Veneration of Icons and images

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KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
I see this statement quoted below from Constantinople IV (869) on icons and images as being the turning point, or the 'first edge of the wedge' that divided the church from a stance on the purity of the word of God; and that this, perhaps is the most significant source of all the error and obstinacy that was to follow in the next 700 years.

But I have not studied these things at length as some of the PB folks here have, and so I'm asking for a more informed opinion; how significant of an impact does the veneration of icons have in the centuries to come, and would it better be described as a source of future errors in the church or as an error contingent on a previous doctrinal malady?

I have my own view based on my brief and limited knowledge; would love to hear any expert opinions.

From Canon 3 - "We decree that the sacred image of our Lord Jesus Christ, the liberator and Savior of all people, must be venerated with the same honor as is given the book of the holy Gospels. For as through the language of the words contained in this book all can reach salvation, so, due to the action which these images exercise by their colors, all wise and simple alike, can derive profit from them. For what speech conveys in words, pictures announce and bring out in colors."


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Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
It is a violation of the 2nd Commandment, plain and simple. That is where the error starts; anything that follows is rooted in this error. I don't know if you've seen any (particularly foreigner) R.C.'s "venerate", it is indistinguishable from worship.

I believe Mariology began to get traction by 2nd Constantinople, but that was a misunderstanding of the Christological debate resulting in Nicea and Chalcedon. Somehow, someone thought Theotokos was trying to define Mary.....
 
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KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm wondering if any scholars make a strong connection between the state of the church doctrinally and practically in the dark ages up to the reformation and the explicit repudiation of iconoclasm at Constantinople IV.

In my mind as soon as you make the official position of the church that icons and images are a go for veneration equal to the word, then you will become increasingly blind to truth as icons and images do not contain the words of God which bring light, life, and are able to reform us from within. I'm wondering if scholars have made in-depth and explicit connections there as well.

@ Jwithnell - RC primarily is my interest ATM.




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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I'm wondering if any scholars make a strong connection between the state of the church doctrinally and practically in the dark ages up to the reformation and the explicit repudiation of iconoclasm at Constantinople IV

Academic scholars are going to avoid making any sort of judgment. While iconodulism was a significant shift in the church, it's debatable that the church was "pure" before then. It's best to speak of "more or less pure" at different times and different locations.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I see this statement quoted below from Constantinople IV (869) on icons and images as being the turning point, or the 'first edge of the wedge' that divided the church from a stance on the purity of the word of God; and that this, perhaps is the most significant source of all the error and obstinacy that was to follow in the next 700 years.

I personally am not at all an expert on Church history, but I uploaded a PDF of the relevant chapters from Schaff's History of the Christian Church.
 

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Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm wondering if any scholars make a strong connection between the state of the church doctrinally and practically in the dark ages up to the reformation and the explicit repudiation of iconoclasm at Constantinople IV.

In my mind as soon as you make the official position of the church that icons and images are a go for veneration equal to the word, then you will become increasingly blind to truth as icons and images do not contain the words of God which bring light, life, and are able to reform us from within. I'm wondering if scholars have made in-depth and explicit connections there as well.

@ Jwithnell - RC primarily is my interest ATM.




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Having been a Romanist for decades, one is indoctrinated to believe there is no idolatry in veneration. Now I realize it is a delusion and spiritually harmful. I spent countless hours in adoration, praying to saints, kneeling before statues, and then was saved from it, by God's grace.

The practice of veneration is extremely powerful. There is emotion, meditation, scrupulosity toward self, uniting the mind with the physical object of veneration. Spiritually dangerous and opens people to subject themselves to other than the Holy Trinity.

I don't think most RC consider the practice from a doctrinal standpoint, which is why it so dangerous. Practitioners are not even considering what Scripture says about it. So, in answer to the OP, yes, it has implications for the present and the future as millions continue to worship idols.
 
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Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Having been a Romanist for decades, one is indoctrinated to believe there is no idolatry in veneration.

Thanks for sharing this. I have been in frustrating discussions with people who insist that what they do in "veneration" is not worshipping an object or saint. It's frustrating because they can't seem to understand that locating spiritual power in any object or person other than God, and seeking to harness or tap into it through proximity, touch, facing during prayer, all of it is idolatry.

It's really no different than the football team that rubs the same player's head before each game for "luck". Or the clock-tower on campus that everyone says to walk around it to the right side, because walking to the left side will "curse" you.
 

KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for sharing this. I have been in frustrating discussions with people who insist that what they do in "veneration" is not worshipping an object or saint. It's frustrating because they can't seem to understand that locating spiritual power in any object or person other than God, and seeking to harness or tap into it through proximity, touch, facing during prayer, all of it is idolatry.

Well even more than that, when you understand that it is the logic of the words of God which have power to transform us from the inside out into people fit for relationship with God and others, then you see how it is impossible that veneration can affect any change on our hearts; in fact, veneration is entirely outward. Whereas when we worship of God according to his word; His word is entering our minds, causing us to think differently, causing us to think his thoughts after him, reprogramming us. That's where the transformation comes.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I read a novel by an orthodox guy and the gist of what the priest believed was as follows.

In the bible, spiritual power at times resided in inanimate objects. A man touches the ark and dies. A dead man was thrown into a grave and when he touched the bones of a prophet he resurrected. A lady touched the garment of Jesus and was healed. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul were taken from him to the sick who were healed, and evil spirits came out.

(I happen to believe that happened- that a piece of cloth that touched Paul had power to heal the sick and cast out demons- although in James we are instructed how to pray for the sick, and it isn't this way.)

But anyway, if their history is correct, little bits of bone and wood and cloth relics have been around from day one. I don't know when they started tacking on pictures, but it makes sense that if power is in a relic, then a picture or statue might have power too. I would think the mindset behind the relics would easily adapt to pictures. If I had to guess I would say it is an "error contingent on a previous doctrinal malady" as you put it.

But I will be interested to hear what the historians here say.
 

KGP

Puritan Board Freshman
I read a novel by an orthodox guy and the gist of what the priest believed was as follows.

In the bible, spiritual power at times resided in inanimate objects. A man touches the ark and dies. A dead man was thrown into a grave and when he touched the bones of a prophet he resurrected. A lady touched the garment of Jesus and was healed. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul were taken from him to the sick who were healed, and evil spirits came out.

(I happen to believe that happened- that a piece of cloth that touched Paul had power to heal the sick and cast out demons- although in James we are instructed how to pray for the sick, and it isn't this way.)

But anyway, if their history is correct, little bits of bone and wood and cloth relics have been around from day one. I don't know when they started tacking on pictures, but it makes sense that if power is in a relic, then a picture or statue might have power too. I would think the mindset behind the relics would easily adapt to pictures. If I had to guess I would say it is an "error contingent on a previous doctrinal malady" as you put it.

But I will be interested to hear what the historians here say.


In Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment by Gregg Allison he writes that one of the major axioms that unifies/runs through the whole body of Catholic Theology is a 'nature-grace interdependence' whereby nature is capable of receiving and transmitting grace. So then, the grace of God can be received through interaction with those areas of nature (by nature, they mean all that exists) that have received the grace of God. So icons, images, bread, wine, water, etc. This axiom totally makes their view on relics a much more natural progression of doctrine for them than it does for us protestants who hold that nature is further affected by sin than they confess, and is without any inherent capability to transmit grace; and that grace is not so much of an quantifiable element as it is the favorable disposition of our sovereign God toward us.
 
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