"We're not worshipping the images."

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by JohnGill, Aug 24, 2008.

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  1. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    Last Sunday at church we had a hippie version of Jesus on the cover of our bulletin. I took them out and threw them away. This week I was commenting to someone in the church on how we don't have any and that it was good. I was then castigated and told that Jesus was always portrayed as having long hair and that it was okay because we're not worshipping the images. I tried to explain that originally in Byzantine artwork he was portrayed with short hair and the long hair images came from an Italian painter during the middle ages. I then pointed out that it doesn't matter if his hair was long or short in the pictures because the 2nd commandment forbids making images of Jesus Christ and it is a sin to do so. I was then told, That just means don't worship them, we can still have pictures of Jesus.

    Does anyone know of a short, easy to read tract that I could give this person on this issue? Or is justifying the breaking of the 2nd commandment a Baptist thing?

    I am afraid for the church I'm attending. There are no other Calvinist preachers in town. There is no doctrinal teaching. And "The Shack" nonsense is picking up steam.
  2. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

  3. D. Paul

    D. Paul Puritan Board Sophomore

    This really is epidemic; possibly pandemic this view that any image is acceptable because there is no "worship" associated. Just the other day I thought this: If we make vids and pics for the purpose of "evangelizing" is not evangelism a call to worship the one true God?
  4. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If the image stirs up devotion it violates the 2nd commandment, if it doesn't stir up proper devotion of the one we are to worship, it is vain, and violates the third commandment.
    See various articles here:
    Articles of Interest
  5. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    Duh! I was just there this morning. It's a bookmarked site. Thanks for reminding me!
  6. wturri78

    wturri78 Puritan Board Freshman

    I was recently looking into this matter and was surprised to find that the reasons both for and against the making of images of Jesus are far deeper and more well-reasoned than I had really expected. The arguments all really center around christology, and whether the making of an image in some way either combines or separates the two natures of Christ. This was at the heart of the iconoclastic controversies that led to the so-called 7th ecumenical council. Those who forbade images argued that one can only show the human and not divine nature of Christ in an image, and therefore showing an image of Christ separates the natures and denies Chalcedonian christology. Those who promoted the making of images argued that forbidding an image of Christ effectively denies the reality of the incarnation, and thus, denies Chalcedonian christology! So they were both accusing each other of the same heresy, just from different directions. I have read several lengthy treatises from both sides of the issue, and still find myself confused. The use of images of Christ in worship, ala veneration of icons etc., becomes another issue in itself and one that is more easily handled--don't do it! :)

    I think the best article I've read from an "iconoclast" perspective was in the International Journal of Systematic Theology. I only have a photocopy of a print volume from my pastor, and unfortunately no link. Written by David Vandrunen, a professor at Westminster Seminary California, it goes beyond the more superficial aspects of the arguement and argues against the making of images based on eschatological grounds.

    So to provide a very round-about answer to your question, I can't recommend a simple tract to hand out because I don't believe the matter is as simple as it's usually portrayed, on either side. Odds are, whoever put that picture into the bulletin wasn't thinking through the implications of Chalcedonian orthodoxy.
  7. TheocraticMonarchist

    TheocraticMonarchist Puritan Board Junior

    :think: It's not always easy to be the prophet. I'll be praying for you.
  8. wturri78

    wturri78 Puritan Board Freshman

  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    This article led to arranging Dr. VanDrunen to write a more extensive article with more on Puritanism, spec. LC 109 and interact with the pro images anti WCF position for the 2009 Confessional Presbyterian journal. DV.
  10. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    Wow Chris! :wow: I have never heard it stated that way and it makes a lot of sense. I have to admit a most recent convert to the no images of Christ whatsoever application of the 2nd Commandment and now the 3rd Commandment.
  11. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    We don't use bulletins. We don't have pictures and paintings. Simple.
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    May not be a direct quote, but it is from Thomas Watson and other Puritans may state it as well but he is very succinct.
  13. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    I was considering buying a copy of Watson's 10 Commandments for the person to read. Or even printing out a copy of the WLC with scripture proofs. This week during the meet a greet, one of the guys came out and asked me this, When does Jesus become King of Kings & Lord of Lords? I said he already was and asked why he asked me that. It was the 'worship' song they were singing.
  14. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    Can I trade it in for a gift that makes people like you and you don't always feel like you're going against the tide? Something that makes you happy and cheery instead of depressed with the way your church is going. I mean besides prozac. :p
  15. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    It helps to see that the second commandment contains two prohibitions: (1) don't make images of God; (2) don't worship the images. You don't have to worship an image to break the second commandment.
  16. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    I tried pointing that out. It didn't work.
  17. skellam

    skellam Puritan Board Freshman

    There is a very helpful pamphlet that's only around 14 pages that Banner of Truth published back in the 90's called Seeing Jesus: The Case Against Pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ by Peter Barnes. It summarizes the arguments very nicely and has applications for the church. Unfortunately, it's hard to find. I looked on Banner of Truth and they no longer carry it. It is available through various resellers though including abebooks.com and Amazon.
  18. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Wouldn't this prove too much? (1) in the text is not actually "Don't make images of God," but "don't make images of anything."
  19. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    By what authority did you take them out and throw them away?
  20. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Yesterday I came across this passage in Deuteronomy that is helpful here. My simple exegesis is that we are not to ascribe a physical likeness to the Lord (a physical likeness of other things doesn't seem to be prohibited here). All of you would already agree with this, but here is another text to use.

    Deu 4:15 "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,
    Deu 4:16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
    Deu 4:17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,
    Deu 4:18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.
    Deu 4:19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
  21. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    The word of God. I just assumed it was a mistake that they were in there. To me it was beyond imagining that anybody in a leadership position would allow idolatry in any form. After this week I realize that such is not the case.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  22. Julio Martinez Jr

    Julio Martinez Jr Puritan Board Freshman

    RE: Pergamum

    Covenant theology systematizes biblical theology in a unifying whole. By a simple use of its logic, ergo the use of the law, a simple Christian--who is armed with Scripture--can and should obey its dictates, e.g., throwing away images that violate the prohibition of the Second Commandment. Through a simple deduction of Scripture (Covenant theology gives us just that), we can determine, for the glory of Christ, to act to God's dictates, and react when they are vilified or violated. The basic underlying premise here is that the Law continues under a new dispensation (notice I'm not using a capital D in dispensation), the dispensation of Christ via fulfillment of the Law.

    But to answer your question more directly, Mr. Pergamum, Thomas Watson, in his treatise on the Ten Commandments writes, "If God spake all these words [the words of the law of Moses], then we must attend to them with reverence. Every word of the moral law is an oracle from heaven." (p.14) Even Christ, who, when tempted by the devil, responded saying, "And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Mat 4:3-4)

    What better authority than the Word of God Himself!?
  23. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    I had a similar experience with a Pastor who expected his flowery graphics to cause offence. I explained that it was more the pictures of Jesus that would cause offence. So you would be offended by these icons he said picking up some Russian Orthodox "artwork" painted on tiles. I had to say - Yes!

    The ten commandments really are neglected - but then they are OT!
  24. wturri78

    wturri78 Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, but in the O.T. the Lord had not taken on a physical likeness. With the incarnation, the invisible God became, in a sense, visible. That's why the incarnation is the basis for so many arguments in favor of allowing images of Christ. Some will say that Jesus stated "whoever has seen me has seen the Father," and since we don't know exactly what Jesus looked like, we cannot make any image because that would be misrepresenting God...but I think that only holds water if we take His words to mean that the Father looks physically like Jesus did in the flesh, which I don't think anyone would attempt to argue for.

    The center point of the campus where I work is an ornate chapel built in dedication of the Assumption of Mary. On the ceiling is a rather gut-wrenching painting of a European-looking Mary being crowned "Queen of Heaven" by a very European-looking Jesus. The Holy Spirit is represented as a dove, and the Father is represented as an old man with a long beard. Explicitly making an image of God the Father leaves no doubt about violating the 2nd Commandment, and even the dove thing toes the line, and probably crosses it. Nobody can make cases for those from the incarnation or the two natures of Christ.

    I still side against making images of Christ, but I am not convinced that it violates the 2nd commandment in light of the truth that the invisible God has taken on visible flesh. I believe that Vandrunen's article gave the most compelling reason for not attempting to depict Christ, since we can only depict him in the abstract as he was and not as he now is.
  25. Galatians220

    Galatians220 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There's this article co-authored by Richard Bennett (with J. Virgil Dunbar, whom I've never heard of): http://www.bereanbeacon.org/articles_pdf/idolatry_in_evangelical.pdf. I don't know much about it... If it's duplicative of other info on this thread, mea culpa.

    I have the tract "The Case Against Pictures of Our Lord Jesus Christ," but I have only one copy left (used to have about 6). If I could find more copies of it, I'd buy them, so -- if anyone finds a source for this nice tract, I'd appreciate a heads-up. Thanks for this discussion, everyone!

  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    That is a tract by Peter Barnes (Banner of Truth, 1990). I am not sure that it is still in print but I think you can get copies at Eden.co.uk and Christian Books (Australia) and Maher The Bookseller (UK).

    Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - The Truth About Images of Jesus and the Second Commandment -- Justin Griffin - The PuritanBoard
    Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - Pictures of Christ -- John Murray - The PuritanBoard

    Thomas Vincent on WSC 51:

  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I knew you'd give me that answer.

    By the Word of God then I am going to go into your churches and tear down your baby baptismals!

    Or go smash the Catholic idols.

    My question has to do with private property and church leadership issues.

    You Epers don't go into your churches and burn all the hymn books based "On the Word of God" do you? Neither should a layman, or any person not acting on a position of authority destroy the property of another (the church). Isn't that sin?
  28. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    We don't have a baby baptistry or Catholic idols.

    And as I pointed out, I just naturally assumed that these bulletins had snuck by the church leadership. I was unaware that they had no desire to obey the 2nd commandment. If I had known of their lack of desire, I would've separated the offensive bulletins and not handed them out. You should've read my post more carefully. I bolded and underlined it for you. And as an EPer I already know the church leadership has no desire to follow the RPW. Therefore I hand out bulletins at the door instead of singing.
  29. TheocraticMonarchist

    TheocraticMonarchist Puritan Board Junior

    Nope, you're stuck with it :)

    "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
    -Romans 11:29
  30. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You assumed! You took leadership upon yourself and destroyed property that was not yours to destroy.
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