Worship Through Images (non-Godhead)

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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Good Morning,

In reading through 2 Chronicles 3 & 4 this morning and working through a commentary, I have some questions regarding the use of images (angels & oxen) inside a place of worship.

I think most reformed and our confessions would agree that we as Christians do not Worship using images as aids. This passage describes King Solomon beginning the temple construction by ultimately the Lord’s Blueprints.

I do not think Solomon was sinning in constructing the temple with images (non-godhead) as it seems from the start of his reign at least to where I am now (end of a chapter 4) he has been a glaring example of faithfulness.

1. Would this passage support setting up winged images (cherub) in a sanctuary in order to add gravity to our offering of worship? Just looking for help reconciling this with the 2nd Commandment that mentions images of creatures as well.

2. Do Roman Catholics seems to rely on passages such as this to support the many statues in their sanctuaries?

Bonus Question: I think the reformed position is that angels are spirits and do not have bodies. However they are able to visibly manifest themselves as having bodies. The cherub mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3 are said to have wings. Was this simply Solomon’s experience with manifestations he has been told about (by his father for example)? Or does this provide support for those that feel wings are essential to angels, considering the blueprints were from the Lord?
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
The whole of temple worship from its symbolism and altars and exclusivity illustrated what was to come in the Christ.

With Christ having come into the earth, all may worship in the holiest of places. We no longer need artwork to show us what is to come.

Some general principles still apply: we cannot casually approach a holy God. Instead of pools and altars, we can claim the once, perfect sacrament Jesus made and heartily repent of the sin that still follows us in a fallen world. We must bring our best in preparing a place to worship. We must carefully avoid second commandment violations that distract us from the living and true God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Be careful with the preposition "through." Your first few sentences seemed to say that Solomon didn't sin by building non-deity images in the temple. That seems to be what the text says. Well and good. that's an entirely different question from worshipping through images. The "through" preposition suggests mediation.

In Eastern Orthodoxy you worship through/by means of the icon. They have a fairly sophisticated metaphysics built into it. But that's not what Solomon is saying.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Be careful with the preposition "through." Your first few sentences seemed to say that Solomon didn't sin by building non-deity images in the temple. That seems to be what the text says. Well and good. that's an entirely different question from worshipping through images. The "through" preposition suggests mediation.

In Eastern Orthodoxy you worship through/by means of the icon. They have a fairly sophisticated metaphysics built into it. But that's not what Solomon is saying.
A good thought. I edited the OP.
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
In Eastern Orthodoxy you worship through/by means of the icon. They have a fairly sophisticated metaphysics built into it. But that's not what Solomon is saying.


When the EO use icons, are they essentially using a mediator to get to the mediator (Christ)?

Also, why isn’t an icon of Christ be considered Nestorian to them? Why don’t they view it that way? You can’t portray the divine nature in an icon....


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
1. Would this passage support setting up winged images (cherub) in a sanctuary in order to add gravity to our offering of worship? Just looking for help reconciling this with the 2nd Commandment that mentions images of creatures as well.
No.

2 Chronicles 3.3 Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God.

There is no 2nd Commandment violation here. It could not be so, since these constructions were by commandment of the LORD. The question, is, have we been given any such blueprint/instructions under the NT Administration of the Covenant of Grace? No.

2. Do Roman Catholics seems to rely on passages such as this to support the many statues in their sanctuaries?
Dunno, but they are unwilling to get the very simple truth of justification by faith alone in Christ alone right, so they certainly will make no effort rightly to approach the God of Scripture in the way He has commanded.

Bonus Question: I think the reformed position is that angels are spirits and do not have bodies. However they are able to visibly manifest themselves as having bodies. The cherub mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3 are said to have wings. Was this simply Solomon’s experience with manifestations he has been told about (by his father for example)? Or does this provide support for those that feel wings are essential to angels, considering the blueprints were from the Lord?
Again, see v. 3 of chapter 3. He was instructed.

We must understand that the OT church was a church under age, whom God saw fit to give the flashy and the outwardly beautiful accouterments (by His appointment) to arrest and capture their attention. He expects more of the NT church, and Paul makes this pretty clear in His epistles, when He chides the people of God for observing days, etc., and being hamstrung by those trappings of things once commanded, but now done away with.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
No.

2 Chronicles 3.3 Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God.

There is no 2nd Commandment violation here. It could not be so, since these constructions were by commandment of the LORD. The question, is, have we been given any such blueprint/instructions under the NT Administration of the Covenant of Grace? No.


Dunno, but they are unwilling to get the very simple truth of justification by faith alone in Christ alone right, so they certainly will make no effort rightly to approach the God of Scripture in the way He has commanded.


Again, see v. 3 of chapter 3. He was instructed.
Agreed, and I admit as much in my OP. But God would not command something that would violate his 2nd command. I know there is no contradiction with God, but I (man) am having trouble reconciling the two. So is this a “who can know the mind of God” situation?
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
Agreed, and I admit as much in my OP. But God would not command something that would violate his 2nd command. I know there is no contradiction with God, but I (man) am having trouble reconciling the two. So is this a “who can know the mind of God” situation?
There was no looking to these things for worship. They were not intended to portray the Triune God. They were commanded. All 3 of those rules out any sanction of a 2nd Commandment violation.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
When the EO use icons, are they essentially using a mediator to get to the mediator (Christ)?

Also, why isn’t an icon of Christ be considered Nestorian to them? Why don’t they view it that way? You can’t portray the divine nature in an icon....


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

They aren't seeing "mediator" in the sense of the Icon's forgiving their sins. Just as a go between.

They would say it isn't Nestorian since their claim isn't that they are only portraying the human nature. They would say that the divine nature, while uncircumscribable, can't be abstracted from the Person.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
So long as they are flat they are not a graven image.

That was the 8th century workaround for icons.

Good Morning,

In reading through 2 Chronicles 3 & 4 this morning and working through a commentary, I have some questions regarding the use of images (angels & oxen) inside a place of worship.

I think most reformed and our confessions would agree that we as Christians do not Worship using images as aids. This passage describes King Solomon beginning the temple construction by ultimately the Lord’s Blueprints.

I do not think Solomon was sinning in constructing the temple with images (non-godhead) as it seems from the start of his reign at least to where I am now (end of a chapter 4) he has been a glaring example of faithfulness.

1. Would this passage support setting up winged images (cherub) in a sanctuary in order to add gravity to our offering of worship? Just looking for help reconciling this with the 2nd Commandment that mentions images of creatures as well.

2. Do Roman Catholics seems to rely on passages such as this to support the many statues in their sanctuaries?

Bonus Question: I think the reformed position is that angels are spirits and do not have bodies. However they are able to visibly manifest themselves as having bodies. The cherub mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3 are said to have wings. Was this simply Solomon’s experience with manifestations he has been told about (by his father for example)? Or does this provide support for those that feel wings are essential to angels, considering the blueprints were from the Lord?
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
They aren't seeing "mediator" in the sense of the Icon's forgiving their sins. Just as a go between.

They would say it isn't Nestorian since their claim isn't that they are only portraying the human nature. They would say that the divine nature, while uncircumscribable, can't be abstracted from the Person.
What purpose does the icon serve? (I thought a mediator was a go-between) is the icon a sort of door to the upper register? In the same way that we see the icon of the Supper as a partaking of the heavenlies?
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
What purpose does the icon serve?
As far as I understand it, the icon serves the same purpose as a icon on your desktop computer. Click the ‘icon’ and you access what the image represents, click on the IE icon and the browser opens up.
In the same way, you look at an icon of Christ and you connect and open up to what the image represents, both mentally and spiritually.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
As far as I understand it, the icon serves the same purpose as a icon on your desktop computer. Click the ‘icon’ and you access what the image represents, click on the IE icon and the browser opens up.
In the same way, you look at an icon of Christ and you connect and open up to what the image represents, both mentally and spiritually.
There must be more to it than that. If I look at a picture of Christ I don’t feel that I’m accessing him. Is it something mystical or mysterious achieved by intently staring at it or something like that? What is the process? I’ll bow out after this because it may not be relevant to the OP.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
In most government buildings we have statues of past presidents or flags we honor. Sometimes on the anniversary of a death or on Memorial Day we go and lay flowers on the graves of soldier's etc. We often parade while waving a flag or holding a symbol of our country aloft or carry a statue or effigy in a parade.

Catholic say the same things can happen in churches.

We honor the past saints and show them honor in this way. You would not say we are worshipping a deceased soldier because of the wreath laid on his grave. You might even kiss his gravestone or do a rubbing with paper of his name on the gravestone. Sometimes there will be a painting or picture of the deceased and the mourners may even talk to the picture or express a longing for them.

These common rituals of mankind, the ancient church brought into the building dedicated to church services. I don't think they began with the intent of idolatry.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
is the icon a sort of door to the upper register?

Basically. It gets strange at that point. On one hand they will pray in front of the icon, yet if you consult EO prayer manuals they are very strict on not letting "images" cloud your "mental prayer." So the icon, for them, testifies to the Incarnation, yet at the same time you aren't supposed to picture Jesus when you pray. So there's that.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
In most government buildings we have statues of past presidents or flags we honor. Sometimes on the anniversary of a death or on Memorial Day we go and lay flowers on the graves of soldier's etc. We often parade while waving a flag or holding a symbol of our country aloft or carry a statue or effigy in a parade.

Catholic say the same things can happen in churches.

We honor the past saints and show them honor in this way. You would not say we are worshipping a deceased soldier because of the wreath laid on his grave. You might even kiss his gravestone or do a rubbing with paper of his name on the gravestone. Sometimes there will be a painting or picture of the deceased and the mourners may even talk to the picture or express a longing for them.

These common rituals of mankind, the ancient church brought into the building dedicated to church services. I don't think they began with the intent of idolatry.
I don’t know, maybe. But given our propensity for idolatry it became so very soon in the early church. One early father had to correct his flock as they were bring food and other items to the alter to honor the martyrs.
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is it something mystical or mysterious achieved by intently staring at it or something like that? What is the process?
Mystical would be a better term, The icon in itself has no power in itself, but simply serves as a visual aid to help connect with what the image represents. I listened to a podcast on icons a few years ago that was helpful, I will try and find it again.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not sure I add much, but here goes.

Agreed, and I admit as much in my OP. But God would not command something that would violate his 2nd command. I know there is no contradiction with God, but I (man) am having trouble reconciling the two. So is this a “who can know the mind of God” situation?

Just because it is ordained by God, doesn't mean we can't find a way to abuse it (e.g. the serpent Hezekiah had to destroy). Also, if we use something after it's intended purpose even if God previously ordained it, we can sin. So I do not think it follows that just because it was ordained at some point, that it means it should continue because of some spiritual benefit (e.g. circumsicion).

The whole of temple worship from its symbolism and altars and exclusivity illustrated what was to come in the Christ.

With Christ having come into the earth, all may worship in the holiest of places. We no longer need artwork to show us what is to come.

This is close to my understanding. Pre-Pentacost, my understanding is that the Holy Spirit did not give us much understanding (analogy of trickle of water to a waterfall). So those physical representation were needed. Post-Pentacost, besides just having more scripture, we also have more Holy Spirit (hopefully not states heretically). So not only are those physical representation no longer needed, but also inappropriate.

<queue tangent on Advent candles />
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Not sure I add much, but here goes.



Just because it is ordained by God, doesn't mean we can't find a way to abuse it (e.g. the serpent Hezekiah had to destroy). Also, if we use something after it's intended purpose even if God previously ordained it, we can sin. So I do not think it follows that just because it was ordained at some point, that it means it should continue because of some spiritual benefit (e.g. circumsicion).



This is close to my understanding. Pre-Pentacost, my understanding is that the Holy Spirit did not give us much understanding (analogy of trickle of water to a waterfall). So those physical representation were needed. Post-Pentacost, besides just having more scripture, we also have more Holy Spirit (hopefully not states heretically). So not only are those physical representation no longer needed, but also inappropriate.

<queue tangent on Advent candles />
We have the fullness of Christ revealed. What was vague foreshadowing for the OT church and has been seen on earth and recorded in the NT.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
To be clear (forgive me if i was not before), I’m not proposing this passage supports including statues in NT worship.

I am looking for any reconciliation of God commanding Solomon to set up the oxen and Cherub in the Temple and God’s Second command in the moral law. Or is it simply* and only because “God commanded him to do it”? If so, that is good enough for me.

The essence of the 2nd command was the same for Solomon as it is for us today. @Joshua did help flesh this out a bit. Still looking for additional thoughts. Maybe my density is showing.:detective:
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
I am not sure if I'm adding anything to what I've already posted, but here goes:

1. The 2nd Commandment is explicitly a prohibition of:

A. The mere making/forging/carving/creating any image that is intended to portray, depict, or represent any of the 3 persons of the Godhead, Who alone is to be worshiped, Who alone brought them out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

B. Arguing from the lesser to the greater, then, the worshipping of any such images which have previously been created for the very same purpose are clearly forbidden.
2. The oxen and the cherub in the temple:

A. Were commanded/instructed to be created.

B. Were not things intended to portray/represent/depict any member of the Triune God.
3. NT worship has no such regulation for the creating of such oxen and cherub, and we are under the same restrictions of how God has said He will be sanctified by those who draw near to Him: Namely, only that which He has commanded. Prayer, praises, preaching, administration of the sacraments, without ornate decor, musical instrumentation, etc. all of which had particular regulation under the OT shadowy administration of the CoG worship, for a church under age.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I am not sure if I'm adding anything to what I've already posted, but here goes:

1. The 2nd Commandment is explicitly a prohibition of:

A. The mere making/forging/carving/creating any image that is intended to portray, depict, or represent any of the 3 persons of the Godhead, Who alone is to be worshiped, Who alone brought them out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

B. Arguing from the lesser to the greater, then, the worshipping of any such images which have previously been created for the very same purpose are clearly forbidden.
2. The oxen and the cherub in the temple:

A. Were commanded/instructed to be created.
B. Were not things intended to portray/represent/depict any member of the Triune God.
3. NT worship has no such regulation for the creating of such oxen and cherub, and we are under the same restrictions of how God has said He will be sanctified by those who draw near to Him: Namely, only that which He has commanded. Prayer, praises, preaching, administration of the sacraments, without ornate decor, music, etc. all of which had particular regulation under the OT shadowy administration of the CoG worship, for a church under age.
Thanks Joshua. Sometimes a nail has to be hit more than once into my thick skull.
 
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