Images of Christ

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ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
I am sure this topic has been discussed before, but it's on my mind. I was recently struck by the marketing surrounding a forthcoming Crossway title the Vintage Jesus. Please note that I did not link to the official site, because it contains multiple various so-called images of Jesus. Although I never felt strongly on this issue growing up, I became firmly convinced in my studies during my seminary years that Scripture does forbid the making and using of such images. However, when I mention that to other Christians they look at me like I'm some crazy backwoods snakehandler! The look in their eyes is like I had taken away their childhood security blanket. They can't seem to fathom that such pictures would offend God. After all, look at the "success" of the Jesus Film, the Passion of the Christ (touted as the greatest evangelism opportunity since the time of the apostles), and the pages of children's Bibles and pictures books.

Through my work on Reformation Art, I have likely seen more pictures of Jesus than most Roman Catholics! Part of my work is digging through all of the garbage to find the gems. Apart from plucking at your eyes, it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing these images. Normally I have to search through thousands of images in a dealer's online catalog to find images to use for the site, and normally, at least half of their "religious images" contain some sort of proposed grotesque likeness of the Christ. And if you haven't already figured it out, I have a strict policy against carrying such images on my site.

I have written a brief 2 page paper, setting forth this important doctrine from Scripture. You can download it here. It is followed by a 13 page appendix of some great quotes from church history on the matter.

I appreciate your interaction and feedback!

Soli Deo Gloria,
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome to the crazy-pictures-of-Jesus-so-called-hating-club Andrew.;) I will try to grab you paper as it looks like at long last a hopefully significant dealing of this issue will appear in a forthcoming Confessional Presbyterian, probably the 2009 looks like. I need to compile material for it; any suggestions. I have my short list but maybe you know some I don't have.
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
Andrew,

Good to see another iconoclast join the fray! We certainly are the select of the elect, as Derke Bergsma used to say in seminary. I just wrote a brief dialog with a colleague on this issue for the Christmas issue of Christian Renewal, a Dutch Reformed periodical. I'm very curious to hear the response to that!
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I really cannot understand why this issue is a debate in Reformed circles; surely even a brief glance at the second commandment should be enough to tell us that pictures of Christ are forbidden?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Speaking of which; are the contrary views of Bahnsen and Gentry, who I think follows him, online or are these only on tape or something? I know Bahnsen's was on tape many moons ago.
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
As of late I have studied this topic since it is almost that time of year again... It seems like aleast one year around this time I study it... :lol:

Anyway, here are my conclusions in my own mind regarding the topic of Images of Christ...

1. The second commandment ONLY bars images of Christ in worship. Anything we make or bring to worship is forbidden. The second commandment does not speak outside of worship unless you are worshipping an image in your home, your business, your car, etc....

But....

Does this allow for images of Christ outside of worship if you do not worship them? I still believe it is forbidden but not because of the second commandment..... After studying the historical and theological arguments regarding images outside of worship here are my conclusions...

1. We have no idea what Christ looked like, so any image is a false image of him.
2. During the 6th and 7th Century during the Iconoclastic Controversy the decision made by the Iconoclast was that we cannot make an image of Christ because of his Divine Nature. Even if we knew what Christ looked like and was able to paint a picture of him we would be dividing his nature.. Christ is fully God and fully Man. If we paint him we are painting only the man for we can not paint his divine nature thus dividing his nature.

At the very least it is nestorianism and it could also be monophysite...

So it is still forbidden....

That is my :2cents: for what it is worth....
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
I am coming into more of an "iconoclast camp here", funny, as a former Anglican, I was surrounded by stained glass images of Christ, the Nativity, the Cross, the Resurrection you name it! It was and is hard for me, the transition was not easy, frankly I would like to thank the PB members for being patient! :pilgrim::pilgrim::pilgrim:
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Speaking of which; are the contrary views of Bahnsen and Gentry, who I think follows him, online or are these only on tape or something? I know Bahnsen's was on tape many moons ago.

What is the relevance of this point Chris? It is also contrary to the views of many other people in American Presbyterianism, so why just pick on Greg Bahnsen and Ken Gentry?
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
To further the discussion, for me it is no longer just images of Jesus as a man, it extends to all visible representations of the divine being (ala WLC 109). So even paintings that depict Christ as a lamb, the Holy Spirit as a dove, or even the symbol of the trinity depicted as three interlocking circles sometimes with a triangle tying them together. These are all visible representations of God. I am convinced that this is what Scripture teaches, and have become quite convicted of it this past year in my studies. I have also written a paper on the use of images and symbols in the life of the church but I will save that for another thread at another time.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
To further the discussion, for me it is no longer just images of Jesus as a man, it extends to all visible representations of the divine being (ala WLC 109). So even paintings that depict Christ as a lamb, the Holy Spirit as a dove, or even the symbol of the trinity depicted as three interlocking circles sometimes with a triangle tying them together. These are all visible representations of God. I am convinced that this is what Scripture teaches, and have become quite convicted of it this past year in my studies. I have also written a paper on the use of images and symbols in the life of the church but I will save that for another thread at another time.


That is an excellent point; I think it is due to widespread declension in Presbyterian circles that many of these things have got in, and so you find even some of the most articulate defenders of the Reformed faith apologizing for their usage.
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
Would this also include a bare naked cross?


To further the discussion, for me it is no longer just images of Jesus as a man, it extends to all visible representations of the divine being (ala WLC 109). So even paintings that depict Christ as a lamb, the Holy Spirit as a dove, or even the symbol of the trinity depicted as three interlocking circles sometimes with a triangle tying them together. These are all visible representations of God. I am convinced that this is what Scripture teaches, and have become quite convicted of it this past year in my studies. I have also written a paper on the use of images and symbols in the life of the church but I will save that for another thread at another time.
 

SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks your work Andrew!

Unfortunately although Question 109 in the LC and LD 35 in the HC make it quite clear that as Presbyterian and Reformed believers we confess that images of any member of the Godhead are forbidden (as well as being essentially lies) most Presbyterian elders have little or no problem with images and many have even signed on to the yearly Christmas time struggle with the secular state to erect nativity scenes hither and yon.

A while back I put together a round-up of Reformed Confessions that make it clear that until quite recently, the orthodox Reformed consensus was united on this issue. But then again, 100 years ago not working on the Lord's day was a no-brainer for protestants as well. Anyone notice that as biblical illiteracy increases we are gradually sliding back into medieval Roman Catholicism? Its not a surprise that as we abandon God's word, idolatry increases.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Relevant to my wanting to obtain them, and that they are also some of the key folks noted by those who take exception to LC 109 in Presbytery exams in the OPC and PCA and other conservative denoms in this country. A bit thin skinned today are we not?
Speaking of which; are the contrary views of Bahnsen and Gentry, who I think follows him, online or are these only on tape or something? I know Bahnsen's was on tape many moons ago.

What is the relevance of this point Chris? It is also contrary to the views of many other people in American Presbyterianism, so why just pick on Greg Bahnsen and Ken Gentry?
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you mean by bare naked??? :eek:

If you mean a plain cross, I do believe decor in the auditorium is a matter of circumstance, however, I argued against displaying a cross on the wall in our auditorium, and the session agreed. My reasons are that God has given us two visible signs/symbols to use in our worship, and those are the sacraments. If we want our eyes to be drawn to symbols, then let them be drawn to those ordained by Christ for worship! So I think it is appropriate to have a prominent pulpit, featuring the primary means of grace, and also a table for the Lord's Supper and a baptismal font featured off to the sides, or even beneath the pulpit if appropriate. I do believe this is in the realm of the commendable, not the commendable.

The cross is a symbol adopted by the church for her own use. God did not give us this symbol. It has become an icon viewed by many to have some mystical superstitious power (wards off vampires, etc). To put it plainly, the cross that Christ bore is not the cross that bore Christ (I don't remember who said that originally, but it stuck with me)! This is a cross that isn't visible, but spiritual. This is hell, the unhindered wrath of God poured out upon Jesus for my sin. That can't be worn around my neck or tacked to a wall. However, it can be preached with the full power and authority of Christ through the powerful working of the Spirit!
 
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Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
*Chuckling* about the bare naked.....


No, I totally agree with you with regards to the Sanctuary... I was not espousing a cross in worship... All I want is a bare *naked* :wow: room with a pulpit, seating, the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist and maybe the ten commandments displayed on the wall to remind us of God's holy law...

But outside of worship? a cross? some take that the cross represents the trinity, etc... so would that be wrong? granted worship of a cross is wrong. bowing, adoring, venerating, etc of a cross is worship and is wrong inside or outside of the church....


:wwbd:



What do you mean by bare naked??? :eek:

If you mean a plain cross, I do believe decor in the auditorium is a matter of circumstance, however, I argued against displaying a cross on the wall in our auditorium, and the session agreed. My reasons are that God has given us two visible signs/symbols to use in our worship, and those are the sacraments. If we want our eyes to be drawn to symbols, then let them be drawn to those ordained by Christ for worship! So I think it is appropriate to have a prominent pulpit, featuring the primary means of grace, and also a table for the Lord's Supper and a baptismal font featured off to the sides, or even beneath the pulpit if appropriate. I do believe this is in the realm of the commendable, not the commendable.

The cross is a symbol adopted by the church for her own use. God did not give us this symbol. It has become an icon viewed by many to have some mystical superstitious power (wards off vampires, etc). To put it plainly, the cross that Christ bore is not the cross that bore Christ (I don't remember who said that originally, but it stuck with me)! This is a cross that isn't visible, but spiritual. This is hell, the unhindered wrath of God poured out upon Jesus for my sin. That can't be worn around my neck or tacked to a wall. However, it can be breached with the full power and authority of Christ through the powerful working of the Spirit!
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
To my knowledge, the plain cross has no trinitarian symbolism involved, but is meant to point to Christ's work accomplished on the cross. So unless there is some other symbol added to it to make it more explicitly a symbol of the trinity, I would say it isn't forbidden as such.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Andrew,
I"m interested in the other paper too if you would like to forward that to me sometime. The 'pictures of Jesus' article slatted for the 2009 CPJ will survey the recent literature. I realize your papers are unpublished but if you plan to post them on the web that counts.;)
To further the discussion, for me it is no longer just images of Jesus as a man, it extends to all visible representations of the divine being (ala WLC 109). So even paintings that depict Christ as a lamb, the Holy Spirit as a dove, or even the symbol of the trinity depicted as three interlocking circles sometimes with a triangle tying them together. These are all visible representations of God. I am convinced that this is what Scripture teaches, and have become quite convicted of it this past year in my studies. I have also written a paper on the use of images and symbols in the life of the church but I will save that for another thread at another time.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I wear a necklace of a cross that has the star of david behind it. Is that ok? =

I used to have a fish with a star of david in it on the back of my car, but I decided to take it off because the Star of David is not even in the OT and because we are members of the new covenant.
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
You might want to see if you can dig up any pre-Reformation quotes to add to your appendix.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Relevant to my wanting to obtain them, and that they are also some of the key folks noted by those who take exception to LC 109 in Presbytery exams in the OPC and PCA and other conservative denoms in this country. A bit thin skinned today are we not?
Speaking of which; are the contrary views of Bahnsen and Gentry, who I think follows him, online or are these only on tape or something? I know Bahnsen's was on tape many moons ago.

What is the relevance of this point Chris? It is also contrary to the views of many other people in American Presbyterianism, so why just pick on Greg Bahnsen and Ken Gentry?

But why only highlight two men when this is a problem much deeper in American Reformed circles???
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
What is the purpose in the cross being a symbol of Christ's death? Are we to celebrate the death of Christ alone, maybe we should get a rock to put around our neck too so that we can celebrate the resurrection. Or if we really want to celebrate the death of Christ with the symbol of the cross, we can put Christ on the cross (not naked cross) but then this would be a violation of the 2nd commandment.

Now you can also ask what the purpose of having the cross is? What is it for? To remind you of Christ's death? I remember it all the time (every Sunday) and any time I read Scripture, and just in common affairs. Do you really need a cross to remind you of the Gospel or is the Holy Spirit indwelled in you not enough? Just trying to think of reasons why there is a need for it. Is it the most righteous thing you can do? Does it really help you worship God? Or do you end up worshipping the physical cross more than God himself?
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
According to Wikipedia , which of course is subject to error, the Star of David came into use during the Middle Ages. So, it is not a biblical symbol, just as the cross is not given to us by God.

It is used to represent national Israel and is the symbol displayed on their flag. When used by Christian it normally symbolizes that the person is a Christian Zionist. This is a Christian political movement that because of their eschatology supports the building up of national Israel in hopes of helping to bring about the second coming of Christ. Many of these churches will display a Jewish flag in their auditorium, and are mostly dispensational. John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone church in San Antonio is a prominent supporter of this view.

237HageeFlag.jpg
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
According to Wikipedia , which of course is subject to error, the Star of David came into use during the Middle Ages. So, it is not a biblical symbol, just as the cross is not given to us by God.

It is used to represent national Israel and is the symbol displayed on their flag. When used by Christian it normally symbolizes that the person is a Christian Zionist. This is a Christian political movement that because of their eschatology supports the building up of national Israel in hopes of helping to bring about the second coming of Christ. Many of these churches will display a Jewish flag in their auditorium, and are mostly dispensational. John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone church in San Antonio is a prominent supporter of this view.

237HageeFlag.jpg

And he's an arch-heretic.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Daniel,
Highlighting? I can't imagine why you claim that as you can't have any idea what the structure of the paper will be or what other authors will be covered. I mentioned them, and I believe this is the second or third time I've said this, because I need the material from them. I have leads or think I do for much of the rest that I have on my list to date.

But why only highlight two men when this is a problem much deeper in American Reformed circles???
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Daniel,
Highlighting? I can't imagine why you claim that as you can't have any idea what the structure of the paper will be or what other authors will be covered. I mentioned them, and I believe this is the second or third time I've said this, because I need the material from them. I have leads or think I do for much of the rest that I have on my list to date.

But why only highlight two men when this is a problem much deeper in American Reformed circles???

:oops:Oh right, your doing a paper on the issue...I see. Sorry for the confusion.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Relevant to my wanting to obtain them, and that they are also some of the key folks noted by those who take exception to LC 109 in Presbytery exams in the OPC and PCA and other conservative denoms in this country. A bit thin skinned today are we not?

But why only highlight two men when this is a problem much deeper in American Reformed circles???
I'm curious. Why are you particularly defensive of these two?

Basically, I find that those from a Scottish Presbyterian background don't like what these men have to say on other issues, and so instead of dealing with their arguments, they resort to relevance fallacies in order to prejudice people against them. They don't seem to realize that a man can be right on one thing, but wrong on another. Hence, I try to discourage things like that. Its a bit like someone saying because RCs are infant-baptist, therefore infant baptism is wrong. I hope this makes some sense. :handshake:
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Also, just in case anyone thinks I am an apologist for everything that has been said or done in the Christian Reconstructionist movement please read this post

Though I would now be more clear in distancing CR from the FV.

And thanks for your thanks Joshua.:cheers:
 
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