Pictures of Christ

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by BertMulder, Dec 24, 2008.

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  1. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    This seems to be right in line with the conclusions of the 753 A.D. Synod of Constantinople, which said, "“Whoever . . . makes an image of Christ, either depicts the Godhead which cannot be depicted, and mingles it with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians. The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is the bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation.”
  2. matthew11v25

    matthew11v25 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think Mark Driscoll does a good job at describing pictures of Jesus:

    “Because Jesus worked in a day when there were no power tools, he likely had calluses on his hands and muscles on his frame, and did not look like so many of the drag-queen Jesus images that portray him with long, flowing, feathered hair, perfect teeth, and soft skin, draped in a comfortable dress accessorized by matching open-toed sandals and handbag. Jesus did not have Elton John or the Spice Girls on his iPod, *The View* on his TiVo, or a lemon-yellow Volkswagen Beetle in his garage. No, Jesus was not the kind of person who, if walking by you on the street, would require you to look for an Adam's apple to determine the gender."

    "The Orthodox and Catholic baby Jesus pictures are simply freakish, with him looking like a Mini-Me complete with a halo. Honestly, if I had a kid like that I would sleep with one eye open."

    From Vintage Jesus

    my issue with Nativity scenes apart from the "baby Jesus" is the presence of the magi, who were not present at Christ's birth.
  3. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    No to manger scenes.
  4. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    I have no wish to make Calvin or Knox say more than they did. Both were primarily addressing worship issues and the practice of the church in their day and had little reason to address the secular use of images of Christ. Actually, as the culture in their day made little distinction between secular and sacred, there would have been little use of images of Jesus outside the ecclesiastical context. So, finding a quote of Calvin or Knox saying, “Don’t ever depict Jesus, even outside of church and worship,” is difficult. Their priority was to address abuses in worship and church practice.

    One must consider what Calvin and Knox said and didn’t say in the larger historical context. The issue of images of Jesus became a dominant one in the 8th century. The Byzantine Emperor, Constantime V, convened a council of 340 bishops at Hiera (near Constantinople) in 754 to consider the matter. They decreed:

    Wherefore we thought it right, to shew forth with all accuracy, in our present definition the error of such as make and venerate these, for it is the unanimous doctrine of all the holy Fathers and of the six Ecumenical Synods, that no one may imagine any kind of separation or mingling in opposition to the unsearchable, unspeakable, and incomprehensible union of the two natures in the one hypostasis or person. What avails, then, the folly of the painter, who from sinful love of gain depicts that which should not be depicted--that is, with his polluted hands he tries to fashion that which should only be believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth? He makes an image and calls it Christ. The name Christ signifies God and man. Consequently it is an image of God and man, and consequently he has in his foolish mind, in his representation of the created flesh, depicted the Godhead which cannot be represented, and thus mingled what should not be mingled. Thus he is guilty of a double blasphemy--the one in making an image of the Godhead, and the other by mingling the Godhead and manhood. Those fall into the same blasphemy who venerate the image, and the same woe rests upon both, because they err with Arius, Dioscorus, and Eutyches, and with the heresy of the Acephali. When, however, they are blamed for undertaking to depict the divine nature of Christ, which should not be depicted, they take refuge in the excuse: We represent only the flesh of Christ which we have seen and handled. But that is a Nestorian error. For it should be considered that that flesh was also the flesh of God the Word, without any separation, perfectly assumed by the divine nature and made wholly divine. How could it now be separated and represented apart? So is it wish the human soul of Christ which mediates between the Godhead of the Son and the dulness of the flesh. As the human flesh is at the same time flesh of God the Word, so is the human soul also soul of God the Word, and both at the same time, the soul being deified as well as the body, and the Godhead remained undivided even in the separation of the soul from the body in his voluntary passion. For where the soul of Christ is, there is also his Godhead; and where the body of Christ is, there too is his Godhead. If then in his passion the divinity remained inseparable from these, how do the fools venture to separate the flesh from the Godhead, and represent it by itself as the image of a mere man? They fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, ascribe to it a subsistence of its own, a personality of its own, which they depict, and thus introduce a fourth person into the Trinity. Moreover, they represent as not being made divine, that which has been made divine by being assumed by the Godhead. Whoever, then, makes an image of Christ, either depicts the Godhead which cannot be depicted, and mingles it with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians.

    The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation....

    In 780, the Empress Irene, acting as regent for her ten year old son Constantine VI, convened the Second Council of Nicea, which reversed the decrees of the Council of Hiera and permitted pictures of Jesus. When a copy of the decress of Nicea II reached the English bishops in 792, they rejected their decisions. The Council of Frankfort, summoned by Charlemagne in 794, also rejected Nicea II.

    Given this background, consider that Calvin (Institutes I.xi.14) rejects the arguments of Nicea II.

    Calvin pointed out the Second Commandment not only forbad the worship of images, but also “restrains our license from daring to subject God, who is incomprehensible, to our sense perceptions, or to represent him by any form.” (Institutes II.viii.17)

    Commenting on Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuternomy 5:8-10, Calvin wrote, “Some expound the words, ‘Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven image, which thou mayest adore;’ as if it were allowable to make a visible image of God, provided it be not adored; but the expositions which will follow will easily refute their error. Meanwhile, I do not deny that these things are to be taken connectedly, since superstitious worship is hardly ever separated from the preceding error; for as soon as any one has permitted himself to devise an image of God, he immediately falls into false worship." [Harmony of the Last Four Books of Moses, Vol. II, p. 108.]

    The argument that images should be permitted for educational purposes was made by papists. Calvin answered this saying, "For when Jeremiah declares that ‘the stock is a doctrine of vanities,’ (Jeremiah 10:8,) and Habakkuk, ‘that the molten image’ is ‘a teacher of lies,’ the general doctrine to be inferred certainly is, that every thing respecting God which is learned from images is futile and false. If it is objected that the censure of the prophets is directed against those who perverted images to purposes of impious superstition, I admit it to be so; but I add, (what must be obvious to all,) that the prophets utterly condemn what the Papists hold to be an undoubted axiom, viz., that images are substitutes for books." (Institutes I.xi.5) He added, "The simple reason why those who had the charge of churches resigned the office of teaching to idols was, because they themselves were dumb. Paul declares, that by the true preaching of the gospel Christ is portrayed and in a manner crucified before our eyes, (Gal. 3:1.)" (I.xi.7) "The truth of this latter remark I wish we did not so thoroughly experience. Whosoever, therefore, is desirous of being instructed in the true knowledge of God must apply to some other teacher than images." (I.xi.6) "The Lord, however, not only forbids any image of himself to be erected by a statuary, but to be formed by any artist whatever, because every such image is sinful and insulting to his majesty." (I.xi.4) Calvin’s position was, “Any use of images leads to idolatry" (I.xi.9).

    Calvin’s overall view of images was given in the whole of Book I, Chapter 11 of the Institutes.

    Looking at John Knox, consider the Book of Discipline, Third Head (1560): “For let your Honours be assuredly persuaded, that there shall God’s wrath reign, not only upon the blind and obstinate idolater, but also up on the negligent suffers of the same; especially if God have armed their hands with power to suppress such abominations. By idolatry we understand, the Mass, invocation of saints, adoration of images, and the keeping and retaining of the same; and, finally, all honouring of God not contained in his holy Word.”

    Note: Knox condemns not just the use of images in worship, but also the “keeping and retaining of the same.”

    Christ is undivided God and man, two natures in one person. WLC 36 says he “was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever." People worshiped the human body of Jesus during his earthly life and he did not forbid them doing so because he was divine. The eternal Word of God incarnate is God. To claim only his humanity is depicted is to separate what is joined forever. To depict divinity (which is one person with his humanity) is idolatry.

    Any image of Christ is either to honor or dishonor him. After all, Christians are to glorify God in all things. If such image dishonors Christ, it is sin, depicting him in vain. If it honors him, it is a type of worship, a means of making him known, not warranted in his word. Therefore, the latter is the sin of idolatry.

    I concede many ignorantly use images of Jesus today not intending idolatrous worship of God. I wonder how many Reformed folks on this forum worship in churches displaying pictures of Jesus or use them in Sunday School materials?

    Our culture was once sensitive to this issue. When Ben Hur was filmed in 1959, the image of Jesus was not shown, just a shadow, out of respect to Christian sensitivities. Now, evangelical churches send people to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ. Any display of an image of Jesus undermines this sensitivity further.

    The Puritans, Westminster and Second Reformation Scottish Church were clearer on this matter. Though not infallible, they should be respectfully read and their arguments from Scripture considered.
  5. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    Nope, it's on velvet and it's one of the few things I have from my parents. If it's makes me a bad person than so be it, I find nothing wrong with it.
  6. YXU

    YXU Puritan Board Freshman

    Absolutely, a friend of mine who is a M. Div student told me that he didn't know Jesus is human until he saw Jesus film that the actor was beaten and crucified. Sadly, I even have a friend in China who is an artist, he is drawing these pictures as a ministry. We need revival.
  7. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    I actually am repulsed now at pictures of Jesus. I've been rather ambivalent in the past but the older I get the more repulsed I become. So much for the world famous Art Gallery at my Alma Mater BJU. I had a roomate who came to BJU for Graduate School and he was an Art Major and he has to go speak with Bob Jr because he opposed pictures of Jesus but after Bob Jr explained to him why it wasn't wrong he accepted it as Truth and went on to get his Master's Degree.

    I'm all for the Bread and Wine as Christ's instituted representation of His Body and Blood and the Means of Grace it conveys.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Sproul doesn't believe that having pics of Christ is breaking the 2nd commandment and calls for all who do to leave their Gnostic thinking behind. I don't like the pics myself.
  9. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    I didn't know that, very interesting. I've heard of the Gnostic accusation but don't buy into it as we aren't saying that we deny that Christ was Human or that His Humanity wasn't important but that to attempt a depiction of His Humanity is in violation of God's Law.
  10. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    Not having pics of Christ still smacks a bit of muslim to me, maybe I'm goofy. They don't lie pics either
  11. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I now have the podcast where he says this. I didn't believe the person who told me so I went and got it and sure enough...
  12. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    There are several supposed images of Jesus on display (huge hanging banners) in Sproul's church.
  13. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    They don't like p0rnography either does that make our condemnation of p0rnography Islamic? :think:
  14. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    Apples and oranges. I agree with Sproul nothing wrong with pics
  15. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    That's ok I understand
  16. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Rather, I’d suggest Sproul and those who think they may display images of Jesus Christ without breaking the second commandment are Nestorian; they believe Christ’s divine nature and human nature remain separate, rather than become one divine person. Pictures of Jesus either depict a divine person and violate the second commandment, or Nestorianism is correct and only a human person is shown.

    Sproul and others, leave your Nestorian thinking behind and believe what our confessions teach in WLC 109 and here:

    WSC-Q. 21. Who is the redeemer of God's elect?
    The only redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.​
  17. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Piper and others aren't against the images either. This is another issue where I am undecided. Out of fear of the Lord I therefore abstain from purported images of Christ; even if it is acceptable, I won't be at risk of sinning if I play it safe!
  18. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

  19. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    Indeed! Even if they weren't prohibited, where is the possible benefit?
  20. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Indeed. :detective:
  21. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    That was my position Andrew up until just a few months ago when I came to the conclusion and conviction that it violates the 2nd Commandment. But nothing wrong with playing it safe until you have decided. :)
  22. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Please, let me correct my statement above. I should have said,

    I’d suggest Sproul and those who think they may display images of Jesus Christ need to leave their Nestorian thinking behind.

    I didn’t mean to suggest Sproul or others within reformed denominations actually believe Christ’s two natures are not joined in one divine person. But, their practice is consistent with Nestorian belief.
  23. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Is it a false piety and/or sentimentalism?
  24. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, I'll forgive you for calling my fav teacher a Nestorian, but don't let it happen again. :p
  25. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Hey, but didn't Sproul call the rest of us a bunch of Gnostics? :rolleyes:
  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    He was just teasing...kind of a endearment name sort of thing....he really does love us! :)
  27. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Sproul gave me a free iPod. He must be ok!

    Just don't ask him about the 2nd and 4th commandments!
  28. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    He's from Pittsburgh, a Steeler Fan, and one of the primary reasons I'm a Reformed Presbyterian so I'm a fan of the man but he needs to punt when it comes to Pictures of Jesus.
  29. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Christ gave us the Lords Supper and baptism to represent himself, anything else is blasphemous and a mocking of the sacraments
  30. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    And don't listen regardless.:agree:
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