1. One of the things I find ironic about the debate over artistic depictions of Jesus is that some Calvinists are using the same type of argument to oppose depictions of Jesus that Catholics use to support a Marian title.
Some Calvinists are arguing that since Jesus was the God-man, any depiction of Jesus is a depiction of God. This argument is structurally similar to the argument of Catholics who contend that since Jesus was the God-man, this makes Mary the Mother of God.
2. The normal Reformed objection to the Catholic argument is that it suffers from an obvious equivocation. But when it comes to depictions of Jesus, I find some Calvinists trading on the same equivocation.
Suppose you ask me if I saw Timmy at the Halloween party. But this question is ambiguous. It could be asking, did I recognize Timmy at the Halloween party? Or it could be asking, did I see the individual who is Timmy?
It’s quite possible for me to see Timmy without seeing that it is Timmy. If Timmy is got up as a tricker-treater, I may fail to recognize Timmy underneath the costume and the makeup. I could still see the individual who is Timmy without seeing who he is (i.e. recognition).
3. On a related note, some Calvinists are quoting Jn 14:9. But one problem is that I find them quoting that verse without bothering to exegete the verse in context. That’s unfortunate, because it reflects the type of perfunctory prooftexting which I ordinarily encounter among Arminians and Roman Catholics. Calvinists need to do better.
Is Jn 14:9 telling us that the physical appearance of Jesus reveals the Father? No. Jesus didn’t have a divine appearance (whatever that means). He looked like a normal man. You couldn’t tell, just by looking at him, that he was God Incarnate.
The way in which he reveals the Father in Jn 14:9 is through his words and his works. What he says and does. Not his physical appearance.
4.In addition, it’s clearly out of place to transfer this verse to artistic depictions of Jesus. For if we see an artistic depiction of Jesus, we’re not seeing what the disciples saw, are we? No. The disciples saw the actual appearance of Jesus. The artist did not. So even at the phenomenal level, quite apart from the communication of attributes, you can’t reapply Jn 14:9 to some artistic depiction of Jesus as if 14:9 is referring to some artistic depiction of Jesus. That commits yet another equivocation.
There may be better arguments. But this isn’t one of them.
BTW, in my home I don’t have any pictures of Jesus hanging on the wall. So it’s not as if I had a personal stake in this issue. I can take it or leave it.