“Visible icons are the seeing of the invisible. They are products and representations by visible images of divine traits and ineffable and elevated contemplations” (Dionysus the Aeropagite).
“God sketched His image in the creature and this divine image is, therefore, imageable” (Bulgakov).
According to iconoclasts and many iconographers of the traditional stripe, it is impossible – heretical even – to have an icon either portraying God the Father or an attribute of Himself. To this effect, both groups of people quote Jn 1:18 from Scripture: “No man has seen God at any time.”
But setting aside the fact that the Father Himself asked that such icons be made and both showed and requested exactly what He desired (e.g., the icon of the Father’s Divine Heart and the icon He requested from Mother Eugenia Ravasio), Jn 1:18 is being misquoted by such groups of people by not being quoted in its entirety: “No man has seen God at any time except the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Thus in Scripture, which is the Word of God, we find “not an apophatic doctrine of God’s unknowability but an antinomic affirmation of both His invisibility and His visibility” (Bulgakov, 2012).
“Both terms of the antinomy are necessary for the idea of revelation: if there is no mystery and depth, if the object of revelation is completely knowable and exhaustible by a one-sided act of cognition, then we have knowledge, not revelation. But on the other hand if the mystery is not known, not revealed, not disclosed, it simply does not exist for man, for the unknowability of the mystery in revelation is correlative with the knowledge of it. The transcendent becomes immanent without losing its transcendence, just as, conversely, the immanent permeates the transcendent, though without overcoming the latter” (ibid.).
Bulgakov, S. (2012). Icons and the Name of God (B. Jakim, trans.). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.