Saint Jerome in his Study by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494)
As a Catholic child I loved the large ornate crèche that our parish church always placed in front of Mary’s altar at the beginning of Advent. Around and above it, fir trees stood. We had our own small nativity set at home – its figures were small enough to place by hand in a little stable.
If the Lord wanted us to worship using things like this, why did Jesus teach us,
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
A Nativity Scene isn’t a teaching tool or a seasonal decoration but a focus for our idolatry.
3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Pulpit & Pen, News DIVISION
“. . . We must hold it as a first principle, that as often as any form is assigned to God, his glory is corrupted by an impious lie.” (Institutes, 1.11)
Pulpit & Pen:
“The Reformers weren’t having it. The early church fathers weren’t having it. We not only tolerate these images of Jesus, however, we put them on display.”
“By creating an image of Jesus (e.g., in a painting or a stained-glass window), a person is inserting his or her own ideas of what Jesus looked like. Because we do not know what he looked like, this image would not be a true image or representation of Christ. Rather, it would simply be an image of a man from the imagination of the artist that he or she has called ‘Jesus.’
“If these images, then, do not truly represent Christ, then they are put in the place of the true Christ. Evoking any sense of worship of that which is not Christ, but rather inserted in the place of Christ, is – by definition – idolatry. If an observer were to gaze upon that image with the intent to worship, by thoughts or emotions, then that observer would be worshipping a man-made image and not the true God-man, Jesus Christ. The same principle would also apply for images of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.”
Photo credit: Bronner’s
1 Peter 1:7-9
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
How long will it take for us to understand that pictures or images or sculptures of Jesus do not represent Him, and that the Lord clearly told us not to make them, whether for worship or devotion or communication or evangelism, whether they’re considered masterpieces, or are used in Sunday School materials or in memes. Please, I implore you – don’t use what doesn’t please the Lord and is a stumbling-block to your brothers and sisters.
You may feel that making and using images of Jesus has to do with liberty of conscience. That’s not so. But even if it were, we would be called to please others rather than ourselves. Please. I don’t know how to ask more strongly, except to beseech you in the Name of Jesus Christ.