Images of God


Would you please tell me what is the Church’s position regarding the image of God the Father? I believe that Paul Evdokimov does not agree that the image of God the Father has a place in the Church:

God’s luminous face as it is turned toward men is the face of the transfigured Christ. Against the iconoclasts, the Fathers affirmed that we see the Person of Christ in icons and not his divine or human nature. As understood in the perspective of Christian religious experience, icons already have begun to show forth the vision of God in the light of the Eighth Day (The Art of the Icon: a Theology of Beauty, 30).

And again, “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” does not say “Has seen God” but rather “the Father”, for the Son is the image of the Father and thereby the expression of the Trinity. The unique person thus possesses the unique image-icon in two modes of expression: seen by God and seen by man” (ibid, pg 209).

Intuitively I do not feel comfortable with the image of God the Father. Do I have the wrong understanding of such an image? If not, why are there such images in some Orthodox churches?


Traditionally it is indeed incorrect to depict God the Father as an old man with a long beard, or in any other human form, even though under heavy western influence, in more recent times, western-style images of the Holy Trinity, in which the Father is portrayed as such and the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a dove, crept into the Orthodox world.

Assuming that you read more from Evdokimov, I will not need to elaborate further, other than to say that, while it is possible to depict Christ in human form, since He took on the human nature, it is incorrect to portray the Father as such.

There are those, however, who would say that it is possible to portray the Father as such, making reference to the “Ancient of Days” found in scripture.

I might add that depicting the Holy Spirit in a Trinity icon as a dove is also incorrect. It was only at the Baptism of Our Lord that the Holy Spirit descended “in the form of a dove.” On Pentecost, for example, the Holy Spirit was manifested through tongues of fire. Hence, depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove in any icon other than that of the Baptism of Our Lord would also be incorrect.