Images of Christ

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Puritan Board Junior
In the article Christ, Art and the Second Commandment Ken Gentry makes the following statement:

Our Westminster Standards´ Larger Catechism answer to Question 109 states: "œThe sins forbidden in the second commandment are . . . the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it...."

This Catechetical answer is theologically accurate, I believe. But I sense that many Reformed Christians misunderstand the theological implications of it when they deny all artistic representations of Christ.

The Catechism forbids "œany representation of God." But we must remember that according to historic, evangelical, Bible-believing orthodoxy, Christ possessed a true human body and that the divine is not co-mingled in the human. Thus, a picture of Christ is a picture of his human form, not of his hidden, inner deity. At the Transfiguration Christ allowed his inner divine nature to shine through, but otherwise it remained veiled from human eyes.

If we interpret this Catechism answer to mean that no pictures of Christ´s body may be made (which it does not say), then the Catechism would condemn the Apostles themselves. Note that the Catechism not only forbids "œany representation of God" but also projecting images "œinwardly in our mind." Consequently, when the disciples would remember (in their minds) the human form of Christ, they would be guilty of breaching the Second Commandment.

Furthermore, you yourselves would be guilty of idolatry from time to time. For how can a minister preach on the cruel crucifixion of Christ and your mind not form a mental image of what he must have looked like hanging on the cross. Yet you would be doing nothing more than mentally conceiving what first century witnesses to the crucifixion actually saw with their own eyes.

Is Gentry splitting hairs here? Making a strawman? What's going on?

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Simply put, he is the one misunderstanding the intended meaning of the divines in the catechism. For one thing, he singles out the phrase "any representation of God," I think without doing justice to the elaboration that follows in "any of the three any kind of image or likeness," which would logically include " the image or likeness of a human body."

But even more than that, his error lies in the way He is approaching Christ's two natures and their relationship to each other, saying that images of Christ's human nature do not necessarily depict His divine nature. Paul Manata used a similar argument awhile back, but repudiated it largely based on Acts 20:28.
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