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.