f The Wittenberg Door: Idols and the Christian

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Idols and the Christian


I didn’t attend any passion plays last week. I’m also one of the few Americans who didn’t see The Passion of the Christ. Here’s how my reasoning goes:

  • We are not to try and image God (Due. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18, 25; Rom. 1:22-24; Acts 17:29)
  • Jesus is God
  • Therefore, we are not to try and image Jesus

What does God require in the second commandment?

That we in no wise make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

Heidelberg Catechism, question and answer 96

The retort is that Christ is also man, so it’s okay to image Him. The problem is, though, that this presupposes that God makes an exception in this case. But where in Scripture does the Lord make such an exception? He didn’t, so we can’t.

Pastor Lee Johnson of First Reformed Church of Herreid South Dakota offers a great treatment of this subject in a post titled “The Images Strick Back" at the Two-Edged Sword blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Dr. Owen did provide another argument in favor of images of Christ that is commonly used. Jesus is the image of God, and we are simply imaging the image of God. That must be allowable. Plus, they are not images of the divine nature, but Christ in the flesh. That argument was given by men like John of Damascus when they argued in favor of images. The imaging Christ’s flesh argument runs afoul of the universal definition of the person of Jesus Christ as given in the Council of Chalcedon. The person of Jesus has two natures, and they cannot be divided nor mixed. Thus, any picture of the person of Jesus Christ is a picture of the divine nature as well as the human nature. No picture can do that, and any picture that tries violates the Second Commandment. By making the argument that images are not trying to capture the "ineffable divine nature", he admits that trying to do so is wrong. Thus, in order to keep images of Christ, one must throw out the Council of Chalcedon. This is the conclusion reached by Constantine V as did the Council of Hieria which included 338 bishops. They rightly pointed out that Jesus left us the bread and wine as proper images, we need nothing else. Images were also rejected by Charlegmane and the Council of Frankfurt lest anyone be swayed by the argument that the church pronounced them acceptable in Nicaea II.

Read the entire post by clicking here.

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