Pretty pictures? Or lies. . .

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Deuteronomy 4:9-12

NASB

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.


[Updated post]

Are images that attempt to portray Jesus idolatrous? I have been thinking about this for a long time. Today, in Evangelical and Fundamental churches, much of the teaching on idolatry centers on Paul’s statement that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), or condemns the exaltation of anything in our lives that takes the place of God. But what about the literal making and using of images of Jesus?

Jesus Christ

isn’t an illustration in a Children’s Bible,

a doll in a manger,

a flannelgraph, stained glass,

statue in a cemetery,

actor,

or appealing sketch of a laughing man.

He isn’t even the central figure

in an amazing mural

in our nation’s Capitol.

All of these things are lies that diminish

our understanding of the Lord and of walking by faith.

Bible-believing Christians are using so-called pictures of Jesus on blogs, in videos, movies, emails, and even on T-shirts. Please study this issue prayerfully. It isn’t a trivial thing. The question is: If we use them, can we call ourselves Bible-believers? May the Lord never say this about us: 

Hosea 4:17

17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
Let him alone.


Being Biblical

What does God’s Word teach about this? Here are some important passages:

We are not to make images and likenesses. Exodus 20:4-6

Whoever keeps the whole law, yet offends in one point, is guilty of breaking the entire law. James 2:9-11

Obedience to God is love for Him. John 14:21

True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth. John 4:22-24

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8


A side note – An accusation, and a little about old arguments

Awhile back, in preparing this I came across a blog that leveled a very old charge against Christians who object to images of Jesus. This is the charge: That because of the Incarnation, if we say that He should not be depicted, we are denying His humanity. But I confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh – that He is God in the flesh – but also affirm that because images of God are forbidden, and since Jesus Christ is God, that therefore images of Him should not be made.

Another old argument strikes a blow at making these images. It argues that because God the Son is both God and Man it is impossible to portray Him, for His Deity can never be portrayed.  


Romans 8:24

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?


Being reasonable

1)     We can’t know how Jesus looked during His earthly ministry – no artist is capable of doing this. The prophet Isaiah, and John in Revelation, described some of Jesus’ characteristics. Here is Isaiah’s description, which reveals a negative, that the Lord wasn’t handsome as so many images picture Him:

Isaiah 53:1-3

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

In Revelation, John described what He saw, the Lord Jesus Christ as He is now, having risen from the dead and ascended to the Father; not as He looked when He fed the 5,000, or walked on the waves of the sea. (Seeing the Lord as He is now would make us fall at His feet as if dead, just as John did.)

Revelation 1:13-15

13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

2)     Particular depictions of Jesus may appeal to us but repel others. 


Having concern for the lost

You probably don’t worship images, kiss them, or bow before them in prayer – but some people do and think that this is right worship. Do you want to stand with them in darkness, or be a light to them? Do you want to preach Christ crucified to them, or offer them a lie?  

1 Peter 1:8-9

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.


Being honest

I’ve tried not to be discouraged by the seeming blindness of Christians to the obligations of the second commandment, but it is difficult when even mature Christians dismiss them. After studying and praying, I can see that there is no ultimate argument that will convince others, who in many ways are better Christians than I – only the Lord can convince and convict. May He pity us! May He help us to get ready for His return! And may we find comfort in the knowledge that someday He Himself will destroy these things.

Isaiah 2:17-21

17 The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18 But the idols will completely vanish.
19 Men will go into caves of the rocks
And into holes of the ground
Before the terror of the Lord
And the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.
20 In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats
Their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
Which they made for themselves to worship,
21 In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs
Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.

Isaiah 33:22

22 For the Lord is our judge,
The Lord is our lawgiver,
The Lord is our king;
He will save us—


For further study

Idolatry Condemned“J. Vernon McGee on Pictures of Jesus and Idolatry”

IdolatryCondemned YouTube channel  – “On God’s Covenant to Save His People From Idolatry”


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Quote of the day – Francis Turretin on Graven Images


1 John 5

nkjv

20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.


Bronner's Christmas Wonderland


“It is not sufficient to cast images out of the heart by the preaching of the word unless they are removed also from sacred places (where they cannot remain without danger of idolatry). . .”

Francis Turretin

🌿

source

Christmas Series: Are Nativity Sets Biblical? Part 5, Francis Turretin

News Division, Pulpit & Pen

Read the article.


Photo: Bronner’s


 

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


 

A watchman urges us to speak in love


In closing I want to say that whatever your calling is in the Body of Christ I pray that you would take what is written in this tract to heart, and speak out at a time when it is not popular to do so. Those who have done so have reaped a harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God.

“I encourage you to do this especially if you are a pastor, evangelist, or in any position of leadership and have the God given opportunity to reach many. Speak not only to the Catholic people who are lost and need to hear the true gospel, but speak also on their behalf, speak for them who cannot speak for themselves. Tell your congregation that Roman Catholics need to be evangelized, and then teach your congregation how to evangelize the Roman Catholics.”

Proverbs 31:8,9

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 3:17-18

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.


HT: Sherry, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

HT: Beth, “The Jesus of the Roman Catholic Church is not the Jesus proclaimed in God’s Word but rather, as Paul said, another Jesus.”

 


 

“Dr. O’Sullivan helps the cause of truth . . .


. . . by his Excursus* on the ‘Adoration’ of the Church of Rome, addressed to Popes, and to Images.”

Baron Alfred Porcelli, The Antichrist: His Portrait and History, The Historicism Research Foundation, pp. 90-91.

*a detailed discussion of a particular point in a book, usually in an appendix; a digression in a written text. Thanks, Bing!


Book cover from Amazon

“Baron Alfred Porcelli, R.E., was born in Palermo, Italy, his father being Colonel Baron A.S.R. Porcelli di S. Andrea, supporter of Garibaldi the Italian liberator. His mother was a Scottish lady. As a young man, Baron Porcelli became a naturalized British subject and served Queen Victoria in the Royal Engineers. He died at Hove, November 4th, 1937, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.”  AbeBooks.com

The following is a little difficult to read because of the many references within it and some Latin, but is well worth reading for its Biblical insight into Rome’s veneration of images.

I added Scripture links to a Catholic Bible, the 1899 Douay Rheims Version, because Porcelli referenced an edition of the Douay. At the end of the post, you’ll find Strong’s definitions of the two Biblical terms that demonstrate Rome’s error. I’m not a scholar but a wife and a former Catholic, whose Italian grandfather looked somewhat like the picture below. I’m grateful that Grandpop had a very different kind of life.

Pope Pius X


Excerpt:

As Dr Sullivan shows (pp. 390 et seq.), “the affection or reverence which Romanism demands of her votaries for images and saints is adoration.” In the “Pontificale Romanum,” Rome, 1818 (Ordo ad recipiendum processionaliter Imperatorem) it is directed that “the Cross of the legate (i.e., an image), because Latria is due to it, shall be on the right.” She [Rome] gives to the worship which she commands the name of the worship which God forbids and reprobates. The name by which Romanism will have this species of worship known is not inappropriate. It is “douleia,” or, as the word should be presented in an English form, “slavery” or “bondage.” Thus, indeed, the word is translated in Rome’s Scriptures (Douai Bible, Rom. viii. 15Gal. iv. 24v. 1). Both the Romish and the more recently published Versions use the word “bondage” in Gal. iv. 24. The “adoration of bondage” is that which Romanism offers to her saints and images. In Romish Versions, the Second Commandment is rendered, “Thou shalt not adore’ them.” Rome says, “Thou shalt ‘adore’ them.”

The distinction between Latria and Douleia, i.e., the worship offered to God, and the worship offered to images, is not admitted by all Romish writers. Thus the Abbé Bergier says: “To express more clearness in their language, theologians call Latria the worship rendered to God, and Douleia that rendered to saints; but originally these two terms, derived from the Greek, signified equally service without distinction” (“Dictionnaire Théologique,” Art., Culte). We admit that originally and grammatically the terms Douleia and Latria are synonymous” (Ibid., Art., Dulie).

To get out of the difficulty Bergier declares that “the words Latria, Douleia, Cultus, service, etc., change their meaning according to the different objects to which they are applied” (Ibid., Art., Latria); thus pretending that “worship may have two meanings,” and arbitrarily assigning to words the meaning most convenient to Popery – not to Truth, not according to the reality of these things.

For, of course, there is a distinction between the words Douleia and Latria. Popery admits it, by rendering the one “bondage,” and the other “service” 2: the one is slavery, the other freedom. The one, Douleia, is the condition from which the Gospel delivers the redeemed (Rom. viii. 15, 21Gal. iv. 24, v. I; Heb. ii. 15); the other, the reverential acknowledgement made to God – as Deliverer – by the ransomed. [emphasis added]

Popery, therefore, has aptly chosen for its image worship the very name which testifies that while God gives liberty, Rome wishes to bring bondage. Thus is Rome’s opposition to God once more made manifest. She is ho antikeimenos, the Adversary, that sets up a Law opposed to the Will of God. [emphasis added]

2. Rom. xii. I. Rheimish Version [Douai, Douay Rheims] 1825. Stereotype Edition.


Douleia – Strong’s Number: 1397

1. slavery, bondage, the condition of a slave

Latreia – Strong’s Number: 2999

  1. service rendered for hire
    1. any service or ministration: the service of God
  2. the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law
  3. to perform sacred services

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