The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

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mayflower
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Lid geworden op: 23 Sep 2004, 08:19

The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:20

The Truth About Images of Jesus
and the Second Commandment

A Study for the Everyday Christian

By Justin Griffin BSW, MAgth

"The Truth About Images of Jesus and the Second Commandment" by Justin Griffin BSW, MAgth

Copyright © 2006 by Justin Griffin. All rights reserved.

Published in the United States of America
by Tate Publishing, LLC
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
(888) 361-9473

Book design copyright © 2006 by Tate Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author except as provided by USA copyright law.

Scripture quotations marked "KJV" are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version, Cambridge, 1769.

Scripture quotations marked “NASB” are taken from the New American Standard Bible ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from: the King James Version.

This book is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This information is given with the understanding that neither the author nor Tate Publishing, LLC is engaged in rendering legal, professional advice. Since the details of your situation are fact dependent, you should additionally seek the services of a competent professional.

ISBN: 1-5988655-4-4


Published by Permission at IIIM.
Dedications

This book is dedicated to YHWH.


Acknowledgments

I want to recognize my brilliant, breathtaking and wonderful wife Joanna for her compassion and care for me as I diligently undertook the writing of this book. Her love for Jesus Christ and her devotion as my helpmate bring me to my knees in prayer, thanking God for granting me the favor of such an excellent gift. The Bible says, “Who can find a virtuous woman…” (Proverbs 31:10). I can answer, “I have found such a woman.”

I also want to recognize my friend Andrew Morrison, who has a greater gift for writing the written word than I do at speaking it. He was there, as my scribe, at the very beginning when this book was just a paper for class, and he stuck it through to the very end. The Bible says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Andrew, you keep me sharp.

Table of Contents

Foreword
Prolegomena (Essential Matters)
Introduction
How this Study Will Be Carried Out
The Importance of This Subject
The Examination of the Second Commandment
The Second Commandment Throughout Scripture
Church History and Images of Christ
Conclusion: The Truth about Images of Jesus
Postlude (Questions and Answers)
Appendices and Bibliography
Ending Remarks

Foreword

I asked a friend of mine to review this book and give me his reaction. After a few days, he and I got together to discuss the book. He told me, “I think having a picture of Jesus is fine. I don't worship the image, I don't bow down to the image, and I don’t serve the image.”

To which I responded, “I addressed that very issue in the question and answer section of the book. As a matter of fact that was the very first issue I addressed. So what did you think of my response?”

My friend paused silently for a few seconds and said, “What's wrong with having images of Jesus to show you are a Christian?”

Again, I answered my friend by saying, “I answered that in the book as well.” My friend declared, “I am Baptist and you are Reformed; why should I care about a Reformed understanding of the Second Commandment and images of Jesus?”

I politely smiled at my friend and said, “I addressed that in the book as well.”

We sat there silently for a few more seconds, and I said to my friend, “You didn't really read the book, did you?”

To which he confessed, “I read part of it, but I skimmed the rest.”

After a few more days, my friend and I were discussing the book again. This time he triumphantly declared, “I read your book; as a matter of fact, I read it through twice. I have discovered an error, a flaw in one of your analyses.”

Eager to hear what my friend had found I said, “What did you find?”

He said, “If you look at thus and such page, paragraph two, in the second part of the last sentence, part of your argument says …”

I stopped my friend and asked him, “Wait! What was the whole argument, the context surrounding the argument and the general background?”

He paused for a few seconds and said, “What? What do you mean, what was the whole argument, the background and context?”

I responded by saying, “If you are going to deal with half an idea, if you are going to try and address half an argument, if you are going to take an argument out of its context and background, you will ultimately not be addressing the actual argument. ”


This book covers a very controversial issue. To handle such an important topic so cavalierly as not to fully read the book or only skim it will do more to impair the reader than prepare the reader to fully comprehend whether or not images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment. Furthermore, to take issue with part of an argument or idea or to take arguments or ideas out of their context will prevent the reader from fully understanding the material.

The author strongly recommends you read this book through twice with pen in hand. Read the book completely the first time to ensure that you fully grasp the main idea, and then read the study a second time to grasp the finer points. As you read, mark areas of interest. Underline those sentences or paragraphs that you want to explore further. Circle the page number of a particular page that you may want to return to later. Write your thoughts and feelings in the margins as you read.

Finally, knowing your opinion on this subject before you start reading this book will help you get the most out of the book. Take a few seconds to answer this question:

Do you believe that images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment?

_______: Yes, I believe that images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment.

_______: No, I do not believe that images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment.

_______: I do not know if images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment.

Once you have established your opinion about images of Jesus and the Second Commandment, I encourage you to set that opinion aside for a moment while you read this book. Favoritism, for or against, can cloud one’s judgment to the facts and cause one to form conclusions upon insufficient information. I encourage all readers to approach this book with a mind open enough to follow the facts, but not so open-minded that one is reading without discernment. Once you have read this study fully, return to this page, take up your opinion about images of Jesus again, and evaluate your opinion in light of the facts.


Prolegomena
(Essential Matters)

An important Scriptural doctrine guided this book’s preparation and should guide those who seek to comprehend it. That doctrine concerns the Trinity. An explanation of the Trinity is aptly presented in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which states in chapter 2, section 3, “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit …” The doctrine of the Trinity is described using the expression, “three persons one substance, power, and eternity.” The language structure of this doctrine is meant to convey the following truths:

1. There is only one God.
2. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
3. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all distinct from one another.

God has always been a Trinity from all eternity: "From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God"(Psalm 90:2). If you take away any one—Father, Son, or Holy Spirit—there is no God. The Bible teaches there is only one God. It says Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14), it says the Father is God (Philippians 1:2), and it says the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). There is in the Trinity but one indivisible essence. In this essence there are not three gods alongside of and separate from one another, but only personal self-distinctions. Therefore, the whole, undivided essence belongs equally to each of the three persons. The divine essence is not divided among the three persons like a split personality but exists altogether with all its excellence in each one of the persons so that they have the numerical unity of One.

While this study may in some sections appear to be singularly referring to the individual person—that of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), or the Holy Spirit—the reader should remember that their essence is One. Thus, where the text mentions a singular person in the Godhead, it refers to the Trinity. As a result, a reference to God (the Father), the Holy Spirit, or (the Son) Jesus Christ is a reference to the Triune God.


Introduction

This study will examine the issue of whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment . The following narrative is included to illustrate the many ways God's children show off their images of Jesus. The narrative was inspired by John Stott's fictional account of a man encountering the symbol of the cross in his book, The Cross of Christ. This narrative has been modified to illustrate how some Protestant Evangelical churches show off their images. It is not written to establish a straw man argument, which is an argument that distorts the facts so that they can be proved wrong. Rather, this narrative is designed to help bring into focus the various ways that Protestant Evangelical churches show off their images of Christ, not to suggest that any one church actually shows off their images of Christ in all these ways.

Imagine a stranger visiting any number of nondescript Protestant Evangelical churches. These may include Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, nondenominational, or independent churches. This stranger was brought up in a non-Christian culture and knows nothing about Christianity. Yet he is more than a tourist; he is personally interested and keen to learn. Walking along an ordinary street that could be found in many small American towns, he is impressed to find churches on almost every corner. As his eyes attempt to take them all in, he cannot help but notice the steeples and an image of a long-haired bearded man visible on some church signs. He enters one of these churches and stands in its foyer under the steeple. Trying to grasp the size and shape of the church, he becomes aware of a large, painted mural of this same long-haired, bearded man. He walks around and observes that each side wing of the church contains offices and Sunday school rooms, and the hallway has a large bulletin board with pictures of this same long-haired, bearded man. He goes outside into the graveyard to see how they treat the deceased of the church. He finds engravings of this same bearded man on a few of the gravestones, and in one shaded corner of the cemetery, he finds a statue of this long-haired, bearded man. Returning to the church, he decides to remain for the service that is about to begin. His eyes now rest on the colorful stained-glass windows. Though he cannot make out the details from where he is sitting, he cannot fail to notice that each contains a depiction of this long-haired bearded man. The visitor looks down at the church bulletin and sees that the opening page has a colorful image of this same long-haired bearded man. The pastor begins to speak to the people. Because he doesn’t understand most of the terms, the stranger's eyes begin to wander, and he examines the enormous picture of that same long-haired, bearded man stretched across the back wall of the church just above where the robed singing people sit. The stranger leaves the church puzzled with a single question in his mind: Why do these people adore unbarbered men?

This narrative was designed to help bring into focus how some Protestant Evangelical churches show off images of Christ. Images such as stained-glass depictions, murals, felt board pictures, oil paintings, engravings, drawings, statues, crucifixes and all seem to be accepted without question. The chance of this narrative coming true in a technologically advanced, industrialized nation of the 21st century seems improbable. However, the focus should not necessarily be the situation itself—that of an unchurched person wandering in upon a Sunday morning church service—but rather the church's potential presentation of images of Christ and whether or not such uses are a violation of the Second Commandment.

For many, the thought of breaking the Second Commandment brings to mind some third world natives deep in the jungles groveling before, dancing around, praising, or making sacrifices to stone pillars, a golden statue of a bull, or human remains that hang upon poles. These things unquestionably violate God's Commandment in an exaggerated and over-obvious way. However, God's children need to realize that there may be more subtle forms of violation as well that, while less conspicuous, are still wrong.

What would a subtle form of violation be? Does the Bible present degrees of violating the Second Commandment? Is the Second Commandment just an Old Testament doctrine? Does the Second Commandment present different understandings of violation? What exactly does the Second Commandment say?

The primary question of this study is this: Do images of Christ violate the Second Commandment? By answering this question, this study will come to a more precise understanding of what the Bible says about the Second Commandment and images of Jesus, why this issue is important to God, why it should be important to God's children, and how violating the Second Commandment will affect a believer’s day-to-day life and perhaps his or her eternal life.

Review Questions

1. What is the important truth that guided this book’s preparation and should guide those who seek to comprehend it?

2. How many places can you think of where images of Jesus are displayed in the world around you?

3. Without looking at the Bible, what does the Second Commandment say?

4. Think of your home and church. Can you count how many images of Jesus you find there?

5. Why do you have these images of Jesus in your church and home?

6. Why do you think this issue may be important to God and those who confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
Laatst gewijzigd door mayflower op 27 Dec 2008, 19:25, 1 keer totaal gewijzigd.

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mayflower
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Lid geworden op: 23 Sep 2004, 08:19

Re: The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:22

How this Study will be Carried Out

When studying any subject, there has to be a method by which that study is carried out. When studying a mathematical problem, studying a medical problem, or when studying a crime scene, there has to be a method for carrying that study out. Studying God’s Word should be no different. Therefore, when studying whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, there needs to be a method by which that study can be carried out.

Apologetics is the intellectual defense of the truth of Christianity that relies heavily on logic and analytical deduction. This mode of study does not just freely accept the Scriptures as being the Holy inspired Word of God without reasonable evidence; rather, apologetics sets out logically to deduce it. Thus, it offers a set of provable reasons and testable evidences in support of the only true religion. Much like apologetics, then, this study will sincerely seek for Biblical clarity, scriptural evidence, and the correction of misunderstandings that surround images of Jesus Christ and the Second Commandment.

For example, one misunderstanding that deals with images of Jesus Christ is: who approved those images? What Biblical authority do God's children rely on for having images of Jesus? Are God's children appealing to God or to another authority for approval? In clarifying this misunderstanding, it is helpful to reason backwards. To reason backwards means to take the end result and determine what the steps were that led up to that ending. In other words, instead of following a path of events from beginning to ending, one starts at the ending and works backwards to the beginning.

The end result is that some of God's children have images of Jesus. The question is “Who approved those images? ” In reasoning backwards, it is evident that there are only two primary possibilities—God or people. If God's children believe that God is the ultimate authority and the Scriptures’ interpretation of Scripture establishes His unquestionable authoritative conclusion about this subject, then there should be evidence in the Bible that identifies God as the one who approved the images. However, thorough searches of the entire Bible reveal the fact that nowhere in Scripture does God command, sanction or approve images of Jesus. Then the fact that nowhere in Scripture does God command, sanction, or approve the images of Christ rules out God as a possible source of approval.

If God did not approve the images, then who approved the images? In continuing to reason backwards, when one has eliminated one possible alternative (God), then the other possible alternative (people) must be considered. In considering how people may have approved images of Jesus Christ, one must ascertain what would be a primary step that guided them to approve images of Jesus.

It appears that a principal step that many of God's children may have taken is that of yielding to popular consensus. Some believers may think that because many professing Christians have pictures of Christ in one form or another that God approved the pictures. Their authority base does not seem to be God's Commandment (Exodus 20:4-5), but rather people’s consent. A secular writer puts it more simply, "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Many professing Christians and churches have images of Christ in one form or another. Obviously, since so many have images of Christ, these images have God's approval, right? No. Apply this same thinking to another example—many professing Christians view pornography; therefore God approves these images, right? This example is obviously an illogical extreme. However, it does help to make the point that just because many people who profess to be Christians do or believe something doesn't necessarily make it God-ordained.

A more realistic example would be that for many years, the majority of so-called Christians believed that a pope was the Vicar of Christ, and one had to work or buy their way out of purgatory. A human consensus based on a relative understanding by the masses does not automatically represent God's authoritative verdict. Nowhere does the Bible proclaim that a pope is the Vicar of Christ. Nor do the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament teach that there is a purgatory.

Therefore, the misunderstanding is clarified. God did not approve the images of Jesus; people did. However, this raises another question, “If God does not command, sanction, or approve the images of Jesus Christ, then does not the silence of Scripture perhaps give license for images of Jesus?”

A thorough searching of Scripture reveals that God did not approve, command or sanction images of Christ. It also reveals that the Scripture is not silent about images of Jesus. The Second Commandment is full of information about what God feels about images and what God's chosen should believe about images. Therefore, this study seeks to investigate whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment.

This study will obtain Biblical clarity, scriptural support, and the correction of misunderstandings by a systematic compiling of facts and evidences surrounding images of Jesus and the Second Commandment. To begin with, this study opens with a sincere review of Biblical facts that explain why this issue is important.
In light of this scriptural evidence, the study examines the Second Commandment in relation to images. After establishing the Second Commandment's position on images, the study will address a fuller scope of the Second Commandment throughout Scripture. A brief survey of church history follows to explore how the church has previously addressed this subject. Then, based upon the evidences of Scripture and historical context, it will put forth the facts surrounding images of Jesus and the Second Commandment. Based upon the facts gathered by this study, we will employ the investigative method of reasoning backwards to determine how Protestant Evangelical Christians today came to have images of Jesus Christ. The study concludes with a question and answer section that deals with the most commonly asked questions about this issue. In essence, this study seeks to remove that which is confusing and get to the Biblical facts that hold the truth about images of Jesus Christ and the Second Commandment.


Review Questions


1. How will this study be carried out?

2. Where in Scripture does God command, sanction, or approve of images of Jesus?

3. Does the fact that many professing Christians have pictures of Christ in one form or another give these images God's approval?

4. Who approved of the images of Jesus? Why?

5. What does this statement mean: A human consensus based on a relative understanding by the masses does not automatically represent God's authoritative verdict?

6. If God's Word is supposed to direct His church, then how do ungodly fads become common church practice?

7. How could compromise play a part in establishing ungodly fads as common church practice?

The Importance of This Subject

In any good study, understanding why something is important is central for getting at what is true. The importance of the Second Commandment can be perceived in the introduction to the Ten Commandments, and that importance is reinforced in the last part of the Second Commandment.

God’s introduction to the Ten Commandments plainly identifies their value and importance to Him. His Word declares, "And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage …” (Exodus 20:1-2).

God declares, “I am the Lord thy God." He makes this declaration for a specific purpose: it provides a strong foundation to insist on the obedience of His chosen people. Before proclaiming a Law for His chosen people, the Great and Almighty God tells them who is giving the law, saying, “I am the Lord thy God.” So, by God’s proclamation, the authority behind these Commandments is absolutely holy, just, and perfect. Thus obedience to His Law is required by the fact that God is God, and God has decreed it. His absolute authority over all of His creation gives Him this all-powerful right. More simply put, God is God, and what He has commanded is fixed, important truth. His commands are not subject to a committee's redefining or alteration by trendy consensus. Ultimately, God's law is God's truth, and it is to be obeyed because God said so!

Consequently, because God gives these Commandments, they are undeniably important to God. God is not in the habit of giving Commandments that are unimportant to Him. Nowhere in the Bible will someone find God saying, “Oops, I did not mean to command that,” or “Wow, that law sure doesn’t work. Let Me try something else.” When God gave the Ten Commandments, He did so because they are important to Him. More specifically, because God was giving these laws to His chosen, they should therefore be of equal importance to all who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. What God believes about all things is the end for what His children should receive as the most important, unchangeable, absolute truth.

A particular section annexed to the Second Commandment continues to identify its importance to God and those who violate this commandment: "… 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…" (Exodus 20:5).

God here qualifies this importance with the concept, “for I am a jealous God.”
This kind of jealousy is a desire for worship—that is, honor, reverence, and ultimately service , which His children are not to ascribe to anything other than Himself. This jealousy is fierce, wrathful, and justified; for God expresses it against the offense of spiritual adultery. Furthermore, the observant reader will notice that the transgressors of the Second Commandment are called the haters of God. It is surely inconceivable and almost preposterous to think that believers would declare with their words that they hate God. However, as unwise as this utterance would be, how much more profoundly brash it would be for professed believers to engage in acts of adultery against God.

Consequently, professing believers can make their public statement of hatred and spiritual adultery known, not with their words, but with their actions. Therefore, with just cause and blameless wrath, God pronounces a harsh verdict. For since God will not be separated from His justice, those who violate the Second Commandment are judged as the adulterous haters of God.

One particular doctrine that reflects this teaching is the Westminster Larger Catechism, question 110, which states:

The reasons annexed to the Second Commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, 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 showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God's sovereignty over us and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

This doctrinal statement is an accurate reflection of Scripture. It indicates that God is our Lord and commands how to worship Him. The reasons added to the Second Commandment are to strengthen its declaration. One comprehends obedience by one’s acts of compliance or defiance to God’s law, not by verbal affirmation. Finally, the consequences of violating this law are passed on from generation to generation. In other words, what the parents’ model, the children will come to believe as true. When the children do like their parents, God will hold them accountable.


Summary

This commandment’s importance becomes clear in both the prefix to the Ten Commandments and the last part of the Second Commandment. The prefix to the Ten Commandments clearly identifies the Second Commandment’s value to God. It is important because God has decreed it. The Second Commandment is important because God said so, and God strengthens its significance by adding a consequence to those who violate His Commandment. Therefore, because God deems this subject to be of such importance, those who profess to believe in God should likewise show their love by keeping His Commandment.

If, however, one takes the position that the Second Commandment is not important enough to follow nor significant to a believer’s daily life, then, to be consistent, that position should also be maintained for the other nine commandments. Why? The connection between the Commandments is of a singular strength because God gave them. In addition to inspiring them, the LORD God took the time to write them out Himself. Therefore, because God wrote them as a unity, either all of the commandments are important and need to be kept, or it doesn't really matter what God commands. Following this flawed thinking, any of the commandments can be adhered to or not; it’s up to the individual to decide which is the most important.

In continuing to hold to this flawed thinking, one could approach God's Ten Commandments as though they were a theological pick and choose: “Today I like the first and third, yesterday it was the eighth and ninth, and tomorrow it will be part of the fifth and part of the second.” However, God's commandments are not the Ten Suggestions, the nine laws, the five proposals, or the seven and a half good ideas. God's commandments are just that, “God’s Ten Commandments.” He who is all-wise (omniscient), He who is all-powerful (omnipotent), and He who is everywhere (omnipresent) has given the Ten Commandments, and because God has given them as a unity, they are to be kept as a unity.

In addition, the commandments have not been changed anywhere in Scripture. The Ten Commandments that God gave in the Old Testament are the same Ten Commandments in the New Testament. As corroborated in the New Testament, the Ten Commandments are as important to God the Son as they are to God the Father. When Jesus Christ was asked which was the greatest Commandment, His answer in Matthew 22:36-39, demonstrated that all of the commandments were important. If any one Commandment was more or less important than any of the other of the Ten, or was to be done away with, this was a good opportunity for Jesus to say so and explain why. Consequently, the fact that His answer encompassed the Ten Commandments demonstrates that all the Commandments are important.

Finally, in determining why the Second Commandment is important for God’s children, one would have to deduce that it is important because the LORD God Almighty gave the Commandment. He reinforced its importance by ascribing a consequence to those who violate His commandment. Thus the Commandment should be especially important to God’s children whose minds and hearts have been opened to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. For unlike those who are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1) and incapable of knowing the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), God's children are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are alive in Christ, and therefore do know what is important to God. Therefore, all those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should know that God's Commandments are important to God and to them.


Review Questions

1. Who gave the Second Commandment, and what is His authority to give such a law?

2. Where in Scripture is the Second Commandment? Without looking at the Bible, what does it say?

3. How can believers make their public statement of hatred and spiritual adultery known?

4. What is the connection between the Ten Commandments, and what implications does that connection have if someone does not want to keep one of God's Commandments?

5. Why is the Second Commandment important to God, and why should this Commandment be important to His children?

6. When Jesus Christ was asked which was the greatest Commandment, how did His answer in Matthew. 22:36-39 demonstrate that all of the commandment were important?

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mayflower
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Lid geworden op: 23 Sep 2004, 08:19

Re: The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:24

Published by Permission at IIIM.

The Examination of the Second Commandment

The examination of the facts is essential in any study. Sometimes what appears to be insignificant at the moment may provide the clues that contribute to the final solution. Therefore, before entering any further into the examination of whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, it is important to define certain words more clearly. These definitions will help avoid semantic problems and keep all the facts within our scrutiny. The words and a simple definition follow. For extensive meanings of the Hebrew words, see Appendix C.

• Not—lo’—“an absolute prohibition.
• ”Make—taaseh—“to do, make."
• Idol—pesel—"to hew, hew into shape.” (NASB Version)
• Worship, Bow down—tishtachveh—“showing reverence to, or to honor.” (NASB Version)
• Graven—pasal—"to cut, hew, hew into shape."
• Any—kole—“the whole; hence all, any or every”
• Likeness—temunah—"related to kind."
• Bow down—tishtachveh—“showing reverence to, or to honor.”
• Serve—taabdem, from abad—"to work, serve."
• Pillar—masebah—"A stone pillar, pile of rocks.” (An identifier of something significant.).

The art of studying is a skill that requires one to analyze and narrow down the particulars until what remains clarifies what is true. In studying whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, John Calvin helps narrow our focus with the following:

In the First Commandment, after He had taught who was the true God, He commanded that He alone should be worshipped; and now He defines what is His LEGITIMATE WORSHIP [sic]. Now, since these are two distinct things, we conclude that the commandments are also distinct, in which different things are treated of. The former indeed proceeds in order, viz., that believers are to be contented with one God; but it would not be sufficient for us to be instructed to worship Him alone, unless we also knew the manner in which He would be worshipped. The sum is that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His nature. For although Moses only speaks of idolatry, yet there is no doubt but that by synecdoche, as in all the rest of the Law, he condemns all fictitious services, which men in their ingenuity have invented.

The examination must make this distinction between the First and Second Commandments so that it does not confuse which commandment most directly applies. Furthermore, we must stay within the context of the legitimate application of the Second Commandment. To either address this issue out of the context of the Second Commandment or to include in its context practices to which it does not apply, will ultimately obscure and confuse the legitimate understanding of what the Commandment forbids and what the Commandment allows.

The First Commandment teaches who the only true God is. However, it does not explain whether or not images may represent God or give instructions on how His children are to worship Him. So God gives the Second Commandment to begin to teach that images can’t represent Him and how His worshipped can not be ascribed to anything else.

The Second Commandment says, “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.” (Exodus 20:4-5). The whole of the Second Commandment is about God: what God does not want to depict Him and God does not want the honor, reverence and service rightly due Him, ascribed else ware.

In understanding how images are treated in the Second Commandment, it is important to note that the Commandment has two parts. John Calvin again helps narrow our focus even more by stating: "Now we must remark, that there are two parts in the Commandment—the first forbids the erection of a graven image, or any likeness; the second prohibits the transferring of the worship which God claims for Himself alone, to any of these phantoms or delusive shows." According to Chip McDaniel, former Old Testament professor at Columbia International University, this distinction of parts, or clauses, as they will be called, comprises the whole of the Commandment. They can best be identified in the Hebrew by the use of the word lo, which is an absolute prohibition. The English rendering can be identified by the word, Not.

To further investigate this prohibition, we will compare Biblical translations of Exodus 20:4-5. In comparing the different translations, the focus is to identify whether or not the absolute prohibition, “lo—not” are used consistently with the same understanding.

The English Translation: Exodus 20:4-5

4. You shall not make for yourself an image of any likeness (of that) which is in the heavens above or which is in the earth beneath or which is in the waters under the earth.
5. You shall not bow down to them and you shall not serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons, on the grandsons, and on the great grandsons to those who hate Me.

Exodus 20:4-5 (KJV)

4. 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:
5. 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;

Exodus 20:4-5 (NASB)

4. You shall not make for yourself an idol [graven image], or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
5. You shall not worship [bow down - honor, reverence] them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

In comparing the different Biblical translations of Exodus 20:4-5, the focus was to determine whether or not the absolute prohibition, lo—not was translated consistently with the same understanding. A weighty review and comparison of these translations revealed that the words lo—not are similarly translated with the same understanding, and there are no significant differences between these Bible translations. This helps validate that the Second Commandment’s translation is uniform. In other words, there are no varying interpretations. There are no odd sentence structures, no Hebrew poetry, and no apocalyptic figures of speech that could obscure its meaning. Therefore, what God has written stands confirmed for what God has written. In the first clause, God in essence prohibits people-made images of God. The essence of the second clause forbids serving or ascribing reverence or honor to anything but God.


The Two Clauses

Studying requires a respect for the details. In putting together a puzzle, it is necessary not just to look at the big picture, but also to scrutinize each piece in order to clearly establish its proper place. In studying the Second Commandment, it is important not just to look at the Commandment as a whole, but also to inspect each clause individually to understand its proper place. By presenting each clause with its specific Hebrew words defined and then asking the questions, “What is prohibited?” and “What is acceptable?” the legitimate understanding of the Second Commandment is more clearly understood.


The First Clause

This is the first clause of the Second Commandment with specific Hebrew words defined. The subject of the clause is God. "You shall not [absolutely prohibited] make for yourself an idol/graven image [an object cut, hewn, hewn into shape] or any [all] likeness [of created beings or objects] which is in the heavens above or which is in the earth beneath or which is in the waters under the earth." (Exodus 20:4).


What is prohibited?

This clause of the Commandment prohibits God's children from setting up anything to depict or represent God. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing…” (Exodus 20:4). The Second Commandment is about what God wants and does not want as it pertains to Himself. Exodus 20:4 indicates that people-made images of God do not represent Him and thus can never honor Him reverence Him, nor serve Him.

By giving this law, God restrains any attempt His elect might make to represent Him by a visible image. Then He lists some ways pagans had attempted to turn His truth that there is only one God and one true religion into a lie that there is more than one God and more than one way to heaven.

The Egyptians and some primitive cult religions tried to represent God using animal figures. The Greeks and Romans, fraudulently believing themselves to be much more enlightened, fancied trying to depict and worship God in human forms like Apollo or Orpheus. However, in giving the first clause of the Second Commandment, God demonstrates that He has no desire for any people-made images of Him. He does not view one kind as more fitting in depicting Him than another. Without exception, God rejects all images by which either His own children or the pagans imagine they can try to depict and thereby reach Him.

At this point in the study someone might ask, “How are pagan images an attempt at trying to depict and reach God?” Since there is no other god than God, any other god that people proclaim to be real is simply mankind’s attempt at creating something to emulate or counterfeit the true God. So when they counterfeit the true God, their depictions are an attempt at creating God as they want, and those false gods become their sinful conduits to try and reach God in their own ways.

Consider the above examples—were any of the Egyptian gods real? No, they were merely people's sinful attempts at depicting and trying to reach the only true God. Consider the Roman gods like Apollo and Orpheus—were these gods real? No, again they were people's sinful attempt at trying to depict and reach the only true God. Consequently, since there are no other gods than God, then all false gods are simply people’s sinful attempts at trying to depict and reach God. Therefore, any depictions of pagan deities are a violation of the first clause of the Second Commandment because, in essence, they are an attempt to depict the only true God.

Finally, the word “any” is an important qualifier in this clause because “any” means “every, all, the entire.” If phrases like “only some,” “a few,” “many,” “most,” or “almost all” were used instead, then images of God could be acceptable and immune to objections. That is, they could not be considered as violations of the Second Commandment. Why? A paraphrasing of Exodus 20:4, with the word “any” changed, will help point out why. “Thou shalt not make unto thee some graven image, of most of the likeness of some of the things that …” Altering the word “any” nullifies the commandment. The word “any” means exactly what it declares: you shall not make yourself any likeness of anything to depict God.


What is acceptable?

In the setting up of images to represent God, this clause teaches that nothing is acceptable. No people-made image of God is acceptable to depict God.


The Second Clause

The second clause of the Second Commandment reads as follows with specific Hebrew words defined: “You shall not [absolutely prohibited] bow down [show honor or reverence] to them and you shall not serve [do work for] them, for I the LORD thy God ..." (Exodus 20:5).


What is prohibited?

This clause prohibits the worshiping, that is, giving honor or reverence to anything other than God. In addition, believers cannot serve or be devoted to anything more than God. According to this clause, the understanding of worship and serving are united. Consequently, whatever someone worships, they are serving, and whatever someone serves, they are worshiping. As a result, to worship means to honor, reverence, and serve. Therefore, believers can engage in false worship when they are not worshiping, honoring, reverencing, or serving God as God has commanded.

There are several forms of false worship. One form of false worship is to ascribe reverence, honor, or service to false gods. While the First Commandment identifies that there is only one God, the second clause of the Second Commandment reinforces this understanding by forbidding believers to worship anything other than the one true God.

While nonexistent or false gods cannot desire worship, Satan, the master behind all the false gods, wants the worship rightly due God, “… the devil … saith unto him, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve“ (Matthew 4:8-10).

Another way to engage in false worship is to value anything more than God. This is false worship because nothing is equal to or greater in importance than God. For that which someone values the highest, they will serve, work for, or give all their attention to, and that which they serve, they worship. For example, when one has an addiction, that person serves that addiction. They will work for, give attention to, and prioritize their life around that addiction. Consequently, that addiction becomes their god because they serve it instead of God. In essence, they are worshiping that addiction because they are giving reverence, honor, and service to that addiction.

The final form of false worship that we will address here is that of attempting to participate in God's true religion while one's heart values anything equal to or more than God. This is false worship because believers are going through the motions of devotion, but their hearts are far from God.

Because there is nothing equal to or more important than God, to go through the motions of giving honor, reverence, or service to God while one’s heart values another is spiritual adultery or false worship. In comparison, consider going through the motions of being married while one’s heart is loving another with the affections that are rightly due one’s spouse. In marriage, this is the sin of adultery. To value anything equal to or more than God and go through the motions of worship is spiritual adultery or false worship.

What is acceptable?

Scripture clarifies what is acceptable when Jesus defines true worship by declaring, “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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship [God] in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24). John Calvin profiles this understanding in this way, "The sum is that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His [God’s] nature." True believers are to worship God—that is, to give honor, reverence, and service to God, in spirit and in truth. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God. It is glorifying to God to honor, reverence, and serve God with all of one's heart, spirit, mind and strength, as God desires honor, reverence, and service.

Consequently, the Second Commandment sets forth the understanding that it is acceptable to worship God in only those ways that God has declared acceptable. These acceptable ways God has made known through His Holy Word, so God's children do not have to flounder around to try and figure out how God wants to be honored, reverenced and served. Thus, worshiping God is not a process of trial and error. Nor are God's children supposed to create what they think is worshipful to God.

God has given by both specific commandment and good and necessary inference throughout scripture how He wants His children to worship Him. A simpler way of saying this is, “God's children need to have clear, Biblical support for everything they do in worship.” CLEAR Biblical support does not mean, “Hey, I found the word run in the Bible, therefore everyone is to run around the sanctuary during worship.” Clear Biblical support means that either God specifically set down in Scripture what His children are to do in worship or it can be rightly understood from scriptural context.

God is not always pleased when His children attempt to present their worship to Him. Some of His children might be tempted to trust that God is thankful for any attention they give Him, and as far as worship is concerned, they may unconsciously believe that God is pleased if his children do it at all. However, God is not pleased with just anything His children choose to do in His presence and call it worship. God is pleased when His children do what He wants them to do, and God wants—insists—that worship be governed by His Word. Following is a Biblical list of elements for worship:

1) Scripture Reading—Luke 4:16-19; Acts 15:21; Nehemiah 8:8
2) Preaching/Teaching—Nehemiah 8:8; Luke 4:20; Acts 20:7
3) Prayer—Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 2:1-2
4) The singing of proper songs—1 Chronicles 16:9; Ephesians 5:19-20
5) The sacraments—Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
6) Confessions of Faith—1 Kings 8:33-35; 1 Timothy 6:12-13
7) Vows/Oaths—Psalm 22:25; 76:11
8) Church Discipline—Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5
9) Collections and Offerings—1 Corinthians 9:3-12; 16:1-2; Philippians 4:18
10) Expressions of Fellowship—Hebrews 10: 24-25; Acts 2:42-47
11) Benedictions—2 Corinthians 13:14; Numbers 6:24-27

Thus it is acceptable to worship God in only those ways that God has clearly declared to be acceptable. These acceptable ways God has made known through His Holy Word, and God's children must have clear, Biblical support for all they do in worship .

However, if one assumes that people may worship God other than as He has prescribed, then this assumption would have profound implications on the authority needed to prescribe what is worshipful to God.

The Question -- What kind of authority is required to prescribe what is worshipfulto God?

1. No authority - If no authority is required, then anyone can prescribe what is worshipful to God . If anyone can prescribe what is worshipful to God, then God was wrong for rejecting Nadab’s and Abihu’s worship in Leviticus 10:1-2.

2. Worldly authority - If worldly authority is required, then Kings could prescribe what is worshipful to God . If Kings can prescribe what is worshipful to God, then God was wrong for rejecting Saul’s offering in 1 Samuel 13:9 - 14.

3. Godly authority - If Godly authority is required, then only God can prescribe what is worshipful to God. If only God can prescribe what is worshipful to God, then there should be evidence in God's Word that identifies God as the authority who prescribes the kind of worship He wants.

God’s introduction to the Ten Commandments identifies the authority behind the Commandments. His Word declares, "And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God…” (Exodus 20:1). Thus, by God’s proclamation, the authority behind the Second Commandment, the Commandment which begins to identify what is worshipful to God, is God’s authority.

The Answer -- Since God rejects “No Authority” and “Worldly Authority” and His Word confirms the requirement of “Godly Authority” to prescribe what is worshipful to God, then it stands that the authority required to prescribe what is worshipful to God is Godly authority. The only one who holds that authority is God.

At this point in the study someone might ask, “If the Bible does not forbid something, then couldn’t it be used in worship?” At first glance this might seem to be a viable option. It might seem to be a viable option since it does not appear to depend on either “No Authority” or “Worldly Authority” and merely suggests that God did not include in Scripture everything that could be used in worshiping Him. However, the belief, “If the Bible does not forbid something, then it is allowable” is actually a form of the “No Authority” view.

For example, if people assume that whatever the Bible does not forbid is allowed in worship, then their assumptions make them the authority that adds to Scripture what they feel should be worshipful to God. People then become the authority that prescribes what is worshipful to God, and God is not the authority that determines what is worshipful to God.

However, the belief that “If the Bible does not forbid something, then it is allowable” is a fraudulent belief. It is a fraudulent belief because it depends on “No Authority,” that is, people, to prescribe what is worshipful to God. If one operates on the belief that what the Bible does not forbid is allowable in worship, then any kind of foolishness, silliness, chaos or confusion can be incorporated into worship as long as the person believes the Bible does not forbid it. Some illogical extremes to make this point would be the use of jet engines, scuba gear, a live whale or tennis rackets in worship since the Bible does not specifically forbid the use of these things in worship. In continuing to follow this flawed logic, a more realistic example would be the use of the teachings from the book of Mormon, Buddhist Proverbs or instructions from the Koran in worship since the Bible does not specifically forbid them.

Ultimately, God is the only authority who can prescribe what is worshipful to God. People do not have this Godly authority. If people had the authority to prescribe what is worshipful to God, then God should not have rejected Saul’s, Nadab’s, and Abihu’s worship.

The only one who can prescribe what is worshipful to God is God.
God has specifically set forth in Scripture what is worshipful to Him. In other words, God’s children are to worship God as God has decreed, and they are not to add to or take away from what God has decreed.

The only acceptable worship of God should be in the forms which God alone has either specifically prescribed or that can be rightly understood from Scriptural context. In other words, God's children need to have clear scriptural foundations for all they do in worship.

The Westminster Confession of Faith’s Larger Catechism, questions 108 and 109 concisely reflects the full teaching of the Second Commandment:

Question 108: What are the duties required in the Second Commandment? Answer: The duties required in the Second Commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment? Answer: The sins forbidden in the Second Commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.

As an accurate reflection of God’s Word, these doctrinal statements clarify the teaching of the Second Commandment. That is, worship of God is divine because God is its beginning and its end. Worship is strictly speaking of God and through God and unto God. One must honor, reverence and serve God alone to worship God in the forms which He has prescribed. Thus, one should worship God only in those acceptable forms that are pleasing to Him as He has set forth in the Scripture.

Additionally, this doctrine asserts that any people-made images of God are displeasing to God. The images do not honor, reverence, or serve God and should be done away with.

Context is Key

When studying a difficult issue, it is important to examine those elements that most directly relate to that issue. However, occasionally it is not overtly apparent how issues are directly related. For instance, in studying how to clean a wound of gangrene, most people would not automatically think about using flies as a primary tool to clean the wound. However, during the American Civil War, maggots were the principal medical means for treating gangrene.

There are certain passages of Scripture that may at first seem not to relate directly to the Second Commandment but that actually lead to a deeper comprehension of it. Exodus 32:5-8, Deuteronomy 4:12-16 and Romans 1:23, 25 provide additional clarity to the examination of the Second Commandment.

In Exodus 20, for example, God gives His divine law. In verse one of Exodus 20, God Himself speaks the Ten Commandments from the mountain. He then orders Moses up into the mountain (Exodus 24:12-13) where he stays with God for forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:18). While Moses is with God, the Israelites request a golden calf to symbolize God for them and represent them as they enter the Promised Land (Nehemiah 9:18). Aaron forms the golden calf as their symbol of God, and then the people pronounce it to be God and make sacrifices to it (Exodus 32:4-7). Here emerges the importance of the concept that context is key.

God says to Moses, "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it" (Exodus 32:8). With this statement, God indicates that the people violated each clause of the Second Commandment. In parsing this verse, it is evident that in the first part God declares that the people had sinned, and in the second part, He identifies those sins.

• God first declares to Moses that the people had sinned when God said, “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them,”

The second part of this verse reveals the sins the people had committed when they, “turned quickly aside out of the way.”

• God states the ways that they had sinned. God said, “…they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it.”
Sin 1. They made a golden calf to represent God after God had forbidden them to make an image of Him in Exodus 20:4.

Sin 2. They honored the image which God had commanded them not to worship in Exodus 20:5.

If, however, the Second Commandment consisted of one clause instead of two, then it would have been a mistake in Exodus 32:8 for God to have condemned the Israelites for making and worshiping the golden calf. God would have made a mistake because, if the Second Commandment had only one clause, then making a golden calf to represent God did not violate the Commandment. Only worshiping something other than God would have violated the Commandment.

A flawed paraphrase of the Second Commandment will help clarify why God would've been mistaken in Exodus 32:8 when He called making the golden calf a sin. A flawed paraphrase of the Second Commandment would read, “You shall not make yourself any graven image to worship.” Making images to represent God or false gods is not forbidden in this flawed interpretation. The flawed Commandment is only violated when someone actually worships an image.

However, the Second Commandment has two clauses, not one. God was not mistaken; rather, God was consistent. What God called sins in Exodus 20:4-5, God continued to identify as a sin in Exodus 32:8.

Undoubtedly, the people that manufactured the golden calf planned to honor God with what they thought would be a fitting symbol of God’s great power and might. They chose the most precious metals they had, and they used the strongest animal image they could think of to depict God. For all practical purposes, their intentions seem to have been good. However, it is not hard to determine from God's reaction that, in fact, such a symbol insulted God. For what idea of God's eternal and perfect character, God’s holiness, righteousness, greatness, perfection, justness, goodness, and divine essence could any human being gather from gazing upon anything created out of corrupt earthen elements by limited, sinful people? Accordingly, then, the Second Commandment forbids both the having an image to depict God and the bestowing of honor, reverence, and service upon any people-made objects .

Deuteronomy 4:12-16 further explains why the golden calf was offensive to God. Deuteronomy 4:12 declares, "Take you therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD Spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure …” Moses charges them to guard against the sin of breaking the Second Commandment because it is a sin they would be tempted to engage in because of the customs of the pagan nations around them. The pagans depicted and worshipped their gods using images. To attempt to represent God by images, as the pagans did, would be the greatest insult placed upon God and the greatest lie inflicted upon themselves and their children. Moses reminds them that when God identified Himself to them at Horeb, He used a voice. They saw no likeness of God but only fire and smoke, nothing they could use to make an image to represent God.

Because they did not see God, their image of God had to be based on pagan models. A bull or golden calf was something that pagan nations like Egypt used to depict some of their gods. Using pagan models to depict God in essence falsely put God Almighty on an equal footing with nonexistent gods.

Finally, the golden calf incident reflected paganism in a subtle yet deeply perverse manner. Pagan gods only had meaning because people supplied it, not because the gods existed. Their importance was derived from people. Images of God also reflect this pagan-supplied meaning concept. Images of God do not derive their meaning from God because God forbids images of God and the use of images of God in Exodus 20:4-5. Rather, the images have meaning because people supply those images with meaning. The golden calf had meaning for the Israelite people, not because God gave the golden calf meaning, but because, like the pagans, they supplied the image with meaning. By creating an image of God, people were attempting to place God on a manageable level. By attempting to create an image of God, people could supply that image with whatever power, ability, or ideas they wanted. Thus God had no desire to be treated like a pagan god and declared people-made images of Him to be a sin in Exodus 20: 4.

The New Testament rounds out our contextual understanding of the Second Commandment. Romans 1:23 says, “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” This passage demonstrates that it was wrong even in the New Testament era to try to represent God. To try to embody God in images like a mortal man, a bird like a dove, or a four footed creature like a golden calf, did not glorify Him as God. When people attempt to make images of God by the use of their vain imaginations, they ascribe God no honor or reverence. Nor do they ascribe those perfections to Him that make God, God. What human image can appropriately represent the Triune God, and what bird or four footed creature can accurately represent the Trinity?

To try and transform the glory of God into corruptible, people-made objects, is to mock, belittle, disrespect, and dishonor God. Their devotion to God seems so weak that, believing themselves to be wise, they did that which was foolish. Like their Jewish counterparts with the golden calf, they didn’t just violate the first clause of the Second Commandment. They also violated the second clause of the Second Commandment when they “… changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator ...” (Romans 1:25).

The truth about God is that He is invisible, eternal, uncorruptible, and unchangeable. In contrast, a graven image of God is visible, limited, corruptible, and susceptible to change. Therefore using an image to depict God will always skew the reverence, honor, and service due God, since the image being created in one’s mind by a false image is not God. Moreover, the condemnation of people-made images of God was not just an Old Testament doctrine; they were condemned in the New Testament era as well.


Summary

The Second Commandment deals not just with who is worshipped, but with the manner of that worship. It tells us that nothing can depict the God we worship. It also tells us that one should honor, reverence, and serve God in worship as God has prescribed throughout Scripture. In other words, we are to worship in spirit and in truth. People-made images of God do not convey Godly truth. No portion of God's true Word approves having or using them. The Westminster Confession of Faith, section 21.1, puts it this way:

“The light of nature sheweth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.”


Review Questions


1. Why is a distinction made between the First and Second Commandment?

2. What does the whole of the Second Commandment pertain to?

3. How many parts does the Second Commandment have?

4. In clause one, “What is prohibited, and what is acceptable”?

5. In clause two, “What is prohibited, and what is acceptable”?

6. What does your church do in its worship service, and what are the scriptural foundations for what they do?

7. Are there any scriptural foundations for having images of Jesus?

8. How do Exodus 32:5-8, Deuteronomy 4:12-16 and Romans 1:23, 25 clarify the Second Commandment?

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mayflower
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Re: The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:26

The Second Commandment Throughout Scripture

The foundation of discernment is studying. Most people give some kind of attention to what they are reading. However, only a few truly study what they read for discernment. Since Scripture is God-breathed and true in all its parts, one must study and understand the unity of its teachings to reach a deeper level of discernment. Thus in furthering our understanding of whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, we turn to the Scriptures to understand:

• Does God’s hatred of images of God appear to stay the same throughout Scripture?
• Do there appear to be any degrees of leniency for those who indulge in those images?
• Are there any passages of Scripture, in their proper context, which would indicate God's approval of people-made images of God?

Brief surveys of Biblical texts that illustrate the bearing of the Second Commandment throughout Scripture are as follows:

"The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.” (Deuteronomy 7:25-26).

“… But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back” (1 Kings 14:7-9) .

“For [so] it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord … And the children of Israel did secretly [those] things that [were] not right … Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments [and] my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers … And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, [even] two calves …” (2 Kings 17:7-16).

“Their idols [graven images] are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speaks them through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them.” (Psalms 115:1-8).

“Israel [is] an empty vine; he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.” (Hosea 10:1-2).

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols [graven images]? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).

The observant readers are more likely to find something when they are looking for it, whereas the aimless readers will wander endlessly through written words, not taking in the full idea that is right before them. Every reader should be a seeker rather than a finder, looking for truth rather than hoping to stumble over it.

In this part of the study, we were actively looking for passages of Scripture that enhance our understanding of the Second Commandment throughout Scripture, and thus we found what we were looking for. The most natural and straightforward understanding from the brief survey of Scripture is that God hates people-made images of God. There is no leniency for those who indulge in them, and there are no passages of Scripture, in their proper context, that would alter this understanding.

The prophet Isaiah is very helpful on this subject when he says, “To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Isaiah 40:18). And,


“To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble. Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me …” (Isaiah 46:5-9).

These passages in Isaiah address the question, “How can any people-made image depict or represent God?” In following Isaiah’s reasoning, one may ask, “To what people-made thing is God like, or what people-made image can accurately represent the God?” These are rhetorical questions. The obvious answer is that nothing is like God, and no people-made image can represent God. God is omnipresent; He cannot be contained in a single image. God is invisible, and people cannot make Him into a visible image. Because God is both omnipotent and omniscient, He cannot be represented by images made out of non-omnipotent and non-omniscient earthly elements such as paint, plastic, glass, wood, stone, silver, gold, or platinum. Since no people-made image can accurately represent God, His majesty, glory, splendor, dignity, and honor are defiled by those false and therefore sinful people-made images. God is God, and only God can accurately represent God.

For those who attempt to represent God by images, the scriptures declare,

“… cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:15).

The New Testament is not without its reasoner. The Apostle Paul, in Acts 17:29, reasons in the same way that the Prophet Isaiah does when he writes, “Forasmuch, then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the [Godhead] is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, [made] by art and man’s device.” Therefore, it is obvious from the Old and New Testament that whatever means people use to try to depict God, whether pagan statues, pictures of false gods, or images of God, etc., are completely displeasing to God. Such images are all are lies and insults to Him. Furthermore, there is no place in the Scripture that indicates people-made images of God glorify God.

From the Old and New Testament, it is quite clear God hates people-made images of God. There is no leniency for those who persist in violating His Commandment and indulging in those images. Finally, there are no passages of Scripture, in their proper context, which would alter or augment this understanding.

At this point, someone might declare this part of the study flawed because of something called “proof-texting.” Proof-texting is seeking only those passages of Scripture that validate one’s belief. However, proof-texting is not wrong when one begins with a proper foundation and does not remove those passages from their clear, contextual understanding.

Unsound proof-texting begins with a flawed foundation and/or requires one to utilize Scripture verses out of their proper context. For example, someone could declare, “The Bible teaches that all true Christians should have their ears pierced as a sign of their true servanthood to Christ. The person could quote, Deuteronomy 15:15-17 “… therefore I command you this today … you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever …” as the text that proved the belief. This argument would be an example of unsound proof-texting both because the core foundation is flawed and because one had to take a verse out of Biblical context to validate the foundation.

The foundation in Exodus 20:4 is sound, and the scriptural understanding of “no people-made images of God” does not change throughout Scripture. Furthermore, thorough searches of the entire Bible reveal no passages of Scripture which, in their proper context, would alter the foundation set forth in Exodus 20:4.


Summary

Scripture teaches that God hates people-made images of God. There is no leniency for those who indulge in them, and there are no passages of Scripture which, in their proper context, would alter, augment, or change this understanding.

In addition, it is evident from the Old and New Testament that God's hatred of people-made images of God has not changed. Subsequently, God’s condemnation of those who violate His Commandment has not changed either. Therefore, those who continue to violate the Second Commandment are cursed as adulterous haters of God.



Review Questions

1. Does God’s hatred of images of God appear to stay the same throughout Scripture?

2. Do there appear to be any degrees of leniency for those who indulge in those images?

3. Are there any passages of Scripture which, in their proper context, would indicate God's approval of people-made images of God?

4. Exodus 20: 5 declares that those who violate the Second Commandment are the adulterous haters of God. Has this condemnation been done away with anywhere in Scripture?


Church History and Images of Christ

In examining whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, it is important to review any historical accounts that have dealt with this subject. In this section of the study, we will examine church history to try to determine where images of Christ originated. We will also observe if the church universally accepted these images or if there was any opposition. Finally, we will seek to discover if church history surrounding these images impacts the Protestant Evangelical perception of images of Christ today.


Christianity and Images of Jesus: 60AD—500AD

Our examination of church history concerning the origin of images of Christ begins with early Christian art. Early Christian art does not show us what Jesus actually looked like. None of the Biblical Gospels or any of the Apostles give a detailed description of Him. According to Isaiah 53:2, Jesus was of such an average appearance that one could not pick him out of a crowd. As a matter of fact, the Old and New Testament give no specific information regarding Jesus’ personal appearance. The texts give no clue in reference to His height, the complexion of His skin, His physical build, the shape of His chin, the color of His eyes, the size of His foot, or the length and style of His hair. In addition, no credible sources report Christ sitting for a portrait, sketch, or sculpture. Furthermore, during the first three centuries, Christians, like their Jewish counterparts, resisted making depictions of God. The norm was to consider images of God the Son as a violation of the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4). Concerning early Christian depictions of Jesus, Schaff writes, “The early church followed the Ten Commandments, and was engaged in deadly conflict with heathen idolatry.” For the most part, the early Christians considered image making of one’s God a pagan practice forbidden by God in Exodus 20:4.

Another element that affected Christian art, particularly by the third century, was the persecution of Christians. Christians up to this time period could count on discrimination, harassment, social ostracism, and possibly torture or death. Because of this persecution, Christian art was principally restricted to the decoration of the walls of catacombs. These tomb murals match the style of pagan Roman wall painting, but, for the most part, use Biblical themes and characters like Jonah, Daniel, the good Shepherd, etc. However, a number of these wall paintings syncretize Roman gods, pagan concepts, and Christian themes.

For example, one such wall painting merges images of Jesus and Apollo. Apollo was known as a god of light, and he was identified with Helios, the sun god. One of Apollo's principal tasks was to drive the sun across the sky each day with his four horses and chariot. The tomb of the Julii in the necropolis under St. Peter's church contains a syncretized Christian and pagan image in the form of a wall painting representing Christ as a sun god. This image of Christ, like the image of Apollo, has rays shooting from his head and is pulled aloft in a chariot by two rearing horses. Jesus said He was the light of the world in John 8:12, and Apollo was called a god of light. For those that did not understand that there is no such god as Apollo, the interpretation of teachings in John 8:12 could lead some to syncretize Apollo and Jesus as the same god of light.

Another example of pagan images syncretized with Christian themes is a picture of Orpheus on the cemetery ceiling in Domitilla. This 3rd century picture depicts the pagan god playing on the lyre, enchanting animals. Around the pagan figure are several Biblical scenes like Moses striking the rock and the raising of Lazarus. This tomb painting presents Orpheus as Christ, the link between the Old and New Testament and the soother of wild beasts, nature, and tribulation. For those who did not fully adhere to orthodox Christian teaching, the use of pagan images to depict Christ would seem harmless. Schaff writes, “As the oldest pictures of Christ, so far as we know, originated not among the orthodox Christians, but among the heretical and half heathenish Gnostics.”

The turning point for all Christian art, including pictures of Jesus, occurred around 313 AD when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Constantine ended the persecution of the Christians with the Edict of Milan, and Christianity became the dominant religion. Emperor Constantine officially accepted and supported Christianity in the Roman Empire. With imperial support, Christian art came out of the catacombs and ascended to the center of Roman culture and life. As Christian art began to spread across Rome, Constantine played a vital role in its rise and development. He brought artists together from many places within the Roman Empire to create Christian paintings, sculptures, and depictions.

By the mid-4th century, some began to use images of Jesus in public settings. However, their use was sometimes met with disapproval. One of the earlier protests against images of Jesus happened at the Spanish Council of Elvira in 306 AD. Bishops and priests, primarily from southern Spain, assembled with the goal of restoring discipline in the church. This council passed 81 canons, or laws, to reform the church. In general, the 81 laws were severe and imposed strong discipline for various sins. For example, no reconciliation with the church was allowed for the sin of idolatry.


Christianity and images of Jesus: 500AD—700AD

As Christianity became firmly established as the state religion, Christian architecture and art flourished. Some works used subjects similar to those found in the catacombs. Others depicted apocryphal scenes from the life of Jesus or showed the enthroned Christ receiving homage. Ivory carvers decorated book covers and caskets or larger structures with various and sundry images of Jesus. A notable occurrence during this time was the modification of the crucifix. During the early to middle 6th century, the crucifix gained in popularity. However, this crucifix had the symbol of a lamb rather than the image of Jesus upon it. This changed late in the 8th century when new laws required that the figure of a man they called Jesus should take the place of a lamb on the crucifix.


Christianity and images of Jesus: 700AD—900AD

During this time period the iconoclastic controversy led to increasing disagreement in the Church. Not all Christians freely accepted or welcomed Christian art, and some especially questioned depictions of Christ. It is difficult, however, to gain an entire and reliable account of events and writings of the controversy, since many of the writings of the iconoclasts were destroyed by the Roman Catholic Church. Because the original iconoclastic arguments were destroyed, these arguments are derived from the Catholic Church’s responses to them.


The First Iconoclastic Period: 730 AD—787 AD

Sometime between 726 AD and 730 AD, the Byzantine Emperor Leo ordered the removal of an image of Jesus from the palace gate of Constantinople. A gang of those who loved images of Jesus murdered those assigned to the task. Leo described image veneration as "a craft of idolatry.” He apparently forbade the worship of religious images in a 730 AD edict.” Leo saw image veneration as a violation of the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4) and subsequently forbade images of Jesus.

Leo died in 740 AD, but his son, Constantine V 741-775 AD strictly continued his icon prohibition. During his reign, a Council was convened at Constantinople in 754 AD. The goal of this Council was to prohibit the manufacturing and veneration of images of Jesus. Because those who wanted to forbid images of Jesus were defeated, the remaining accounts of their arguments are found only in the writings of those who loved images of Jesus. Therefore, to understand the iconoclastic arguments, one must reconstruct them from the image lovers’ responses. The reconstructed arguments have been broken down and paraphrased here to the best of the author’s understanding:

1. If any image of Christ is to be made, the image must be an exact likeness of the original [of the same substance spiritually and physically]. For if the same substance is not used, then it does not accurately portray Christ. [Art mediums such as] wood, stone, and paint are empty of spirit and life and therefore cannot accurately portray Christ, [in spirit and life as God the Son].

2. Any true image of Jesus must be able to represent both his divine nature [which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed] and His human nature [which is also impossible since no known accurate representation exists]. If an image of Jesus does not represent both His human and divine natures [at the same time], then it does not represent Christ.

3. By making an image of Jesus [that does not represent both of His natures at the same time], one is either separating his human and divine natures [or confusing the two natures together as though they were one]. Dividing the natures is considered Nestorianism. Confusing the human and divine natures is considered Monophysitism. [Both Nestorianism and Monophysitism have been condemned as heresy].

4. Image use for religious purposes was a church innovation, a demonic confusing of Christians to return to pagan practices. [The pagans made images of their gods and worshiped their gods utilizing images].

Thus for iconoclasts, the only true and permitted representation of Jesus was the Eucharist, which Jesus Himself had instituted and commanded in Luke 22:19. Therefore, the 754 AD Council’s conclusion condemned the making and veneration of any lifeless image (e.g. painting or statue) intended to represent Jesus. However, this Council's conclusion was not the end of the matter. Many Catholic monasteries were dedicated to image making and veneration. To protect their images, an underground network of image devotees began amongst the monks. Constantine's son, Leo IV 775 - 780AD, was less rigorous, trying to make peace between destroyers of images and lovers of images until near the end of his life. His wife, Irene, took power as regent. With Irene's ascension as regent, the first Iconoclastic period ended.

Irene initiated a council ultimately called the Council of Nicea. This Council first met in Constantinople in 786 AD but was disrupted by armed forces faithful to the legacy of Constantine V. It convened again at Nicea in 787 AD when it rejected the decrees of the previous council and became known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council. While the first Council supported the forbidding of images of Jesus, the second supported the making and veneration of images of Jesus. One of the outcomes of the second Council was the destruction of the writings and arguments of the first Council.


The Second Iconoclastic Period: 814AD—842AD

Emperor Leo V, who reigned from 813 AD—820 AD, tried to institute a second period of icon prohibition. Michael II who followed Leo V wrote a letter to Louis the Pious expressing grief over image reverence in the church. He also reconfirmed the decrees of the first Council of 754 AD. His son died leaving his wife Theodora regent. Like Irene before her, she mobilized the lovers of images of Christ and proclaimed the restoration of icons in 843 AD.


The Protestant Reformation to Modern Christianity: 1517 AD—2006 AD

Controversy over image making and veneration re-surfaced in the 16th century. The Protestant reformers Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, for example, understood the Second Commandment to forbid images of Jesus. They insisted that they were idolatrous objects and encouraged Protestants to destroy their images of Jesus. The Protestants destroyed statues, stained-glass windows, paintings, and other such image paraphernalia when adapting Catholic churches for Protestant worship and use. Over the next few centuries, some Protestant groups had occasional movements of icon resistance, but nothing that affected God’s children as a whole.

There is a very large historical disconnect between these Protestant reformers and today’s Protestant Evangelicals. Today's Protestant Evangelicals appear to be much more liberal in their acceptance of images of Jesus than their historical counterparts. In fact, most modern Protestant Evangelicals have little understanding of the theological and historical background of images of Jesus Christ.

It appears that some of God's children today accept images of Christ under the justification Ignoratio elenchi, which means “ignoring what is proved.” Ignoring what is proved occurs when, even though evidence supports one particular conclusion, a different and usually opposite conclusion is drawn. This occurs when someone deliberately ignores the facts. In this instance, people accept images of Christ as images of the true Christ, even though historical evidence leads to the conclusion that these images of Christ are not images of the true Christ. This conclusion is based on the following historical facts:

1. The Bible contains no specific physical description of Jesus, and there is no credible evidence that He ever sat for a portrait, sketch, or sculpture. Without an accurate model image, no one could ever make an accurate re-creation.

2. During the first three centuries, true followers of Christ opposed images of God the Son. Images of the assumed Christ did not appear until nearly the 3rd century after Christ's death and resurrection. It is safe to say that these images could not be based on eyewitness recollections, since they came on the scene almost 2½ centuries later.

3. Pseudo-Christians mixed pagan and Christian beliefs to create the syncretized 3rd century images of Christ. It is also highly probable that the pagan artisans that Roman Emperor Constantine employed to create Christian art used Roman gods like Apollo and Orpheus as their source models instead of non-existent images of Jesus Christ.

Consequently, the images of Christ that we have today are not images of God the Son. Since they do not represent what He looked like or who He is, they cannot accurately be deemed images of Jesus Christ.

However, some of God's children today operate from a very different conclusion from that supported by historical proofs. Many Protestant Evangelicals ignore the historical facts and accept the false images of Christ as representing the true Christ. This is evidenced by the fact that the phony historical images of Christ are rampant in Protestant Evangelical culture.

Most Protestant Evangelical bookstores offer a wide variety of those false images of Jesus. One can find pictures, postcards, picture books, coffee mugs, T-shirts, bookmarks, bumper stickers, and other image paraphernalia with an icon of Jesus. Jesus paraphernalia available on the Internet includes Jesus bottle-head dolls, Jesus action figures, Jesus inflatable dolls, Jesus jewelry, Jesus Halloween costumes and much more.

In many Protestant Evangelical churches, those false images of Jesus often are shown off in stained-glass windows and paintings of various shapes and sizes. Sunday school, Bible study, and children's Christian coloring books often contain some representation of Christ. The justifications for these images seem to be mostly humanistic and not Scripturally or historically based. Some Evangelical Protestants will reason that the images are good teaching tools or help some to focus on loving Christ. The rationalization seems to depend on personal experience or preference rather than God’s approval or historical accuracy.



Summary

In examining church history concerning the origin of images of Christ, it is evident that they did not originate from any credible source. The church did not universally accept or permit them. In fact, some Protestant Christians declared them unacceptable and forbade them as idolatrous images that violated the Second Commandment. In spite of this history, many of today's Protestant Evangelicals seem unaffected by the reformers’ understandings of images of Jesus Christ since they appear to accept the false images of Jesus without question.



Review Questions

1. Are there any historical accounts that have dealt with this subject before?

2. When did images of Jesus come on the historical scene, and from what source did those images originate?

3. Did the images of Jesus have universal acceptance by the church?

4. What is an iconoclast?

5. How does church history surrounding these images affect Protestant Evangelical perception and use of images of Christ?

6. During what century did depictions of Jesus start being made with a beard and mustache?

7. What pagan deities were most likely the original source models for images of Jesus?

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mayflower
Berichten: 1219
Lid geworden op: 23 Sep 2004, 08:19

Re: The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:27

Published by Permission at IIIM.

Conclusion
The Truth about Images of Jesus

This study systematically compiles facts and evidences concerning images of Jesus and the Second Commandment then examines those facts to establish the conclusion. The facts from Scriptural commandment, Biblical context, and church history reveal that the images of Jesus are false images that violate the Second Commandment. Reasoning backwards facilitates the removal of wrong and misleading information so one can examine the facts that remain in order to establish what is true. The facts are:


1. Facts from Biblical Commandment

At this point in the study, one might declare, “How can you conclude that images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment? So far, the Scriptures have said that images of God are a violation, not images of Christ.” The prolegomena section of this study clearly underscores the Scriptural teaching of the Trinity that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are One. Because images of God the Father violate the Second Commandment, images of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit also violate the Second Commandment. To declare that an image of God violates the Commandment and an image of Christ does not violate the Commandment is a fallacy since the Scriptures teach that they are One. The law of non-contradiction simply says, “One cannot have and not have the same thing at the same time.” Therefore, one must either allow all images of any person of the Trinity or prohibit them. In other words, one cannot allow images of God the Son while forbidding images of God the Father and believe that God the Father and God the Son are One as the Trinity commands. To think that one can apply and not apply a Commandment at the same time is a flawed belief. When is a lie both a sin and not a sin at the same time? When is adultery both a sin and not a sin at the same time? When is an image of God both a sin and not a sin at the same time? These are obviously rhetorical questions, for the obvious answer is that something cannot be both a sin and not a sin at the same time.

To corroborate this point, let’s apply the same flawed belief to the Third Commandment. The flawed belief states that a violation can and cannot exist at the same time for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Third Commandment says, “Thou shalt not take the Lord thy God's name in vain.” If one ignored the law of non-contradiction then:

A. Misusing God's name violates the 3rd Commandment, but
misusing the Holy Spirit’s name does not violate the
Commandment.

B. One violates this commandment when using God's name irreverently.

However, one does not violate the Commandment when one uses the name of Jesus like a vulgar word or commonplace adjective.

Finally, apply this same flawed belief to the First Commandment. The Commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). So one can have no other god before God, but one can before Jesus Christ? That would not just be a fallacy; it would be a Biblical absurdity.

In his divine nature, Jesus Christ, God the Son, is fully God. This doctrine of the Trinity applies to the First, Second, and Third commandments. Therefore, since Jesus Christ is fully God, all images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment. They violate the Second Commandment because the first clause of the Second Commandment forbids images of God, and that restriction also applies to images of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.


2. Facts from Scriptural study

A thorough study of the Scripture reveals that God’s Word does not command, approve or sanction images of Jesus Christ. The normal and most uncomplicated understanding of the Scripture is that God hates people-made images of God and that includes images of Jesus. There is no leniency for those who indulge in them, and there are no passages of Scripture which, in their proper context, would alter or amend this understanding. This understanding first appears in Exodus 20:4 and continues throughout all of Scripture. The Bible is similarly consistent in its teaching about the Ten Commandments. Jesus Himself emphatically reinforced that He did not come into the world to abolish the Law when He stated, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" Matthew 5:17-18. Therefore, the Second Commandment applies just as much today as it did when God first gave it.


3. Facts from church history

Church history reveals that there is no credible source for images of Christ. Church history also confirms that the images we have of Jesus Christ are not images of the true Christ. In fact, the earliest images of Christ are more likely derived from images of Roman gods like Apollo and Orpheus than from Jesus Christ.

Historically, the church did not universally accept images of Jesus. As the author understands it, the First Council of Nicea 754 AD makes the following arguments against images of Jesus:

Images cannot accurately portray Christ because they are empty of substance and life. Any accurate image of Christ would have to be exactly like Christ in substance and life. Any true image of Jesus must represent both his divine nature [which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed] and his human nature [which is impossible since no known accurate representation exists]. By making an image of Jesus, one is either separating or confusing Christ’s human and divine natures. Either action is heresy.

Therefore, based upon the facts from Scriptural Commandment, Biblical context, and church history, one would have to conclude that images of Jesus Christ are false images and violate the Second Commandment. Two essential principles, foundation and authority, help establish the strength of the conclusion. The first step in understanding a conclusion is to ask, “Was the foundation that the conclusion was built upon reliable, and was the authority relied upon qualified?”

No matter how well one can argue from foundation to conclusion, a flawed foundation produces a flawed conclusion. In addition, when one relies on unqualified authorities for a conclusion, the conclusion is false. This is just as true for Biblical issues as it is for non-Biblical issues. The beginning of this study established the essential foundation: the Trinity. The Authority base for this study was Scripture, and the understood power of the Holy Bible depends on God, the ultimate inspirer of the Scriptures.

As a result, the foundation and authority of this study guarantee the truth of the conclusion. If one believes in the Trinity and believes that God inspired Exodus 20:4-5, then, in light of the facts, one must conclude that images of Jesus are a violation of the Second Commandment.

Reversing the conclusion to say that images of Jesus do not violate the Second Commandment would disregard the facts and imply that either the Scriptures are not inspired by God or the Trinity is false. At this point, some might protest, “Why can't someone just stand in the middle of theological tension and take the middle ground? Why can’t one simultaneously declare that images of Jesus do not violate the Second Commandment, the Scriptures are inspired, and the Trinity is true?” In this instance, standing in the middle of theological tension would contradict the Bible by declaring that which is a sin, violating the Second Commandment, is not a sin. Standing in the middle of tension is permissible in some nonessential issues like, “What is the best kind of church carpeting—shag or outdoor?”. However, when addressing God's commandments, standing in the middle of theological tension always allows for sin. It allows for sin because it does not take a stand against sin. It is as if a bridge were out, yet someone was standing alongside of the road holding a sign that said, “Caution, please go slow or fast—the bridge may or may not be out.” In this example taking the middle ground lets innocent people get hurt. Likewise, taking the middle ground concerning the Second Commandment allows for sin. In essence there is no middle ground; one either stands against sin or one takes the side for sin.
In light of the facts that the Trinity is true and God inspired all Scripture, images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment. There is no middle ground.


Why do God's children have these images?

Since the evidence is quite conclusive that images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment, one must ask “How did some of God's children come to have images that violate the Second Commandment?” In reasoning backwards, one can follow the chain of events from the end result (God's children have images that violate the Second Commandment) to their original causes.

Principal factors causing some to accept images of Jesus Christ include disobedience, apathy, Biblical ignorance, and deception. Biblical ignorance, disobedience, and deception appeared first. Either from ignorance, deception or outright disobedience, some in the 3rd and 4th century church tried to syncretize pagan and Christian beliefs. Heretical Christians (Gnostics) and pagan artisans disobeyed Orthodox Christian beliefs to accommodate pagan ideologies when they created the first images of Jesus Christ.

Centuries later, church history reveals continued disobedience in some instances of dealing with this issue. When some in the church questioned whether or not images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment, the church covered the issue up with Imperial decrees. For example, the Second Council of Nicea in 787 AD decreed excommunication for anyone attempting to discourage the use of these images.

The issue arose again in the Protestant Reformation, but this time, the church could not hide the issue or force people to be quiet. Some in the Protestant Reformation called a sin a sin and required their followers to do away with the images.

The Protestant Reformation greatly wounded the juggernaut of ignorance, disobedience, and deception. However, after a few hundred years of sleep, this sinful monstrosity was resurrected. The same stimulant that revitalized this behemoth of sin also served as an opiate to dope-up and weaken the whole body of Christ. In this case, ignorance and apathy united to triumph over some of God's children.

Even today, many of God's children are both apathetic and uninformed about what the Second Commandment specifically says. Too many children of God are Biblically uninformed about why this issue is important to God, why it should be important to them, and what the Second Commandment actually teaches. Many of God's children either follow a false understanding of the Second Commandment or do not keep the Commandment at all. Some have no idea that they are disobeying the Second Commandment, and they teach their children and their children's children to do likewise.

Many churches don’t appear to be concerned about teaching the truth about the Second Commandment. This kind of apathy keeps Biblical ignorance alive and well in the church. Apathy keeps the Biblically uneducated in a stupor of Scriptural ignorance and tells them that it is okay to be there. Apathy keeps those who know they’re sinful from repenting and tells them it does not really matter because no one is going to hold them accountable. Apathy misleads pastors to believe that instead of a shepherd to guide the sheep away from sin, churches need a business administrator who will form more programs, ministry teams, task groups, action committees, family clusters, evangelism squads, outreach bands, steering groups, and care teams. Ultimately, apathy breeds lack of concern for God’s truth that images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment while cultivating the attitude, “Church is about what I want and the way I want things done—so BACK OFF!”

In summation, as we reason backwards to answer the question, “How did some of God's children come to have images that violate the Second Commandment?” we discover that the principal causes are a combination of ongoing disobedience, apathy, Biblical ignorance, and deception. Unfortunately, these forces seem to still exist and guide some churches today.


What are the consequences for those who violate the Second Commandment?

The Scriptures clearly teach in (Exodus 20:5) that, “…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.” God’s Word declares that those who violate the Second Commandment hate God. One possible consequence for hating God is merely receiving the blessings that fall upon the just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:45) instead of receiving the full blessings due the children of God. This is a possible consequence since those who violate the Second Commandment hate God. This hatred of God makes them unjust since those consistently violating the Second Commandment could not simultaneously be considered both justified and hating God.

Another possible consequence for violating the Second Commandment by
continuous, deliberate, and unashamed disobedience is that God will refuse to hear their supplications and reject their worship of Him (Isaiah 1:1-20). This consequence is also possible since it is God's prerogative not to hear the prayers or receive the worship of those whose actions declare that they are haters of God and refuse to repent.

Furthermore, one could make a strong argument that the term idolater in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Revelation 21:8 identifies violators of the Second Commandment . In this instance an idol is a Greek word that can be understood to describe a religious image of a false god or God . Having a graven image (idol) of God the Son violates the first clause of the Second Commandment.

The consequences for violating God's Commandment are justly severe. If people profess merely with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior but exhibit flagrant, unrepentant and disobedient actions, they are haters of God. God has every right to impose consequences on those who disobey His Commandment. It is His prerogative to restrict their blessings and not hear their prayers or accept their worship. Finally, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Revelation 21:8, an idolater will have a place in hell rather than in the kingdom of heaven.


Review Questions


1. Do images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment?

2. What are the facts from the Biblical Commandment section?

3. What are the facts from the Scriptural study section?

4. What are the facts from the church history section?

5. Why should someone not try and “take the middle ground” on this issue?

6. What are the consequences for violating this commandment?

7. How has your opinion about images of Jesus changed after reading this book?

Postlude
Question and Answer Section

Asking and answering questions further clarifies the truth about images of Jesus Christ. A secular writer has said, "In an investigation, the little things are infinitely the most important." Certain questions may seem insignificant at first, but weighty conclusions depend on their answers. This section includes several representative questions. Although not exhaustive, these questions address the most common inquiries about this issue .

1. Q: Do images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment? Some Protestant Evangelicals might respond accordingly:

No, because images of Jesus are just a teaching tool and simply something we use to remember or focus on Christ. We don't bow down before them, worship them, or transfer our worship to the image.”

A: In answering this response, it is important to note a fallacy of suppression. This response suppresses the fact that images of Christ violate the first clause of the Second Commandment, which renders all pictures of God the Son a violation. Because images of Jesus will always violate the first clause, justifications that images of Jesus make good teaching tools and focal points do not change the fact that they violate the Second Commandment.

Another problem with the above response is its dependence on a misinterpretation of the Second Commandment. The misinterpretation occurs when one renders the Second Commandment's two clauses together as though they were one clause. In other words, one must worship an image to violate the Second Commandment. According to this false interpretation, simply having an image does not violate the Commandment. One would have to worship an image of Jesus to violate the Commandment.

If God's children are going to rely on a misinterpretation of the Second Commandment, they should consistently use that misinterpretation when evaluating other images. For instance, if one follows this flawed idea, it would be ok to accept images like Mary, the saints, or crucifixes as long as one does not worship them. Likewise, images of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit would also be permissible as long as one does not worship them.

Some may follow a variation of this misinterpretation of the Second Commandment known as “Theological Convenience.” In this case, one may consider images of God, Mary, and the saints a violation of the Second Commandment, but not images of God the Son. Following this line of thinking, one can interpret the Second Commandment any way one wants at one’s convenience. Another name for theological convenience is situational ethics. If one depends on situational ethics or Theological Convenience to determine whether or not to accept images of Jesus, then one can apply situational ethics to the other Ten Commandments as well. Therefore, in the right situation one could rationalize murder, adultery, stealing, lying or having another god.

2. Q: Does God’s command to create objects and symbols such as the Ark of the Covenant with is cherubim and seraphim and the tabernacle with all its ornamentation violate His own commandment? Do these justify the use of images of Jesus?

A: No, because God is the only one with the authority to identify what is worshipful to Him and what is not. During Israel's history, God appointed the making of these objects and specifically identified how the people were to use them. It was God’s pleasure to give the people of Israel ceremonial laws that required these symbols. The symbolism of the ceremonial laws prefigured Christ to come. Since Christ has come, all the sacrifices and symbolism associated with the sacrificial system that prefigured Him are abolished. Because Christ the perfect sacrifice remains, it is no longer necessary to sacrifice lambs and goats or use the symbols.

These objects do not justify our use of images of any person of the Godhead. Each of these objects had a very specific and crucial use for the time that God appointed them. In contrast, God did not command His people to make images of Jesus. Therefore, including images of Jesus Christ with these objects would add to Scripture what God never commanded.

3. Q: “If the images we have of Christ aren’t true images, then why can’t we use them as just a sign, mark, or indicator to identify Christians?”

A: Expecting that one could use an image of Jesus as just a sign without any other significance would ignore hundreds of years of meaning people have supplied to the false images. Furthermore, when God forbids His chosen to indulge in false images, He includes images of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Accepting the false images of Jesus as just a sign, symbol, or identifier of His chosen still violates the Second Commandment.

4. Q: “What harm is there if Christians have images of Christ in their worship to enhance their emotional experience?”

A: This question assumes that the issue of whether or not one should have these images depends more on one’s feelings and personal taste than on Scriptural authority. Following this flawed logic, one would rely on emotions and personal taste rather than God’s Word to guide one’s worship of Him. The Examination of the Second Commandment chapter in this study points out Scriptures that explain that God’s Word and not our personal tastes are to direct our worship of God. If we let our personal taste and emotion determine how we are to worship God, we could justify any manner of contrivance, foolishness, confusion, or silliness based on rationalization and popular consensus.

5. Q: Doesn’t the Second Commandment apply only to indecent images of God or pagan depictions of false deities?

A: The very phrasing of the Commandment rules out such a limiting description. God says quite categorically, “Thou shalt not make any likeness.” Although this categorical statement includes the use of pagan or indecent images, it goes beyond these to include all images. There are no exceptions.

6. Q: “Doesn’t the fact that Jesus was a man allow for images of Jesus?”

A: No. The problem with this assumption is that it denies the Trinity. Even though there are three persons in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, their essence is one. To make an image of Jesus that would not violate the divine essence, one must adhere to one of the following:

a) One could believe that the human and divine natures of Christ were separate from each other so that they were not in contact with one another. This way one could have an image of Jesus without violating the divine essence since the divine essence was separate from the person of Christ. This is the heresy of Nestorianism.

b) One could believe that the Godhead is really three separate gods. This way, the Second Commandment only applies to God the Father, since it refers to Him directly. Therefore, this heresy would allow images of God the Son. This is the heresy of Tritheism.

c) One could believe that there were only two gods: the good god Jesus in the New Testament and the bad god of the Old Testament. This way, the Second Commandment would only apply to the God of the Old Testament and not the God of the New Testament. This is the heresy of Albigenses.

d) One could reject the Trinity altogether and believe that there was only one person in the Godhead, the Father. Jesus, then, was a creation and had no divine essence. Therefore, images of Jesus cannot violate a nonexistent divine essence. This is the heresy of Arianism.

e) One could believe that Christ's human and divine natures were so thoroughly combined and warped together that Jesus was neither truly God nor man. This way, an image of Jesus would not violate the divine essence since Jesus was neither God nor man. This is the heresy of Eutychianism.

f) One could believe that Jesus' two natures combined into a third new, unknown thing so that Christ no longer represented either God or man. Since neither God nor man was represented in Christ, images of Christ would not violate the divine essence. This is the heresy of Monophycitism.

One could use any of the above heresies to try to justify having an image of Jesus Christ. However, all of the above heresies are merely human attempts to put the Triune God in a manageable box and de-deify Jesus Christ. God transcends the greatest human wisdom. God’s thoughts are so much higher than human thoughts, that to try to explain in human terms what God has chosen not to explain in human terms is to speak for God. The Trinity is a divine mystery, but it is a mystery about which the Scriptures clearly teach. Scripture declares that there is one God, and that God is a Trinity. To deny any person of the Godhead is to deny God, and His Word tells us that to deny God results in eternal damnation.

7. Q: "If images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, then don’t all images violate the Second Commandment? Images are images, right?"

A: This question is based on a fallacy of applying a specific rule to other situations it was not intended to cover. For example, stop signs are red and we are to stop at red lights. Therefore we should stop at everything red. Red is red, right? In this instance, the Second Commandment specifically refers to images of the Triune God. The first clause of the Second Commandment does not refer to all images, and the Second Commandment is not addressing every day paintings, statues, and pictures. John Calvin presents it this way, "There is no need of refuting the foolish fancy of some, and that all sculptures and pictures are here condemned by Moses, for he had no other object than to rescue God's glory from all the imaginations which tend to corrupt it."

The Second Commandment specifically focuses on legitimate ways to honor, reverence, serve, and represent God. Consider images you may have in your wallet—images of a house, children, your spouse, etc. Do they violate the Second Commandment? Did you create these images to represent either God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, or a false god? Are you using these images to worship God or a false god? No. Therefore, these images do not violate either clause of the Second Commandment.

8. Q: “Aren’t pictures of Christ useful teaching tools for the illiterate?”

A: John Calvin addresses this when he writes about crosses:

“Paul declares that by the true preaching of the gospel Christ is portrayed and in a manner crucified before our eyes (Gal. 3:1). Of what use, then, were the erection in churches of so many crosses of wood and stone, silver and gold, if this doctrine were faithfully and honestly preached-viz., Christ died that he might bear our curse upon the tree, that he might expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body, wash them in his blood, and, in short, reconcile us to God the Father? From this one doctrine, the people would learn more than from a thousand crosses of wood and stone. As for crosses of gold and silver, it may be true that the avaricious give their eyes and minds to them more eagerly than to any heavenly instructor.”

Images of Jesus offer no explanation or instruction. They are lifeless and inanimate products of someone else’s imagination. The more fanciful the false image of Jesus, the more likely the viewer’s mind is to be distracted from reverencing, honoring, and serving Jesus Christ. Because God hates sin, sinful images will separate one from God rather than drawing one to God.

9. Q: “Since images can be used to further the kingdom of God by reaching people for Christ, are they not exempt from being considered a violation of the Second Commandment?”

A: This question assumes that it is appropriate to use any means to reach people for Christ. It asserts that any means are justified that reach people with the Gospel message. However, the end does not justify the means, even in evangelism. Some illogically extreme examples that make this point are as follows: Someone kills people unless they confess Christ as their Savior. People confess Christ as their Savior; therefore, this means is justifiable. Another ridiculous example would be the rumored organization “Hookers for Christ.” Some confess Christ as their Savior, therefore these means are justifiable. No! The end never justifies the means when the means are wrong. Even though these examples are extreme, they help make the point that to keep one commandment, “Go forth, and make disciples,” we should not break other commandments such as, “Thou shalt not murder,” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Therefore, it would be wrong to believe that one can justify breaking the Second Commandment for the sake of evangelism.

10. Q: “Are there any exceptions for children?”

A: This question is another form of ‘the end justifies the means’ philosophy. In this case, one might say violating the Second Commandment is acceptable if kids learn about Jesus. This question assumes that children are somehow excused from needing to keep the Second Commandment. Following this logic, one might ask if there are other exceptions for children. For instance, one could lie to children, telling them that if they believe in Christ, God will give them super powers, or He will give them $1,000,000,000,000,000. One might say lying to children is acceptable if they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As stated above, the end does not justify the means. Furthermore, inflicting this type of spiritual confusion on children is contradictory. For example, we teach children that lying is a sin. We also tell children that these are images of Jesus. Later on, we tell children that these are not images of Jesus, and we did not lie.

11. Q: “Why do you use doctrine to explain Biblical truths? We don’t need more doctrine. We need Biblical truths!”

A: One must untangle and appropriately address several fallacies to answer this question. First, the question assumes that doctrine is optional. However, an examination of the definition of the word reveals that this is not so. Strictly speaking, doctrine is what one believes. Therefore, to hold to no doctrine is to believe nothing. A person once told me, “Our ministry does not adhere to any doctrine,” to which I responded, “So your doctrine is not to adhere to any doctrine? So what does your ministry believe?” Everyone has a doctrine, whether it is written down or not. A doctrine can be fluid or strong, rational or irrational, based on truths or fallacies. The doctrines of the Gospel are the principles or truths Christ and His apostles taught and lived. Because people act on their beliefs, their doctrine is ultimately reflected in how they live their lives. A doctrine is not optional; if you think, then you have a doctrine. If you ever base your actions on rational thoughts, you follow doctrine.

Another error in this question is the assumption that Biblical truths and doctrine are mutually exclusive. Linguistically throughout Scripture, the word ‘doctrine’ can be defined as, “doctrine, teaching, taught, belief(s), knowledge, wisdom and truth.” In the KJV, the word ‘doctrine’ occurs 51 times, the word ‘teach’ (taught) occurs 190 times, and the words ‘knowledge,’ ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’ occur a total of 643 times. These numbers reinforce Scripture’s affirmation of the importance of doctrine. Scripture also asserts that right doctrine is essential when it denounces false teachings [false doctrine] and false teachers [promoters of false doctrine]. There are those that say they have the truth, and there are those that actually have the truth. Without examining one’s doctrinal beliefs, it would be impossible to differentiate between the two.

A doctrine helps frame what one does and does not believe. A doctrine also helps organize one’s beliefs so that one can more easily comprehend what one believes and why. God's children can also use doctrine to examine others’ beliefs, opinions, and actions, disregarding those that are ungodly and holding to those that glorify God. Although a doctrine in and of itself is not equal to the Scripture, it does frame one’s beliefs about Scripture.

12. Q: “What about all the Scripture passages that refer to Christ—don't they demonstrate that God has licensed images of Christ?”

A: No. Although the Scriptures refer to Christ, they contain no command to create images of Him. Nor do they include any detailed physical description of Him. The only Scriptural reference about Christ’s appearance (Isaiah 53:2) is too vague to use to make an image of Christ. Furthermore, no credible sources document Christ sitting for a portrait, sketch, or sculpture. Because no accurate representations of Christ exist, no accurate re-creations of Him could ever be made. Finally, none of the Scripture passages referring to Christ change Exodus 20:4.

13. Q: “Doesn’t the book of Revelation describe Jesus Christ? Wouldn’t this description allow for creating an image of Christ?”

A: No. Since it is apocalyptic literature, one should not interpret the book of Revelation literally. If we take the book of Revelation literally, we see Jesus in Revelation 19:15 with a sword coming out of His mouth. Are we to believe that Jesus Christ is running around Heaven with a sword hanging out of His mouth? To create an image from the literal description of Jesus in the apocalyptic writings would make an image more like a monster than the Savior. Furthermore, the book of Revelation’s figurative description of Jesus does not give us license to negate the Second Commandment and create images of God the Son.

14. Q: “Your arguments are nothing but worthless trash. You're just a throwback to the Protestant Reformation who wants to smash other churches’ art works.”

A: This was more of a statement than a question, but it does raise some vital points. To begin with, this statement uses the common fallacy ad hominem. This form of argumentation usually occurs when one cannot refute another’s views, so he or she instead attacks the person to try and discredit their views. If the arguments, proofs, and facts presented in this study were worthless trash, they could be easily refuted using clear, scriptural facts. Second, to be associated with the Protestant Reformation is a wonderful compliment. Finally, as far as smashing other churches’ art works, let me categorically say that nowhere in this study do I tell anyone to break anything.

15. Q: “Isn’t Scripture strong enough to stand on its own? Why do you use logic to present Biblical facts?”

A: This question presents an interesting misunderstanding. Yes, the Scripture is strong enough to stand on its own. God inspired all of Scripture; therefore all of it is true. However, try explaining the Trinity or how to receive salvation without using logic. This question is based on the misunderstanding that logic is not part of the Scripture. However, Scripture is logical. The same God of order who inspired the Bible is also the God who logically established the universe. Likewise, God did not create the Bible out of disorder but in a logical unity. To approach the Scripture without thinking logically is to approach the Scripture without thinking. Therefore, Christians should approach the study of Scripture with a mind set to think logically rather than illogically. Studying the scripture with an illogical mind set leaves a mind ripe for Satan to cultivate heresy. Another question asked in conjunction with this question was, “Why did you use quotes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Does Sherlock Holmes really have a place in theological writing?” I used quotes from this secular author because he presented logic in a simple to understand, every day approach.

16. Q: “What is wrong with Christians having images of Christ if their intentions are to honor Christ and not worship the image?”

A: This question assumes that one’s good intentions matter more than whether or not one violates Scripture. Therefore, good intentions rather than Scriptural Commandment could guide one’s worship of God. Furthermore, if God accepted good intentions as keeping the Second Commandment, then God was wrong for getting upset at the Israelite people for making a golden calf. The Israelite people’s intentions were obviously good, for they chose a strong image to depict God. Finally, if one follows the thinking that good intentions are enough to keep God's Commandments, then as long as one’s sins are not intentional, one would not be guilty of violating God’s Commandments. Ultimately, the argument of good intentions is the argument for situational ethics. Good intentions or situational ethics will never vindicate one who has violated God’s Commandments.

17. Q: “Aren’t your views about images of Jesus just like the Taliban’s beliefs about pagan images?”

A: This question is a loaded question that depends heavily on a minor technical causal connection. The use of the word “just” in the above question is what makes the question loaded. A simple yes or no answer to this question would have profound implications. If one were to answer yes, that would indicate that one’s beliefs are just like the beliefs of the Taliban. If one were to answer no, the implication would still be that one’s beliefs are similar to the Taliban’s. However, the views set forth in this study are neither identical to or like the Taliban’s beliefs. The minor technical causal connection between the two is the idea that images of God are sinful objects. However, that is as far as one could fraudulently stretch any likeness between this study’s ideas and the views of the Taliban.

One can make a minor technical causal connection between just about anything. For example, Jewish people who attend a synagogue have a holy book. Mormons use holy books in their temples. Muslims use a holy book in their mosques, and Presbyterians use a holy book in their churches. If one were to make a minor technical causal connection between these groups, one might say that because they all use holy books in a place of worship, they all worship the Christian God and will all go to the same heaven. This example is obviously an illogical extreme, but it does demonstrate how one makes a minor technical causal connection.

While I would encourage God's children to rid their homes and places of worship of false images that would corrupt their minds and souls, the Taliban would take it upon themselves to destroy images anywhere they found them. Furthermore, unlike the Taliban, if someone desires to keep their images of Jesus, I would not have them and their family executed.

18. Q: “Christ’s incarnation changed everything. ‘He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God …’ (Colossians 1:15). Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, therefore God the Son has a likeness, and that likeness is in the form of a man (Philippians 2:7). Therefore, one can depict Christ. For if an image can represent our bodies, an image can represent Christ's body. What’s wrong with making an image of the incarnate Christ? Because we can make images of Christ, making images of Him is the most effective way we can confess the reality of the incarnation.”

A: Exodus 20:4 clearly states that God's children are not to have images of God. This prohibition includes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Because the Bible gives us no detailed description of Jesus’ appearance, a picture of Jesus comes from people’s imaginations and not the incarnate Christ.

Where does the Bible clearly teach that images of Jesus are acceptable? Colossians 1:15 does say that, “He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God …” but it does not teach that God's children have the right to create images of God the Son. Likewise, Philippians. 2:7 does teach that Christ was begotten not created, but it tells one nothing about what that form looked like. Neither does it teach that God's children are to try and create an image of Christ.

Finally, the statement, “Because we can make images of Christ, making images of Him is the most effective way we can confess the reality of the incarnation” is an opinion with no Scriptural foundation. Christ's incarnation changed nothing regarding Exodus 20:4, nor did it alter the sinful status of people-made images of Christ. An image of Christ is an image created from someone's imagination and does not depict the incarnate Christ. A more effective way to confess the reality of the incarnation is for true believers to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and follow-through with obedient actions that reflect this truth.

19. Q: “Your tone seems to be rather strong in some areas of this study. Would it have been better to handle this issue with more compassion? You are more apt to reach people with kindness than with such a strong tone.”

A: Strong does not necessarily mean uncompassionate. Who shows more compassion—the person standing at the side of the road jumping up and down screaming, “The bridge is out!” or the person who kindly waves at the cars approaching a fallen bridge? I take a very strong tone in this study because this issue is so important. God considers those who violate the Second Commandment as those who hate Him. Furthermore, those who violate this Commandment may only receive the general blessings that fall on the just and unjust alike. Finally, according to the book of Revelation, those who indulge in such images have their place in hell. Should one stand quietly by as children pick up rat poison to put in their mouths, or, run screaming, “No!” and try to reach them? Obviously, the stronger tone is more compassionate. I take the stronger tone of compassion, for I love my brothers and sisters in Christ and do not want them to be condemned as haters of God.

20. Q: “This subject is very controversial and has the potential to cause divisions among Christians and especially between certain denominations. If it’s going to cause divisions, wouldn't it be better to leave this issue alone?”

A: This question assumes that one should not address an issue because it may be controversial and cause divisions. Following this logic, one would need to ask the question, “Are there any other controversial Biblical truths that may cause divisions? If so, then shouldn’t we also avoid them?” Some potentially controversial and divisive theological issues are: the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, end time perspectives, abortion, worship styles, and women pastors. If we follow the logic “if it causes controversy and/or divisions, then don’t address it,” then we should also avoid these issues. Likewise, this logic would declare Martin Luther wrong for addressing the heresies in the Catholic Church. He should have left well enough alone and kept the truth to himself. The Scripture is God's truth, and to ignore wrongdoing or avoid God's truth because it may cause controversies or divisions is a sin of omission.

In a continuing discourse, the questioner declared, “Christians are to love one another, not fight with one another. It is by that love that people will know we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). Christians are to be of ‘one mind’ (2 Corinthians 13:11). Christians are to work together to unify, not divide.” My response to this declaration was, “Many of God's children engage in denominational compromise. For the sake of false unity, they call denominations Christian that by Biblical decrees could not be Christian. When did the followers of Christ become those who:

• Reject the Bible as being inspired by God.
• Believe in a works-based salvation.
• Believe the will of people is more important or stronger than the will of God.
• Have another intermediary other than Christ.
• Deliberately water-down or taint the Gospel and, in effect, preach another gospel.

Your statements give every appearance of following the gods of religious political correctness and denominational tolerance. If true believers were honest with themselves, the kind of denominations some people call Christian are, by Biblical definition, not Christian. Yes, true believers are to love one another and be unified; however, they are not to be united with syncretized, half pagan, apostate religions that call themselves Christian!”

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mayflower
Berichten: 1219
Lid geworden op: 23 Sep 2004, 08:19

Re: The Truth About Images of Jesus By Justin Griffin

Berichtdoor mayflower » 27 Dec 2008, 19:28

21. Q: “I don't believe that God is going to send people to Hell for keeping their pictures of Jesus.”

A: This question essentially asks what sin can one continue in and still enter the kingdom of heaven. One’s belief that God is not going to punish sinners does not change the fact that God will punish sinners as He has declared. God says in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” This verse calls those who have images idolaters and condemns them to hell. Therefore, the idea that God is not going to send people to hell for keeping their images of Jesus contradicts God’s Word.

The fallacy in the questioner’s idea occurs when he tries to nullify the sin by simply declaring that it is not a sin. In this instance, Exodus 20:4 declares any image of God the Son a sin. Here, someone tries to nullify the sin by declaring, “Keeping their picture of Jesus is not a sin.” This kind of nullification also occurs with other sins such as adultery, bestiality, and murder. Some will say, “It is not adultery; it is sharing love” or “It is not bestiality; it is an alternative lifestyle” and “It is not murder; it is euthanasia.” However, sinful people’s attempts to nullify sin do not negate the sin. Since sin cannot dwell in the presence of God, then there is no sin that someone can continue in and enter God’s Kingdom. This means all sins, including those that violate the Second Commandment.

22. Q: “Sure, the Bible contains God’s truth, but everything in it is not God's truth. The Second Commandment can be helpful to Christians today as a principle or guideline. However, it was more of a Jewish cultural mandate that doesn't really apply to today’s Christians.”

A: This was more of a declaration than a question, but it does raise one very important error. The fundamental error that, “the Bible contains God’s truth, but everything in it is not God's truth” is a fallacy with damnable consequences. This belief demonstrates a flawed understanding of Scripture, and a flawed foundation ultimately results in a flawed conclusion. If the whole Bible is not God's inspired truth, then why keep any of the Commandments since they could all be called guidelines or cultural mandates? Ultimately, for someone to hold the belief that the Bible only contains part of God’s truth is to worship a different god. Why? The Bible teaches what Christians are to believe about God and what duties God requires of His elect. However, if the whole Bible does not represent God’s truth, how can one know God and His commandments? How would one discern which parts of the Bible are Godly and which parts are not? In the end, people would determine who god is and what that god requires. As people's opinions change, then so, too, would their god and what their god requires. They might call themselves Christians, and they might appear to worship in the same manner as true believers. They might even appear to use the same holy book and titles for their god as true believers. However, their belief about Scripture would mandate that they worship a different god.

Finally, to engage in conversation about this issue with someone who does not hold to the teaching that all Scripture is God-breathed and is therefore true in all its parts would be like having a conversation about fruit and trying to compare apples and grizzly bears. Because the fundamental foundations are so opposite, the discussion is pointless until one establishes a mutual foundation.

23. Q: “What about passages of Scripture like Genesis 1:26-27? Don't they teach that mankind was made in the image of God? If images of God violate the Second Commandment, then everyone we see is a violation of the Second Commandment.”

A: No, people are not violations of the Second Commandment. This argument is based on a misunderstanding of Genesis. 1:26-27.

In Genesis 1:26-27, we have the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man. In this passage of Scripture, God created man’s body the same day as the animals. Like the animals, man’s body was made of matter; for he inhabits the earth with them and needs a body that can exist there. Yet man was different from the rest of creation. What other creature did God breathe life into (Genesis 2:7)? Unlike the rest of creation, God breathed His Spirit into man, making him different from the animals. Giving man a soul was the act of God which made man in the image of God. The body is not made in the image of God, for God is a Spirit and has no body . The soul of man bears God's image. The soul is an immortal, thinking and active spirit resembling God, who is a Spirit.

Furthermore, if one misinterprets Genesis 1:26-27 to declare that God does have a body and each human’s body represents it, then one could argue that God is dual gendered and has over 8 billion faces, arms, legs, and hands, since all men and women look different. This kind of misinterpretation of the Scripture leads to Biblical absurdity and ultimately, heresies.

Finally, if people follow the argument, “Because mankind was created in the image of God, therefore mankind has the right to create images of God the Son,” then they assume a right equal to God. God does not give humankind this right; as a matter of fact, the Second Commandment forbids it. In this case, humankind would give humankind the right to do away with the Second Commandment, and that right assumes a power either equal to or above God. However, the thing made is not equal to its maker. Therefore people have no right to negate the Second Commandment and make God the Son after their own image.

24. Q: “You primarily use Reformed doctrine in this study; why should someone of the Baptist faith care?”

A: Images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment no matter what one’s Protestant Evangelical heritage. If one were to remove the doctrinal statements of the Westminster Confession of Faith from this book, images of Jesus Christ would still violate the Second Commandment. In addition, a general review of Baptist history shows that the early Baptists were just as Reformed, in most cases, as the conservative Presbyterian denominations.

25. Q: “I don't understand how the Commandment forbids having images of Jesus. It seems that the Commandment forbids worshiping images of Jesus, not having images of Jesus. I remind you that the Commandment says:

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 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 ...’

Therefore, if one were to ‘adore’ an image of Jesus, it would violate this Commandment. However, having a picture of Jesus does not violate this Commandment.”

A: The way the questioner quotes the Scripture indicates a Catholic understanding of the Ten Commandments rather than a Protestant Evangelical understanding. The Catholics combine the First and Second Commandments into one and divide the Tenth into two forms of coveting. Protestant Evangelicals keep the First and Second separate and leave the Tenth alone.

Many of God's children today lack Biblical education about the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Evangelical understanding of the Ten Commandments. Many believers appear either to use the Catholic Ten Commandments or quote the Protestant Evangelical form of the Ten Commandments while interpreting those Commandments along Catholic guidelines. The “Examination of the Second Commandment” section of this book explains why the First and Second Commandments remain distinct from one another and why any images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4).

In addressing the statement, “I don't understand how the Commandment forbids having images of Jesus,” it is important to note that the first clause of the Second Commandment prohibits images of God the Son. To have images of God the Son would in fact be to create, to make images of God the Son. God’s children should remember that the Ten Commandments are not just physical Commandments. The teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5 demonstrate that one can mentally violate the Commandments just as easily as one can violate them physically. It is a well-known fact that seeing a physical image will create or construct that same image in one's mind.

Consider, then, the images of Jesus that people watch on their television sets or put in their churches and homes. Every time they see a false image of God the Son, viewing it reinforces that image’s remembrance with a violation of the Second Commandment.

Consider 1 Corinthians 6:15, 17 —

“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid …But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

In the spirit of Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 6:15, 17, shall we carve false images into the minds of the members of Christ? Shall we take those who are one with Christ and put false images into the temple of their hearts, placing them around the throne where Christ is? In the first clause of the Second Commandment, God forbids images of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit .

26. Q: “The Bible says, ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle’ 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Tradition states that the Apostles handed down certain instructions that they did not put in writing. These verbal traditions also assert that the Apostle Luke painted an image of Christ. Don’t these verbal traditions give us the correct image of Christ and the right to use them?”

A: No. Who validated that the Apostles are the source of these verbal traditions? One must remember that when one’s conclusion depends upon fraudulent authority, the conclusion is wrong. Otherwise, for example, if a doctor of phrenology says that there is a nine-legged cat on Jupiter, we should believe everything he says as infallible truth because he is a doctor. One needs to ask, “Who is the authority that declares that these were the verbal traditions handed down by the Apostles, and what qualifies them as authorities?”

Furthermore, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, the Apostle speaks only of traditions which he had taught them. There is no suggestion that they were to adhere to any additional extra-Biblical traditions which he did not teach them. Furthermore, without knowing exactly what the verbal instructions were, it would be deceitful to declare what one only assumes they were. It is a fallacy to declare that nothing is known or can be known about a subject and then make an absolute declaration of fact about it. In this instance, we do not definitively know what the verbal instructions were. Therefore it is wrong to declare, “The verbal instructions were to use images of Jesus, and Luke painted an image of Jesus.”

Finally, to adhere to verbal traditions that may or may not have been given by the apostles with no definitive way to validate those verbal traditions is more likely to mislead believers than accurately guide them.

27. Q: “The honor felt towards an image is, in essence, directed to Christ and not the image as a thing. When one sees an image of Jesus, it brings about a movement of one’s heart towards Christ—not the image! Therefore, one feels reverence only because it is an image of Christ. What is wrong with showing reverence to Christ? “

A: The statement that sets the question may at first seem accurate because it is complex and well constructed, but in essence it is the argument, “Reverencing Christ is about how one feels rather than doing what God wants, the way God wants it done.” Well-crafted arguments like this that depend more on philosophy and opinion than Biblical facts do not change the Second Commandment. Images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, and one’s ability to articulate intricate questions and statements does not change Scriptural fact. Finally, the question is based on emotional appeal rather than Biblical facts. The images of Christ we have are not images of the true Christ. Therefore, since Christ is sinless and sin cannot dwell in the presence of God, the more people fill their mind with sinful images, the farther their minds move from Christ.

28. Q: “What about the Shroud of Turin? Wouldn't it give us an accurate depiction of Christ?”

A: No, a dirty rag that displays what appears to be a silhouette of the 8th century Anglo-Saxon Jesus gives us no accurate representation of Christ. Furthermore, the source of this rag’s origin is dubious. Therefore, to say definitively that it was the wrap that enveloped Jesus’ head would be a fallacy. The Shroud of Turin shows us that people will make an idol out of just about anything. The Shroud of Turin has value as a symbol of Christ, but not because God has given it that value. God has forbidden such idolatrous objects in Exodus 20:4.

Consequently, the Shroud of Turin presents an easy dichotomy:

A. The Shroud of Turin has value because people have supplied it with that value.
B. The Shroud of Turin does not have value because God has forbidden such idolatrous objects.

So who is right, God or people?

29. Q: “Why? Why is this issue important? Why should God's children care about a study of the Second Commandment in light of today’s personal, family and global issues?”

A: Why add to life’s problems by also facing the consequences of being a hater of God? God’s children should regard this issue with only as much importance as God Himself does. The standard for what God's children should believe about all things is what God believes about all things. If your god does not believe this issue to be important, then do whatever pleases your god. Yet the God of the Bible has said, “ 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.” Exodus 20:4-5.

Review Questions


1. How does using an image of Jesus as a teaching tool violate God's Commandment?

2. How does using an image of Jesus to identify Christians violate God's Commandment?

3. Doesn’t the fact that Jesus was human give us the right to have images of Jesus?

4. If images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment, then don’t all images violate the Second Commandment?

5. How does the Commandment forbid having images of Jesus?

6. Why is this issue important?

Appendices and Bibliography


Appendix A

If one interprets the Second Commandment as one clause, then one has to worship an image to violate the Commandment. Think of the Commandment as though it were one light switch. In order to turn the light on, one only needs to flip the one switch. For example:

Have an image [and] worship the image.

In order to turn the light on, one has to worship an image. If one follows the one clause Commandment, it would be acceptable to have an image of God or a pagan god or to worship anything other than God. The one clause Commandment only prohibits worshiping an image. It is inaccurate to interpret the Second Commandment as one clause because this ignores the prohibition of images of God in Exodus 20:4.

If one interprets the Second Commandment as two clauses, then one can violate the Commandment by either having an image of God or worshiping anything other than God. Think of the Commandment as though it were two light switches. In order to turn the light on, one could flip either switch or both switches at the same time.

Have an image [and/or] worship the image.

This rendering accurately reflects Exodus 20:4-5 and correctly represents how the Second Commandment was understood throughout the context of Scripture. The Second Commandment has two parts or clauses. In order to violate the Second Commandment one needs to violate either clause individually or both clauses at the same time.
Appendix B

"Definition of the Holy Great and Ecumenical Council, the Second in Nicea"

The holy, great, and Ecumenical Council—convened by the grace of God and by the sanction of our pious kings, those lovers of Christ, Constantine and his mother Irene, for a second time in the magnificent capital of the Incans of the province of the Bithynians, and in the holy church of God, which is named after Wisdom—having followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, has defined the following:

Christ our God, Who granted to us the light of His knowledge and Who delivered us from the darkness of the insanity of the idols, after He betrothed His holy Catholic Church, which is without spot or wrinkle commanded that she may be so preserved. He also gave assurances to his holy disciples, saying, "I am with you always, to the close of the age." He gave this commandment not only to his disciples but also to us who through them have believed in his name.

However, some men, paying no regard to this gift, and encouraged by the deceitful enemy, deviated from right thinking and, after opposing the tradition of the Catholic Church, erred in the perception of the truth. As the word of the Proverbs says, they caused the axles of their own husbandry to go astray and … they gathered barreness [sic] with their hands; for even though they are called priests—without being so—they dared to discredit the decency which dedicated items have, [a decency] proper to God. It is for them that God cries out through the words of the prophecy: Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard and they have defiled my portion. For, having followed men of impiety who put faith in their own minds, they have accused the holy Church, which has been joined to Christ the God, and they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, calling the icon of the Lord and those of his saints with the same name as the wooden symbols of the idols of Satan.

For this reason God the sovereign One, not bearing to see his people destroyed by such a pestilence, through his good will brought us, the leaders of the priesthood, together from all parts, through the divine zeal and inspiration of Constantine and Irene, our most faithful Kings, so that the divine tradition of the Catholic Church may regain its authority by a common vote. Having, therefore, sought most diligently and conferred with each other, and having set as our goal the truth, we neither delete nor add anything, but preserve undiminished everything that is of the Catholic Church. Adhering also to the six holy Ecumenical Councils, first that which convened in the magnificent capital of the Niceans, and also that which convened after this in the Royal City guarded by God,

WE BELIEVE in one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things, visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; light of light, true God from a true God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things were made; Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnated by the holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became man: He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried, and He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures; and He ascended into heaven, where He sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified; who spoke through the prophets.

And in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.

However, we despise and anathematize Arius and those of the same opinion with him who shares in his insane misbelief; as well as Macedonius and his adherents, who have rightly been called 'Offenders of the Spirit.' We acknowledge our Lady, the holy Mary, to be properly and truly Theotokos, for having given birth, as far as the flesh is concerned to Christ our God Who is one of the holy Trinity, as it has been taught before by the Council in Ephesus, which expelled from the Church Nestorius, the impious one, and his adherents for introducing a duality of persons. In addition to these we acknowledge the two natures of Him who for us became incarnate from the immaculate Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, knowing Him to be perfect God and perfect man, as the council in Chalcedon declared, which expelled from the holy court Eutyches and Dioscorus, who had taught blasphemies. With them, we subject [to anathema] Severus, Peter, and those in the same line who are interwoven with them, who have repeatedly pronounced blasphemies. Along with them, we anathematize the myths of Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus, as the fifth council did, which convened in Constantinople. Afterwards we, too, proclaim the two wills and energies in Christ, according to the quality of each nature, just as the Sixth Council in Constantinople pronounced, when it renounced Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus, Pyrrus, and Macarius, who did not like piety, as well as the ones of the same mind with them.

In summary, we preserve all the traditions of the Church, which for our sake have been decreed in written or unwritten form, without introducing an innovation. One of these traditions is the making of iconographic representations—being in accordance with the narrative of the proclamation of the gospel—for the purpose of ascertaining the incarnation of God the Word, which was real, not imaginary, and for being of an equal benefit to us as the gospel narrative. For those which point mutually to each other undoubtedly mutually signify each other.

Be this as it may, and continuing along the royal pathway, following both the teaching of our holy Fathers which is inspired by God and the tradition of the Catholic Church—for we know that this tradition is of the holy Spirit dwelling in her—in absolute precision and harmony with the spirit, WE DECLARE that, next to the sign of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy icons—made of colours, pebbles, or any other material that is fit—may be set in the holy churches of God, on holy utensils and vestments, on walls and boards, in houses and in streets. These may be icons of our Lord and God the Savior Jesus Christ, or of our pure Lady the holy Theotokos, or of honorable angels, or of any saint or holy man. For the more, these are kept in view through their iconographic representation, the more those who look at them are lifted up to remember, and have an earnest desire for the prototypes. Also [we declare] that one may render to them the veneration of honour: not the true worship of our faith, which is due only to the divine nature, but the same kind of veneration as is offered to the form of the precious and life-giving cross, to the holy gospels, and to the other holy dedicated items. Also [we declare] that one may honour these by bringing to them incense and light, as was the pious custom of the early [Christians]; for 'the honour to the icon is conveyed to the prototype.' Thus, he who venerates the icon venerates the hypostasis of the person depicted on it. In this way the teaching of our holy Fathers—that is, the tradition of the Catholic Church, which has accepted the gospel from one end of the earth to the other—is strengthened. Thus, we faithfully follow Paul, who spoke in Christ, as well as the entire divine assembly of the Apostles and holy Fathers, holding to the traditions, which we have received. Using the words of the prophet, we repeat loudly to the Church the hymns of victory: Rejoice daughter of Zion: cry aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; rejoice and delight thyself with all thine heart. The Lord has taken away from thee the iniquities of thine opponents, he has ransomed thee from the land of thine enemies: the Lord, the King is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more, and peace will be unto thee for ever.

Hence those who take the liberty of thinking or teaching otherwise, or—like the accursed heretics—of violating the traditions of the Church and inventing some sort of novelty, or of rejecting some of the things which have been dedicated to the Church—that is the gospel, or the form of the cross, or an iconographic representation, or a holy relic of a martyr—or of contriving crookedly and cunningly to upset any of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church, or of using the holy treasures or the venerable monasteries as a common place, if they are bishops or clergymen, WE DIRECT that they be unfrocked; if monks or laymen of the society, that they be excommunicated.

(Pages 176-180 in Sahas, Daniel J. Icon and Logos: Sources in Eighth-Century Iconoclasm. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.)

Appendix C

Not: lo' / lo (not, no) not (with verb—absolute prohibition.)

Make: taaseh, from asah—"to do, make.” This instance is "to make.” Particularly here, with the preposition "le," used reflexively, "make for thee.” With this preposition, the making is for someone, here "yourself.” This implies that idol/image making is intentional, for the purpose of worship. But this does not mean that the commandment permits having idols, making idols or images for someone else, or taking those that someone else has made.

Idol: pesel, from pasal—"to hew, hew into shape." Therefore, the word has inherent in it the idea of carved or shaped and its most common translation is "graven image" (14 times out of 31 total occurrences). The Hebrew dictionary places this particular use under the definition "idol."

Graven: pasal—(verb)"to cut, hew, hew into shape."

Likeness: temunah "likeness, form," related to miyn "kind, species." In this verse, it refers to the likeness or form of a created being or object, along with Deut 4:16, 23, 25, 5:8. BDB has "likeness, representation."

Bow down: tishtachveh, from shachah—"to bow down." It is used of showing reverence or honor to monarchs and superiors, God, and other gods. It is sometimes translated simply “worship,” apparently because that is how worship was done in those days.

Serve: taabdem, from abad—"to work, serve.” It is used for serving God and false gods. In Exodus 23:24, serving other gods is parallel to bowing down to them and doing according to their (the nations') deeds, and in 23:33 serving other gods will surely be a snare to Israel. Here it is "to serve religiously, show devotion to."

Pillar: masebah. "A pillar, stump." Personal memorial monument; memorial of divine appearance; sacred stone or pillar with an altar (of both Israelites and pagans). "In Canaanite religion the pillar had so far become identified with deity (particularly male deity) as to be an object of regard it was therefore forbidden to the Israelites, who were to destroy all they found." Pillars were evidently used as a kind of signposts for false gods and markers of special places.


Appendix D

A pencil is a tool used to write one’s thoughts without determining the thoughts. Likewise, logic is a tool to express the facts without determining the facts.

This study was not a conglomeration of opinions, guesswork, and conjecture. Rather this study set out to evaluate logically whether or not images of Jesus Christ violate the Second Commandment. Some of the logical tools that this study employed throughout this book were: analytical deductions, logical alphabets, deductive arguments like the Modus Ponens, and the exposing of fallacies like a straw-man argument.

Different logical methods were employed in this book to help get at the Biblical and historical facts concerning images of Jesus Christ and the Second Commandment. For example, the author used the process of reasoning backwards to determine who approved the images of Jesus. The following example of reasoning backwards demonstrates one of the logical tools used in developing this study.

To reason backwards means to take the end result and determine what the steps were that led up to that ending. In other words, one starts at the ending and works backwards to the beginning instead of following a chain of events from beginning to ending. Therefore, when reasoning backwards to solve the problem “how did some of God's children come to have images of Jesus,” it is possible to follow the chain of events backwards to determine the original cause.

1. What is the end result? We begin with the end result that some of God's children have images of Jesus.

2. Determine a problem that may have contributed to the end result. The Problem - Someone approved of the images of Jesus.

3. The Situation that facilitates the end result - Someone approved the images of Jesus.

4. The possible sources of approval - The two primary options to fulfill the situation are (A. God) and (B. people).

Given the two primary options (A or B), one can form logical arrangements in the following way. For each option, there are two possibilities, either an affirmative or negative. We will represent the affirmative with a capital letter and the negative with a lower case letter. Then, we can express all the possibilities out of these two options by the following four conjunctions.

(AB) - Both God and people approved of the images.
(Ab) - God approved of the images and people did not.
(aB) - People approved of the images and God did not.
(ab) - Neither God nor people approved of the images.


The process of reasoning backwards is eliminative as case specific facts eliminate some of the options. The option that remains after certain options are eliminated is the solution that fulfills the situation. In this instance the Bible provides the case specific facts.


Elimination by the facts

1. (AB and Ab) - Thorough searches of the entire Bible reveal the fact that nowhere in Scripture does God approve images of Jesus. The fact that nowhere in Scripture does God approve of images of Christ rules out God as a possible source of approval. This would eliminate (AB and Ab), since both depend on God as a source for approval.

2. (aB) - The fact that nowhere in Scripture does God approve of images of Christ eliminates God as a possible source of approval but does not eliminate people.

3. (ab) - The fact that people have images of Jesus would eliminate (ab), since without God or people approving of images, people wouldn’t have them.

Therefore, out of the four possible options only (aB) presents itself as the possibility that fulfills the situation. The situation was - someone needs to have approved of the images of Jesus. God did not approve of the images; therefore people must have approved the images.


Selected Bibliography

Books

Calvin, John. Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, Arranged in the Form of a Harmony. Vol. 2. trans. Charles William Bingham. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.
___________. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Great Books of the Western World, ed. Mortimer J. Adler, vol. 20. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1990.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic theology. .Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1970 Reprint. Originally published: 1872.
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. New Edition. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.
A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Edited by Francis Brown, with the cooperation of S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906.
Hunt, Arthur W, III. The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Postmodern World. Focal Point. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003.
Millard, A.R. “Pillar.” Pages 930-31 in New Bible Dictionary. 3d ed. Edited by I. Howard Marshall, A.R. Millard, J.I. Packer, D.J. Wiseman. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1996.
Norden, Rudolph F. Symbols and Their Meaning. St. Louis: Concordia, 1985.
Stott, John R.W. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Sahas, Daniel J. Icon and Logos: Sources in Eighth Century Iconoclasm. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.


Monographs

Firth, Raymond. Symbols: Public and Private. Symbol, Myth, and Ritual Series, ed. Victor Turner. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1973.
Gutmann, Joseph, ed. The Image and the Word: Confrontations in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, Religion and the Arts, ed. Anthony Yu and Joseph Gutmann, no. 4. Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press for The American Academy of Religion and The Society of Biblical Literature, 1977.
Martin, Edward James. A History of the Iconoclastic Controversy. London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1930. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1978.
Stafford, Thomas Albert. Christian Symbolism in the Evangelical Churches. New York: Abingdon, 1942.
Webber, F.R. Church Symbolism: An Explanation of the More Important Symbols of the Old and New Testament, the Primitive, the Mediaeval and the Modern Church. 2d ed., rev. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1992.


Journals

Johnston, Michael A. "Seeing the Word." Anglican Theological Review 82, no. 3 (Summer 2000): 565-569.
Sider, J. Alexander. "Image, Likeness, and the Ethics of Memory." Scottish Journal of Theology 54, no. 4 (2001): 528-547.


Magazines

Goetz, Ronald. "Making the Invisible Visible: A Protestant Encounter with Icons." Christian Century 110, no. 32 (10 November 1993): 1120-1122.


Audio

Rosell, Garth M. The History of the Church to the Reformation, Lectures 15, 16. Outreach, Inc., 1991. Cassette.


Internet

Aquinas, Thomas. IIIa Q.25 a.3 Resp. “Thomas Aquinas’s Conception of Image in Summa Theologica.” Cited 7 May 2003. Online: http://www.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/ti/chamming.htm.
Christian Iconography. Jesus Christ. Cited 3 January 2004. Online: http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/index.html
Medieval Sourcebook: The Second Council of Nicea, 787. Cited 12 November 2004. http://www.fordham.edu
A time-line of Christianity and Judaism http: http://www.scaruffi.com
Encyclopedia.com. Iconoclasm. Cited 12 November 2004.
http://www.encyclopedia.com/

___________. iconography. Cited 12 November 2004. http://www.encyclopedia.com/
___________. catacombs. Cited 12 November 2004.
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___________. Leo III. Cited 12 November 2004.
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___________. Irene. Cited 13 November 2004.
http://www.encyclopedia.com/
___________. Nicephorus. Cited 13 November 2004.
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___________. Nicaea, Second Council of. Cited 13 November 2004.
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___________. Michael III. Cited 13 November 2004.
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___________. Byzantine art and architecture. Cited 13 November 2004.
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___________. Constantine V. Cited 14 November 2004.
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http://www.encyclopedia.com/
___________.Leo V. Cited 14 November 2004.
http://www.encyclopedia.com/
Catholic Encyclopedia. Iconoclasm. Cited 12 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. Orans. Cited 16 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Byzantine Art. Cited 18 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. Pope Adrian I. Cited 18 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. The Second Council of Nicaea. Cited 20 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Veneration of Images. Cited 20 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Whether the image of Christ should be adored with the adoration of "latria"?. Cited 20 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. St. Nicephorus. Cited 22 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Idolatry. Cited 22 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Byzantine Empire. Cited 23 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. Second Seventh Ecumenical Council. Cited 24 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. St. Germanus I. Cited 27 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. Ulrich Zwingli. Cited 27 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Martin Luther. Cited 27 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. John Calvin. Cited 27 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Early Christian Representations of Angels. Cited 27 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
___________. Tomb. Cited 29 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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___________. Early Christian Inscriptions. Cited 30 November 2004. http://www.newadvent.org
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Interview

McDaniel, Chip. Interview by author, 7 April 2003.

Ending Remarks

There is an infinite contrast between worldly reality based in total depravity and Godly truth based on the sovereignty of God. Images of Jesus are involved in that infinite contrast. Some people are tempted to confuse worldly reality with Godly truth. Countless so-called followers of Christ seem to conduct their lives in shades of gray, trying to mix bad and good. God’s Word seems to be just another shade of gray. For these Christians, the Bible seems to be opinion without truth. It appears to be used either because it is a traditional church tool or because it encourages positive feelings, not necessarily because it is believed as God's truth and should be obeyed.

For these self-attesting Christians, obedience to God’s Word is optional. For them, whether or not one obeys Scripture depends on how you look at it. They would tell us that the Second Commandment is not being violated, and that there is nothing wrong with having images of Jesus because they can’t hurt anyone. These man-made Christians are hostile to clear statements about what God's Word affirms and what God's Word denies. If you prove how images of Jesus violate the Second Commandment and spiritually impair those who indulge in them, they would scold you, telling you that one should be impartial and not engage in controversy over disagreements. They would reprimand you, telling you to stop focusing attention on differences between theological beliefs. However, if we follow their direction, we shall have to lock the Bible shut, abandoning its teachings and sacrificing Godly truth to the pagan goddesses of denominational tolerance and religious political correctness.

When Godly men and women take a stand against error and put down their golden calf images of Jesus Christ, God is celebrated, served, honored, and glorified. The decision is simple, and there is no middle ground. Either obey God or disobey God. If God's children truly love God and show their love by keeping His Commandments, then they will put away the false images of Jesus Christ.

According to the Second Commandment, if people choose to disobey God and keep the false images of Jesus Christ, they will be condemned as haters of God. As haters of God, they will merely receive the general blessings that fall on the just and the unjust and not God’s full blessings for His obedient children. (Matthew. 5:45). Furthermore, according to the book of Revelation, those who unrepentantly indulge in their false images of God will have their place in hell.








You Can Help!

Many of God's children live in ignorance of this Commandment and its consequences; however, ignorance is no excuse for breaking God's Commandments.

You can help stop the ignorance. You do not have to be a theologian, pastor, evangelist, or missionary. All you need to do is share the truth. You can encourage someone to buy this book, or you can buy this book and give it to someone as a gift. You can encourage your Sunday school class, Bible study group, church, or reading club to examine this book. You can stand on a street corner and hand this book out to those who will take it. Do you know people who call themselves Christian? Is your mom, dad, brother, sister pastor, coworker, friend, or acquaintance a follower of Christ? Then I implore you please get them this book and spread the truth.

End Notes


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