Huguenot Cross and the 2nd Commandment

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by SRoper, Feb 2, 2009.

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  1. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    The Huguenot Cross features a dove descending from a cross. Does this not violate the 2nd Commandment? It seems strange to me that Calvinists would choose such a symbol. What is the history here?
  2. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The ARP logo also has a dove descending. This has always bothered me as well.
  3. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    How about the burning bush?
  4. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    Huguenot Cross and Heart/Hand symbol available from Calvin College.

    Too papist for me.

    -----Added 2/2/2009 at 01:30:15 EST-----

    The Huguenot cross is a Christian religious symbol originating in France and is one of the more recognisable and popular symbols of the evangelical reformed faith. It is commonly found today as a piece of jewellery (in gold or silver) or engraved on buildings connected with the Reformed Church in France. It also forms part of the official logo of the Reformed Church in France.

    The cross appeared for the first time during the Huguenot Wars (1562-1598) in the South of France. The catholic King of France Henry III executed the famous Protestant leader Charles du Puy-Montbrun in Grenoble on the 12th of August 1575. In 1578, Henry III established the Order of the Holy Spirit, which has as its symbol the same cross as the Huguenot cross - even the dove is similar to the Huguenot one. The eight-pointed cross was first introduced for the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller) during the first Crusade by Raymond du Puy-Montbrun, who was the first Grand Master of that Order and ancestor of Charles du Puy-Montbrun.

    The first jewell was produced in 1688 after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the goldsmith Maystre of Nîmes. It is thought that the cross represented the Huguenots desire to declare loyalty and fidelity to the French Crown and therefore the French state whilst maintaining witness to the reformed faith.

    Huguenot cross - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  5. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    If the dove is used to portray a person in the Trinity then it would be idolatry.

    The burning bush has never portrayed a person in the Trinity as far as i know... It was a theophany.
  6. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Is this a ploy to lure Andrew Myers out of hiding? :lol:
  7. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Isn't it only considered idolatry if it takes the place of God?

    Meaning, you can have a model of a dove on your bookshelf. That's not idolatry. If, however, you start looking at it and treating the statue with honor as if it were the Holy Ghost, that would be idolatry, because it's taking the place of God. Right?
  8. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    That's what I was thinking. I hope Andrew is doing fine.
  9. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    As Larry Bray already noted, if it is intended that the dove is meant to portray the Holy Spirit, then it is idolatrous. James Durham on the Ten Commandments has a VERY nice discussion of portrayals of any of the persons of the Trinity and why they are all idols that must be rejected.
  10. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    So would you say then that any symbolic imagery of doves in Christian art is idolatry?

    I'm not trying to be contentious here, I'm trying to figure it out. I don't know everything. :)
  11. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Imagery meant to represent the Holy Spirit, absolutely.

    Imagery meant to illustrate a dove for a dove's sake, not a problem.
  12. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    I see.

    We have a stained-glass window in our church with the symbol of a dove(as well as symbols of lambs, vines, etc.). Would those also be considered idolatrous?

    I'm not even sure where they came from. Probably inherited from whoever had the church before we did... I can't imagine anyone from our denomination installing stained-glass windows otherwise. :D
  13. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    i'm not sure how differently the same statement can be made than the ways it's already been said.

    It matters not who made a symbol, or where it is, or how old it is, or how much it cost, or any other mitigating factor. A symbol meant to represent any of the persons of the trinity is an idol, as I understand it, and as I've said a few times now and Larry has said as well. I don't believe there's any situational exigency that you could point to where we'd say "ok, well in THAT case, THAT human-made likeness of the Spirit of God is allowable". Forbidden is forbidden.
  14. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    Is not writing the name of a member of the trinity a symbol meant to represent that person, that is after all what writing is. I do not think that this is necessarily a balck and white issue.

    If the image is to represent rather than depict the deity (as for instance in writing a name) is this always wrong?
  15. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Well, the words are image and likeness, which mean (correct me if I'm wrong, Hebrew scholars) things which are meant to represent physically that which is represented or symbolized by that image or likeness. Text is not such a thing, so as I read it it doesn't fall under the same category as would a picture of a dove meant to represent the Holy Spirit, a young Jewish man meant to represent the Son or an old bearded man meant to represent the Father.

    Again I'd encourage anyone that has Durham's writing on the Ten Commandments - his discussion of the 2nd is very good.
  16. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Of course, when all four Evangelists tell us that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ in a form like that of a dove are we sinning against WLC #109 by imagining that scene, which arguably is what the Gospel writers invite us to do by the inclusion of such visuals?

    That is a mental image (and why I take exception to Q/A 109 which would otherwise seem to forbid thinking upon the metaphors that God has provided us in Scripture as reflections given by Him to us with the intent of understanding some facet of His nature and ways more thoroughly).
  17. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Big difference between "symbol" and "image."

    God authorized many symbols for our use, including alphabetical symbols that represent words. God communicates to his people through words. But there are other authorized symbols that are not images. Think baptism and the Lord's Supper. The 2nd commandment requires us to be careful about mixing these things up.

    (Think also of the bronze serpent--an authorized symbol that was later destroyed because it apparently had become something of an image of God to the people).

    If someone uses a picture of a dove to convey the word "dove" then it is a symbol conveying that word, not an image of God. But it can be misconstrued.

    But if we use a picture of a dove to convey the concept of God, (as opposed to the word "dove"), it is a prohibited image.

    Seems fairly straightforward to me, but only if we remember the context of the 2nd commandment and don't fall into the rationalization that an image is OK as long as I'm not worshipping it--we know that fallen people are predisposed to worship images--it's recorded throughout biblical and world history. God has commanded us to stay away from that and revere, listen, and heed his Word and words.

    -----Added 2/2/2009 at 05:09:17 EST-----

    From my perspective, I think we can say that the mental image presented by the Evangelists is perfectly permitted. No problem there. My reservation would be to depict that scene in an image. Why not just say what they said?
  18. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    I agree with you Vic, but when the WLC says "the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind..." it would seem to rule out, on a strict reading, a Christian giving visual imagery to that scene even in his mind.

    If I could read that section of 109 in another way I wouldn't take exception, but I have never heard a differing explanation given for it, either in writing or in presbytery discussion, and so have always held to that exception.

    When I read the heavily image-based book of John's Revelation, especially a theocentric passage such as chapter 19, I am unable to do other than place a striking image of the victorious Christ in my mind's eye. Even though what I am imagining is a word picture intended to represent something about him, and is not truly him, it is still making a mental image of God, in that sense, and would seem to be prohibited by a plain understanding of the WLC.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  19. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Adam raises a good point.

    Would one of the 12 have sinned, if they *remembered* the human form of Jesus?
  20. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Fair enough, Adam. I'd have to take the same exception, but I would keep it narrowed to mental images coming directly from descriptive passages of scripture. There's no way I could blot out of my mind those vivid images.
  21. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    As do I.
  22. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    There's a secular French lady who's a customer of mine who wears one. The Maltese Cross, the Dove, and what's technically only supposed to be worn during times of persecution, a pearl hanging from the dove. If Christ is the Pearl of Great Price, then should all those ladies in church wear pearls?

    I think it's a major cool cultural statement which honors our faith. It's true the nowadays most who wear it probably don't really honor it properly, but it's not the symbol's fault.

    There may be OT examples in the Phylactery. And maybe not. But really, just think about it. A guy eats pork, shaves his beard, etc...etc...but puts his foot down and says a Huguenot Cross is wrong based on something in the OT?

    Does anyone else see a contradiction it this?
  23. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    Scripture explicitly says in Deut. 4 that the burning bush is not an image of God.

    That actually crossed my mind as I made the post, but it wasn't my primary intention.
  24. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    It's not in me to throw the Huguenots down the river. No way. But, still, we're not just talking about Mosaic law ceremonial and civil, right? The crux of the Sabbath issue, I always thought, was that it predated Moses and was later codified in the 10 words. Pork and beards can't claim that status, I think.
  25. TsonMariytho

    TsonMariytho Puritan Board Freshman

    (emphasis mine)

    The distinction between clean and unclean animals also predates Moses. Consider the number of animals of each kind taken by Noah on the ark, and perhaps also the unlikeliness of Abel or Noah sacrificing a pig as a burnt offering with God's approval as explicitly stated in each case.
  26. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Maybe so, for sacrifices. But Noah was given every animal to eat in Gen 9.

    It seems it was only later that dietary restrictions were imposed.
  27. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Still, if there were 7 giraffes and only 2 pigs taken on the ark...:cool:
  28. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    :lol: But surely you know how fast pigs breed!
  29. TsonMariytho

    TsonMariytho Puritan Board Freshman

    That's a really interesting angle on the discussion. I don't think the above question is considered a problem by Orthodox Jews. But I have to wonder why it's not, given the remarkable extent to which they go to avoid showing dishonor to the written or pronounced name(s) of God.

    To start with, they refuse to even pronounce the name "Jehovah" / "Yahweh", substituting Adonai or Elohim in its place when reading the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). When you get down to the level of informal conversation, or in the speech of children, who they think don't yet have a handle for how to even use Adonai with proper reverence, they substitute the very generic "HaShem" = "The Name".

    They have all kinds of rules about what you can and can't do with the written name of God. For example, a book or paper with God's name written in must not be thrown away with the common trash, but buried respectfully. I think the Rabbis determined that you may delete an email that has "God" written in it. However, just to be on the safe side, they will typically put "G-d" in their writings outside of an actual Tanach or other religious book.

    My Hebrew professor, an Orthodox Jew who also has some kind of rabbinical ordination, was extraordinarily punctilious about all of this. He was not willing to write God's Hebrew names on the whiteboard (when he did so he would make an obvious letter substitution), and furthermore, when he wrote another Hebrew word that happened to include the same letters in the same order as a name of God, he would erase it very carefully, such that at no time did he have God's name standing by itself (i.e. he might choose to erase sweeping from the right instead of the left).

    So getting back to the subject, if we have all the reverence to this physical object, why doesn't it turn into a second commandment issue instead of just a third commandment issue (not taking God's name in vain)?

    Obviously we don't get our theology from the traditions of Orthodox Judaism. I just thought you guys raised an interesting angle on this subject.
  30. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    I do not believe icons are a sin as long as they are not worship themselves. granted I go to a francaphone church so the symbol is very popular with reformed folks in québec.
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