In the Bible it is said that you should not create an image of God. What does this mean?
The Guide: Most people believe this statement means that you should not draw a picture or make a statue of God. But this is by no means the entire sense. If you think about this statement a little more deeply, you will come to the conclusion that this could not be all that is implied in this commandment.
You must now perceive that this refers to the inner image. You are still so involved in your own wrong conclusions and your irrational impressions that you are bound to have an inner image about God, as well as on all other subjects that are most important in your life.
Children experience their first conflict with authority at an early age. I have talked at length about this in Lecture #52 The God-Image. They also learn that God is the highest authority. Therefore it is not surprising that children project their subjective experiences with authority on their imaginings about God. An image is formed, and whatever the child’s – and later the adult’s – relationship to authority is, his or her attitude toward God will, most probably, be colored and influenced by it.
Why did you choose the word “image” to suggest a negative attribute within us, when in Scripture we read that “we were created in the image of God.” Is it meant that humans are not supposed to create an image of God since human-made images are only projections, but that only God can create the image of himself in man?
The Guide: I chose the word “image” because, as again the symbol will clarify, an image is something like a picture. I could have used this expression as well. Both are rather static, dead, and an imitation of life, depicting pseudo-reality. It may be very artful, but nevertheless it is not nature, it is not real. If you now ponder the significance of the images within yourself, you will clearly see how aptly this expression has been chosen. Your images are pseudo-defenses. They are based on unreal assumptions (Lecture #38 Images).
They are supposed to bring you happiness, beauty. But it cannot really be so. Since human language is limited, it is always easy to misunderstand and find a different meaning for the same word. We have to keep this in consideration, and adopt the attitude that words are merely an expediency.
This will prevent you from making them a stumbling block or a rigid factor that stands in your way. When we speak of images in our sense, we know what we mean. But we can always keep in mind that other people or schools of thought think of something different. This will retain flexibility of outlook and prevent misunderstanding.
It would seem that people are not capable of creating an image of God, because it would be a distortion.
The Guide: They cannot create an image of God. It is an absolute impossibility. It is inconceivable for the human concept, the human brain. It is utterly impossible. The truth of the commandment lies in the proof that, in spite of this commandment, people have made an image of God and it turned out to be so tragically damaging. This led to the anthropomorphic concept of God who is supposed to be like a person, arbitrarily meting out punishment and reward. That is the result of making an image of God.