Pictures of God

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Anglican04, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Hello! I was reading John Jewel's Apology of the Church of England and came across this:

    "The Ancient Father Epiphanius says, It is a horrible and intolerable Crime to set up any Pictures, nay even of Christ himself, in Churches. They, as if the Life and Soul of Religion consisted in them, have filled every Corner of their Churches with Images and Statues."

    I was aware that images of God was something reformers didn't like about the RCC but never knew it was this big of a deal! Is it unacceptable to have a crucifix or an icon? If so why? My church has lots of stained glass windows of Jesus.
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Ultimately this has to do with the history of Israel. The Hebrews continually tried to make an image of God (it was and is human nature to do so); but he continually told them they must not, they could not, and punished them whenever they did. This warning became deeply imprinted in the Hebrew consciousness in the Old Testament (and even into the present day).

    While the heathen Jews made depictions of God, God's wife, and other Gods, the saintly Jews continually told them: No, you must not ever depict him, and he has no other divine beings beside him, he is just one.

    The same concern was carried through in the Apostles, who were almost all Jews. Thereupon it was cherished as apostolic in the Patrisic era, as witnessed by the Church Father, Epiphanius, and others.

    However in the Middle Ages the spirit of patristic Christianity rooted in the Apostles and the the Hebrew understanding of Sovereign Unlimited God was slowly lost, and replaced by an image of an elderly gentleman, usually with white/Caucasian features. This was one of the major concerns of the Reformers at the Reformation, to reduce the attempts of visually depicting God, and to restore his transcendent incommunicability.

    Depictions of Christ are maybe a separate discussion. Some say that depicting him is permitted, since he was a physical man. But others say that we should be concerned even about depicting him, as Epiphanius certainly was, and at the Reformation this patristic concern was restored. However depictions of Christ have become more common since then, even among Anglicans. It is still an open question.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  3. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Thank you for the great post Stalwart :)
     

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