Skip to comments.Icons as useful aids for attaining holiness
Posted on 02/28/2012 10:31:29 PM PST by Teˇfilo
Brethren, Peace and Good to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. I was asked the following question by a dear Orthodox Christian sister in a forum I participate. I want to share both the question and my answer with all of you:
with your suggestion of discussing what happens when we venerate holy icons, and given that we agree that to venerate the icon is to draw near to the person in the image, then the question remains how does drawing near to Christ, the Theotokos, and the Saints affect us.
Ill be brief for a change. I think that becoming holy is to become fully human and that when we become holy, we are able to take off the masks we present to others, the masks of our pretenses, of the ideals promulgated by our Pagan culture. We are able to show ourselves to others as who we are, in all of our depths, in the reality that God meant us to be from eternity.
The iconographer recognizes this fact; he or she has the gift to see the holy ones as they truly are now, shining with inner light in eternity. With economy of form and movement, the iconographer captures the inner depths and the outer symmetries of the holy one who is now fully what God intended him to be.
The iconodule or icon venerator (you and me, I hope) recognizes that we are meant to be subjects for a future iconographer. We need to reflect the Glory of God in Jesus in ourselves, by being the man or woman God intended us to be from eternity, before sin marred us. Our duty of sorts is to be a subject for an iconographer and through the exchange, to become examples for others to emulate.
Thats why icons appeal so much to me, why I treasure and venerate them, and become closer in the Body of Christ to those whom the icon re-presents to us on earth.
Thank-youi for the update on the history of Eastern Christian icons.
I do not believe G-d became a man.
This is a Christian thread on Eastern Christian icons, something that would interest Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Why would you be posting then?
I can’t make sense of those rules, whoever they belong to.
It seems to me that if an image or statue, book or t-shirt, postcard or travel mug, leads me to prayer, and closer to God, then it can’t be intrinsically evil.
Many Protestants seem to agree, since I see paintings of Jesus, travel mugs, t-shirts, key-chains, and inspirational quotations, in Protestant bookstores.
——I do not believe G-d became a man.-——
OK. You’re Jewish? What do you make,of the fact that God prescribed statues of cherubim on the Ark, or that Moses carve a snake on a pole?
God can’t command anything that’s intrinsically evil, so statues aren’t intrinsically evil. Why would using statues as a prayer aid be intrinsically evil?
Dear Sister-Sorry about original. I did it on a tablet. Not good with html. Thank you for your faith!
"This is the only commandment God says He will punish future generations for violating."Yeah, and it looks like God is finally getting around to punishing this for all the many generations of the Protestant majority who have always bowed down and worshiped the dollar bill. JMO
2 Chron. 29:29-30 - King Hezekiah and the assembly venerate the altar by Bowing down in worship before the sin offerings.
27 "Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly BOWED in worship, while the musicians played and the trumpets sounded. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.
29 When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him KNELT down and worshiped. 30 King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed down and worshiped.
31 Then Hezekiah said, You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD. So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings."
If you are going to say:" Well they were bowing to the Lord not the Ark. That is what Real Catholics Believe also in veneration of icons.
Psalm 138:2 - David bows down before God's Holy Temple.
2 I will BOW down toward your holy temple and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
It is forgiven brother!
This explains it best:
You know, this is all a big misunderstanding on my part. I thought you were a Messianic. My mistake, and my apologies.
It’s not for you to say at whose table you are to sit. God knows.
It amazes me that some people can’t see that God can make a general prohibition binding on man, but is not bound by it Himself, due to His sovereignty. His sovereignty also allows Him to grant specific license, as He sees fit, to specific men, to violate a general prohibition in certain circumstances. When God commanded the Israelites to slay every man, woman, and child in Canaan, that did not mean that the commandment against murder was rescinded. Neither does it mean, that because God commanded certain specific images to be manufactured, that the general prohibition against them was rescinded.
“If one is conscious of not praying to icons, how can it lead to idolatry?”
Can you say with certainty that everyone else will not be tempted to idolatry simply because you feel certain that you may not be? Even if, in your heart, there is no guilt based on your conduct, there is still a prohibition on Christians indulging in acts which can tempt others to sin.
“God cant command anything thats intrinsically evil, so statues arent intrinsically evil. Why would using statues as a prayer aid be intrinsically evil?”
Does something have to be intrinsically evil to be forbidden by God? What of something commanded by God simply as a test of obedience, for example when he commanded Abraham to kill Isaac? Had Abraham disobeyed because he believed the command to be evil, he would have been guilty of another, perhaps greater evil, by disobeying the commandment of God. How much more guilty might we be of disobeying a commandment for a much less compelling reason?
“If you are going to say:” Well they were bowing to the Lord not the Ark. That is what Real Catholics Believe also in veneration of icons.”
God was literally present in the Ark. God was literally present in the Temple. The Scriptures never say that God deigns to be present in any old icon crafted by the hand of man. If He did, then why aren’t the unworthy struck down dead when they behold these “holy icons”? That’s what happened when the unworthy tried to enter into the literal presence of God.
Very interesting view you have to say the least.
Of course he is bound by his own morals and integrity. The question is not rescinded but what is veneration and worship. Or worship? Otherwise why have angels on the ark. Could it be It is like a photo of family. Do I worship it or honor my family member. Hello!
Do I look at the angels or think of God above who has Angels in the heavenly Host. Even though the ark is below God. I am worshiping his presence above the ark. The ark is an instrument of God.
"When God commanded the Israelites to slay every man, woman, and child in Canaan, that did not mean that the commandment against murder was rescinded."
So now he is a murderer? What?
The canaanites sacrificed Children also child prostitution if I remember. Also did everything wrong as it gets. So God being the Judge of humanity has this right. He is also judging a soul in the person. But no way is he violating his own integrity/Holiness.
Also we are mortals. He is God. There is more going on with God than just what a mortal perspective can see. But do not ever think He goes against his own Holiness/Intergrity.
This is your statement!
"It amazes me that some people cant see that God can make a general prohibition binding on man, but is not bound by it Himself, due to His sovereignty. His sovereignty also allows Him to grant specific license, as He sees fit, to specific men, to violate a general prohibition in certain circumstances."
HE IS THAT HOLY!!!
TRY NOT TO THINK IT OUT WITHOUT HIS HOLINESS. TRUST IN HIM
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
I Samuel 2:2
There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
I Peter 1:16 - 25
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
You’re conflating matters here by confusing all of God’s commandments with the issue of and “morals and integrity”, which is far too simplistic. If you start off by confusing the question, you can’t arrive at any sensible answers. There are commandments that God made which are strictly matters of morality, and in those cases, of course God doesn’t violate that morality, since He is the epitomy of goodness.
On other matters, God commands us on matters that may be moral issues for us, but not for Him. Take, for example, “Thou shalt not steal”. Well it is impossible for God to steal, since everything in creation belongs to Him, therefore it is foolish to consider this as some kind of moral prohibition that could possibly bind God. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, but in no way can anyone consider him taking something away, no matter how fairly earned by man, stealing.
Then, there are matters that God commanded which may not have a moral component at all, for men, or for God, but which for men are matters of obedience to God. When God commanded Jonah to go to Ninevah, it did not mean that not going to Ninevah is an immoral act in and of itself, but rather, that disobeying this command, in this specific instance, would be immoral simply due to disobedience.
“So now he is a murderer? What?”
Of course not. Your question shows your confusion about my example, so let me explain further. Under ordinary circumstances, God’s commandment not to murder would have prohibited the wholesale slaughter by the Israelites of the Canaanites down the last man, woman, and child, without regard to guilt or innocence, simply of their (the Israelite’s) own volition. However, since, in this circumstance, God commanded that the act be done, this specific command overrides the more general prohibition in the Mosaic law.
It’s not an issue of whether God commited murder (that’s an impossibility in the first place), it’s an issue of whether the Israelites were allowed to commit acts, by specific commandment, which would normally be prohibited as murder by the general commandment. They clearly were allowed, since the specific commandment gave them license, just as sovereign governments grant specific licenses to do things which would more generally be prohibited.
Now, how does this apply to the issue of idolatry? Well, people offer examples of the carvings on the Ark, and on the Temple, and the bronze serpent, as evidence that the 2nd commandment didn’t really forbid making all graven images. This is nonsense. Those examples were only allowed because they were specifically commandment by God. In other words, in those cases, and only cases where such specific commandments were given, God granted license to ignore the general prohibition against making graven images. Had the Israelites taken it upon themselves to make graven images without receiving such license, as they did on many occasions, they would have been, and in fact were, judged by God for their violations of the general prohibition.
Thank-you and God Bless for standing up for what is true and good.
So when you bow before and pray to the travel mug it brings you closer to God???
Do you believe that Catholics or or Orthodox pray to icons? Who told you this?
Praying before an icon is no different from Protestants praying before a framed copy of “Footprints,” or praying before a painting of Jesus, or while driving, inspired by the verse on their travel mug.
Or do you consider this idol worship too?
If so, you better straighten out Christian bookstores that sell these idols.
No comparison at all. Oh, except the Roman Catholic Church has never been able to get out of the Old Testament and so still sacrifices Christ afresh on its altars; killing Him over and over and over again.
The Scriptures you give have to do with worship of God at the sight of the sight of an animal sacrifice being made.
-——Does something have to be intrinsically evil to be forbidden by God?——
No. In the OT, God forbids intrinsic evils (the 10 Commandments), but also issued pastoral, provisional prohibitions, such as the prohibition against eating pork.
But Jesus freed us from the latter form of Law. In this age, we must “listen to the church.” And Christ’s Church does not forbid praying before statues, icons or sunsets. Besides, it’s common sense.
-——What of something commanded by God simply as a test of obedience, for example when he commanded Abraham to kill Isaac?-——
Note that this is a direct, private revelation. I haven’t received a direct revelation from God forbidding me to pray while looking at a painting of Jesus, or a framed Bible verse. So why should I stop?
But even more importantly, why on earth would God not want me to pray, whether I’m inspired by a sunset, a statue, a painting, an icon, or a verse on a travel mug?
-——Had Abraham disobeyed because he believed the command to be evil, he would have been guilty of another, perhaps greater evil, by disobeying the commandment of God. How much more guilty might we be of disobeying a commandment for a much less compelling reason?-——
Again, this is a private revelation, so the analogy does not apply, since I haven’t received a private revelation from God forbidding me to pray before statues or paintings or sunsets.
Can you say with certainty that everyone else WILL BE tempted to idolatry simply because you feel certain that THEY WILL BE?
I can’t prove a negative. The burden of proof is on you.
I see no temptation, because we understand what the Incarnation is.
Of course you pray to icons...Why in the world would you deny it??? We've seen your popes pray to icons on tv...
Your analogy is like comparing pick-up-sticks with strawberries...
You guys bow to and pray to your icons and ask them to perform miracles for you...To provide grace and even salvation for you...And we are not talking of icons of Jesus, are we...Why are you in denial???
“Nobody is sacrificing chickens or anything else like the pagans did to their “god’.”
Prayer is, itself, a form of sacrifice, but that is beside the point, since the commandment forbids even the making of the images, and bowing down to them, not only sacrificing to them, and it mentions nothing of “like the pagans do”.
“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:
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;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
“8 Thou shalt not make 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 waters beneath the earth:
9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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,
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments”
-——You guys bow to and pray to your icons and ask them to perform miracles for you...To provide grace and even salvation for you...And we are not talking of icons of Jesus, are we...Why are you in denial?———
I imagine you don’t live around many Catholics. When I tell Catholics here in MA about posts like this, they don’t believe it. We don’t experience this kind of silliness up here, except for the rare “Bible Chapel.”
Although for a few Catholics, it confirms stereotypes of “snakehandlers.”
Good luck with your conversion efforts, though. Your style is a sure winner.
Catholics, muzlims and hindus all praying to a graven image of Mary...
Catholics worshiping a graven image of Mary...
A pope worshiping a graven image of Mary...
Catholics worshiping an image of a pope...
I get a kick out of these bath tub Madonnas...
Deny all you want...Catholics thruout the world have provided us with massive amounts of evidence...
But when you take the traditional history away it just gets to be more cliched stereotype metaphors.
Just pick up ink on paper bible in English from a translation of another languages. Then let's call it solo scriptural . But we will say we read it only but the real reality is a lot of the ideas come from outside sources telling you the real meaning like books and other people. All the stereotypes come from someone outside. I know I would listen or read then go back to what said verse means not fully discovering what it meant on my own. So this fallacy of Bible alone is so wrong. Christ left a church not a book. The Church came first. The book is to be guide by the successive church given by Christ.
When you finally realize how it does not add up with out the true authority given by Christ.
I went to ordination of priests. The bishop explains the laying on of hands for two thousand years in the Church. Then all clergy from bishops to existing put hands on new priests then back again several times. Which is totally from scripture. No church does this from apostolic successive except Our Church and Orthodox branches.
ACTS 6: 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the APOSTLES, Who Prayed and LAID Their HANDS on Them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of PRIESTS became obedient to the faith.
This has been going on from the beginning. Goes right to the book of Acts. The Lampstand is still here.
Praise be to Jesus !!!
You think that’s bad, I’ve seen Protestants praying to beds! Don’t deny it, I have photographic evidence!
—— This has been going on from the beginning. Goes right to the book of Acts. The Lampstand is still here.
Praise be to Jesus !!!——
Yes. Thank God for His Church.
That’s what I’m talking about ;-)
What does that have to do with the question at hand? God gave us a prohibition in the ten commandments that was never rescinded. Idolaters are still condemned in the New Testament, so there is direct evidence that it, in fact was not rescinded. You can cite all the verses you want about funeral rites, or miraculous healings delivered in various ways by God, or honoring other people, but none of that serves to counteract God’s commandments.
Perhaps its semantics.
“In the OT, God forbids intrinsic evils (the 10 Commandments)...”
Well, your previous post stated that God can’t command intrinsic evils, so because God commanded certain statues to be carved, such an act can’t be intrinsically evil. Now, you say that the 10 Commandments forbid intrinsic evils, and the 10 Commandments forbid the making of, the bowing down to, and the serving of graven images of anything in earth or in heaven. So, which is it? Is the 2nd Commandment forbidding an intrinsic evil or not?
Still, the answer to that is just a side issue. As you admit, God can forbid whatever He wants, whether it is intrinsically evil or not. You posit that we aren’t bound by the 10 Commandments anymore, but only by what the Church says. I’m sorry, but if the Church took it upon themselves to permit murder, or adultery, or theft, I doubt many would buy the argument that they had such authority. Why then should we accept that they have the authority to allow idolatry, especially when the New Testament tells us that it is still forbidden? Christ gives a vision to John that shows that idolators will not enter the Kingdom. Can the Church make Christ a liar by issuing a fiat?
The way I see it, there are only two ways that you can reasonably try to justify this stuff. You can try to assert that the practices aren’t idolatry, but the 2nd Commandment simply doesn’t provide any “wiggle room” in that regard. The New Testament definitions of idolatry provide even less! The other argument is what you seem to be saying, that the Church can just overrule clear and unambiguous pronouncements of God recorded in Scripture and tradition that predates the Church. If that is the argument that you are going to stand on, then I can’t see any point in arguing the matter further, since I don’t see any way to reason with someone taking such a position.
Thanks for the family portrait but which one is you???
“Can you say with certainty that everyone else WILL BE tempted to idolatry simply because you feel certain that THEY WILL BE?”
It’s not an issue of whether EVERYONE will be tempted, but only if some will be tempted. Christians are admonished in the New Testament to refrain from things that may tempt their brethren who are not as strong in the faith to commit sin. We have plenty of examples of this happening in relation to Christian iconography, for example, the heresy of Mariolatry, and the cults which have sprung up, such as Santeria and Santa Muerte, which use Christian icons for unambiguously idolatrous worship, and draw the majority of their converts from the Catholic church. This is not a theoretical question, these things are happening in the real world.
So, as you say, you can’t prove a negative, but can you disprove a positive? Can you disprove this statement: “Certain idolators regularly use Christian iconography in their false worship, and they have been tempted into believing that this is proper by the Church’s acceptance of iconography in their own worship.”
If you can’t disprove that statement, then how can you justify the Church continuing to approve of practices which tempt the weak to sin gravely against God?
Lovely idea. To implement it, either Catholics and Orthodox must abandon images/icons, or Protestants must accept them.
Which do you suggest?
None of the scriptures you quote show people bowing to the Ark and therefore before the cherubim on the Ark.
I’d also like to point out the pictorial representation is inaccurate, at least for the period after the Temple was built.
Only the High Priest ever entered the Most Holy, where the Ark was kept, and then only once a year. You would never have seen two priests together before the Ark.
On a side note, one would think the Most Holy would get awfully dusty.
-——the 10 Commandments forbid the making of, the bowing down to, and the serving of graven images of anything in earth or in heaven. So, which is it?———
Uh, Catholics don’t worship statues any more than Protestants worship beds.
If you want to believe otherwise, be my guest.
Just don’t expect to be taken seriously by Catholics.