Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cranmer on the Second Commandment

Here are some thoughts from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489 – 1556) on the second commandment:
God did also foresee, that, in the latter days, men should come, who would maintain worshipping of images, not only with painted colours, but also with painted words, saying, We kneel not to the image, but before the image. We worship not the image, but the thing which is represented by the image. We worship not the creatures, but the Creator in the creatures. And such like excuses the greatest idolaters did always pretend. But to the intent that they should not so deceive you, God oftentimes in holy Scripture calls upon you, saying, Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image or likeness of any creature. Thou shalt not kneel, nor bow thyself down to it. For what can be more contrary to the dignity of man, than that he, whom God hath made lord over all creatures, should kneel or do reverence to the image of a creature!

God hath so fashioned man, that he hath given him a body standing straight up, and a countenance to look upward into heaven. And why then should he bow himself downward to the earth, or to creatures made of earth, which are rather to be trodden under his feet, than to be worshipped of him? There is nothing more against reason, than that he who hath life, sense, and reason, should worship a thing which can neither see, feel, move, hear, nor understand. Wherefore God saith plainly, Thou shalt not worship images; that is to say, Thou shalt not gild them and set them in costly tabernacles, and deck them with coats or skirts: thou shalt not cense them, make vows or pilgrimages to them, set candles before them, and offer unto them. Thou shalt not kiss their feet, and bow down unto them.

For God saith; I am a jealous God, and will not give my honour to any creature, but will grievously punish them that break this my commandment. Yea, I will punish their children and posterity unto the third and fourth generation.
- Cranmer's Catechism, The Ten Commandments


Viisaus said...

I believe that paradoxically, it is permissible for a Christian to bow down in honor and service to some person in EARTHLY, "secular" sense, but not in religious, spiritual sense.

My proof text, 1 Corinthians 7:23:

"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."

Now, this is in the context where apostle Paul is telling Christian slaves how they must still diligently serve their earthly masters. He contrasts the way they must do service on earth, but how they are nevertheless free in Christ, in spirit (1 Cor. 7:22: "For he that is called in the Lord, [being] a servant, is the Lord's freeman.")

In original Greek, the sentence "be not ye the servants of men" goes like this:

"23. τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε: μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων."


DOULOI, slave-servants. This is the same word from which the RC/EO term for secondary worship of "dulia" comes from.

BE NOT DULIA-TORS OF MEN. To me, Paul's meaning in 1 Corinthians 7:23 is clear: even though Christians may sometimes have to dulia, "slave for" somebody in their earthly life, they need not "dulia" anyone else but God in their spiritual life!

(It is noteworthy that the pernicious practice of saint-worship originally formed (from the 4th century onwards) very much as a PROJECTION of the hierarchical classic social system to heaven, with saints seen as "patrons" that poor people had to humbly supplicate to get their various wishes done. As in earthly life of antiquity common people could not get appointments with the mighty without resorting to lower mediators like courtiers, so likewise it was reasoned that lowly sinners could not approach mighty God with their wishes without some intermediate actors.)

But Paul tells us that in SPIRITUAL sense, Christians are not meant to be "servants" or doulia-tors of any created beings, be they saints, angels or their images.

"Lord's freemen" do not need to bow and scrape to any celestial aristocracy of saints! (Who, if true saints, would not even want such attention.) They need not perform spiritual "dulia"-service to anyone but God Himself - no matter how greatly they would have materially "dulia" people while still on this earth.

ChaferDTS said...

Great quote in the article. Dr. Charles Hodge in his systematic theology set has a great exposition of the 2nd commandment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, TF, great quote!

It amazes me just how much you have residing within you that you can pull up and publish from memory! :)

To wit, I offer these telling Words noting "what" He did and did not do:

Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Luk 24:46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
Luk 24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
Luk 24:50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
Luk 24:51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
Luk 24:52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
Luk 24:53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

What does the Scripture teach He did?

Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

And when you consider that verse with this earlier verse, here:

Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

And considering that none of the New Testament authors ever instructed, nor did any of their disciples after them, instruct that an image of their eyewitness accountings should be made into a drawing, painting or sculpture from their memories so as to capture for posterity what they saw, one gets a sense that if this was to be a common practice, something the Church was to include in the community, the Holy Christian Church, as a part of daily worship, Jesus Himself would have made it a point to give them this understanding too, during this time period when He was revealing Himself to them in the physical manifestation of Himself after the Resurrection while instructing them from the Torah.

Here is the Greek word for "proclaim" used in verse 47 or Luke 24:::>

Of uncertain affinity; to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): - preach (-er), proclaim, publish.

What is repeated though in those days as well, obviously, is the same practice as the instruction given to Moses and others of the Old Testament/Covenant era, that is, write things down in a book form or as a written historical record to convey the message of the Gospel as we learn from Luke here, too:

Luk 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
Luk 1:2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
Luk 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
Luk 1:4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Act 1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,

Turretinfan said...

"It amazes me just how much you have residing within you that you can pull up and publish from memory! :)"

That was not from memory. It is from the book I referenced. A friend sent me the specific work, and I extracted that portion for the edification of those who stop by.

Coram Deo said...


Based upon his writings with which you are familiar, do you think Cranmer would have been fine with professing believers using flannel-graph Jesus for didactic purposes, or employing cartoon depictions of God the Son with the intent to make a theological point?

In your opinion is there a distinction between using a crucifix or a flannel-graph depction of Jesus with the intent of conveying information about His true humanity?

In Christ,

Turretinfan said...

I think the crucifix is a more aggravated offense. I don't think Cranmer would have had a stomach for the flannelgraph "Jesus" items. I don't have any use for them either.