Is Veneration Of Icons Idolatry? Essay

3551 words - 14 pages

Is Veneration of Icons Idolatry?

That "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them" (Exodus 20:4-5 and Deuteronomy 5:9) might, at first glance, be seen as an absolute command or prohibition against worship of any kind of image (A. Fortescue, Veneration of Images, 1910, Volume VII). "For iconoclasts (image-breakers), every image could only be a portrait and a portrait of God was inconceivable in view of God's ineffable and unknowable qualities." Claim that icons were a sacred art was, iconoclasts argued, simply to clothe them in superstition and even heresy since they denied any presence of the person represented, the prototype, in his iconographic image. They could not see that the icon portrayed the visible of the invisible and the invisible in the visible (Evdokimov, 1972:193-194). Calvin, in arguing against the use of icons, said "the majesty of God is defiled by an absurd and indecorous fiction, when he who is incorporeal is assimilated to corporeal matter; he who is invisible to a visible image" (Institutes I.XI.2; Callihan, Credenda/Agenda, Vol. 6, No. 5). But God's command to Moses to build, according to the image shown to him on Mount Horeb, the tabernacle and all that it was to contain, including the cherubim cast in metal (Exodus 25:18; 26:1, 31), St. John of Damascus said, was an exception to the general rule, thus rendering the prohibition of images as not an absolute one" (Ouspensky, 1992:45-6). The prohibition of the image was to "forbid the chosen people to worship creatures in place of the Creator", and "to protect the specific ministry of the chosen people from corrupt practices" so that the chosen people "was to serve the true God." The mission of the chosen people consisted in preparing and prefiguring that which was to be revealed in the New Testament, a symbolic pre-figurations and revelation of the future. "The law was not an image but it was like a wall which hid the image" said St. John of Damascus (Ouspensky, 1992:44-45).

St. John of Damascus further argued that God's revelation in the Old Testament was made manifest only by word whereas in the New Testament it was made manifest both by word and by image: the Invisible became visible, the non-representable became represent and that God not only addressed man by word and through prophets but also showed Himself in the person of the incarnate Word. Thus the distinctive trait of the New Testament is the direct connection between the word and the image (Ouspensky, 1992:46-47). On the other hand, Dr. Cavarnos argues that holy icons serve to help believers to be transformed and sanctified and to lift them up to the prototypes which they symbolize, to a higher level of thought and feeling (1992:1). History shows that the subject of iconography precipitated the longest-running...

Find Another Essay On Is Veneration of Icons Idolatry?

John Donne's The Funeral: Paraphrase and Analysis

1158 words - 5 pages soon as they are given their condemnation just as a person's life is concluded when they die.The third stanza brings him back to where he started, the bracelet of hair. He doesn't care what her intentions are or were behind the hair, all he wants to assure is that it will be with him when he is laid to rest. The man states that he is "Love's martyr" (19) and that if some other person happens to stumble on the hair, "it might breed idolatry" (19

Issues with Buddhism and Christianity in China

1247 words - 5 pages , Buddhism, and Daoism all practice the veneration of ancestors in form or another. Christianity argued that Chinese folk religion and offerings to the emperor and departed ancestors constituted idolatry thus were incompatible with Christianity's idea of one god. Both religions did not have much success when it was first introduced into the Chinese culture. Both religions were questioned by the dominant Chinese religion at the time.At first

Byzantine’s Exceptionalism in the Early Middle Ages

1283 words - 6 pages Religion. The Byzantine’s religion was that at first they used iconoclast, this was a concept that was made by Emperor Leo II: The Byzantine Emperor Leo III (r. 717-741) launched the period of iconoclasm, but he treated icons as an abuse, not a heresy. His son Constantine V (r. 741-775), took the next step, calling a church council in 754 to declare the veneration of icons a violation of “the fundamental doctrine of our salvation This is a

Roman Catholic Church vs Eastern Orthodox Church

1143 words - 5 pages his son Constantine V. The policy of iconoclasm sought to extinguish images. The two churches viewed icons differently as the Western churches, view icons as holy devotional aids; whereas, the East viewed icons as sacramental media of salvation. “For much of the rest of the century, the empire was absorbed in the Iconoclastic Controversy, which became a struggle not only to keep icons, a traditional focus of religious veneration, but also to

Idolatry in Judaism

709 words - 3 pages Origins The idea of Idolatry is brought about in the Hebrew Bible. In the Bible's account Abraham was the first of the prophets that discovered the “Oneness” of God. During Abraham's time however, we see that it was common to worship images and multiple gods, as Terah, Abraham's father, served other gods. (Joshua 24:2) Much of the Torah records the difficulty of the Jews to spread their belief in monotheism especially when rulers such as Ahab

Great Moments in the First 100 Years of the Catholic Church

2215 words - 9 pages shall not have false gods before me". It is for this reason that the study of the Iconoclastic controversies of the early Church remains relevant today.The first generations of Christians were influenced largely by their Jewish heritage, and as a result, did not believe that use of any image of God was permitted in His eyes. They also feared that religious images may lead to idolatry- the pagan practise of worshipping icons as if they were gods

Russian Art & Architecture.

1563 words - 6 pages the mosaic and fresco tradition of early Byzantine churches. During the 8th and 9th centuries, the iconoclasm controversy in the Orthodox church called into question whether religious images were a legitimate practice or sacrilegious idolatry. Although the use of images wasn't banned, it did prompt a thorough appreciation of the difference between art intended to depict reality and art designed for spiritual contemplation. That difference is one

Relics and Indulgences

1726 words - 7 pages Christ or his apostles (Boehm). Christian relics during the Middle Ages were popular and thought to be instrumental to miraculous acts. Early relics included the bones of saint Polycarp, which were said to be “more valuable that precious stones.” The cult of relics spread swiftly in both the Eastern and Western Churches, although the veneration of icons in the Eastern Orthodox Church lessened the importance of relics there. In the west the

The Crusades

1058 words - 4 pages the powers of a holy relic? Some may ask if the veneration of these relics were anything but idolatry. The crusades also had an impact on the Muslim faith. While it may seem as if the crusades were anti-Islamic, they were in fact very Euro centric in its nature.# Jordan talks about in his coverage of this subject matter that western Christians sought revenge on the Muslims who obtained victories over in the Near East.# Despite these wars and

Icons throughout the Ages

1105 words - 5 pages an image of itself and using this ‘self-image’ to recognize and compare itself with similars” (Dimmick 27). Ultimately, this led to the people having fantasies to the icons having a likeness to images that they could recognize in their day-to-day lives. People who mourned lost ones also sought out images, “the image’s status as image is the source of its ability to demystify as well as memorialize the hold of the lost object on the mourning

No Graven Image

734 words - 3 pages No Graven Image "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:3-5). Jack Sparks questions whether icons are graven images and go against what is said in the

Similar Essays

Outline Three Different Ways Christians Can Practice Personal Devotion In Their Tradition And Analyze How These Practices Relate To The Principal Teachings And Beliefs Of Christianity.

1252 words - 5 pages , kissing, and the act of touching the icon.However, some variants of Christianity, especially that of Protestants, have views against this use of icons. Exodus 20:5 states "Do not bow down to any idol or worship it because I am the Lord your God", and brings up the issue of idolatry. These variants believe that both the Catholic and Orthodox churches worship these images and are therefore breaking one of the commandments.But it is quite noted

Egyptian Hieroglyphs And Coptic Essay

1034 words - 4 pages half hippopotamus. While the beast is symptomatic of the importance of virtue in the life of the ancient Egyptian, it also reveals that these people knew animals such as crocodiles, lions and hippos and these were part of their environment, apart from the ibis and the jackal who are also shown in the scroll. The Coptic artifacts at St Catherine's monastery in the Sinai has one of the most important collections of icons that give insight into the

Lorenzo Monaco's Crucifixion Essay

1531 words - 7 pages believers who came across it. Furthermore, it was meant to aide in both meditation and prayer through the veneration of an idea or the holy person depicted in it. In fact, one thing to consider is the perception of those who viewed the cross and how they recognized it, which assumedly was one the primary objectives for Monaco himself in the Crucifixion’s creation. The ideal purpose of icons such as Monaco’s panel, were meant to function as intermediary

Communication Icons: Emoticons Essay

1257 words - 5 pages . While these graphical icons are useful, it is important not to over use emoticons in written communication. Adding an emoticon after every sentence is a clear sign of emoticon addiction. One or two is cute but 20 or 30 are simply annoying. Over use typically occurs when a person has discovered a new website that offers unique emoticons. He or she is so overcome by these humorous characters; he or she wants to share them with everyone. Unfortunately