Reasons for Rejection (of Images)


Okay, yesterday I had my rant about the stealthily creeping in of images to evangelical worship. You may possibly already have concluded that I'm mad, so today let me just give you a (much more rational) quick list of my reasons against using images of Christ.

  1. The 2nd Commandment forbids us from making images of the true God.
  2. Jesus Christ is true God and true man, so any image of Christ would either:
    1. Break the 2nd Commandment
    2. OR Divide His Deity (which cannot be represented in an image) from His humanity, which is the Nestorian heresy.
  3. Any image of Christ is limited in its representation of Him. Any portrayal of His sufferings shows only the physical aspect. And so images have the tendency to limit what we see of Christ and His work.
  4. We don't know what Jesus looked like. The Bible gives no physical description. So any image of Christ would be projecting human ideas onto God.
  5. God has instituted His own chosen way for us to see Jesus - in the ordinary means of Word and Sacrament, so we don't need to invent our own ways to see him in man-made images.
By the way, if you'd like to look into all this a bit more, then here are a couple of classic sources that set out the Reformed Protestant stance on images:
  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapters XI-XII
  • Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, pp.51-66
  • Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, pp.59-64
For something up-to-date that interacts with contemporary critiques of the classical Reformed Protestant position and develops another significant (eschatological) argument, have a look at:
  • David VanDrunen, 'Iconoclasm, Incarnation and Eschatology: Toward a Catholic Understanding of the Reformed doctrine of the "Second" Commandment', International Journal of Systematic Theology, Vol. 6, No. 2 (April 2004)
Finally, Danny Hyde has written a book on this (partly as a result of pastoral response to the Passion of the Christ film). His book is supposed to be really good, but just haven't been able to get hold of it on this side of the Atlantic. (So, if you happen to know where you can get a copy in the UK, please let me know!).
  • Daniel R. Hyde, In Living Color: Images of Christ and the Means of Grace
And here's a video of an interview with Danny Hyde about his book where he talks about some of the issues:

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