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Author Topic: Why would Catholic Christian use Statues to worship God?  (Read 2004 times) Average Rating: 0
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walter1234
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« on: December 05, 2012, 07:36:35 AM »

Why would Catholic Christian use Statues to worship God?

When did Catholic church start to use the statues to worship? Where do Catholic Church get this tradition?

Do Orthodox Christians oppose to use Statues to worship God?
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 08:31:36 AM »

Why would Catholic Christian use Statues to worship God?

When did Catholic church start to use the statues to worship? Where do Catholic Church get this tradition?

Do Orthodox Christians oppose to use Statues to worship God?
1 - I think it depends on how you describe their use.

2 - No idea.  I was never a Catholic

3 - Depends on who you ask, but overall I would say we disagree with it more than oppose it.
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 09:03:31 AM »

As I understand it they use statues as we use ICONS. They do not worship statues but venerate them, as we venerate ICONS.
Orthodox do not use ICONS to worship God.

Veneration (gr. doulia) is a way to show great respect for that which is holy. It is to treat something or someone with reverence, deep respect, and honor. Veneration is distinct from worship (gr. latreia), for worship is for God alone, while veneration is showing delight for what God has done.
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 09:59:38 AM »

For the same reason we use paintings.
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 10:13:00 AM »


Do Orthodox Christians oppose to use Statues to worship God?
with the meaning given by soderquj, my priest said that we dont use statues not because they are wrong, because there is nothing forbidding the use of statues, however, we do not use them because icons are better, and more complete.
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 10:38:16 AM »

Why would Catholic Christian use Statues to worship God?

When did Catholic church start to use the statues to worship? Where do Catholic Church get this tradition?

Do Orthodox Christians oppose to use Statues to worship God?

I would be very interested to know when the RCC adopted the statue to venerate. I understand that Icons (wall paintings)  preceeded statuary in early christian churches.  Maybe it is an old Greece/ Roman pagan holdover adopted for Christian usage.
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 10:42:55 AM »

Icons are the witnesses of the presence of the Kingdom of God to us, and of our presence to the Kingdom of God in the Church. The Church says that icons are spiritually necessary because “the Word became flesh (physical) and dwelt among us”. Christ is truly man and, as man, truly the “(physical) icon of the invisible God”. Our link between physical and spiritual.  They help spiritually. As said already, we use painted icons because they work. They, for us, achieve this goal better than statues icons. And not only that, only icons painted in the traditional ways, seem to work, not all paintings.  

In my own opinion, there are sculptures capable of this, but they are few and far between. (there are badly painted icons that just don't work, but there are many badly sculptured statues that do not draw me in.)
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 02:35:56 PM »

There is evidence that the Byzantine Christians used statues at some point in history.
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 02:47:02 PM »

As I understand it they use statues as we use ICONS. They do not worship statues but venerate them, as we venerate ICONS.
Orthodox do not use ICONS to worship God.

Veneration (gr. doulia) is a way to show great respect for that which is holy. It is to treat something or someone with reverence, deep respect, and honor. Veneration is distinct from worship (gr. latreia), for worship is for God alone, while veneration is showing delight for what God has done.

I don't think it is necessarily wrong to say that we use icons to worship God.  Icons are a tool of worship, they help us connect with the Divine.  We do that through venerating them.  I would imagine Catholics view statues in the same manner.
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 02:58:08 PM »

There is evidence that the Byzantine Christians used statues at some point in history.

Source?
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 03:11:55 PM »

There is evidence that the Byzantine Christians used statues at some point in history.

Source?

Well, it's not "official", but interesting nonetheless:
Quote
http://westernorthodox.blogspot.com/2006/06/eastern-orthodox-statues.html
Eastern Orthodox Statues

by Fr. Les Bundy

The innumerable beautiful ancient icons that have flooded the west since the first World War, and the increasing interest in them by artists, scholars and ordinary lovers of the beautiful has been one of the bright phenomena of the past two generations. An enormous literature has developed around the icon, both scholarly and popular, and centers for the reproduction of old icons, and the painting of new ones has become especially widespread since the Second World War.

For a great many people the Icon is the supreme symbol of the Orthodox Church. This has been especially true on the popular level since the western world was flooded by Russian émigrés and religious artifacts following World War I. Shortly thereafter the revival in Byzantine studies gained impetus and icons were studied on a serious level while the antique shops offered examples of everything from rare ancient specimens to the great liquid-eyed 19th century romantic western imitations that in the eighteenth century had supplanted the traditional types in the Orthodox lands.

The full article (the above is just the 1st 2 paragraphs) includes some photos of some stunning statues, including this one, a statue found in the Roman Catacombs:

Has anyone here mentioned that the use of statues is NOT forbidden in Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 03:15:04 PM »

Orthodox Churches have had statues for a very long time, it just fell out of use while icons increased in use.

Oh and Roman Catholics don't worship statues, and they don't view them like we view icons.
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 03:15:48 PM »

There is evidence that the Byzantine Christians used statues at some point in history.

Source?

Go to any Byzantine Museum in Greece and elsewhere. Orthodox Churches have had statues for a long time.
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 03:30:39 PM »

Orthodox Churches have had statues for a very long time, it just fell out of use while icons increased in use.

Oh and Roman Catholics don't worship statues, and they don't view them like we view icons.

Correct.  Roman Catholics will pray before statues but, as far as I'm aware, there isn't the kind of veneration of them or "theology" (is that the right word?) of them as there is with icons in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 04:21:18 PM »

While I've never heard statues referred to as "windows into heaven" and I agree that much more theology can be conveyed in icon than a statue, they still work just as well as a means of passing on veneration to the prototype according to what was decreed in the seventh council.

For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honourable reverence (ἀσπασμὸν καὶ τιμητικὴν προσκύνησιν), not indeed that true worship of faith (λατρείαν) which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honour which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented.
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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2012, 04:24:43 PM »

Orthodox Churches have had statues for a very long time, it just fell out of use while icons increased in use.

Oh and Roman Catholics don't worship statues, and they don't view them like we view icons.

Correct.  Roman Catholics will pray before statues but, as far as I'm aware, there isn't the kind of veneration of them or "theology" (is that the right word?) of them as there is with icons in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism.

But the Orthodox theology on icons only really developed after the defeat of iconoclasm, right?  And by then the RCs were busy fluffing up the role of the Pope.
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2012, 04:26:39 PM »

While I've never heard statues referred to as "windows into heaven" and I agree that much more theology can be conveyed in icon than a statue, they still work just as well as a means of passing on veneration to the prototype according to what was decreed in the seventh council.

For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honourable reverence (ἀσπασμὸν καὶ τιμητικὴν προσκύνησιν), not indeed that true worship of faith (λατρείαν) which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honour which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented.

I've read a comment that says that statues "humanize" those represented, and thus the goal in RC theology and statues is to feel that reality of Jesus and the Saints being among us in the flesh.
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2012, 05:02:56 PM »

Orthodox Churches have had statues for a very long time, it just fell out of use while icons increased in use.

Oh and Roman Catholics don't worship statues, and they don't view them like we view icons.

Correct.  Roman Catholics will pray before statues but, as far as I'm aware, there isn't the kind of veneration of them or "theology" (is that the right word?) of them as there is with icons in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism.

1. But the Orthodox theology on icons only really developed after the defeat of iconoclasm, right? 

2. And by then the RCs were busy fluffing up the role of the Pope.

1.  Don't know.

2.  Your point?
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2012, 05:45:30 PM »

2.  Your point?

The RCs lagged behind the Orthodox in icon theology because their focus of theological development was different.
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2012, 06:04:36 PM »

It is true that the Byzantines set up statues in civic areas of cities, and even placed statues in Church buildings at different times.  Nevertheless, there is no evidence that these statues (in civic areas or Churches) were accorded the worship of veneration.
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« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2012, 09:22:01 PM »

In terms of veneration, statuary is just as appropriate as a flat panel icon, as the ecumenical council makes plainly clear (the cross was, after all, a three dimensional object). In terms of being teaching tools and expressions of theology, though, I'd say an icon obviously has the upper hand simply because of the medium.
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« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2012, 10:11:29 PM »

The West (and the Assyrians, Syrians, and Armenians) just never developed the elaborate reverence of images the East did.  They use them, they reverence them just not to the extent that the Byzantines do.
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« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2012, 10:43:17 PM »

In terms of veneration, statuary is just as appropriate as a flat panel icon, as the ecumenical council makes plainly clear (the cross was, after all, a three dimensional object). In terms of being teaching tools and expressions of theology, though, I'd say an icon obviously has the upper hand simply because of the medium.
Interesting reasoning, but I have never heard that simply because the Council allowed the veneration of the "figure" of the cross in three dimensions, that it simultaneously allowed for veneration of statuary.  I have read the decree many times and found it interesting that the only mentioned materials for icons would allow for two dimensional images, and that graven images are never promoted by the Fathers of the Council as venerable.  There is no explicit condemnation of the production of statues per se, but there is also no confirmation that they should be venerated.
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2012, 12:13:43 AM »

In terms of veneration, statuary is just as appropriate as a flat panel icon, as the ecumenical council makes plainly clear (the cross was, after all, a three dimensional object). In terms of being teaching tools and expressions of theology, though, I'd say an icon obviously has the upper hand simply because of the medium.
Interesting reasoning, but I have never heard that simply because the Council allowed the veneration of the "figure" of the cross in three dimensions, that it simultaneously allowed for veneration of statuary.  I have read the decree many times and found it interesting that the only mentioned materials for icons would allow for two dimensional images, and that graven images are never promoted by the Fathers of the Council as venerable.  There is no explicit condemnation of the production of statues per se, but there is also no confirmation that they should be venerated.

That was just an example. The council says, "the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God..." and put more generally, "as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes..." which is, of course, the point.

That the one of the first holy images created was a statue, that statuary was found in and around Hagia Sophia, that they were present in ancient Orthodox France and Scotland, etc., is at least evidence that three-dimensional devotional objects were certainly not unheard of and are perfectly consistent with being "fit material" and "artistic representation."

Three-dimensional worship objects were found in the Temple as well, as St. John Damascene, in his Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images, points out: "But Solomon receiving the gift of wisdom, imaging heaven, made the cherubim, and the likenesses of bulls and lions, which the law forbade." He goes on to mention statues as being among the holy images he's trying to defend: "Now if we make a statue of Christ, and likenesses of the saints, does not their being filled with the Holy Ghost increase the piety of our homage? As then the people and the temple were purified in blood and in burnt offerings, so now the Blood of Christ giving testimony under Pontius Pilate, and being Himself the first fruits of the martyrs, the Church is built up on the blood of the saints. Then the signs and forms of lifeless animals figured forth the human tabernacle, the martyrs themselves whom they were preparing for God's abode."

Beautiful stuff.
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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2012, 01:00:26 AM »

Quote
That the one of the first holy images created was a statue,


Ahem. The first holy images created were the Mandylion, the icons painted on flat boards by Apostle Luke, and the painted images on the walls of the catacombs.

Quote
Three-dimensional worship objects were found in the Temple as well,


They were bas-reliefs, as are the carvings of iconostases today. Not fully three-dimensional.
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« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2012, 01:02:52 AM »

Why would Catholic Christian use Statues to worship God?

When did Catholic church start to use the statues to worship? Where do Catholic Church get this tradition?

Do Orthodox Christians oppose to use Statues to worship God?

I would be very interested to know when the RCC adopted the statue to venerate. I understand that Icons (wall paintings)  preceeded statuary in early christian churches.  Maybe it is an old Greece/ Roman pagan holdover adopted for Christian usage.

There were statues in the east and Orthodox west in the first millenium, but they were the exception, rather than the rule. In the west, they became the norm in the Gothic period, but were on the upswing in Bernard of Clairvaux's day. He wanted to "simplify" by getting rid of the "distracting" paintings and replacing them with a single statue.
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« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2012, 09:19:52 AM »

Orthodox Churches have had statues for a very long time, it just fell out of use while icons increased in use.

Oh and Roman Catholics don't worship statues, and they don't view them like we view icons.

Correct.  Roman Catholics will pray before statues but, as far as I'm aware, there isn't the kind of veneration of them or "theology" (is that the right word?) of them as there is with icons in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism.

But the Orthodox theology on icons only really developed after the defeat of iconoclasm, right?  And by then the RCs were busy fluffing up the role of the Pope.

Not in the Coptic Orthodox Church
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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2012, 09:28:26 AM »

Does Catholic Church view statues as 'window to heaven'?
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2012, 09:56:09 AM »

Has anyone here mentioned that the use of statues is NOT forbidden in Orthodoxy?

There is no canon forbidding it, contrary to popular belief. However, several Fathers who accepted the use of 2D images wrote on the impropriety of statues, so one could still argue that the traditional Orthodox position is, at the very least, to discourage the use of statues.
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2012, 10:02:30 AM »

That was just an example. The council says, "the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God..." and put more generally, "as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes..." which is, of course, the point.
I have never seen any support for the idea that "other fit materials" included the act of "carving" an image, and of course an action is not the same thing as a "fit material."  A "fit material" concerns what you make a thing out of, while not dealing with the method used to produce the thing in question. That said, everything I have read on the subject of iconography indicates that graven images (i.e., statues) were rejected by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.  After all, the only explicit mention of statues (eidōlon) by the Council contrasts them with icons (eikons), referring to the former as "diabolical," while referencing the latter as "holy."  Moreover, St. Germanus is referenced in several scholarly texts as calling the use of statues (not icons of course, because he was an Iconodule) a heathenish practice condemned by Holy Tradition.  So even if I were to concede that there were statues in some Byzantine Churches at different times in history, it does not necessarily establish the idea that statues were accorded veneration in the same way Nicaea II commanded the honoring of two-dimensional icons.

That the one of the first holy images created was a statue, that statuary was found in and around Hagia Sophia, that they were present in ancient Orthodox France and Scotland, etc., is at least evidence that three-dimensional devotional objects were certainly not unheard of and are perfectly consistent with being "fit material" and "artistic representation."
I have never heard of this before, that is, I have never heard of statues being described as "holy objects" worthy of veneration according to the Byzantine tradition.  What is the scholarly source that asserts this notion?  

Now that there may have been statues at times in Churches in the East prior to the Iconoclastic period is asserted in many texts, but those texts also state that there is no longer extant evidence to prove the assertion.  Nevertheless, I admit that it does not necessarily follow from the fact that there is no longer existing evidence of statues in Byzantine Churches from the pre-Iconoclastic period that there were no statues in those Churches, but it does at least add support to the idea that the canons and decrees of Nicaea II were held by the Byzantines themselves to involve condemnation of sculpture in the round.  This idea is also supported by the scholarly articles that I have read on the topic.  For example this paragraph from a book on the Iconoclastic period states:  "Pope Gregory the Great coined the main argument for Christian pictorial art by calling the biblical scenes on mosaics and frescoes in the Churches the 'books of the illiterate' or biblia pauperum.  In Eastern Christianity those who wanted to venerate icons — the iconodouloi — won the battle after much struggle from those who were opposed to it — the iconoclasts — at the Second Council of Nicea in 787 C.E.  This council accepted a rather materialist explanation of Exodus 20:4, carved idols and statues of stone, wood, metal or clay were forbidden as from old, two-dimensional representations like mosaics, frescoes and icons on wood were allowed and even propagated for catechetical instruction and devotional praxis, on the understanding that they were not adored (latreia), but only venerated (proskunesis)" [W. J. van Asselt, Paul Van Geest, Daniela Müller, and Theo Salemink, editors, Iconoclasm and Iconoclash: Struggle for Religious Identity, pages 52-53].

Three-dimensional worship objects were found in the Temple as well, as St. John Damascene, in his Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images, points out: "But Solomon receiving the gift of wisdom, imaging heaven, made the cherubim, and the likenesses of bulls and lions, which the law forbade." He goes on to mention statues as being among the holy images he's trying to defend: "Now if we make a statue of Christ, and likenesses of the saints, does not their being filled with the Holy Ghost increase the piety of our homage? As then the people and the temple were purified in blood and in burnt offerings, so now the Blood of Christ giving testimony under Pontius Pilate, and being Himself the first fruits of the martyrs, the Church is built up on the blood of the saints. Then the signs and forms of lifeless animals figured forth the human tabernacle, the martyrs themselves whom they were preparing for God's abode."
St. John Damascene does speak about graven images in the Old Testament, but he nowhere encourages the manufacture of them in the Church, nor does he assert that the Church's tradition supports veneration of statues (i.e., sculpture in the round).  That statues basically where non existent in the Byzantine Church after the Seventh Ecumenical Council seems again to support the idea that the Council Fathers were held to have condemned the use of graven images (eidōlon), while they simultaneously supported the manufacture and veneration of two-dimensional icons (eikons).  A notion that is supported by Gertrud Schiller in her scholarly work on the topic, for as she said in connection with the production of sculptured crucifixes, "No fully three-dimensional work of art of the Eastern Church has survived from the period following the Iconoclastic Controversy, for sculpture in the round had been condemned at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 as sensual" [Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art: The Passion of Christ," page 140].

Postscript:  I looked up the quotation you provided from St. John Damascene in both the Greek and Latin versions and neither of them use the word "statue" when speaking of the icons of our Lord and the saints.  In fact, the Latin text specifically states that Christians "paint" (pingimus) the likenesses of Christ and the saints.
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« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2012, 10:50:46 AM »

Simpleton that I can sometimes (okay, quite often!) be, it seems to me that the whole discussion about icons vs. statues is really much ado about nothing.  Some Christians venerate icons (including myself).  Others pray before statues (I have done so myself).  Some do both (probably not simultaneously, though  Grin).  Some of those who pray before statues may also venerate them.  Those who do these things are not (hopefully) worshiping either the icon or the statue.  There is no explicit prohibition against praying before or venerating statues that I am aware of.  There is every encouragement to venerate icons.  What's the big deal??  Seems to me that it's as much about culture and cultural milieu as it is about theology--maybe even more so.

Icons have been described as "windows into heaven".  I've never heard that phrase used for statues or other religious imagery, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been.  What one "sees" through a window is often as dependent upon the person looking as it is upon that which they are viewing.  I see no reason whatsoever why a statue could not be a "window into heaven" just as easily as an icon.  But that's just simple ole me  Wink.

(I'm sure *somebody* will correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I hope they do  Wink.)
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« Reply #31 on: December 06, 2012, 11:12:34 AM »

Simpleton that I can sometimes (okay, quite often!) be, it seems to me that the whole discussion about icons vs. statues is really much ado about nothing.  Some Christians venerate icons (including myself).  Others pray before statues (I have done so myself).  Some do both (probably not simultaneously, though  Grin).  Some of those who pray before statues may also venerate them.  Those who do these things are not (hopefully) worshiping either the icon or the statue.  There is no explicit prohibition against praying before or venerating statues that I am aware of.  There is every encouragement to venerate icons.  What's the big deal??  Seems to me that it's as much about culture and cultural milieu as it is about theology--maybe even more so.

Icons have been described as "windows into heaven".  I've never heard that phrase used for statues or other religious imagery, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been.  What one "sees" through a window is often as dependent upon the person looking as it is upon that which they are viewing.  I see no reason whatsoever why a statue could not be a "window into heaven" just as easily as an icon.  But that's just simple ole me  Wink.

(I'm sure *somebody* will correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I hope they do  Wink.)
I am not sure that we are in full agreement on this topic, since I do venerate icons, and I venerate them because they are filled with divine energy. 

Now I agree that I am not venerating them (i.e., icons) because they are made of wood and of colored pigments, so if that is all you mean by your comment, then it follows that we are in general agreement, but if you mean that the icon is not filled with divinity, but is merely a piece of wood lacking life within it, that is, that it is an empty thing, then we are not in agreement.
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« Reply #32 on: December 06, 2012, 11:20:02 AM »

Simpleton that I can sometimes (okay, quite often!) be, it seems to me that the whole discussion about icons vs. statues is really much ado about nothing.  Some Christians venerate icons (including myself).  Others pray before statues (I have done so myself).  Some do both (probably not simultaneously, though  Grin).  Some of those who pray before statues may also venerate them.  Those who do these things are not (hopefully) worshiping either the icon or the statue.  There is no explicit prohibition against praying before or venerating statues that I am aware of.  There is every encouragement to venerate icons.  What's the big deal??  Seems to me that it's as much about culture and cultural milieu as it is about theology--maybe even more so.

Icons have been described as "windows into heaven".  I've never heard that phrase used for statues or other religious imagery, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been.  What one "sees" through a window is often as dependent upon the person looking as it is upon that which they are viewing.  I see no reason whatsoever why a statue could not be a "window into heaven" just as easily as an icon.  But that's just simple ole me  Wink.

(I'm sure *somebody* will correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I hope they do  Wink.)
I do not fully agree with your point here, because we do venerate icons, and we venerate them because they are filled with divine energy.  Now clearly we are not venerating them because they are made of wood and are colored with pigments, so if that is what you mean, then it follows that we are in agreement, but if you mean that the icon is not filled with divinity, but is merely a piece of wood lacking life within it, then we are not in agreement.

I'm not quite sure what you are disagreeing with.  I never said nor meant that icons are not "filled with divinity..."

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is? 

I'm probably further revealing more of my great ignorance, but I've not come across the phrase "filled with divinity" in reference to icons before.  But that's probably just me.  Sigh.
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« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2012, 11:23:42 AM »

Simpleton that I can sometimes (okay, quite often!) be, it seems to me that the whole discussion about icons vs. statues is really much ado about nothing.  Some Christians venerate icons (including myself).  Others pray before statues (I have done so myself).  Some do both (probably not simultaneously, though  Grin).  Some of those who pray before statues may also venerate them.  Those who do these things are not (hopefully) worshiping either the icon or the statue.  There is no explicit prohibition against praying before or venerating statues that I am aware of.  There is every encouragement to venerate icons.  What's the big deal??  Seems to me that it's as much about culture and cultural milieu as it is about theology--maybe even more so.

Icons have been described as "windows into heaven".  I've never heard that phrase used for statues or other religious imagery, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been.  What one "sees" through a window is often as dependent upon the person looking as it is upon that which they are viewing.  I see no reason whatsoever why a statue could not be a "window into heaven" just as easily as an icon.  But that's just simple ole me  Wink.

(I'm sure *somebody* will correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I hope they do  Wink.)
I do not fully agree with your point here, because we do venerate icons, and we venerate them because they are filled with divine energy.  Now clearly we are not venerating them because they are made of wood and are colored with pigments, so if that is what you mean, then it follows that we are in agreement, but if you mean that the icon is not filled with divinity, but is merely a piece of wood lacking life within it, then we are not in agreement.

I'm not quite sure what you are disagreeing with.  I never said nor meant that icons are not "filled with divinity..."

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is? 

I'm probably further revealing more of my great ignorance, but I've not come across the phrase "filled with divinity" in reference to icons before.  But that's probably just me.  Sigh.
I suppose it is that your post made it seem like the icon is irrelevant, and almost as if it was not even there or important.  But the icon is a holy mystery that manifests the presence of the saint or event depicted in it, and so it is a means of connecting me to that person.  The icon is a holy thing, and in this it is like any other sacrament.

I do not believe that statues are filled with divine energy, and so I would never venerate a statue.
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« Reply #34 on: December 06, 2012, 11:26:12 AM »

I should probably say that I see nothing wrong with statues per se, but I would never venerate one.  Venerating a three dimensional image, from what I have learned through reading the Fathers over the course of my life, is too close to heathenism, and smacks of idolatry.  Thus, I personally avoid anything that would give the appearance of veneration in connection with a statue.
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« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2012, 11:33:25 AM »

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is?
Because I believe that the Second Council of Nicaea condemned the veneration of statues.
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« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2012, 11:38:39 AM »

Simpleton that I can sometimes (okay, quite often!) be, it seems to me that the whole discussion about icons vs. statues is really much ado about nothing.  Some Christians venerate icons (including myself).  Others pray before statues (I have done so myself).  Some do both (probably not simultaneously, though  Grin).  Some of those who pray before statues may also venerate them.  Those who do these things are not (hopefully) worshiping either the icon or the statue.  There is no explicit prohibition against praying before or venerating statues that I am aware of.  There is every encouragement to venerate icons.  What's the big deal??  Seems to me that it's as much about culture and cultural milieu as it is about theology--maybe even more so.

Icons have been described as "windows into heaven".  I've never heard that phrase used for statues or other religious imagery, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been.  What one "sees" through a window is often as dependent upon the person looking as it is upon that which they are viewing.  I see no reason whatsoever why a statue could not be a "window into heaven" just as easily as an icon.  But that's just simple ole me  Wink.

(I'm sure *somebody* will correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I hope they do  Wink.)
I do not fully agree with your point here, because we do venerate icons, and we venerate them because they are filled with divine energy.  Now clearly we are not venerating them because they are made of wood and are colored with pigments, so if that is what you mean, then it follows that we are in agreement, but if you mean that the icon is not filled with divinity, but is merely a piece of wood lacking life within it, then we are not in agreement.

I'm not quite sure what you are disagreeing with.  I never said nor meant that icons are not "filled with divinity..."

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is? 

I'm probably further revealing more of my great ignorance, but I've not come across the phrase "filled with divinity" in reference to icons before.  But that's probably just me.  Sigh.
I suppose it is that your post made it seem like the icon is irrelevant, and almost as if it was not even there or important.  But the icon is a holy mystery that manifests the presence of the saint or event depicted in it, and so it is a means of connecting me to that person.  The icon is a holy thing, and in this it is like any other sacrament.

I do not believe that statues are filled with divine energy, and so I would never venerate a statue.

Sorry if I led you to misunderstand me.  No, I don't think or believe that the icon is irrelevant--not at all.  If I did, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to venerate them.

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« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2012, 11:41:28 AM »

That was just an example. The council says, "the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God..." and put more generally, "as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes..." which is, of course, the point.
I have never seen any support for the idea that "other fit materials" included the act of "carving" an image, and of course an action is not the same thing as a "fit material."  A "fit material" concerns what you make a thing out of, while not dealing with the method used to produce the thing in question. That said, everything I have read on the subject of iconography indicates that graven images (i.e., statues) were rejected by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.  After all, the only explicit mention of statues (eidōlon) by the Council contrasts them with icons (eikons), referring to the former as "diabolical," while referencing the latter as "holy."  Moreover, St. Germanus is referenced in several scholarly texts as calling the use of statues (not icons of course, because he was an Iconodule) a heathenish practice condemned by Holy Tradition.  So even if I were to concede that there were statues in some Byzantine Churches at different times in history, it does not necessarily establish the idea that statues were accorded veneration in the same way Nicaea II commanded the honoring of two-dimensional icons.

That the one of the first holy images created was a statue, that statuary was found in and around Hagia Sophia, that they were present in ancient Orthodox France and Scotland, etc., is at least evidence that three-dimensional devotional objects were certainly not unheard of and are perfectly consistent with being "fit material" and "artistic representation."
I have never heard of this before, that is, I have never heard of statues being described as "holy objects" worthy of veneration according to the Byzantine tradition.  What is the scholarly source that asserts this notion?  

Now that there may have been statues at times in Churches in the East prior to the Iconoclastic period is asserted in many texts, but those texts also state that there is no longer extant evidence to prove the assertion.  Nevertheless, I admit that it does not necessarily follow from the fact that there is no longer existing evidence of statues in Byzantine Churches from the pre-Iconoclastic period that there were no statues in those Churches, but it does at least add support to the idea that the canons and decrees of Nicaea II were held by the Byzantines themselves to involve condemnation of sculpture in the round.  This idea is also supported by the scholarly articles that I have read on the topic.  For example this paragraph from a book on the Iconoclastic period states:  "Pope Gregory the Great coined the main argument for Christian pictorial art by calling the biblical scenes on mosaics and frescoes in the Churches the 'books of the illiterate' or biblia pauperum.  In Eastern Christianity those who wanted to venerate icons — the iconodouloi — won the battle after much struggle from those who were opposed to it — the iconoclasts — at the Second Council of Nicea in 787 C.E.  This council accepted a rather materialist explanation of Exodus 20:4, carved idols and statues of stone, wood, metal or clay were forbidden as from old, two-dimensional representations like mosaics, frescoes and icons on wood were allowed and even propagated for catechetical instruction and devotional praxis, on the understanding that they were not adored (latreia), but only venerated (proskunesis)" [W. J. van Asselt, Paul Van Geest, Daniela Müller, and Theo Salemink, editors, Iconoclasm and Iconoclash: Struggle for Religious Identity, pages 52-53].

Three-dimensional worship objects were found in the Temple as well, as St. John Damascene, in his Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images, points out: "But Solomon receiving the gift of wisdom, imaging heaven, made the cherubim, and the likenesses of bulls and lions, which the law forbade." He goes on to mention statues as being among the holy images he's trying to defend: "Now if we make a statue of Christ, and likenesses of the saints, does not their being filled with the Holy Ghost increase the piety of our homage? As then the people and the temple were purified in blood and in burnt offerings, so now the Blood of Christ giving testimony under Pontius Pilate, and being Himself the first fruits of the martyrs, the Church is built up on the blood of the saints. Then the signs and forms of lifeless animals figured forth the human tabernacle, the martyrs themselves whom they were preparing for God's abode."
St. John Damascene does speak about graven images in the Old Testament, but he nowhere encourages the manufacture of them in the Church, nor does he assert that the Church's tradition supports veneration of statues (i.e., sculpture in the round).  That statues basically where non existent in the Byzantine Church after the Seventh Ecumenical Council seems again to support the idea that the Council Fathers were held to have condemned the use of graven images (eidōlon), while they simultaneously supported the manufacture and veneration of two-dimensional icons (eikons).  A notion that is supported by Gertrud Schiller in her scholarly work on the topic, for as she said in connection with the production of sculptured crucifixes, "No fully three-dimensional work of art of the Eastern Church has survived from the period following the Iconoclastic Controversy, for sculpture in the round had been condemned at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 as sensual" [Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art: The Passion of Christ," page 140].

Postscript:  I looked up the quotation you provided from St. John Damascene in both the Greek and Latin versions and neither of them use the word "statue" when speaking of the icons of our Lord and the saints.  In fact, the Latin text specifically states that Christians "paint" (pingimus) the likenesses of Christ and the saints.
St. John does, however, evoke the example of the statue erected by the woman healed of the issue of blood.
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« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2012, 11:41:58 AM »

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is?
Because I believe that the Second Council of Nicaea condemned the veneration of statues.

I'm really not trying to be argumentative (for a change  Wink), but could you point me to where it says this in the Canons?  And hey, if veneration of statues is explicitly forbidden, then I'll happily withdraw my questions regarding them and their possible veneration! 
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« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2012, 11:50:31 AM »

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is?
Because I believe that the Second Council of Nicaea condemned the veneration of statues.

I'm really not trying to be argumentative (for a change  Wink), but could you point me to where it says this in the Canons?  And hey, if veneration of statues is explicitly forbidden, then I'll happily withdraw my questions regarding them and their possible veneration! 
The canons do not mention statues explicitly, but the decree speaks of only two methods for producing icons, i.e., through painting and through mosaic artistry, and then later the decree mentions statues and references them as "diabolical."  Moreover, the Fathers after the council (and even prior to it in the case of St. John Damascene - when read in the Greek) speak only of two-dimensional imagery as acceptable for Christian veneration.  Statues, as I indicated before, were associated with heathenism in the writings of those Eastern Fathers who touched upon the topic (e.g., St. Germanus).
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« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2012, 11:54:15 AM »

Is there a reason why a statue could *not* also be "filled with divinity" in the same way an icon is?
Because I believe that the Second Council of Nicaea condemned the veneration of statues.

I'm really not trying to be argumentative (for a change  Wink), but could you point me to where it says this in the Canons?  And hey, if veneration of statues is explicitly forbidden, then I'll happily withdraw my questions regarding them and their possible veneration! 
The canons do not mention statues explicitly, but the decree speaks of only two methods for producing icons, i.e., through painting and through mosaic artistry, and then later the decree mentions statues and references them as "diabolical."  Moreover, the Fathers after the council (and even prior to it in the case of St. John Damascene - when read in the Greek) speak only of two-dimensional imagery as acceptable for Christian veneration.  Statues, as I indicated before, were associated with heathenism in the writings of those Eastern Fathers who touched upon the topic (e.g., St. Germanus).

I guess that's why, then, Catholics do not venerate statues or, in answer to the OP's question, "use them to worship God".

Was it referring to statues in general or to specific ones, just out of curiosity?
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« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2012, 12:01:08 PM »

I've venerated statues of Orthodox saints (in Roman churches). Does that make me a bad person?
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« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2012, 12:06:22 PM »

I've venerated statues of Orthodox saints (in Roman churches). Does that make me a bad person?

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Were you venerating them, as in revering or treating them with great reverence, or were you praying before them without actually venerating the object or that which you believed it to be imbued with, i.e. divine energy?
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« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2012, 12:16:16 PM »

I've venerated statues of Orthodox saints (in Roman churches). Does that make me a bad person?
It is not for me, or anyone else for that matter, to determine if you are personally good or bad, that judgment is left to God, but I can judge your action, and that action is contrary to the teachings of the Seventh Council and Holy Tradition, and so I would never do it myself.
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« Reply #44 on: December 06, 2012, 12:21:18 PM »

I found the following text interesting and thought it might be help in highlighting - at least to a certain degree - why Orthodoxy has shunned the use of statuary in worship.


"In sharp contrast to Western sensibilities, the Orthodox religious mind considered sculpture in the round too literal and corporeal to represent divinity, which by its very nature had to be immaterial and ineffable.  During the Iconoclastic Controversy that shook Byzantium in the eighth and ninth centuries, even painted icons were considered a blasphemous violation of the spirit and letter of the Second Commandment.  That the great battle over the use of graven images of 'anything that is in heaven above,' ended with the defeat of the Iconoclasts was due solely to the argument that two-dimensional images were sufficiently idealized and disembodied to allow the believer to intuit their third dimension, which is the divine essence.  Such thinking allowed the Orthodox to think of icons not as products of human hands, but as epiphanies through which heavenly archetypes manifest themselves to man.  Three-dimensional representations, however, did not allow such a leap of faith.  Hence the Orthodox ban on sculpted sacred images, leading to the virtual absence of sculpture in the round in Byzantine art.

There was an additional consideration that made the Orthodox hierarchy frown upon sculpture in the round.  It had to do with pagan practices of venerating idols, a problem that was as acute in biblical times, when the Israelites defended their monotheism against the lures of the Canaanite deities ('thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them'), as it was in the newly converted Christian communities, with their vestiges of pagan idolatry.  Medieval Rus' was such a community and the chronicle descriptions of the dumping of pagan idols in the Dnieper bespeak the importance accorded to the eradication of idolatry and the belief that sanctioning sculpture, however Christian in content, might open the way to idolatry's return.  As a result, during the seven hundred years of Russia's history before Peter, sculpture, except for decorative architectural elements and ornamental carvings in wood and bone, remained a blank spot in Russian art."

Taken from the book:  The Bronze Horseman: Falconet's Monument to Peter the Great, by Alexander M. Schenker, pages 74-75.
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"All that the Father has belongs likewise to the Son, except Causality."
St. Gregory Nazianzen

"We should believe that divine grace is present in the icon of Christ and that it communicates sanctification to those who draw near with faith."
St. Theodore Studite
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