dear; To whom God’s love commits me here" My life’s experiences do conform to a belief in guardian angels, but they could also result from the reality that God’s presence is everywhere and His actions do not need a separate being (an angel) to carry out His will. Now, back to the Rorsach Test to see what lurks in my ‘unconscious’ mind (but perhaps in few others’) of how, in my worldview, I visualize God.

In this photo (taken from my daughter’s home in Rancho Cucamonga) I see God the Father in flowing robes (with a Covid mask?) sending out Guardian Angels “to rule and guide”: a continuation of my childhood prayer. Some of the folks that I’ve shown this to visualize it quickly as I do; some do not. I wonder how the majority of Forum viewers react.
Al Leo

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Interesting. Whats in your opinion the first beigns created ? Thanks for the post. God bless. Take care

I visualize God as a ball of fire essentially. For angels I visualize them as they appeared to mankind in person and not as they were seen in visions.

I don’t believe that Lucifer was anything more than a bad KJV translation for Venus which was symbolic for the King.

I visualize God as an infinite being. I do think of the angels as God first intelligent creations – the simplest and most direct efforts at creating others than Himself. They were created spirits and products of design. But as a result they were severely lacking in otherness. Being no more than what God made them to be… they were not much more than extensions of Himself. I don’t believe they had much free will and I don’t believe in any rebellion or war in heaven. I believe the story of the origin of evil is Genesis 2-3, where the angel depicted as a snake was acting according to his God given responsibility to present living things with challenges so that they would learn and develop.

As always, I find your posts thought provoking. I totally agree with your belief that God is an infinite being, but I find it puzzling that you can believe that God created angels "other than Himself" and yet “not much more than extensions of Himself”. My world view, as I proceeded further with a career in science, makes me more comfortable with the ‘extension of Himself’ concept, which is the way I so readily ‘visualized’ the cloud photo I posted.
God bless and stay well,
Al Leo

Right. The point was to create others than Himself but the most straightforward way of doing that, the angels, were a mediocre result. It is like setting out to create a companion and making a robot. The result is not exactly a failure but still somewhat superficial and not entirely satisfying. Creating us was a great deal more difficult and roundabout, requiring the process of life which required a whole universe of natural laws. But that is the difference between making something which is no more and no less that what you made it to be and making something which participates in its own creation. AND it was also clearly problematic. By surrendering control of the result to His creations the possibility for evil was introduced. I think it is quite understandable that this wouldn’t be your first idea of how to achieve the creation of others.

Hi Nick
My answer to your question depends on what you mean by “being”. My worldview is comfortable with a belief in an upgraded version of Darwinian evolution, and so I believe that Life on earth began when some sort of macro molecules could reproduce themselves–not with 100% accuracy but with the ability to metabolize energy sources. These entities could be classified as proto-biotic and eventually became what we now consider ‘living cells’. But it makes no sense to consider them as ‘beings’.

Like most participants in this Forum, I think you are asking about the first intelligent beings–creatures with a Mind that desires to know something about (and even covenant with) their Creator. Scripture (especially Genesis in the OT) gives us a good account of how the wisest people, some 3,500 years ago, answered this question. The science of anthropology offers additional evidence of a Great Leap Forward in the behavior of Homo sapiens, such as belief in an afterlife. This occurred ~50,000 yr. BP, and I accept this date as the earliest modern humans. Admittedly, there is much disagreement to this conclusion.
Al Leo

Hi Mitchell
I assume you must be aware of the many sculprtors who have depicted a man chiseling himself from a block of granite. Do you have a favorite?
Al Leo

I know of the Escher drawing of two hands drawing each other. I may have seen such sculptures but I might not have seen them as creating themselves but as cutting themselves out of the rock. Googling I found ones I hadn’t seen before of where they are cutting themselves out of the body of another… suggesting recreation. I would guess that art has only had mediocre attention from me. I don’t think I ever even had a class on art.

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