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Fidei Defensor

Images: Idols or Visual Aides?

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I have always been fascinated by the debate over images. Since the time of the Tabernacle and the Ten Commandments to the Reformation period and even today, many brothers and sisters in Christ ask, what qaulifies an image as an idol or simply as decoration or even a helpful device in worship and prayer to the Holy Trinity? Here we may all together endeavor to answer that question, but beyond that I open this 'mini-forum' to discuss the merits and the detractors to using images.

Prompts:

Is the Crucifix an idol? Is it Catholic only or can Protestants use it?

Should famous theologians, preachers, scholars, reformers, and even Biblical figures be depicted in the mediums of stone and art?

Is an idol three demensional, as the Eastern Orthodox Church asserts?

What is the context of "Have no idols before me!" Especially when the Ark of the Covenant was adorned with Cherubim Angels.

How does Jesus, God becoming incarnate, becoming a man, change how we can depict religious images and icongraphy?

Is it ever right to have an image, even if it depicts the One True God?

There have been churches and movements, Charismatic to Purtian to Cisterican and beyond that totally forbid images, seeing us as the ultimate image of God (Genesis 1:27). Are they right? Should we focus on the LORD with spiritual eyes and not become entangled in 'props'? Or is this too austere and some people need visual aides, especially those who are sight learners.

Are there advantages to using images, paintings, and even cinema to teach people the faith? Or should it remain more scholastic and preaching the Scriptures orally?

I enjoy these kinds of topics, because I very much want to hear the different perspectives and as we share with one another, we "sharpen one another."

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Posted (edited)

Here is sample from a sermon from Martin Luther during Lent:

"But now let us look at images themselves. They are likewise not a necessity. And we're free to have them or not (even though we'd be much better off without them and I personally don't like them)." (The Ninety-Five Theses and Other Writings, Eight Sermons in Lent (1522), Regarding Images, Martin Luther, Penguin Classics). Luther held the view that you should not forbid the use of images, nor should you enforce their usage. Although it is evident he personally thought we were better off without them. A contemporary of Luther, Andreas Karlstadt had the opposing view, he believed all images were idolatry and led a campaign of iconoclasm (image breaking) that included burning down churches. Karlstadt was radical and few would condone his actions, but his iconclasm isn't unique, Emperor Leo III of Byzantium (Christian Empire, Eastern Roma, founded by Constantine the Great) was iconoclast (image breaker) who decided all images, particuarly icons/ikons which are Eastern Orthodox portals in time and spiritual windows that are painting of Christ Pantocrator, the Saints, and the Theotokios (Mary) on two demensional wood or metal.

Iconoclast (break images) is one side of spectrum, and Iconists (keep images) is the other side of the spectrum. Luther advocates for freedom in the Church for both groups to coexist, but he probably would have fallen into non-violent iconoclasm, the variety of just removing them as King James I and VI of England did.

Edited by Fidei Defensor

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Posted (edited)

The Eastern Orthodox Christians hold to the stricter view that no image may be used in worship that is three demensional. In place of a Crucifix or statues, Orthodox have Ikona/icons (images) which are wood or metal two demensional canvas that depicts Christ Pantocrator, Christ the Teacher, Saints, and scenes from life of Christ. Orthodox believe these icons can transport the person spiritually and even act as windows to that time period (time travel?). 

Edited by Fidei Defensor

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4 minutes ago, Fidei Defensor said:

The Eastern Orthodox Christians hold to the stricter view that no image may be used in worship that is three demensional. In place of a Crucifix or statues, Orthodox have Ilona/icons which are wood or metal two demensional canvas that depicts Christ Pantocrator, Saints, and scenes from life of Christ. Orthodox believe these icons can transport the person spiritually and even act as windows to that time period (time travel?). 

Hi Fidei D. What good are icons and why are you occupied with them, pray tell.

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1 minute ago, Michael37 said:

Hi Fidei D. What good are icons and why are you occupied with them, pray tell.

Icons for Eastern Orthodox are of tremendous value. In fact iconoclasm (image breaking) first appears in Orthodoxy under the Emperors Leo III and Constantine V of Byzantium who wanted to supresssed the use of images with royal edict and The Council of Heria (755 A.D.) The Iconclast (image breakers) by the Iconudes (those who venerate icons) at a coucil of the Church, The Council of Nicea (787 A.D.). 

The battle over images that would rage during the Reformation between iconoclasts like Karlstadt and moderates like Luther has a history going back to the 8th Century. 

Denominations to this day battle over if images are useful or not. 

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2 minutes ago, Fidei Defensor said:

Icons for Eastern Orthodox are of tremendous value. In fact iconoclasm (image breaking) first appears in Orthodoxy under the Emperors Leo III and Constantine V of Byzantium who wanted to supresssed the use of images with royal edict and The Council of Heria (755 A.D.) The Iconclast (image breakers) by the Iconudes (those who venerate icons) at a coucil of the Church, The Council of Nicea (787 A.D.). 

The battle over images that would rage during the Reformation between iconoclasts like Karlstadt and moderates like Luther has a history going back to the 8th Century. 

Denominations to this day battle over if images are useful or not. 

I grew up in a religious mileu of stained glass windows, crucifixes and cruciforms, all manner of vestments and symbolic representations. These days graphics and logos abound regardless of denomination so it would be hypocritical of Baptists with a cross, a dove and a Bible graphic on their signage and stationery to denounce the likes of Eastern Orthodox iconism. Personally I prefer not to be confronted with a heavy presence of icons, knowing they are a facade and often accompany a pretense of commitment to Christ.  

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Michael37 said:

I grew up in a religious mileu of stained glass windows, crucifixes and cruciforms, all manner of vestments and symbolic representations. These days graphics and logos abound regardless of denomination so it would be hypocritical of Baptists with a cross, a dove and a Bible graphic on their signage and stationery to denounce the likes of Eastern Orthodox iconism. Personally I prefer not to be confronted with a heavy presence of icons, knowing they are a facade and often accompany a pretense of commitment to Christ.  

Indeed, we Protestants have images (save for strict Minnonites, Quakers, and the last two Shakers). Icons are very unusual images in that despite their two-demensions, the figure, whether Christ or other seems to come out of the canvas of tempera. I think the most bizarre aspects of ikons for Protestants is that Eastern Orthodox must greet icons as if they are the living person they represent and so kiss them upon entering a home. This combined with them being windows into spirit world and time traveling devices sure makes them unique images in the prism of Eastern Mysticism.

I personally don’t ascribe to their time travel powers nor venerating them with a kiss. 

However, the controversy they raised in 8th Century still is with us to this day. 

Edited by Fidei Defensor
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On 8/7/2018 at 6:54 PM, Fidei Defensor said:

I have always been fascinated by the debate over images. Since the time of the Tabernacle and the Ten Commandments to the Reformation period and even today, many brothers and sisters in Christ ask, what qaulifies an image as an idol or simply as decoration or even a helpful device in worship and prayer to the Holy Trinity? Here we may all together endeavor to answer that question, but beyond that I open this 'mini-forum' to discuss the merits and the detractors to using images.

Prompts:

Is the Crucifix an idol? Is it Catholic only or can Protestants use it?

Should famous theologians, preachers, scholars, reformers, and even Biblical figures be depicted in the mediums of stone and art?

Is an idol three demensional, as the Eastern Orthodox Church asserts?

What is the context of "Have no idols before me!" Especially when the Ark of the Covenant was adorned with Cherubim Angels.

How does Jesus, God becoming incarnate, becoming a man, change how we can depict religious images and icongraphy?

Is it ever right to have an image, even if it depicts the One True God?

There have been churches and movements, Charismatic to Purtian to Cisterican and beyond that totally forbid images, seeing us as the ultimate image of God (Genesis 1:27). Are they right? Should we focus on the LORD with spiritual eyes and not become entangled in 'props'? Or is this too austere and some people need visual aides, especially those who are sight learners.

Are there advantages to using images, paintings, and even cinema to teach people the faith? Or should it remain more scholastic and preaching the Scriptures orally?

I enjoy these kinds of topics, because I very much want to hear the different perspectives and as we share with one another, we "sharpen one another."

Hello FD, I always read your post, they are very informative, and it is quite distarving to see that in North America most people who come from Christian families they know more about Eastern Religions and about Jewish and even Islam in the last years, even about atheism and the history of sll of them, than they know about the Christian history through out the centuries.

There is a void in their knowledge that span many centuries , and that it is fueled by the modern day protestants,

I may not be accurate by many are so ignorant, the only knowledge they have about Christian history is from the movies.

In the old Testiment the images and the art in the Temple was ordained by God. 

There is a reason and a proposed and a symbolism why God gave them specific instructions how to build and craft , and what material to use, in the Temple . 

His prohibition was to the people as objerving their neibours and how they had images of their Gods, as in the Gods of Egyot, the Romans, and so on. 

And he gave them also a prohibition not to duplicate the things in the Temple and the Temple it self. 

In two words, while they were many Temples of Apollo, or Artemis and so on, the prohibition not to duplicate the things in the Temple, it was to tell them that there is going to be only one Temple of worship , and he forbate them to built a secont one. 

That was the error of the Samaritans, who looking at their neibours, - and from general knowledge- they show that there were more than one Temple of their God and that their neibours God honor all Temples. 

So when the Temple was built in Jerusalem and with that the worship, and we know how God show that he was in the knew Temple, on the opening day of the Temple. 

(This is the same with the Idolatric Temples of that time, even today as in the Hindu religion. 

The craft the Idols of their Gods and are just without any spiritual valued till the blessing ceremony when the spirits come and posses them. ). 

Going back to the Samaritans, (even thought they appeared much later, but the trive of Epraim was there, 

The people perceived that why the Gods of there neibours were able to be in more than one place of worship, and this God , there God who was grater than them, of course can be worship in more than one place, and be in more than one TEMPLE , and that was one reason to continiun to wirship on the mountain the place of the Tabernacle, the place of worship before the Jerusalem Temple was build. 

Later when the kingdom was build their beliefs were reinforced , and they said to them selfs, that God had asked David to build the Temple in Jerusalem, because he knew and proposed to give us our own kingdom, and wanted the kingdom of Juda to have their own Temple, and not to be without a Temple. 

So every Kingdom to have their own Temple. 

What else God made them two Kingdoms, and he did not intent one of them not to have a Temple when he was their Lord of both kingdoms, how strange. 

That reminds me of the Christian Roman Empire divided in two and not the North and South but the East and the West, and how at the begining they had one head place of worship in Rome with the same spiritual leader that of Rome, and how later the East Empire built their own metropolitan place of worship in Instabul and have their own spiritual leader.

That's why Jesus told the Samaritans you do not know what you do.

They were worshiping God in vained. 

I cannot help it but to see that the samething happened when God moved the Temple from Jerusalem at the same time when he establish the New COVENANT, he built the new Temple in our hearts, 

And even thought after the New Temple that God build in our Hearts through Jesus Christ, the Jews continius the worship in the old Teble - just like the Samaritans before- 

They Jews continiun the worship in the Temple of Jerusalem in vain. 

As with the Samaritants, God can say to them that you do not know what you do. 

Philip first and then Paul found that out and left the worship of the Temple. 

Jesus said I see the beast of desolation standing in the Temple, because he knew that God was not there any more, as he was with the new Temple in our hearts. 

Neither in Jerusalem or here, but you shall worship God through the new Temple in our heart. 

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18 minutes ago, Your closest friendnt said:

Hello FD, I always read your post, they are very informative, and it is quite distarving to see that in North America most people who come from Christian families they know more about Eastern Religions and about Jewish and even Islam in the last years, even about atheism and the history of sll of them, than they know about the Christian history through out the centuries.

There is a void in their knowledge that span many centuries , and that it is fueled by the modern day protestants,

I may not be accurate by many are so ignorant, the only knowledge they have about Christian history is from the movies.

In the old Testiment the images and the art in the Temple was ordained by God. 

There is a reason and a proposed and a symbolism why God gave them specific instructions how to build and craft , and what material to use, in the Temple . 

His prohibition was to the people as objerving their neibours and how they had images of their Gods, as in the Gods of Egyot, the Romans, and so on. 

And he gave them also a prohibition not to duplicate the things in the Temple and the Temple it self. 

In two words, while they were many Temples of Apollo, or Artemis and so on, the prohibition not to duplicate the things in the Temple, it was to tell them that there is going to be only one Temple of worship , and he forbate them to built a secont one. 

That was the error of the Samaritans, who looking at their neibours, - and from general knowledge- they show that there were more than one Temple of their God and that their neibours God honor all Temples. 

So when the Temple was built in Jerusalem and with that the worship, and we know how God show that he was in the knew Temple, on the opening day of the Temple. 

(This is the same with the Idolatric Temples of that time, even today as in the Hindu religion. 

The craft the Idols of their Gods and are just without any spiritual valued till the blessing ceremony when the spirits come and posses them. ). 

Going back to the Samaritans, (even thought they appeared much later, but the trive of Epraim was there, 

The people perceived that why the Gods of there neibours were able to be in more than one place of worship, and this God , there God who was grater than them, of course can be worship in more than one place, and be in more than one TEMPLE , and that was one reason to continiun to wirship on the mountain the place of the Tabernacle, the place of worship before the Jerusalem Temple was build. 

Later when the kingdom was build their beliefs were reinforced , and they said to them selfs, that God had asked David to build the Temple in Jerusalem, because he knew and proposed to give us our own kingdom, and wanted the kingdom of Juda to have their own Temple, and not to be without a Temple. 

So every Kingdom to have their own Temple. 

What else God made them two Kingdoms, and he did not intent one of them not to have a Temple when he was their Lord of both kingdoms, how strange. 

That reminds me of the Christian Roman Empire divided in two and not the North and South but the East and the West, and how at the begining they had one head place of worship in Rome with the same spiritual leader that of Rome, and how later the East Empire built their own metropolitan place of worship in Instabul and have their own spiritual leader.

That's why Jesus told the Samaritans you do not know what you do.

They were worshiping God in vained. 

I cannot help it but to see that the samething happened when God moved the Temple from Jerusalem at the same time when he establish the New COVENANT, he built the new Temple in our hearts, 

And even thought after the New Temple that God build in our Hearts through Jesus Christ, the Jews continius the worship in the old Teble - just like the Samaritans before- 

They Jews continiun the worship in the Temple of Jerusalem in vain. 

As with the Samaritants, God can say to them that you do not know what you do. 

Philip first and then Paul found that out and left the worship of the Temple. 

Jesus said I see the beast of desolation standing in the Temple, because he knew that God was not there any more, as he was with the new Temple in our hearts. 

Neither in Jerusalem or here, but you shall worship God through the new Temple in our heart. 

There is so much you have said that is informative. Thank you for joyour king this discussion. 

I agree, many do not know Church History which is our history, the history of us Christians. Sure there are dark chapters, but I think if beefits us to know those as well as the good chapters and periods, so that we may learn from them and not repeat folly and instead sow faith. :) 

One of the most facinsting things is that God had a tabernacle built and it traveled with the people. This was the Lord saying, “I am with you everywhere.” When David wanted to make a temple of stone and cedar God actually said no (2 Samuel 7:1-53, 2 Chronicles 17:1-20, and Acts 7:14-17). The reason is making a temple in one city was to copy the pagans who believed you had to go to Athens or Corinth to visit their temples; the Lord God was saying I am the True God and I do not live in temples made with human hands (). This was also to foreshadow God taking on flesh (temple) to die for our sins and raise from the dead. Jesus tabernacledcon earth for 33yrs and then after making propitiation for our sins and being the door to the Father, He and the Holy Spirit with the Father, One God in Three Persons lives inside us His temples (Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Hebrews 3:6). The prophet Daniel and a sext of Jews understood God did not need temples of cedar and stone, but was with you always, as Daniel prayed in home three times a day. 

Soloman built a temple, but God Told David “I will build House for you, and your Seed will sit on your throne forever..” (2 Samuel 7:1-53). God was speaking of His Son Jesus Christ, not Soloman. 

Most disturbing of all, when I was in Jerusalem for Holy Week, the Jews had sacrificed a lamb in the Old customs of Judaism for the sins of Jews! Oh the sacrilege! Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God and He paid for our sins once for all time (1 Peter 3:18, 2 Peter 2:22). Jeremaih fortold that the Jews must believe in the One coming with a New Covensnt (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And yet the veil remains strong on their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). 

——————————————

As for images, we don’t need them but there is no prohibition of the image that depicts the Lord and His victories, including His cross. 

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5 minutes ago, Fidei Defensor said:

There is so much you have said that is informative. Thank you for joyour king this discussion. 

I agree, many do not know Church History which is our history, the history of us Christians. Sure there are dark chapters, but I think if beefits us to know those as well as the good chapters and periods, so that we may learn from them and not repeat folly and instead sow faith. :) 

One of the most facinsting things is that God had a tabernacle built and it traveled with the people. This was the Lord saying, “I am with you everywhere.” When David wanted to make a temple of stone and cedar God actually said no (2 Samuel 7:1-53, 2 Chronicles 17:1-20, and Acts 7:14-17). The reason is making a temple in one city was to copy the pagans who believed you had to go to Athens or Corinth to visit their temples; the Lord God was saying I am the True God and I do not live in temples made with human hands (). This was also to foreshadow God taking on flesh (temple) to die for our sins and raise from the dead. Jesus tabernacledcon earth for 33yrs and then after making propitiation for our sins and being the door to the Father, He and the Holy Spirit with the Father, One God in Three Persons lives inside us His temples (Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Hebrews 3:6). The prophet Daniel and a sext of Jews understood God did not need temples of cedar and stone, but was with you always, as Daniel prayed in home three times a day. 

Soloman built a temple, but God Told David “I will build House for you, and your Seed will sit on your throne forever..” (2 Samuel 7:1-53). God was speaking of His Son Jesus Christ, not Soloman. 

Most disturbing of all, when I was in Jerusalem for Holy Week, the Jews had sacrificed a lamb in the Old customs of Judaism for the sins of Jews! Oh the sacrilege! Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God and He paid for our sins once for all time (1 Peter 3:18, 2 Peter 2:22). Jeremaih fortold that the Jews must believe in the One coming with a New Covensnt (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And yet the veil remains strong on their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). 

——————————————

As for images, we don’t need them but there is no prohibition of the image that depicts the Lord and His victories, including His cross. 

Thank you, I would like to remind you something I believe you know. 

As I was borned in Athens and worked at the old city of Athens-Plaka- I use to take my lunch break at the Hill of Aeropagus overlooking the Parthenon, where Paul stood and spoke to the Athenians. 

I love history, !!

What I was refering to, it is in the ancient times they did not go to war before they asked the priest of their Gods to tell them whose is favor, and to asked for their blessings, as a result of that they had banners and symbols to carry so the body of their soldiers knew that theur God will fight with them. 

Before that great fight Constantine was not favor to win the batlle and no one of the high Priests of their Pantheon wanted to bless him and non of their Gods wanted to fight with him, a forcast looser before the battle began. 

That's when Jesus Christ approach Constantine and told him "I will fight with you and you are going to win". 

Constantine knew the History not only of Jesus but how the Lord God had deal with the Pharaohs of Egypt and the other great nations.

And he believed him, an order to make banners with the name of Jesus Christ and the sign of the Cross, adore in gold ebroyders and precious stones fit for a King, so he soldiers and those whom hecwas about to fight,  can know who was blessing them and who was going to fight with them, so they can give the Glory to him and not confuse Jesus help for one of their Gods who had all sided with his opponet. 

It was kind of a war between the Gods of Rome and Jesus. 

As in the time of Egypt when it was a show down between the Gods of Egypt and the Lord. That was about Jesus Christ coming to heip his prosecuted people, he just had to wait when all their Gods were in the same camp together, so the people on both camps knew who had given the victory to Constantine. 

The God above all other Gods.

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. 

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