Westminster Shorter Q51 and Larger Q109

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ericfromcowtown

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello all,

Currently, I am going through the Shorter Catechism, WCF, and Larger Catechism as a morning devotional of sorts, in that particular order.

I am hoping that some of you can help me work through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 51 and Larger Catechism, Question 109.

Both questions deal with the second commandment.

In particular, I am interested in how these questions deal with the issue of images of Christ (yes, Joshua, I know there are no real image of Christ :D), which are not used specifically in worship. For example, the images which abound in children's books. Just to be clear, I do not believe that any such images are appropriate, I am just interested in what the catechisms explicitly state.

Westminster Shorter

Q. 51
What is forbidden in the second commandment?
The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.

After reading Q.51, my interpretation was that this question (by itself) did not explicitly prohibit the use of images outside of worship. The commentary on the shorter catechism which I was reading did not help any, but did state that "the best commentary on the shorter catechism is the larger catechism."

Westminster Larger

Q. 109
What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; 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 has appointed.

At first I read through the portion underlined above as one thought or statement. I.e. what was being prohibited was the "worshipping of it, or God in it or by it" with the "it" being "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..." However, upon further reflection, I see that I was neglecting the placement of the semicolon in the underlined section. I.e. because of the semicolon, the underlined portion is not one thought or statement, but two. One cannot make any representation of God period. One cannot worship God through these images period.

Is this the historic / normal understanding of Q.109?

I find the Heidelberg Catechism (Questions 96 and 97) to be much more simple and straightforward in its wording than the Westminster Catechism on this one.
 
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