Saturday, February 07, 2009

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 6 of 13)

This is part 6 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

5) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] A gnostic iconoclast, because the Logos cannot be imaged."

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

It is improper to make images of God (2nd Commandment), and though Jesus was a real, visible man, a picture of Jesus would only be a picture of his humanity. No image can capture Jesus' divinity (I John 4:12). Jesus was not a phantom even after the resurrection (Luke 24:42-43). Nevertheless, we are not to make or worship idols (I John 5:21).

Not only was the Bible not an illustrated book, there are few physical descriptions of Jesus to tell us what he looked like. We know he was a Palestinian Jew, and that he "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). The beauty of Christ is in the gospel of repentance and faith that he preached, and it is that message we proclaim, not a painted, carved, or sculpted image:

Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Thus, when John describes Jesus - he calls him the "Word" - the Logos. Thus, as John explains:

John 1:14-17
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Thus, the Word was made flesh - the Creator put on the creation. And what did the Word bring? He brought grace and truth - the fulfillment and completion of the law given by Moses. Thus, Jesus' apostles completed the book (the Bible) that Moses began.

Furthermore, Scripture (the Bible) is both formally and materially sufficient (II Timothy 3:15). What Jesus taught has been revealed openly and not kept secret (John 18:20). Thus, the Scriptures contain a sufficient and full statement of revelation for salvation (John 20:31).

b) The Accusation Disputed

There may have been gnostic iconoclasts, but they are not a major issue in church history. Iconoclasts were generally anyone opposed to the worship of God by the use of images. It's a Scriptural position. Although Calvinists don't like the pejorative term "iconoclast," Moses himself was an Iconoclast, destroying the golden calf, grinding it up into powder, and making the people drink it - so being an Iconoclast cannot be all bad.

Gnostics had a variety of odd beliefs. One of the beliefs of many gnostics was the idea that Jesus was a phantom, lacking a true body. Thus, the Gnostics denied that Christ's body and blood were sacrificed for us. They refused, therefore, to participate in the Eucharist, because it symbolized something they didn't believe in. Another Gnostic teaching was the idea that Scripture was insufficient, and that consequently tradition (especially oral tradition) was necessary. Calvinists celebrate the Eucharist (we normally call it "the Lord's Supper" to distinguish it from the practices of Rome) and we affirm the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture, denying the need for any external body of oral tradition.

c) The Accusation Redirected

Rome has a Eucharist, but they deny the formal and/or material sufficiency (depending who in Catholicism you ask) of Scripture. I wouldn't blame their denial of the sufficiency of Scripture on Gnostic influences, it is simply a similarity. Instead, we tend to see Gnostic (and related) influences in terms of an excessive focus on Mary. The Gnostics were fond of focusing on minor Biblical characters, of which Mary is one. Some of the odd teachings of Gnosticism regarding Mary seem to have found their way into Catholicism's folklore and legends, if not always into dogmatic teachings (such as the idea that Mary's birth of Jesus was pain-free: Gnostics, imagining Jesus to be a phantom, wouldn't expect the birth to be very painful).

-TurretinFan

Continue to Part 7

7 comments:

Rhology said...

Howdy T-fan,

Are you of the persuasion that any pictorial portrayal of Jesus in His humanity is verboten? Just curious.

Turretinfan said...

I cannot think of any Scriptural basis or example to suggest that such a portrayal would be something pleasing to God.

-TurretinFan

Rhology said...

Well, the same could be said of smoking a pipe, I should think, and plenty of TR-types seem to think that's perfectly OK.
I guess what I mean is whether you think it's permissible. I met a guy not too long ago who is Reformed and who thinks it's a violation of the 2nd Cmdmt to make an image of Jesus in His humanity. I agreed that images of God the Father are right out, but I'm not so sure about a sober portrayal of Jesus the God-man, b/c He's a MAN. Take, say, the Jesus Film, a valuable missionary outreach tool. I'm not addicted to it, but it's quite useful. See what I'm getting at?

I guess this could be a long discussion, so I don't mean to necessarily start one. Was just curious about a brief thought.

Turretinfan said...

In the instance of the "Jesus Film," I would agree with those who say this violates the second commandment.

-TurretinFan

Rhology said...

OK, fair enough.

Well, in case you ever run out of blog material, there's an idea you could maybe develop sometime.

Cheers!

natamllc said...

I believe the only image we have to "handle" is in fellowship and communion. If I understand the verses well then I would submit these for that point:::>


Act 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Act 4:32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Act 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.


It seems to me this is the "only" common ground upon which we can have one another in our hearts?

It was emphasized in Church yesterday that Christ is the only one the "promises" were made too. God makes no promise to those outside the camp of the Righteous and we believe no one is inside the camp of His Righteousness by their equitable deeds:

Act 3:25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'
Act 3:26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness."

and

Gal 3:16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.

Anonymous said...

Dear Turretinfan,

When you say that "a picture of Jesus would only be a picture of his humanity," are you certain that is what you mean? Wouldn't an image of Jesus be an image of the person, not an image of the nature? Can one make an image of a nature?