Pictures of Jesus in Church

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blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Today I was thinking about the practice of some churches of putting pictures of Jesus in the sanctuary. I've never given it much thought, but why do they do that? What is the reasoning behind putting up an artist's rendition of what they thought Jesus may have looked like? What purpose does it serve?

Exo 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Have you ever tried to convince somebody who attends such a church that displaying an image of Jesus violated one of the 10 commandments and should not be in the church? How did you go about explaining it - I'd imagine they'd usually say they're not worshipping the image?
 

VaughanRSmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think that it is misleading to say that they aren't "worshipping the image". The golden calf was a representation of the god/gods who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The Israelites were using the calf as an "aid to worship" that/those god/gods.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Today I was thinking about the practice of some churches of putting pictures of Jesus in the sanctuary. I've never given it much thought, but why do they do that? What is the reasoning behind putting up an artist's rendition of what they thought Jesus may have looked like? What purpose does it serve?

Exo 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Have you ever tried to convince somebody who attends such a church that displaying an image of Jesus violated one of the 10 commandments and should not be in the church? How did you go about explaining it - I'd imagine they'd usually say they're not worshipping the image?
I at one point was in a fairly High-Church Anglican setting, with stained glass images of Christ N, S, E, and W. At that juncture in my life, I would have said that the prohibition was against actuall worship (of said images). It is part of our fallen nature to desire the image, to "see". If anything it shows how bankrupt we became after the Fall. :2cents:
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
:agree:

It's a portrait of an ordinary man with long hair. Since the man appears to have somewhat Scandinavian features, I've given this portait a title: "Swede".

In one of our former congregations we rented from a church that had one in the sanctuary. We made it a practice either to throw a cover over "Swede" while we were there, or to remove him temporarily to the adjoining Pastor's study.

If a picture, that's supposed to be of Jesus, doesn't evoke worship from one of His servants, it is vain. But if one of these pictures does evoke worship it has become idolatry, because the picture is not accurate. It's a Catch 22. Plus, the commandment clearly says it's a violation to make any images.
 
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Blue Tick

Puritan Board Graduate
:agree:
:agree:

It's a portrait of an ordinary man with long hair. Since the man appears to have somewhat Scandinavian features, I've given this portait a title: "Swede".

In one of our former congregations we rented from a church that had one in the sanctuary. We made it a practice either to throw a cover over "Swede" while we were there, or to remove him temporarily to the adjoining Pastor's study.

If a picture, that's supposed to be of Jesus, doesn't evoke worship from one of His servants, it is vain. But if one of these pictures does evoke worship it has become idolatry, because the picture is not accurate. It's a Catch 22. Plus, the commandment clearly says it's a violation to make any images.


Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 107. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Q. 109. What sins are forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; 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; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God's sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
If a picture, that's supposed to be of Jesus, doesn't evoke worship from one of His servants, it is vain. But if one of these pictures does evoke worship it has become idolatry, because the picture is not accurate. It's a Catch 22. Plus, the commandment clearly says it's a violation to make any images.

If it is a true picture of the Lord Jesus Christ then we should worship it since Jesus Christ is a divine person. However, since no picture of Christ is accurate, it would be a violation of the second commandment to do that.
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
I consider Paul's word in 2 Corinthians 5:16 to be a general prohibition of images intended to be of Jesus himself (not including symbolic art): "Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer."
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I consider Paul's word in 2 Corinthians 5:16 to be a general prohibition of images intended to be of Jesus himself (not including symbolic art): "Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer."

Brilliant point; we are no longer to think of Christ as in his humiliation, but as exalted and glorified.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
If a picture, that's supposed to be of Jesus, doesn't evoke worship from one of His servants, it is vain. But if one of these pictures does evoke worship it has become idolatry, because the picture is not accurate. It's a Catch 22. Plus, the commandment clearly says it's a violation to make any images.
As we say around here "Good pernt!";)
 
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