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Author Topic: Icons and their importance...  (Read 1696 times) Average Rating: 0
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ironsiderodger
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« on: February 17, 2009, 11:27:05 AM »

I'm finding more and more in my life just the inherent value of having Icons in our home, especially at our Bible Study at our Baptist (or Babb-tist) Church- which sadly is as predictable as I might have suspected (which is not to say by any stretch that God can't use it). My wife and I are surrounded by a bunch of loving people who we don't have too much in common with any more, though often curiously the needs are the same- as I found last night.

We were trying to talk of how we could find ways to keep the Lord and His love for us foremost in our minds, how we could grab hold of some truth and keep it present in our minds- and on that I built on something that a brave gentleman brought forward with repetition of even a simple phrase or verse. I simply put out in his support that indeed, not all repetition is "vain"- the bugbear of evengelicals (well one anyway), and surprisingly it was received well- I didn't get a chance to say "what I like to say is the Jesus Prayer", but maybe next week...

Anyhow then the conversation went to how can we remind ourselves to think on these things- and perhaps not surprisingly to Orthodox the method most affirmed was posting a visual reminder somewhere, which of course is a bit clumsy for us protestants. Ideas as ephemeral as putting a book somewhere, leaving a Bible verse somewhere, posting a phrase- etc; I had to just sit back and shake my head. Everyday I walk past perhaps the perfect visual "reminders" when I walk past my Icons. How can I not look at Jesus, Theotokos, John Chrysostom, and others and immediately and clearly at the very least think of God and His love, grace, and mercy. It's an instant communion almost at an instinctual level that bypasses my weak intellect and goes right to my soul.

How many at that Bible study would've been ready for that? (I'd have lost my prot license for sure ;-)
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2009, 03:41:07 AM »

How many at that Bible study would've been ready for that? (I'd have lost my prot license for sure ;-)

Speaking as a former Baptist who converted almost 3 years ago. . . no one would have been ready that. Even when I came to the church as an inquirer I was very suspicious of icons. I'm glad that I've been blessed to see the errors of my ways in regard to that. Smiley

And as far as the potestant license. . . well, if you lose it you can always come play for our side. We'd be happy to have you.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2009, 06:25:31 AM »

Great topic! Thanks for starting it.

I am new to Orthodoxy myself (my family was baptized into the EOTC in June of 08). I come from a Protestant background, having been heavily influenced by Calvinism, Reformed theology, Dispensationalism, and even the Charismatic movement- as contradictory as some of these persuasions may seem.

But the Rastafari worldview provided the bridge from my Protestantism to Orthodoxy. (Too long of a story for this post, but for those who are interested in reading my testimony you can find it on the thread at this link: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19148.0.html)

We now have icons throughout our home. I also love the icons in my Orthodox Study Bible. I recognize their importance, and I know that I will grasp the mystical significance of these holy images more and more as I grow in the Orthodox Faith.

Even Martin Luther himself condemned iconaclastic acts. Luther understood how holy images are used by Our Lord to convey His divine truth. (I will post some of his comments in regard to this in the near future.)

God bless you,

Selam
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2009, 06:55:59 AM »

Even Martin Luther himself condemned iconaclastic acts. Luther understood how holy images are used by Our Lord to convey His divine truth. (I will post some of his comments in regard to this in the near future.)

Please do and with sourcing (as I feel sure to use these we'll need them).
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2009, 10:49:08 AM »

Even Martin Luther himself condemned iconaclastic acts. Luther understood how holy images are used by Our Lord to convey His divine truth. (I will post some of his comments in regard to this in the near future.)

Please do and with sourcing (as I feel sure to use these we'll need them).

Here's a start (from the former Lutheran who burned icons  Shocked, and less than a year from his embrace of Orthodoxy denied the Theotokos  Shocked):
Quote
"The custom of holding a crucifix before a dying person has kept many in the Christian faith and has enabled them to die with a confident faith in the crucified Christ.?1"

 

"It was a good practice to hold a wooden crucifix before the eyes of the dying or to press it into their hands.?40? This brought the suffering and death of Christ to mind and comforted the dying. But the others, who haughtily relied on their good works, entered a heaven that contained a sizzling fire. For they were drawn away from Christ and failed to impress His life-giving passion and death upon their hearts."2

 

    "Now we do not request more than that one permit us to regard a crucifix or a saint's image as a witness, for remembrance, as a sign as that image of Caesar was. Should it not be as possible for us without sin to have a crucifix or an image of Mary, as it was for the Jews and Christ himself to have an image of Caesar who, pagan and now dead, belonged to the devil??18? Indeed the Caesar had coined his image to glorify himself. However, we seek neither to receive nor give honor in this matter, and are yet so strongly condemned, while Christ's possession of such an abominable and shameful image remains uncondemned."3

 

    "And I say at the outset that according to the law of Moses no other images are forbidden than an image of God which one worships. A crucifix, on the other hand, or any other holy image is not forbidden. Heigh now! you breakers of images, I defy you to prove the opposite!"4

 

"But here Christ is the image of the Father in such manner that he is the image of the Father's divine substance, not made of a different nature. He is (if one is to put it into words) a "God-den" image, made out of God and having the Godhead in itself or on itself, just as a crucifix is called a wooden image of Christ-made out of wood. And although all human beings and angels are also made in the image of God, they are not, however, the image of his substance or nature, nor have they been made or arisen out of his divine nature. But Christ arose out of the Father's divine nature from eternity and is his substantial image, substantialis imago, non artificialis aut facta vel creata,?33? which has the Father's divine nature wholly and completely in itself, and of which nature it is itself, not made or created out of something else, just as the divine substance itself is not made or created out of something else. For if Christ did not have the whole Godhead of the Father in himself and were not wholly God, then he could not be, or be called, the image of the Father's substance, because the Father would still possess something in which the Son was not equal or similar to him. Thus he would in the final analysis turn out to be completely dissimilar to the Father and would by no means be his image according to the substance. For the divine substance is altogether the only substance, indivisible, so that wherever it is, it must be whole and complete, or nothing at all."5

 

1Luther, M. 1999, c1957. Luther's works, vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 22 (Jn 1:18). Concordia Publishing House: Saint Louis

2Luther, M. 1999, c1959. Luther's works, vol. 23 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 6-8 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 23 (Jn 8:22). Concordia Publishing House: Saint Louis

3Luther, M. 1999, c1958. Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 40 (Vol. 40, Page 96). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

4Luther, M. 1999, c1958. Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 40 (Vol. 40, Page 85-86). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

5Luther, M. 1999, c1960. Luther's works, vol. 34 : Career of the Reformer IV (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 34 (Vol. 34, Page 221-222). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

http://reformationtoday.tripod.com/chemnitz/id25.html
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2009, 03:00:35 PM »

Thanks  Ialmisry for sharing that information.

Thomas
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2009, 08:15:15 PM »

What to tell those who insist that icon veneration is as idolatrous as the israelites who worshipped the golden calf, saying that they too worshipped not the gold of the calf, but what it represented?
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2009, 11:51:06 PM »

What to tell those who insist that icon veneration is as idolatrous as the israelites who worshipped the golden calf, saying that they too worshipped not the gold of the calf, but what it represented?

Good question. I am an Orthodox neophyte, so don't take my word as truth. But my understanding is that we do not worship icons, we venerate them. Icons are a window through which we see spiritual truths and discern spiritual realities. The Israelites were actually worshiping the golden calf, which is a clear violation of the First and Second Commandments.

Selam
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2009, 12:33:21 AM »

I agree completely with Gebre Menfes Kidus.  Also, just like you display and respect pictures of deceased family members and loved ones (and kiss them), so do we for our spiritual family.
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2009, 05:21:44 AM »

What to tell those who insist that icon veneration is as idolatrous as the israelites who worshipped the golden calf, saying that they too worshipped not the gold of the calf, but what it represented?

First explain to them that we do not worship icons. If you had a photograph of a dearly departed relative that you missed terribley and kissed the photograph, would that be worship? No, you are expressing your love for your family member.

It's the same with icons.

Also, if you look at Exodus 26:1-3, God instructs Moses to decorate the tabernacle with icons of cherubim on the curtains. Just as the Isrealites decorated their places of worship with icons, we decorate our places of worship with icons. The differance is that our icons demonstrate Christian theology.
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2009, 10:58:37 AM »

Thanks for the good answers! However, the Israelites did probably did not venerate the temple decorations by bowing to them and kissing them?
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2009, 04:12:44 PM »

The Israelites, as do present-day Jews, venerated many sacred objects in their public and private devotions, such as the mezuzah at the door, and the Torah before and after reading scripture.
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2009, 08:59:44 PM »

While I cognitively understand almost everything that I've read about the veneration of icons, for now icons feel like spiritual barrier to me rather than a window.  I'm not making any judgment about others venerating icons.  I am only speaking for myself because I wish I felt differently. 

My background is Protestant (specifically Baptist, then as an adult non-denominational Christian, Methodist and Anglican).  As I learned more about the early church and the sacraments I was drawn to Orthodoxy.

I accept so many other things in Orthodoxy that are "foreign" to me without any real reservation.  I also have no issues with others venerating icons during the services in the Orthodox parish I am attending (My husband and I are inquirers).  I also find being surrounded by icons during the service, especially those with Christ or of Christ alone to be comforting (that sense of the communion of saints). 

Is the veneration of icons required in order to become Orthodox?  Must I use icons in personal prayer in order to become Orthodox?

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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2009, 11:18:20 PM »

I am not sure if one MUST do so, but the acts of the ecumenical council addressing them state one must not condemn them, if I remember correctly.
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