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Thread: An Honest 2nd Commandment Question - Please Be Gentle

  1. #1

    An Honest 2nd Commandment Question - Please Be Gentle

    Hey Guys,

    So I admit, that after a decade plus in Reformed theology, I'm just now being convicted of my lack of obedience to the second commandment. Mind you, I don't look at pictures of Christ, and it's been awhile since I watched any film based on His life (though the whole topic of the "Bible" miniseries and my grandparents intent to watch it brought this specific question to my mind. More on that as an aside after my question.) But in my personal library, a few books have images of Christ either on the cover or inside the binding itself. Those with dust jackets are handled easily enough--just discard it. But like for paperbacks or images inside the pages of books, how do you deal with that?

    These are all theological books, by the way.

    [As to the aside, my theologically liberal but seeking grandparents were enthusiastically telling me to watch the "Bible" mini-series. I told them not to watch, as the History Channel is notorious for misrepresenting Christianity, and besides, films based on scripture are either cheesy or inaccurate with much creative license taken, bust mostly both. My Southern Baptist mother sees no problem with the series, considering it's been endorsed by popular evangelical teachers. If you've read my other family related posts, you know that the only other Christians in my family aren't Reformed and don't really care about theology. The reason this brought the second commandent to my mind was my feeling hypocritical when I have books in my home that contain images, which also misrepresent Christ.]

    Thoughts? And please, be gentle. This is an area of theology I'm weak in.
    Steve von Berckefeldt
    Member of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA)
    Nashville, TN
    My Blog: At the Table of the King

  2. #2
    Obviously any purported image of Christ is just that - purported. One option then is to just remind yourself that the artwork on your book simply portrays someone random from around the time of Christ and not actually Christ. The other option is duct tape. I have a book or two that I've gone that route as well.
    Andrew Silva
    Ruling Elder, Dallas Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Flower Mound,TX
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    North DFW area

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    He is your friend who pushes you nearer to God. - Abraham Kuyper
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  3. #3
    Steve,

    You can only control your actions in regards to the 2nd commandment. Let your personal conviction, and practice, speak for you. If it results in questions being asked, or comments being made, make use of those opportunities to gently share why you are acting obediently to the 2nd commandment. Have patience with your family. Don't turn family gatherings into a platform for talking about the 2nd commandment. Actions do speak louder than words in some situations.
    Bill Brown
    Grace Baptist Church


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  4. #4
    I can try that, Andrew. I must admit, this is a hard adjustment to make in general, though. When you grow up in a Christian family, you see grow up seeing these images everywhere -- Church, home, books, movies. You have this generic concept of a guy in a white robe with long hair and a beard, it's even obviously been in mental images while reading Scripture. It's going to be hard to break the habit.

    It took me this long to change my view because most Christians (even Reformed ones) have no problems with the images. When it comes down to it, though, Scripture is clear.
    Steve von Berckefeldt
    Member of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA)
    Nashville, TN
    My Blog: At the Table of the King

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    Don't turn family gatherings into a platform for talking about the 2nd commandment. Actions do speak louder than words in some situations.
    Bill, trust me, wouldn't dream of it. My mother in particular doesn't like that I'm a Calvinist. If I start talking about the second commandment and my new convictions, they'd think I joined some cult for sure. I only mentioned my family because the situation with my grandparents is tricky. I'm trying to give them correct information and lead them to Christ. My family thinks whatever gets them interested in God must be okay.
    Steve von Berckefeldt
    Member of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA)
    Nashville, TN
    My Blog: At the Table of the King

  6. #6
    If they are not going to be seen I don't see any pressing reason to do anything. If they will be commonly seen make a sleeve and wrap it top and bottom and tape it on the inside. Or, if you are feeling iconoclastic, have at it with marker or scissors. When the Westminster Assembly was asked by the English Parliament to give a list of scandals that should bar from the Lord's table, they gave a list (unwillingly as they were not happy to encourage Parliament's Erastianism), and on this they made a proviso that it was not just having such images, like in books in one's library on a shelf, but having it with ill intent that was censurable.
    Chris Coldwell, Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, Texas.
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  7. #7
    Many do go the route of taping over the images. After a detoxification over the last couple of years from any images of "Christ" in my library or home - it is painful to look at something that claims to be an image of Him. And I find that I can read Scripture better without having a white skinned, blonde, blue eyed "Jesus" pop into my mind. So glad that's behind me now.

    It's even better knowing that my children aren't surrounded by this nonsense...
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  8. #8
    Hypothetically, would it have been a sin to snap and develop a picture of Jesus? I can understand the Father and Spirit being forbidden since we cannot imagine their glory, but I'm curious to the reason for "all three" persons being forbidden in Q108 when one was made in human likeness.
    Chuck
    PCA church member
    Westminster Standards
    Texas

  9. #9
    We should not have pictures of Christ because we should not have pictures of whom we worship. To paraphrase Watson, if a picture of Christ stirs up devotion, it is idolatry, if it does not, it is vain; caught between the Scylla of the second commandment and the Charybdis of the third.
    Chris Coldwell, Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, Texas.
    • Naphtali Press: Presbyterian & Reformed Books
    • Westminster Letter Press
    The Confessional Presbyterian Journal
    The Blue Banner Archive
    Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?
    The Regulative Principle: The Scriptures are the “only infallible rule of faith and practice, no rite or ceremony ought to have a place in the public worship of God, which is not warranted in Scripture, either by direct precept or example, or by good and sufficient inference” (Samuel Miller).
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckd View Post
    Hypothetically, would it have been a sin to snap and develop a picture of Jesus?
    The problem with hypotheticals is they're just that: hypothetical. There were no cameras at that time, ergo no snaps could have been made. When it comes to God's Law, we deal with what we have. Christ's human nature is not to be somehow considered apart from His divine. They are two entire distinct natures in one Person forever. We have a clear command not to make any likeness of anything that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth which is intended to depict, portray, or otherwise represent any member of the Trinity, Who is one God in three Persons, not three gods. All we "need" is a command. We don't "need," deserve, nor should we require a reason other than God says don't do it. He brooks no competitors. He may not be put into the dock. He does not have to explain Himself, yet He has condescended and done so in many ways through His Word. Where He is silent, we are simply to obey.
    to Josh. Further, Galatians 4:4-5 tells us that Christ's coming was in the fulness of time ... so the absence of photography during Jesus' time was no accident -- it is all of God's providence.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by chuckd View Post
    Hypothetically, would it have been a sin to snap and develop a picture of Jesus?
    Not hypothetically, the available "technology" at the time would have allowed one to draw pictures of Jesus, but we don't have any evidence in Scripture that anyone did this, especially the apostles, who would have known exactly what He looked like.

    Another available medium at the time would have been to perform some dramatic play with an actor portraying "Jesus." That would have been perfectly acceptable in a Greek culture context, yet we have no indication that this ever happened. In fact, Paul points away from this "dramatization" aspect in Galatians 3:1ff -- Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified to the Galatians, but this was not through the use of plays, but rather the preaching of the word of God. That is how souls were converted and edified, and that is where our emphasis must lie.
    Tim Phillips
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  12. #12
    I was invited to give the opening prayer at an LDS production of Handel's Messiah, and I must say I found their church decoration to be very odd. There was nary a cross to be found in the entire building, but there were many paintings on the walls in the hallway that depicted a suspiciously blonde Christ. I just think is is strange that the Mormons find the cross offensive but not images of Christ.
    Bill
    Pitching my tent and building my altar
    (SBC)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    One option then is to just remind yourself that the artwork on your book simply portrays someone random from around the time of Christ and not actually Christ.
    You mean Jesus didn't actually look like the Breck Girl? breck.jpg
    Bill
    Pitching my tent and building my altar
    (SBC)
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  14. #14
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    I always refer to that picture as "Dan Fogelberg". As in why do you have a painting of Dan Fogelberg in your sanctuary?
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
    Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP
    Ellisville, Mississippi

    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Backwoods Presbyterian View Post
    I always refer to that picture as "Dan Fogelberg". As in why do you have a painting of Dan Fogelberg in your sanctuary?
    Or Bob Seger if the artist was not particularily talented
    Bill
    Pitching my tent and building my altar
    (SBC)
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  16. #16
    Thanks to the above for clearing that up.
    Chuck
    PCA church member
    Westminster Standards
    Texas

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Backwoods Presbyterian View Post
    I always refer to that picture as "Dan Fogelberg". As in why do you have a painting of Dan Fogelberg in your sanctuary?
    Especially since it is doubtful that 1st century Palestinian men (except those who had taken a Nazaritic vow) actually had long hair.
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Mephibosheth View Post
    I can try that, Andrew. I must admit, this is a hard adjustment to make in general, though. When you grow up in a Christian family, you see grow up seeing these images everywhere -- Church, home, books, movies. You have this generic concept of a guy in a white robe with long hair and a beard, it's even obviously been in mental images while reading Scripture. It's going to be hard to break the habit.

    It took me this long to change my view because most Christians (even Reformed ones) have no problems with the images. When it comes down to it, though, Scripture is clear.
    For a while, to blast the stereotype in my mind I would think of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Clint Eastwood wearing a robe and sandals. He would also have short hair and was smoking a stogy every time. I would then have him laugh at the idea of being able to picture Christ. After a while the image would be replaced by a white blank spot. Whatever you use, just imagine the image commenting on the absurdity of visualizing Christ. After a month of doing this every time, the image fades. You can also replace it with the image of Christ presented in Rev 1:12-16.
    Chris Thomas | Grace Reformed Baptist Church | Bonham, TX

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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    One option then is to just remind yourself that the artwork on your book simply portrays someone random from around the time of Christ and not actually Christ.
    You mean Jesus didn't actually look like the Breck Girl? breck.jpg


    Its the same artist who does the LDS jesus!!!!
    Lyle
    OPC
    CA

  20. #20
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    I purged my library of books that contain such pictures, exacto bladed or covered them. If someone else has them, I ignore them remembering that I also once had such things, but no longer want them in my presence. However, I do attempt to make comment about them as a teaching tool in hope that the current possessor will come to the same conclusion. A friend of mine and I often joke each other about the wallpaper border in a congregation we once visited that earns one of these However, we hope that it has been removed and disposed of properly.
    Rich Koster
    Browns Mills NJ USA
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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by M21195 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    One option then is to just remind yourself that the artwork on your book simply portrays someone random from around the time of Christ and not actually Christ.
    You mean Jesus didn't actually look like the Breck Girl? breck.jpg



    Its the same artist who does the LDS jesus!!!!
    The LDS Jesus is blonde, but otherwise the same.
    Bill
    Pitching my tent and building my altar
    (SBC)

  22. #22
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    With regard to pictures of the Lord Jesus, I think this Scripture addresses that:

    "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor 5:16-17).

    This means that we can only know Him in spirit – "physically" His Person is not revealed – as His glorious presence is by revelation of the Holy Spirit alone. When I see supposed images of Christ I ignore them, as they are untrue.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    There was nary a cross to be found in the entire building, but there were many paintings on the walls in the hallway that depicted a suspiciously blonde Christ.
    Considering the fact that the Mormon church blatantly promoted racism up until about 15 years ago, it's not surprising at all.
    Andrew Silva
    Ruling Elder, Dallas Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Flower Mound,TX
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    Considering the fact that the Mormon church blatantly promoted racism up until about 15 years ago, it's not surprising at all.
    It's been longer than that. Spencer Kimball changed the rule in 1978.
    Edward
    Deacon
    PCA
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