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Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Monday, March 06, 2006


Today's post is going to be more in the form of a question. I definitely have my thoughts on this issue but I will attempt to veil them as best as I can. I'd like to get your thoughts on this matter:

Images for the purpose of worship.

Are images okay to aid worship?
What constitutes an image?
What do we mean by the second commandment beyond idols of the mind (if anything) - (Do you have your catechism memorized!)?

For a communion service can we have a picture of Jesus on a cross?
Should we have a picture of God in some respects?

Are images only wrong when they are of other Gods? When them emulate other religions? etc.

I look forward to your thoughts.

It should be noted that we are not presently talking about images for the purpose of instruction (stain-glass windows for the illiterate, sunday-school class, etc.).

In Christ alone,


Blogger Puritan Belief said...

When I walk into a catholic church I see images of Jesus on the cross. This image I believe to be the devil it is a false Jesus or anti-christ as is the statues of mary etc.

Mormans also have images of Jesus I believe these to be none other then to be of the devil himself.

My primary verse or if you like catechism would be

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." John 4:23

Anyone bowing down to such idols of Jesus are bowing down to none other then the anti-christ. For we worship Jesus in Spirit and in Truth and we know Christ according to the Spirit.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Just to split hairs it is the Lords Supper not communion.

Communion of the saints is a scriptual phrase.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I tend to think that pictures and different forms of visual art are o.k.

I don't think that the second commandment is dealing with this issue.

In the Ancient Near East, idol worship involves the manipulation of the god through the means of the idol. Having the idol allowed the worshiper to use his god to do the things that he wanted.

Thus, pictures of Christ have a different function in our worship than it did in theirs.

6:45 AM  
Blogger TheDen said...

Hey Mike,

Good post. I believe it's okay to have the statues or pictures of Jesus. Or of Jesus hanging on the cross. (I know...big surprise)

It's to remind us of what He has done for us and I don't consider it idol worship.

When there's a statue of Jesus, we aren't worshipping the statue, we worship God.

The closest comparison I can think of would be a person who has a picture of their wife on their desk at work or in their wallet. The picture is there to remind them of the person they love. They don't love the picture (although they may love a certain picture for the qualities...the lighting, etc.) and it does not replace the wife in their hearts.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

I tend to think that pictures and different forms of visual art are o.k.

Yes - I wanted to separate this from the discussion of art or for teaching. Right now I am primarily looking at using them for the purpose of aiding worship.

Daniel and Dennis both hit on points that I thought might come up.

Accordingly, I'd like to throw one other thing into the mix here.

The issue is that of the Golden Calf. Here, we have people who are following God (Viz. Aaron) who make something that they hope will reflect one aspect of the one true God (namely the strength/power).

What is the Second Commandment:
From Exodus 20:4-5
You shall not make for yourself a 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; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God"

When there's a statue of Jesus, we aren't worshipping the statue, we worship God.

That is where the question of the Idol of the Mind comes in. Is an idol just something that we touch, made of stone or gold? Or is an Idol also something that misrepresents, under-represents God?

Also from the Catechism I was thinking of (of course not everyone will agree with this):

Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. 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: 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. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word.

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

Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Just some food for thought so far. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts come out on this. Interesting that we already have substancial disagreement. Although there are at least 3 different schools of thought represented so far (Reformed, Roman, Evangelical Arminian)!

12:57 PM  
Blogger TheDen said...

Regarding the calf, the Israelites were building a golden calf which they believed was an attribute of the strength of God who freed them from slavery.

This is forbidden by the Ten Commandments (Catholics see the Protestant Second Commandment as a continuation of the First). The reason why it is forbidden is because it, in essence, names God the Father. Something that we cannot do. To name something means that we have dominion over it. (Genesis 1:26/Genesis 2:20)

We don't have dominion over God and we cannot give Him a name. The Israelites called Him JHVH (or YHWH) which is an unpronounceable word indicating that they cannot or rather should not pronounce His name. He reminds us of this in Exodus 3:13-14. The wonder of God the Father is a mystery and He remains hidden.

To make an image of God the Father is to define Him. To give Him attributes which we cannot do. We cannot describe God the Father as He is indescribable and thus we truly cannot make an image of Him.

God the Son is not indescribable as He is a Man who was born of a virgin over 2000 years ago. He has a name and was named by God the Father.

The image of Christ Crucified in a statue or in a painting is not us trying to define God who cannot be defined (which is a violation of one of God's commandments) but rather a depiction of a historical event--or rather THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND and more importantly, it's a proclamation of Christ crucified which is what Paul calls us to do. (1 Corinthians 1: 23) Not in words but in image.

I don't want to get into a long argument about this. I think this explains the Catholic view pretty well. If you don't agree...okay.



9:42 PM  

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