Is it safe for us Catholics to create an image of God the Father as an old man in the trinity?

Jesus mankind has seen; the Holy Spirit, seen as a dove; but God the Father, to be portrayed as an old man with beard, in the image of the Holy Trinity, with all of the biblical considerations, is it safe for us Catholics to render Him that image? I have asked this in ask an apologists I think twice, still I haven’t got any answer. No man alive has seen God the Father right?:confused:

do you know of a more appropriate way of representing God the Father visually?

I think I was about seven years old when I knew that God the Father was a spirit and that drawings of an old man in the sky were merely meant to represent our Father in Heaven.

so, I see no particular harm or problem with that particular visual representation.

not that I know of. I think I remember a bible verse that prohibits us to create an image of God because no-one has seen Him. However, Jesus is revealed to us that is why it is safe to create an image of Jesus because He was seen.

we should be careful not to become “Iconoclasts” a heresy that went about destroying the “Icons” or images of Jesus, Mary, the Saints in the early days of Christianism.

Remember NO Catholic gives adoration to statues, Icons, etc.

This images are a mere reminder of the love our Father in Heaven His Beloved Son the Holy Spirit, His beloved mother and all the Saints and Angels in Heaven have for us.

When you visit the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican there is the Image Sparking life into Adam.

Michelangelo Buonarotti found it very hard to translate the actual act described in the OT of GOD breathing life into the body of Adam visually.
The spark he chose to paint, however conveys the same mystery.
The description of this event in Genesis uses words that convey some visual context to us. We are after all material beings and it is very hard for us to visualize spiritual realities for which we do not have a personal knowledge of.
Even a person that undergoes a deep spiritual vision can only describe it by borrowing from his/her personal experience. This is why there are so many variances to the visions of the Virgin Mary and even Jesus Himself.

Jesus revealed the imagery of God as our Father to us. for artists to accept this revelation and to visually portray God as our Father seems appropriate to me.

is the only problem you have with it the scripture quote you provided? if so, the magisterium has the authority to interpret scripture. I believe it is safe for all of us to believe such pictorial representations of God the Father are fine or the magisterium would have told us otherwise.

Safe in what way? I don’t think anyone is going to mount an armed attack.

Yes it always occurs to my mind what could the magisterium think of this. Or at least, are there any writings at all from the magisterium, the saints or the early fathers or doctors?
I understand that certain people or mystics have had visions of the Holy Trinity, sister Lucia I think? Although I am not certain that she described the Father visually.

Yeah, iconoclasm, pretty harsh for me.

I am now less worried about it. but i still want to see what our brothers in Christ still has to say.

safe from God’s anger I guess :shrug:

If we remember that God chose to appear in various forms at various times it’s fine to depict God the Father as an older man. The Holy Spirit appeared as a dove and as flames of fire–but he isn’t a bird nor is he a chemical reaction that produces heat. :wink: These appearances were meant to help people believe, not to give us a true depiction of God. From these we can see that God is like a dove in that he is not bound to earth (as a spirit he isn’t bound to anthing except his own nature), and as flames of fire to let us see that he is pure, therefore we must be pure, as well.

God became man, so to make that clear some artists have depicted the Father as an older man–IOW as a father figure that we can relate to. Ever since God becamse man depictions are fine because the Incarnation is God in the flesh. It was forbidden in the OT because God had not yet been conceived in Mary’s womb, and to keep the people from mistaking worship of God for that of idols. I hope that helps you. :slight_smile:

Well since Jesus said whoever has seen Him has seen the Father, I think it would be Ok to portray Him as a slightly older version of our Lord. :slight_smile:


That verse pertaining to making images of God was meant to prevent people from Idol worshipping.

Plus, it makes total sense representing God the Father as an older version of Jesus Christ, as He said “who has seen me, has seen My Father.”

In the Book of Daniel God appeared to Daniel as the Ancient of Days. That’s where I think we get that image from. In Ezekiel I think God appeared in the colors of a rainbow. We paint the Holy Spirit as a dove or as flames of fire because that is how he appeared once; why not do the same for the Father?

I think it’s appropriate to simply trust the Church’s authority in how she chooses to render His image. She knows what she’s doing.

I personally think it’s silly to depict God as an old man in the sky. Additionally, I think it leads the mind to conceive of God in inappropriately naive and immature ways.

God is bodiless and beyond comprehension. I try NOT to conceive of God the Father in any concrete way. It maintains God’s Otherness in my mind.

Traditionally, artists have depicted God the Father as an older male and I believe that is to reinforce our understanding of the father figure in human terms we can relate to. I don’t see any harm imagining the Father as an older male as long as we are mindful that no one knows the face of God. God Bless you for asking! :thumbsup:

Aren’t we supposed to have faith like children? Children are naïve. I picture God kinda like a combination of Ariel’s dad in The Little Mermaid and Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Call it silly, I’m a visual person and when I am praying to Him, I need a mental depiction or I go off in la-la land. He knows my heart.

Do what you gotta do. I’m not hating on you. If that works for you and it doesn’t lead you to anthropomorphize the First Person of the Trinity unduly then more power to you.

I have just personally moved away from boxing God in in various ways (for example, other than the invocation of the Trinity I do not use gendered pronouns for God anymore)

If it’s good enough for Raphael, it’s good enough for me.

Re: gendered pronouns, I remember going through that stage. I also remember the stage where I thought it was really cool to call God “Mother” and “She.” And then I figured out that I was being stupid, and that I couldn’t possibly know better than Jesus. He’s the One Who can tell you about God, because He is God. Go to the Source.

Of course, it really is important to remember that (other than Jesus, true Man and true God) God doesn’t have a sex, because He’s absolutely simple.

But there’s also a lot of deep truths involved in calling Him “He,” and Pope John Paul II did some good teaching on that topic. Knocked some sense into my head.

It’s also a lot easier to appreciate Mary and other holy women of the Church, and even the maternal qualities of God, when you don’t have a lot of false theology and Christology running around in your head. The Bible, the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, and everything else that the Church teaches are one big thing. If you dig into it, you will find a lot. If you turn away from it, you’ll miss all the neat stuff!

It’s not a bad phase to go through, per se, but don’t waste your time as long as I did.

Thanks for the passive aggressive insult of calling it a “phase.” I’m a full grown adult, it’s not a phase, and I attend a parish that doesn’t use gendered pronouns in hymns or prayers (other than the Our Father).

And my church is 175 years old.

But thanks for the paternalistic advice.

Well what can I say. I’m pretty much relieved. :thumbsup:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit