The season of images – representations of Jesus, part 2


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.” 

John 4

A Nativity Scene isn’t a teaching tool or a seasonal decoration but a focus for our idolatry.

Bronner's Christmas Wonderland

Exodus 32:3-4

So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 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!”


Christmas Series: Are Nativity Sets Biblical III? The Opinion of John Calvin

Pulpit & Pen, News DIVISION

John Calvin:

“. . . 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.”


The Second Commandment, Westminster, and Images of Christ

Brian Cosby

Westminster’s Rationale

“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


 

Brotherly love and Calvin


Calvin, as if standing on the precipice of our good opinion

Some Christians who reject the doctrine of election are loving toward and tolerant of those who believe in it. Others not only reject the doctrine itself but in their genuine zeal for God’s glory hate Calvin, thinking that he not only invented the doctrine but was a murderer, because in Geneva, where he pastored, heretics were executed. (He was an expert witness – or prosecutor – in the case against Michael Servetus, who denied the Deity of Jesus Christ.)

Because of their rejection of God’s work in election and hatred of Calvin, they sometimes do their best to get Christians who believe in election to confess to being a “Calvinist”, even when in most circumstances these people would rather simply bear the name of Christian. They also will try to make a Reformed Christian feel and look guilty if they don’t acknowledge that Calvin had “blood on his hands.”

At the risk of raising a ruckus by writing about this poor sinner saved by grace, I would like to offer some counsel which I want to take myself. At all times, and especially in trigger issues, we need to remember to be careful in what we say – a tough thing to do, and I fail.

James 3:2-3

2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

And the LORD gave us this command:

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

That is, if in their zeal they’ve taken up an offense against John Calvin, they need to examine how much of his history they truly know.

Also, we cannot be filled with hatred toward him and still be walking in the light. Let’s remember God’s mercy toward us. Plus, we’re commanded to love him. (And to pray for James White.)

1 John 5:1

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 

Calvin was a Christian, begotten by the Word of truth, the Gospel. I 💗 my brother. Since the Lord forgave him, should I do less?

There are probably people who want to be called by Calvin’s name as a prideful thing, because of his intellect, and others who idolize him. (I don’t know any.) But there are some who use his name simply to be clear about what they believe, that is, that they believe in God’s election of sinners. And there are some who are cornered, made to admit that just as he did they believe in election and then slandered or injured in the process.

Please allow me to confess my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by calling myself a Christian. This name is my treasure.


 

Battlefields


Please read this if you subscribe to my blog.

Recently, because I believe in God’s work in election, two bloggers confronted me about Calvin and Calvinism, and I also confronted someone else about this. Usually this isn’t my focus. Today I plan to reblog a post that deals with Calvin and post one that I’ve written about this. Thank you for taking the time to read!

For your information, I’ve changed my Gravatar to this:

Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast

Maria Tatham

 


 

Quote of the day – Dan C., The Battle Cry

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“…[My personal belief] concerning the doctrines of sovereign grace was formed well before I engaged in serious study of Calvinism. In fact, it was reading the text of scripture that persuaded me that fallen men cannot and will not make a move toward Christ and the Cross unless God firstly divinely intervenes in a person’s life and heart.”

Dan C.

Useful Links for Open Minds

The Battle Cry

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