Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Iconography/Protestants

Many Protestants do not understand Icons. They assume this is a form of idolatry. Comments?

11 comments:

DEP said...

What is your source for making the statement that many Protestants do not understand icons? Isn't that statement an assumption on your part rather than a fact?

Athanasios Boeker said...

Dep,

Even though Orthodox do not use statues I believe Luther's argument, in the following quote, would also cover Icons as well.

In the book "What Luther says" page 681, in the section The "Idolatry of Images" Luther says," For although we (former Roman Catholics) knew that all of them (Images) were sculptured and fashioned by the hands of men, yet we fell down before these statues and adored them under the impression that God would graciously regard this or that image (ICON). And we fancied that St. Barbara, Anna, Christopher would regard their particular statues and hear our prayers. This cult was Egyptian darkness and quite the same madness and fury which in times of old was found among the heathen, who made up an infinite number of divinites;for thus they worshiped Juno, BacchusCeres, Priapus, and others."

John Calvin in his "Institutes of the Christian Religion"states,"And it is to be observed, that the thing forbidden is (a)likeness, whether sculptured or otherwise. This disposes of the frivolous precaution taken by the Greek Church. They think they do admiably, because they have no sculptured shape of Deity, while none go to greater lenths in the licentious use of pictures." book 1,page 94.

All the above is anti-Orthodox.

Athanasios

DEP said...

As a "Protestant", yet speaking only for myself, I can say with no malice the tradition of venerating icons seems or appears unnecessary. That said, in my church, as in many "Protestant" churches we also have icons which, unfortunately, become objects of veneration or, even worse, worship. In my church, the organ and stained glass windows are venerated by some as more important than worshiping the Creator. I find no fault in using icons. It is simply a ritual I do not practice.

Athanasios Boeker said...

What makes Icons neccesary for the Orthodox, is how it relates to the Incarnation of the Son of God, I will try to explain.

Before the Incarnation, God had forbidden man to make an image of HImself, ie.God, after all, any image man would have made, would have been false, an Idol, since the Incarnation of God had not taken place yet. But after the incarnation when God took up within himself the created world (a body), then to depict Christ, and those who have become christified, in physical form ie. Icons, then became an neccessary acknowledgement of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

We do not make Icons so that we can worship matter, we make, and venerate Icons because they represent the one who became matter for us, and for our salvation.

Again, no Incarnation, no salvation.

Athanasios

Adam Roe said...

Dep,

It's also helpful to know that venerating icons isn't merely a matter of necessity. It's also a matter of affection. I recall when I was a small boy and my father was in the Air Force. He was often pulling alerts and would be gone for a couple weeks at a time. My mother says I used to take his picture off the mantle, kiss it, and exclaim "I love you, daddy!" This is no different from veneration of icons and the cross. These items are visible reminders of our emotional and timeless connections with Christians who have gone before us. When we kiss them, we are saying "we love you!"

Blessings in Christ,
Adam

DEP said...

I think its great the practice is necessary for you. However, can you understand why I would not participate in the use of icons? If you need a picture or a piece of the "True Cross" or the "Spear of Longinus" to help you remember Christ's sacrifice good for you.

Adam Roe said...

DEP,

"Need" should only sparingly enter into the Christian lexicon. We should instead be looking at love, affection, and appreciation as the guide by which we move more deeply into Christ and His Church. We all need to learn to show and receive love in tangible expressions of affection. My question would be, what is the tangible means by which you give and receive affection from Christians of all ages? How do you remain connected to the apostles and the saints that have gone before you? How does The Church of all ages get down to you? In other words, what is the Protestant equivalent of kissing an icon and offering an "I love you?"

Blessings in Christ,
Adam

DEP said...

Whenever I take communion I hold hands with those who have gone before me, those present in Christ today and those yet to come. I don't think there is a Protestant equivalent to the physical action of kissing an icon. I show love and affection by doing what is right and ethical. I show by love giving away to those in need. I show love by honoring God and his commandments. I show love by giving love. I show love by remaining humble in all that I do. I think we all show love when we participate in forums like this which hopefully, strengthens our faith and exposes us to what others think. That is where the fun resides.

Adam Roe said...

Ah! Very good, DEP. Hopefully you can see then that Orthodox veneration doesn't hinge on need as much as it is reflection of our affection for those who have gone before us. Take the holding hands with those whom you are in communion with...that is what we are doing when kissing icons and the like.

Athanasios Boeker said...

The Orthodox Church is the Incarnation of Christ in the world, His Body. It is where the Incarnation of Christ takes place every Sunday, in the Divine Eucharist. What it does, even Icons, is not incidental, it is of Divine origen, not a matter of taste. Therefore, one can either accept what the Church teaches or one can reject it. We can talk about the theological reasons for why we do it but, it is fruitless to keep debating whether we should or not.

Athanasios

Ignatius said...

Ikon in Greek is "Image".

In Colossians 1 it states (speaking of Jesus), "He is the Ikon of the invisible God."

If Jesus did not want us to have an image of Him, he would not have revealed himself in an image.