The Seventh Ecumenical Council and John of Damascus on the Veneration of Icons Refuted; Semi-Iconoclasm Defended

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[Reformation Wall]

Psa 97:7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you elohim.

Exo. 20: 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;

Deut 4:15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. 19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Deut 5:6 ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. 8 ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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

The following discourse will defend the following propositions: 1. We are not to make images of Elohim (Deut. 4:15-19), whether 2d or 3d. 2. We are not to make images to venerate, whether 2d or 3d.(Exo. 20:4-5, Deut. 5:6-9) 3. We are allowed to make 2d and 3d images for general purposes of preserving history and art. 4. Living men, in their lawful functions of authority are to be venerated, revered,  and worshiped as unto Yahovah and those who deny this are treacherous pietists and anarchists.

The primary sources for the Catholic and Orthodox position on the Veneration of Icons can be read in The Decree of the Holy, Great, Ecumenical Synod, the Second of Nice[1], Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum held in Constantinople, A.D. 754.  The Definition of the Holy, Great, and Ecumenical Seventh Synod[2] and finally, St. John of Damascene on Holy Images.[3]

The Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum held in Constantinople, A.D. 754.,  The Definition of the Holy, Great, and Ecumenical Seventh Synod gives us a litmus test to determine their position stating,

 (1)  If anyone shall not confess, according to the tradition of the Apostles and Fathers, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost one godhead, nature and substance, will and operation, virtue and dominion, kingdom and power in three subsistences, that is in their most glorious Persons, let him be anathema.

(2)  If anyone does not confess that one of the Trinity was made flesh, let him be anathema.

I stand guilt as charged and proud of it.

(3)  If anyone does not confess that the holy Virgin is truly the Mother of God, etc.

Well if you believe that Jesus is God, then ipso facto Mary is the Mother of God. To try and dance around this with verbal sophistry regarding the human nature of Christ violates the Orthodox Hypostatic Theopaschite formula, ‘One of the Trinity suffered.’ If one of the Trinity suffered because the human nature of Christ suffered then ipso facto one of the Trinity was born of Mary. The logic is water tight which is why most modern Protestants are lying obstinate cucks who deserve to be persecuted for their dishonesty and disobedience to the very Roman Catholic authority they derived their religion from.

(4)  If anyone does not confess one Christ both God and man, etc.

(5)  If anyone does not confess that the flesh of the Lord is life-giving because it is the flesh of the Word of God, etc.

(6)  If anyone does not confess two natures in Christ, etc.

Again, guilty as charged. If there is two natures then ipso facto there is two persons.

(7)  If anyone does not confess that Christ is seated with God the Father in body and soul, and so will come to judge, and that he will remain God forever without any grossness, etc.

(8)  If anyone ventures to represent the divine image (χαρακτήρ) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema!

(9)  If anyone ventures to represent in human figures, by means of material colours, by reason of the incarnation, the substance or person (ousia or hypostasis) of the Word, which cannot be depicted, and does not rather confess that even after the Incarnation he [i.e., the Word] cannot be depicted, let him be anathema!

(10)  If anyone ventures to represent the hypostatic union of the two natures in a picture, and calls it Christ, and thus falsely represents a union of the two natures, etc.!

(11)  If anyone separates the flesh united with the person of the Word from it, and endeavours to represent it separately in a picture, etc.!

Sad though that that is what most Protestants are when they are pushed, they are Nestorians. At least the Catholics are honest that their doctrines make no sense at all and you better jump in the pipeline because words mean nothing here.

(12)  If anyone separates the one Christ into two persons, and endeavours to represent Him who was born of the Virgin separately, and thus accepts only a relative (σχετική) union of the natures, etc.

Which most Protestants do, but it’s hard to blame them if you’re a Catholic seeing this Theology is complete brain disease.

(13)  If anyone represents in a picture the flesh deified by its union with the Word, and thus separates it from the Godhead, etc.

(14)  If anyone endeavours to represent by material colours, God the Word as a mere man, who, although bearing the form of God, yet has assumed the form of a servant in his own person, and thus endeavours to separate him from his inseparable Godhead, so that he thereby introduces a quaternity into the Holy Trinity, etc.

(15)  If anyone shall not confess the holy ever-virgin Mary, truly and properly the Mother of God, to be higher than every creature whether visible or invisible, and does not with sincere faith seek her intercessions as of one having confidence in her access to our God, since she bare him, etc.

That conclusion is hard to argue with once you have accepted the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union isn’t it?

(16)  If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, etc.

(17)  If anyone denies the profit of the invocation of Saints, etc.

Btw, this is the inevitable result of people believing in the Soul and the Floaty Place doctrine.

(18)  If anyone denies the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment, and the condign retribution to everyone, endless torment and endless bliss, etc.

Again, guilty as charged. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, NOT ETERNAL TORMENT!

(19)  If anyone does not accept this our Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Synod, let him be anathema from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and from the seven holy Ecumenical Synods!

Again, guilty as charged.

John of Damascus

  1. The Reformed religion has yet to answer the Patristics’ first defense of icons of Messiah, the hypostatic union. The hypostatic union is the reason for icons in the Patristic system and the Reformation has yet to touch it. Turretin, 11th topic in his Institutes never mentions the first argument for images in the ancient church, namely, the hypostatic union. John of Damascus in his famous Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Book 4.16 says,

 “And hence it is that in the Old Testament the use of images was not common. But after God in His bowels of pity became in truth man for our salvation, not as He was seen by Abraham in the semblance of a man, nor as He was seen by the prophets, but in being truly man, and after He lived upon the earth and dwelt among men Baruch 3:38, worked miracles, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken back to Heaven, since all these things actually took place and were seen by men, they were written for the remembrance and instruction of us who were not alive at that time in order that though we saw not, we may still, hearing and believing, obtain the blessing of the Lord.”

The hypostatic union is the first response of the iconodule to the issue of images and what does Turretin say in response? Not a word. He does not even touch the issue. Read Institutes 11th topic. My P &R version has it page 48- 66. Robert Letham in his book Through Western Eyes admits that the issue has yet to be resolved. Letham says on page 160,  “These are the two positions and I suppose this issue will not be resolved for some considerable time.” The iconoclasts say that the hypostatic union creates one person and therefore you can’t make an image of the divine. The iconodule responds that the hypostatic union itself posits God metaphysically in the flesh and therefore the image of the invisible God, Col 1:15, therefore a new economy and therefore images. What is the solution? If there is no solution what is left of the validity of good and necessary inference that is so vital to sola scriptura and to the Reformed faith in toto? What is left of the sufficiency of scripture?

I have a solution. How about we abandon the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. That way, there is no problem at all!

The Second Helvetic Confession Chapter 4 says,

“IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come “to abolish the law and the prophets” (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets” (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are therefore the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16). But “what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (II Cor. 6:16).”

Here the scriptural arguments are foisted against the implications of the Christological argument and not the argument itself.

Calvin, in his A Treatise on Relics acknowledges the argument on page 93,

 “The most celebrated of these sufferers was Theodore Studites; and as he has obtained on this account the honour of saintship, his opinions on the nature of images deserve a particular notice. He maintained that as the shadow cannot be separated from the body, as the rays of the sun are inseparable from, that planet, so the images are inseparable from the subjects which they represent. He pretended that an image of Christ should be treated as if it were Christ himself, saying-, ” The image is nothing else than Christ himself, except the difference of their essence; therefore, the worship of the image is the worship of Jesus Christ.” He considered those who were removing images as “ destroyers of the incarnation of Christ, because he does not exist if he cannot be painted. We renounce Christ if we reject his image; and refuse to worship him, if we refuse to adore his image.

This defense of image-worship is, I think, a faithful exposition of the anthropomorphistic ideas, which, as I have mentioned before, p. 9, had been chiefly generated by the morbid imagination of the Egyptian monks, and were supported by that numerous class, which formed the most zealous and efficient defenders of the images”

On page 8-9 Calvin deals with the problems inherent in teaching people with images instead of words. He says,

“It was replacing intellect by sight. Instead of elevating man towards God, it was bringing down the Deity to the level of his finite intellect, and it could not but powerfully contribute to the rapid spread of a pagan anthropomorphism in the church.”

The problem is that is what the hypostatic union is. First, the anthropomorphite heresy is indistinguishable from the hypostatic union. In the hypostatic union the divine ontologically becomes human. It is a nonsensical anthropomorphic paradox, the same as the argument by Theodore Studites.  Calvin either cannot answer the argument or does not want to remain consistent and admit that the hypostatic union is not Protestant. He never touches Theodore’s Christological argument

  1. The hypostatic union denies the sufficiency of scripture. The hypostatic construction was never able to solve the iconoclast-iconodule controversy. Robert Letham in his book Through Western Eyes admits that the issue has yet to be resolved. Letham says on page 160, “These are the two positions and I suppose this issue will not be resolved for some considerable time.” The iconoclasts say that the hypostatic union creates one person and therefore you can’t make an image of the divine. The iconodule responds that the hypostatic union itself posits God metaphysically in the flesh and therefore the image of the invisible God Col 1:15, therefore a new economy and therefore images. The hypostatic union was not able to solve the dispute; it aggravated it.
  1. Damascus thinks that the reason Elohim forbid images was because the OT people of Elohim had not seen an image to depict. This is mistaken. Moses saw a form of Elohim.

Damascus says,

“These injunctions were given to the Jews on account of their proneness to idolatry. Now we, on the contrary, are no longer in leading strings. Speaking theologically, it is given to us to avoid superstitious error, to be with God in the knowledge of the truth, to worship God alone, to enjoy the fulness of His knowledge. We have passed the stage of infancy, and reached the perfection of manhood. We receive our habit of mind from God, and know what may be imaged and what may not. The Scripture says, “You have not seen the likeness of Him.” (Ex. 33.20) What wisdom in the law-giver. How depict the invisible?” (pg. 8)… It is clear that when you contemplate God, who is a pure spirit, becoming man for your sake, you will be able to clothe Him with the human form. When the Invisible One becomes visible to flesh, you may then draw a likeness of His form.” (pg. 8-9)

This is Damascus’ primary error. He thinks that the reason God forbid images was because the OT people of God had not seen an image to depict. This is mistaken. Moses saw a form of God as an Old Testament Saint:

Num 12:8  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

Matthew Henry Commenting says,

“God allowing him that favour because he was above the temptation of idolatry; but for the people who had lately come from admiring the idols of Egypt, they must see no resemblance of God, lest they should have pretended to copy it, and so should have received the second commandment in vain; “for” (says bishop Patrick) “they would have thought that this forbade them only to make any representation of God besides that wherein he showed himself to them, in which they would have concluded it lawful to represent him.” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc1.Deu.v.html

To further embarrass Damascus, he says on page 15, “Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted.” Yes he was, Num 12:8.

You see, the visible image of God was not the reason why he forbade them images. He only mentions that they did not see any image to further exclude any excuses they may have had to twist the 2nd Commandment; much as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Churches have.

  1. In a section dealing with the anchoretic arguments for kneeling before the host, Gillespie refutes in toto, the anchoretic arguments for icon and relic veneration coming from the adoration that the Jews gave to the Temple and Ark in the Old Testament,

George Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies, originally published in 1637; Reprinted in 1844. (Edinburgh: Robert Ogle and Oliver& Boyd), pg. 102-105,

“Sect. 17. The sixth and last argument whereby I prove the kneeling in question to be idolatry, is taken from the nature and kind of the worship wherein it is used. For the receiving of the sacrament being a mediate worship of God, wherein the elements come between God and us, in such sort that they belong to the substance of the worship (for without the elements, the sacrament is not a sacrament), and withal are susceptive of co-adoration, forasmuch as in the act of receiving, both our minds and our external senses are, and should be, fastened upon them; hereby we evince the idolatry of kneeling in the receiving. For in every mediate worship, wherein some creature is purposely set between God and us to have state in the same, it is idolatry to kneel before such a creature, whilst both our minds and senses are fastened upon it. Our opposites have talked many things together to infringe this argument. First, They allege the bowing of God’s people before the ark, the temple, the holy mountain, the altar, the bush, the cloud, the fire which came from heaven. Ans. 1. Where they have read that the people bowed before the altar of God, I know not. Bishop Lindsey indeed would prove from 2 Chron. vi. 12, 13, and Mich. vi. 6, that the people bowed before the altar and the offering. But the first of those places speaks nothing of kneeling before the altar, but only of kneeling before the congregation, that is, in the sight of the congregation. And if Solomon had then kneeled before the altar, yet the altar had been but occasionally and accidentally before him in his adoration; for to what end and use could he have purposely set the altar before him, whilst he was kneeling and praying? The place of Micah cannot prove that God’s people did kneel before the offerings at all (for it speaks only of bowing before God), far less, that they kneeled before them in the very act of offering, and that with their minds and senses fixed upon them, as we kneel in the very act of receiving the sacrament, and that at that instant when our minds and senses are fastened upon the signs, that we may discern the things signified by them, for the exercising of our hearts in a thankful meditation upon the Lord’s death. 2. As for the other examples here alleged, God was immediately present, in and with the ark, the temple, the holy mountain, the bush, the cloud, and the fire which came from heaven, speaking and manifesting himself to his people by his own immediate voice, and miraculous extraordinary presence; so that worshipping before these things had the same reason which makes the twenty-four elders in heaven worship before the throne, Rev. iv. 10; for in these things God did immediately manifest his presence as well as in heaven. Though there be a difference in the degrees of the immediate manifestation of his presence in earth and in heaven, yet magis et minus non variant speciem. Now God is present in the sacrament, not extraordinarily, but in the way of an ordinary dispensation, not immediately, but mediately. They must therefore allege some commendable examples of such a kneeling as we dispute about, in a mediate and ordinary worship, else they say nothing to the point.

Sect. 18. Yet to no better purpose they tell us, that when God spake, Abraham fell on his face; and when the fire came down at Elijah’s prayer, the people fell on their faces. What is this to the purpose? And how shall kneeling in a mediate and ordinary worship be warranted by kneeling in the hearing of God’s own immediate voice, or in seeing the miraculous signs of his extraordinary presence. Howbeit it cannot be proved, neither, that the people fell on their faces in the very act of seeing the fire fall (when their eyes and their minds were fastened upon it), but that after they had seen the miracle wrought, they so considered of it as to fall down and worship God.

But further, it is objected, “that a penitentiary kneels to God purposely before the congregation, and with a respect to the congregation, &c. When we come to our common tables before we eat, either sitting with our heads discovered, or standing, or kneeling, we give thanks and bless, with a respect to the meat, which is purposely set on table, &c. The pastor, when he begins the holy action, hath the bread and the cup set before him purposely upon the table, and with respect to them he gives thanks,” &c.

Ans. Though a penitentiary kneel to God purposely in the presence and sight of the congregation, that he may make known to them his repentance for the sin whereby he hath scandalised them, yet is the confessing of his sin to God, kneeling there upon his knees, an immediate worship, neither doth the congregation come betwixt him and God, as belonging to the substance of this worship, for he kneeleth to God as well, and maketh confession of his sin, when the congregation is not before him. But I suppose our kneelers themselves will confess, that the elements come so betwixt God and them when they kneel, that they belong to the essence of the worship in hand, and that they would not, nor could not, worship the flesh and blood of Christ in the sacrament, if the elements were not before them.

To be short, the case of a penitentiary standeth thus, that not in his kneeling simpliciter, but in his kneeling publicly and in sight of the congregation, he setteth them before him purposely, and with a respect to them; whereas our kneelers do kneel in such sort that their kneeling simpliciter, and without an adjection or adjunct, hath a respect to the elements purposely set before them; neither would they at all kneel for that end and purpose for which they do kneel, namely, for worshipping the flesh and blood of Christ in the sacrament, except the elements were before the eyes both of their minds and bodies, as the penitentiary doth kneel for making confession of his sin to God, when the congregation is not before him.

And if one would say, that in kneeling at the sacrament he worshippeth not the flesh and blood of Christ, but the Lord his God only, yet is the same difference to be put betwixt his kneeling before the elements, and the kneeling of a penitentiary before the congregation: for the very kneeling itself (simply considered) before the elements, respecteth them as then purposely set in our sight that we may kneel before them; whereas, in the case of the penitentiary, it is not his kneeling to confess his sin to God which hath a respect to the congregation as set in his sight for that purpose, but some circumstances of his kneeling only, to wit, when ? At that time when the congregation is assembled. And where? Publicly in sight of the congregation! In regard of these circumstances, he hath the congregation purposely in his sight, and so respecteth them; but in regard of the kneeling itself simply, the presence of the congregation is but accidental to him who kneeleth and confesseth his sin before God. As touching giving thanks before the meat set on our common tables, though a man should do it kneeling, yet this speaketh not home to the point now in controversy, except a man so kneel before his meat, that he have a religious respect to it as a thing separated from a common use and made holy, and likewise have both his mind, and his external senses of seeing, touching, and tasting, fastened upon it in the act of his kneeling. And if a man should thus kneel before his meat, he were an idolater.

Lastly, Giving thanks before the elements of bread and wine, in the beginning of the holy action, is as far from the purpose; for this giving of thanks is an immediate worship of God, wherein we have our minds and senses, not upon the bread and wine as upon things which have a state in that worship of the Lord’s supper, and belong to the substance of the same (for the very consecration of them to this use is but then in fieri), but we worship God immediately by prayer and giving of thanks, which is all otherwise in the act of receiving.

Sect. 19. Moreover it is objected out of Lev. ix. 24 ; 2 Chron. vii. 3 ;Mich.vi. 6 ; 2 Chron. xxix. 28—30, that all the people fell on their faces before the legal sacrifices, when the fire consumed the burnt-offering.

Whereunto it may be answered, that the fire which came from God and consumed the burnt-offerings, was one of the miraculous signs of God’s extraordinary and immediate presence (as I have said before), and therefore kneeling before the same hath nothing to do with the present purpose.

But if we will particularly consider all these places, we find in the first two, that beside the fire, the glory of the Lord did also appear in a more miraculous and extraordinary manner, Lev. ix. 23, “The glory of the Lord appeared to all the people;” 2 Chron. vii. 1,12, ” The glory of the Lord filled the house.” They are therefore running at random who take hold of those places to draw out of them the lawfulness of kneeling in a mediate and ordinary worship.

The place of Micah I have answered before; and here I add, that though it could be proved from that place (as it cannot), that the people have bowed before the offerings, and that in the very act of offering, yet how shall it be proved, that in the act of their kneeling they had the offerings purposely before them, and their minds and senses fixed upon them in the very instant of their worshiping.

This I make clear by the last place, 2 Chron. xxix., out of which no more can be drawn but that the people worshipped whilst the priests were yet offering the burnt-offering. Now the burnt-offering was but accidentally before the people in their worshipping, and only because it was offered at the same time when the song of the Lord was sung, ver. 27. Such was the forwardness of zeal in restoring religion and purging the temple, that it admitted no stay, but eagerly prosecuted the work till it was perfected ; therefore the thing was done suddenly, ver. 36. Since, then, the song and the sacrifice were performed at the same time, we must note that the people worshipped at that time, not because of the sacrifice, which was a mediate worship, but because of the song of the Lord, which was an immediate worship. Now we all commend kneeling in an immediate worship. But this cannot content our opposites; they will needs have it lawful to kneel, in the hearing of the word, purposely, and with a respect to the word preached (though this be a mediate worship only). Their warrants1 are taken out, Exod. iv. 30, 31; Exod. xii. 27; 2 Chron. xx. 18; Matt. xvii. 6. From the first three places no more can be inferred but that these hearers bowed their heads and worshipped, after that they heard the word of the Lord; neither shall they ever warrant bowing and worshipping in the act of hearing.

In the fourth place, we read that the disciples fell on their faces when they heard God’s own immediate voice out of the cloud. What maketh this for falling down to worship at the hearing of the word preached by men? How long shall our opposites not distinguish betwixt mediate and immediate worship?…Sect. 20. But tho kneelers would yet make more ado to us, and be still stirring if they can do no more. Wherefore one of our doctors objecteth,1 that we lift up our eyes and our hands to heaven, and worship God, yet we do not worship the heaven ; that a man going to bed, prayeth before his bed ; that David offered the sacrifices of thanksgiving, in the presence of all the people, sal. cxvi; that Paul, having taken bread, gave thanks before all them who were in the ship, Acts xxvii. 36; that the Israelites worshipped before Moses and Aaron, Exod. iv. 31. Hereupon another doctor, harping upon the same string, tells us,a that when we kneel in the act of receiving the sacrament, ” we kneel no more to bread than to the pulpit when we join our prayers with the minister’s.” *********Oh, unworthy instances, and reproachful to doctors ! All these things were and are accidentally present to the worshippers, and not purposely before them************, nor respected as having a religious state in the worship. What ? Do we worship before the bread in the sacrament, even as before a pulpit, a bed, &c. ? Nay, graduate men should understand better what they speak of.” (pg.105)

  1. Damascus argues for relics based on the power of the apostles and Jesus’s power to heal. Damascus complains (pg. 27)  “The shadow and winding sheet and relics of the apostles cured sickness, and put demons to flight. (Acts 5.15) How, then, shall not the shadow and the statues of the saints be ?”

Ans. The Apostles had miraculous power, testifying to their divine calling. We do not have these powers, seeing that these gifts ceased with that period. (Dan 9:24, Heb. 1:1-2, Acts 2:17-18 [Compared with Heb. 1:2 “Last days”; Heb. 9:26 “Consummation of the ages”; 1 Cor. 10:11 “ends of the ages”], 1Co 13:8-9).

  1. Neo-Nazis and the 1488 Platform argue that the Iconoclast position is to blame for the fall of traditional art because Exo. 20 forbids making images “or any likeness”. The context here is the making of images of God or making any images for the purpose of worship. However, the creator himself commanded the making of 3 dimensional graven images:ark

Exo. 25: 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Thus, our policy should be to avoid all images made to represent Elohim and avoid all images made for the purpose of worship. However, images for the purpose of historical monument and art are allowed given that they are wholesome and accurate.

  1. Damascus also appeals to the fact that our Bibles are full of images, letters and words that represent God. But words don’t represent things. Words are arbitrary tags for things. (See Language and Theology by Gordon Clark). If words represented things we would not need to learn our abc’s.

As a postscript to Damascus, he makes a strange admission on page 29,

“Secondly, we know that blessed Athanasius objected to the bodies of saints being put into chests, and that he preferred their burial in the ground, wishing to set at nought the strange custom of the Egyptians, who did not bury their dead under ground, but set them upon beds and couches.”

Part II contains more arguments against the making of all images with some more support from tradition. I found no new arguments. Part III contains more complaints towards those who refuse all images and more appeal to tradition. I found no new arguments.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude this discourse with a consideration of our duty of reverence to the Elohim within our nation and families. People in places of authority that represent the creator in their spheres of influence are denoted as Elohim in scripture.

Exodus 21:6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges (elohim); he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (KJV)

Exodus 22:8, 9 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges (elohim), to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges (elohim); and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. (KJV)

The people in places of authority in our nation and our families should be given the utmost respect assuming of course they are obedient to the Creator and loyal to their people. This idea has been lost in our anarchist country. Thus we read in scripture that David himself was worshiped as King:

1 Chron. 29:20 And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king.

Also we read of domestic and workplace authorities receiving the same honor who when serving them is considered serving the creator and his Messiah:

Ephesians 6:5: Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto ChristNot with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

1 Pet. 3: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord

Finally, I would like to address the Muslim and Ebionite position on images. Guys, there is no way around Exo. 25:18-22! The creator himself commanded the making of graven images. The excuse that we should only not make them for ourselves is meaningless nonsense. The Israelites made the cherubim and used them in worship. It was for themselves to use!

[1] https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xvi.xii.html

[2] https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xvi.x.html

[3] https://www.ccel.org/ccel/damascus/icons.html

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