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Old Sep 14, '09, 4:18 pm
Ignatius007 Ignatius007 is offline
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Join Date: September 14, 2009
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Religion: Former Evangelical converting to Catholicism
Default Are Images of God the Father Okay?


I was wondering what is the official Catholic view regarding images of God the Father in paintings and books. I was just recently in a Catholic bookstore and saw children's books explaining the Trinity and surpised to see that God the Father is depicted as an old man (in human form). Likewise we see this in some paintings (i.e. Sistine Chapel, etc). How do I explain to others how this does not conflict with Catholic Catechism #2779?

Your help is much appreciated.
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Old Sep 14, '09, 5:33 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Are Images of God the Father Okay?

I don't understand what you believe the problem to be regarding CCC 2779.
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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Old Sep 14, '09, 6:59 pm
The Fool The Fool is offline
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Default Re: Are Images of God the Father Okay?

I don't believe there is an official stance on how things should look in art, but there is a belief that art cannot contain and thus define God in any manner. Art attempts to define abstracts by using the physical all the time and as a result, does not say this is exactly what happened, but rather tells a story with the understanding that those who see it will understand what is.

I suppose it would be like looking at a painting of our Lady and Child. You can write all sorts of things about how they're appear to be interacting, the symbolism of their clothing, etc. However, it is highly doubtful to anyone who looks that the mother actually wore renaissance style clothing, or looked like she came from northern Europe, or that infant/child Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes just like that.
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Old Sep 15, '09, 9:59 am
surritter surritter is offline
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Default Re: Are Images of God the Father Okay?

I think before Jesus came to us, pictures of God (the Father) would have been a problem -- both in concept and in Jewish law.

But Jesus said: "He who sees me sees the Father." So we now have an image of God in Jesus. (Images for the Father will of course vary, but they are no longer prohibited.)
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Old Sep 19, '09, 5:02 pm
DavidW DavidW is offline
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Default Re: Are Images of God the Father Okay?

In addition to CCC 2779, which presents a problem I see as you do, there is CCC 370;
"In no way is God in man's image. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband."
So it is problematic to think of God as being an old guy with a beard, at least as adults in the faith.

However, I think in children's books it is fine as children are to be formed in the faith by their parents and when we speak of God as our Father it helps children to understand when they see an illustration like that.

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Old Sep 19, '09, 10:23 pm
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kleine_katerine kleine_katerine is offline
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Default Re: Are Images of God the Father Okay?

I think God is depicted as a man is because how can an artist paint someone that is a) infinite and beyond our understanding & b) neither male or female (he supercedes that)? We call God "Father" so it's easier to paint Him as a man. If an artist made Him look more feminine it still wouldn't come anywhere near showing anything what God is like. Plus I think that through the ages God was always shown to be male as we were living in a society where men were in charge. I doubt many men would've been comfortable worshipping a woman.
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