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History of Icons

Discussion in 'St. Justin Martyr's Corner: Debate an Orthodox Chr' started by JM, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    not really. it has a concrete definition.

    no injuries, just stating that statements like that don't help the discussion.
     
  2. JM

    JM Absolute Predestinarian Supporter

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    Hey folks, I prayer all is well.



    Army, you have only shown that God directly commanded how we are to worship when you refer the passages about images of angels. These images were never used as aids to worship or to practice piety. If so, please demonstrate from the scriptures that they were used in this manner.



    I agree, it’s never, EVER easy. Like peeling an onion…sometimes it causes us to tear up.



    I don’t believe I wrote the above quote. The first sentence sounds like something I would’ve posted though. As a confessional Christian who believes we should engaging the world along confessional lines…I really don’t have a problem with using the Reformed confessions and catechisms in our discussions. Not because they are authoritative in and of themselves, but because they often express what scripture teaches better than I can and the church recognizes them.



    Believe me, I’m not trying to be difficult, but I don’t believe I wrote the above.



    No, I would never imply that I, as if I were alone, understand the differences between the covenants. I would say the church as depicted in the New Testament does. Don’t confuse me with some crazy, radically individualistic Baptist, because I’m not. I understand that church history is important, extremely important and I would never presume to practice theology outside of the context of the church. You will never see me post, “just me and my Bible.”



    I’m open to reading more from the church fathers on the covenants but in all honesty, they hardly deal with them, even though the New Testament is chalked full of references to the biblical covenants. Yes, I believe the church practices exegesis along covenantal lines, we understand the Bible the way the Apostles did and that’s covenantally.



    Ignatius, I’ve been accused of using too much allegory by Protestants (especially Baptists). You are a smart fellow and therefore I’m going to assume you know that both streams of biblical interpretation existed in the early church, both grammatical-historical and allegorical. The hermeneutic methods of Alexandria (Aristobulus, Philo, and Origen ) often differed from those used in Antioch (Theodore of Mopsuestia believed in the importance of “linguistic details,” Chrysostom the literal meaning of scripture, etc.) The former relied heavily on allegory and the latter used a more grammatical historical approach. I have been accused of proof texting scripture (The Gospel thread was removed after being reported) but the same could be said about the Eastern Orthodox use of Fathers to sustain the use of images in worship.



    Yes, we are to engage each other over the scriptures. Just like Basil of Caesarea instructed us to do. "If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us, and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth."

    Christ teaches us that scripture is sufficient for this task. So when someone from the Eastern Orthodox church asks, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” (Matthew 15) I can only respond with the words of Christ, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”



    Yes, I do. Adding the claim that citing tradition selectively to prove dogma is exactly what Christ was referring to when He said, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”



    My contention would be similar; you sincerely believe that you are adhering to Tradition when your church has selectively chosen which traditions it will following. My first post on the subject of Icons demonstrates the rocky history of images being used in worship. It was not accepted universally, but mandated by image loving Emperors, Emperors who placed a man on the Patriarchs throne to accomplish the goal.

    1 of 2
     
  3. JM

    JM Absolute Predestinarian Supporter

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    2/2



    Please, allow me to express what sola scriptura is so we can get that out of the way. I believe the Bible alone is sufficient as a rule of faith and practice for the believer as taught in both testaments. It can be demonstrated from scripture that whenever a prophet of God spoke it was authoritatively binding. It was not to be contradicted or superseded by anything including tradition. The famous passage from Timothy refers to all of scripture being God breathed. The same cannot be said about tradition. Christ demonstrated the sufficiency of scripture alone when answering objects raised by traditionalists, therefore, I follow the biblical pattern of appealing to the scriptures as my rule of faith and practice.

    …and as you can see from my selective quote above…at least some fathers taught the reliability of the scriptures to settle disputes. I’m not conceding that tradition is authoritative but if you really, really want to make a traditional argument you could say that a portion of the early church appealed to the scriptures to settle disputes. It’s just that you reject that tradition for you the Eastern Orthodox dogma concerning its own tradition.



    Simple, the Pauline epistles (including Hebrews) make that distinction when explaining the old covenant types and how Christ fulfilled them.



    Now back to the main subject of this thread. Icons were used only after a long and drawn out battle where the government stepped in and selected a Patriarch that would allow their use. The tradition of images was not settled until the 8th century so the Eastern Orthodox saying, “nothing novel, nothing new” is a false. The use of images was not a universal tradition which is why the battle for their use lasted so long. It was not universally held by all Christians everywhere and therefore is not catholic or orthodox. It cannot be demonstrated from scripture and therefore is false.

    “If one accepted this vocabulary and Aristotelian framework, then devotion to visual images in Christianity was safe.” (MacCulloch, page 448) The Greek church essentially changed the language which framed the debate over images from art to theology. Skipping ahead the matter came to close as Irene of Athens, former regent and now Empress after having her sons blinded and imprisoned, assumed the throne. She was in favour of Icons and had a layman who was also in favour of Icons consecrated Patriarch. Patriarch Tarasios, with help from the State, held what was deemed an “Ecumenical Conclave” in 787 or what is often called the Second Council of Nicaea which effectively restored the use of images in worship. Some further political proclamations against Icons were made but Empress Theodora (843) restored again the use of images in worship. This last proclamation of the State church “effectively closed down the possibility of alternative forms of worship in Orthodox tradition.” (McCulloch, page 452)

    It soon becomes apparent the debate was heated and very political. Icons and other images had a cult following that garnered the support of the State. Ultimately it wasn’t the Bible that settled the issue for the church but two Empresses backing the Iconophiles. The idea that you could reach God through images is foreign to scripture. God “calls us back and withdraws us from petty carnal observances, which our stupid minds, crassly conceiving of God, are wont to devise.” (Calvin) Some are quick to point to the Second Council of Nicaea as a historical point of reference but we cannot forget the polemics against the use of images that predate the Reformation such as the works of Claudius of Turin, the Council of Frankfurt and Libri Carolini. With the Reformers cry of “scripture alone” and “all of scripture” the debate was reopened in the West during the Reformation. John Calvin is masterful in the Institutes on this subject and I have quoted pertinent sections below for your further reading. He rightly calls Empress Irene “a wicked Proserpine named Irene” in his French edition.


    Yours in the Lord,


    jm

     
  4. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    read the rituals concerning the angels in the Temple and Tabernacle, which is recorded in the OT.
     
  5. JeremiahsBulldog

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    Hi JM,

    Sorry to go off-topic, but, Since you know a lot about the scriptures, I was wondering if you'd be kind enough to help me with a few biblical questions.

    1.) If you could show me the Bible passage where it says, "ONLY the scriptures" ("Sola Scriptura") or something to that effect? I can't seem to find it anywhere in my Bible.

    See, I found 2Tim 3:16-17, where St. Paul writes that:

    But then, in the same God-breathed Scriptures, ALL of which are "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting...", I also found 1Co 11:2:

    And 2Thes 2:15:

    And also 2Thes 3:6:

    So, as you can see, I was kinda hoping for a "tie-breaker".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2015
  6. JeremiahsBulldog

    JeremiahsBulldog Guest

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    2.) To that effect, a kindhearted bible-believer pointed me to Rev 22:18-19:

    Problem is, I can't decide whether it refers to the whole Bible or just to Revelations.
    On the one hand, it appears at the end of the entire Bible, so it must refer to all of it.
    On the other, each biblical book was an actual, separate book when it was first written; and that, together with the wording ("prophecy of this book", "plagues...written in this book") suggest, Revelations only.
    If you could show me the passage which clarifies this passage, I'd appreciate it.

    After all, I don't want the wrath of St. Peter to fall on me (he used to be a scrapper in his fisherman days, ya know). I am referring to the scary passage, 2Ptr 3:14-18:

    3.) What do you make of these two tidbits from the Book of Jude?

    Jud 1:9:

    And Jud 1:14-15:

    Jude, being a God-fearing man, would want to stick as close as possible to the Bible. The only Bible in his day would be the OT, since the NT wasn't finished yet. These two passages refer to OT people, but I looked in vain to find the passages in the OT. Why would he include what were then "extra-biblical" passages? Is this explained anywhere in the Bible?

    4.) Finally, there's what I call the "fill in the blank" passage--2Thes 2:5-6:

    For the life of me, I can't find the passage that explains what the thing that "is holding him back" is. I guess that part isn't important, or the Lord would have St. Paul put it in the Bible. But then, why include the original, mystifying passage? Is that question answered in the Bible?

    5.) Oh, and don't forget the Gospel of St John 21:25:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2015
  7. JM

    JM Absolute Predestinarian Supporter

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    Bulldog,

    That subject is off topic as you have admitted. Let's stay focused on icons for now and leave the other topics to different threads.

    Besides, it seems like a weak attempt to draw away from the validity of what I posted so far. You are posting scripture without providing context only leading questions, they are logically "complicated," meaning they are asked in such a manner as to set me upon the horns of a dilemma. It's an either/or fallacy. A debaters trick. Sophistry.

    Perhaps I'll start a thread to deal with them in the near future.

    Yours in The Lord,

    jm
     
  8. Shieldmaiden4Christ

    Shieldmaiden4Christ Eastward bound

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    JM,

    Bulldog's comments, while seemingly "off topic" are incredibly pertinent to your interpretation of the Bible.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
  9. Shieldmaiden4Christ

    Shieldmaiden4Christ Eastward bound

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    JM,

    Can you prove with scriptures that Sola Scriptura is the only way of coming to a Christian understanding of the world and Christian practices? Can you explain why the interpretation of the regulative principle in Calvinist circles has changed since its institution?
     
  10. icxn

    icxn Bραδύγλωσσος αἰπόλος μαθητεύων κνίζειν συκάμινα

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    If we are wrong about the icons and our practice of venerating them is not pleasing to God, how do you reconcile the holiness and the many divine gifts that our Saints have received from God, while supporting their veneration? In fact I can extend this question for all our beliefs and practices, sacraments, etc. Even to this day, we have men and women no less gifted than the Apostles, able to perform miracles, to know the secrets of men's hearts, to heal the sick, glow like Moses with the divine light, appear in visions even after their death and instruct, heal and lead men to repentance.

    Christ said that the tree is known by the fruit after all. And in Mark (16:20) we see signs confirming the message. St. Paul also says in Cor. ".. and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

    Having read many lives of the Saints, I can attest without any doubt that all these requirements are met in our Church.

    So, JM, how, please tell me, how shall we abandon and reject the faith of so many and great Saints and embrace your teaching on the grounds of "making more sense?" Even if your denomination had similar examples to show (does it?), at the very least you need to acknowledge that our faith and practices are not detrimental to ones salvation.

    Enough for now.

    icxn
     
  11. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    These are good questions, as are Bulldogs, but you guys are going off topic from what he intended the thread to be. The fact that he is obviously correct in pointing this out means that some people here should watch their tone and PM him these questions or start another thread.
     
  12. Shieldmaiden4Christ

    Shieldmaiden4Christ Eastward bound

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    I think it's relevant to the discussion. How you interpret scripture will depend on if or if not you can support icons.
     
  13. JM

    JM Absolute Predestinarian Supporter

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    Hi Shieldmaiden4Christ,

    the "Debate with a Calvinist" forum we openly welcome discussion and dialogue on these important issues. The best I can do in response to the off topic questions about sola scriptura is to direct you to the forum linked above. You may ask there.

    I can guarantee you'll find the answers you seek.

    Now, the original post deals with the history of icons, how they developed latter in church history and how that decision was guided by the Rulers who removed and replaced the Patriarch on a whim. Whatever the Ruler fancied become "orthodoxy." That is the point of this thread. You can look to the scriptures and find no defense in either testament for the use of images in worship. The earliest tradition was recorded in the New Testament and you cannot find anything in the New Testament to support the bowing down before, kissing, burning incense in front, etc. images as aids to worhip/piety or devotion.

    History is against you.

    It was not an early tradition but a tradition settled upon in the 8th century and it was the Rulers of the Byzantine empire that guided and forced the EOC to accept their use.

    If you folks would like to discussion the history and use of images I'm all in. If you'd like to discuss sola scriptura please visit the thread linked above.

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  14. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    so then why did God tell Moses to put the cherubim on the Tabernacle? what was their purpose?

    not really, the Pantocrator of Sinai is in St Catherine's Monastery and that dates to the 6th, and the Image-Not-Made-by-Human-Hands and St Luke's all date to the first. there were also mosaics in Churches in the 4th century.
     
  15. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    Actually, it isn't. You can start a thread saying that it is, but it is not addressing what he was talking about.
     
  16. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    How can you conclude that it was not an earlier tradition just because a definitive theory of iconography and veneration was articulated by the eight-century church father St. John of Damascus and the iconodule position standardized at Nicaea II?

    You would have to conduct an extensive examination of all the previous church fathers and find no references towards iconography, veneration, or intercession in order to jettison the tradition. You will not find such a lacuna of evidence; neither would most Byzantinist scholars agree that there was nothing.

    Also, it is a bit strange to insist upon a methodology which amounts to Solo scriptura when you know good and well that the Orthodox (and Catholics) do not subscribe to such a thing or think it necessary to safeguard Orthodoxy. It is an interpretive tradition that originated in the Radical Reformation, which, along with the Magisterial Reformation, the Byzantine Church never experienced.
     
  17. JM

    JM Absolute Predestinarian Supporter

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    You have not raised anything new or added to the discussion. Smoke and mirrors are not way to engage in discussion.

    As for sola scriptura...no, I'm simply asking you to access, according to the forum rules, the earliest recorded "tradition" which is scripture.

    As the EOC claims the Bible is apart of tradition. We know it records the early church, it's God breathed to use the apostles words, therefore I'm asking you to demonstrate the use of images in worship from the early tradition...pretty simple.

    The book of Acts is the earliest record we have containing the faith and practice of the early church. No images are mentioned for use in worship, acts of piety or prayer.

    EXAMINE YOUR OWN ARGUMENTS:

    Proponent of Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism like to claim that Protestants use a biblical canon that was decided upon by a church council and before that council the canon was undetermined. For a good example of this argument please see my transcription of a podcast titled Orthodixie here. This same argument has been repeated on CF many times. Simply apply the same argument to your own, for the use of images/icons. Before the so-called "Triumph of Orthodoxy" the use of images was undecided until a church council determined it.

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
  18. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    No, I am sorry, but that is a tactic that merely hand-waves away what I have said by slapping on a misrepresenting label. You are framing the debate in a way that no Eastern Orthodox Christian does.

    In order to demonstrate that iconography and veneration is unorthodox or idolatrous, you would have to do exactly what I said: make an extensive study of the issue in the church fathers and/or reference the conclusions of credible scholars in the field. It appears you are not willing to do this because you will not find an absence of discussion on iconography, veneration, intercession, and their interrelations.

    You cannot expect people to take you seriously when you move the goalposts to the territory of aniconic, iconoclastic Calvinists and Neocalvinists whose views are derived from Zwingli and the Radical Reformation. Not only is that a disingenuous method, but it is also fatally anachronistic.

    By the way, I specifically said SOLO Scriptura, not Sola Scriptura.
     
  19. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    The earliest records would be of relics . As of images archaology has discovered quite a few early images. Your theory is based on the secular scholarship, view the natural progression as a reaction towards iconoclasm. I mentioned in a previous post when a heresy arises the Church sets on a course to firmly clarify and articulate a position it is never viewed as "doubling down" on a thing.

    For example the mention of "Theotokos" was not widespread in the Fathers before Ephesus. It was added to the liturgies and hymns afterwards when it was affirmed a christological title. But the title did exist and was used , especially in the Alexandria tradition. This is what is meant by the "oikomene" accepting a decree. Your argument is akin to saying that the council of Jerusalem promoted judaising because it forced gentile converts to stop eating meat offered to idols.
     
  20. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    What do you mean by that? I am pretty up to date on the scholarship in the field. I do not get the impression that the iconodule position is considered to be merely a reaction towards eighth- and ninth-century iconoclasm. Most scholars are quite willing to admit that there was an iconographic tradition before the Iconoclast controversy.
     
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