Wednesday, August 04, 2010

On God's Covenant to Save His People from Idolatry

Matthew Lankford has posted a series of videos from J. Virgil Dunbar on the topic of the unlawful use of images, "On God's Covenant to Save His People From Idolatry."

0. Introduction
Dunbar explains the general thrust of the series.

1. What does God's covenant law say about images made to represent Him?
Dunbar explains that the point of the second commandment is different from the first commandment. The second commandment is related to making images of the true God. It does not forbid images in general. Dunbar explains how God is jealous of such images.

2. How do we know that the world is not God?
Dunbar explains the error of monism and its relation to the second commandment. The second commandment is one way that we know that world is not God.

3. What symbols do you use for God?
Dunbar explains the difference between visual representation symbols and the types and symbols of the Old Testament.

4. What symbols can we use for God?
Dunbar notes that the Old Testament period has passed, but what do we have now? Dunbar explains that we have the Bible and the Sacraments.

5. What did the early church believe about images made to represent God?
Dunbar explains that the early church followed the teaching and practice of the Apostles and did not worship using images.

6. Why does the Roman Catholic Church require its people to use images to represent the Lord?
Dunbar explains that Roman Catholic teaching is a complete reversal of the Scriptural teaching on the subject.

7. What did the Reformers believe about images made to represent the Lord?
Dunbar explains that the Reformed believers did not use images to represent the Lord and considered such to be idolatry, even as early as Huss.

8. How has the Protestant Church changed, so that they now use images to represent the Lord?
Dunbar explains a variety of influences that have led to the present practice, including Dispensationalism.

9. What is the testimony of those who saw God?
Dunbar observes how men ranging from Moses to Isaiah both saw God and opposed the use of images of God.

10. On Islam punishing the image-using church
Dunbar suggests that the iconoclastic movement may be tied to Christian recognition of the judgment of God, by the sword of Islam, against those who worship God with images.


J. Virgil Dunbar's writings can be accessed here.

Enjoy!

-TurretinFan

14 comments:

Coram Deo said...

Wow, what a treasure trove! Thanks for posting this, TF!

I'm really looking forward to reviewing these videos!

In Him,
CD

Mark said...

TF,

Nice post.
I have a question thought that i have been thinking about since reading some of your posts on having images of Jesus (God).

I sometimes where a shirt that shows bloody lashes across the back of Jesus (I get a lot of stares in public). It doesn't show His face but i was wondering would this be considered something that I should not use (or wear) as an image?

Turretinfan said...

There wouldn't be a problem with the back of Paul, who suffered stripes for Christ. Perhaps if the shirt does not specify what person, you may be able to use it in that way?

Mark said...

TF,

It's pretty specific because it has Jesus'crown of thorn on His head.

This is it:

http://www.choiceshirts.com/item/A3858C/?utm_source=findgift&utm_medium=shoppingfeed&utm_campaign=findgiftfeed

If something like this would not be acceptable to wear then should wouldn't making movies of Jesus be somewhat the same thing?

For instance, when i watched the Passion of the Christ i watched an image on screen that portrays Jesus.

Mark said...

Sorry for the terrible wording of my sentences.

By the way, I didn't get that shirt from that site. Which i found out is a catholic site. lol.

I went to look through the Bible and see if I would be at fault for wearing an image of Jesus. I don't think there is support for it.

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" Exodus 20:4

But here is the key:

"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" vs. 5

"But those who trust in idols,
who say to images, 'You are our gods,'
will be turned back in utter shame." Isaiah 42:17

The key here is: making the images gods

"All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!"

Psalm 97:7

The key here is: all who worship images.

There are many other passages but the underlying principle always seems to be worshiping the image.

So the question would be am I worshiping the actual image on my shirt and making it out to be a god? or God?

I would say no. Perhaps you can help me if I am in error.

natamllc said...

Ok, I just finished listening to all the video clips. Compelling!

Starting backwards with a few comments then.

It seems to me I am let down in one sense with this first comment. I will digress. Well, after listening to this man, Dr. J. Virgil Dunbar and experiencing his "gentle" spirit, and sensing the Spirit of Christ, he issues some warnings of possibly pending judgments coming upon the United States for our reckless use of images of God and religious icons the way a vast many do now when making a connection to Islam, I paused to note just how much more powerful a witness he is in giving a warning of Islam than we have come to experience with Dr. Caner and his own attempts at bringing a focus on the ravages of Islamic jihad.

I know it is unwise to compare, yet that connection being made by him, Dr. Dunbar, seemed as a more powerful prominent sense of conviction that came over me as I listened to that clip than I recall ever coming over me when listening to Dr. Caner's video clips.

As for some other comments that were quite compelling to me; the one comment about God creating "out of nothing" everything. And if one use the logic he described some have used, it makes sense why there would be a deception that all matter, or created substances were as much God as God. He makes it very clear the differences between God and the creations.

Finally, the most telling and powerful of all the reasonings laid out through these video clips were with regard to those Scripture clearly teaches who "saw" God.

Clearly all the earliest Apostles saw Jesus and none of them taught in their epistles to make any likeness, a rendering, a painting or a sculpture of Jesus according to their personal memories of Him. And neither did Moses or Isaiah. In fact, as he points out, all of them, those who were eye witnesses of God in both Testament records were teaching the opposite!

This was very helpful to me to settle some things in my own mind.

Thanks for the reproduction of these short video clips hereon TF!

I appreciate your loyal service to the Lord in the face of some pretty stupid and ignorant folks who comment in here about you, your anonymity and your work of service in Ministry.

As Our Dear Lord said:

Luk 6:22 "Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Luk 6:23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

ChaferDTS said...

TF, thank you for the posting of the videos on the issue of the use and practice of images. I agreed with a majority of the things which were said. But there were a few incorrect statements which he made in video # 8 regarding dispensationalism. I felt a broadbrush was used and tended to paint an incorrect understanding of what dispensationalist of the past and the present believe on this issue. Dr.John Mac Arthur has expressly in some sermons spoken out againist the RCC on their use and practice of images. And even early dispensational writings you may find this practice condemned or spoken out againist.

1. Dispensationalist do believe that idol worship is a sin and that 9 of the 10 commandments were carried over from the Law of Moses and restated in the Law of Christ. The use and practice of images would then be spoken out againist it.
2. Dispensationalist believe that both the Old Testament and New Testament are equal in authority with one another.
3. Dispensationalist follow the literal grammatical historical method in their biblical interpretations regarding their reading of the Old Testament.

Having said all this I found the videos very informative for people to listen to and may learn from it. The use of images in the church is really no better than the use of the golden calf. Enjoy your week end and God bless you.

Matthew said...

@ChaferDTS

Dr.John Mac Arthur has expressly in some sermons spoken out againist the RCC on their use and practice of images.

I'd be interested in hearing those sermons, where MacArthur condemns purported images made to represent the Lord, if they are available online. I'd also be interested in reading the early dispensational writings that condemn purported pictures of the Lord -- if they are available online, or if you can quote them (sources would be helpful too).

From what I've read by MacArthur, he denies that the Second Commandment applies to making purported images of the true God and, in essence, adopts the Romanist belief that the incarnation of the Son of God ushered in a new-economy of images. MacArthur even encourages the use of many different images that are purportedly of Christ (false Christs) to be entertained in the mind:

"we still encourage our children to read many many Christian books. And all of them have pictures of Jesus, but all of them have pictured Him differently. And I think you’re pretty safe if you approach it that way. If you get some great big head of Christ slammed in the middle of your house, now I’m not against that; that’s OK if you like that. But I perceive Christ in my own mind, and I’m very comfortable with that. And I’ve never yet seen the picture that looks like what I believe He is, but that’s just a personal preference." (http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/1301-J-6.htm)

natamllc said...

I know I am going out on a limb here.

I have some empathy for what MacArthur writes there.

Just consider the forensic anthropologist/paleontologist criminalist who can create a likeness and image of a human being from their skull so as to identify them and then come to find out just how exactly that created image is to a picture provided by the family of the person while they were still alive.

What's the point?

The mother of Jesus had a particular historical forensic form, a bone structure and specific features carried forward from the pure pedigree from the Tribe of Judah. There were twelve tribes of Israel and each of them seemed to carry the characteristics of one of the sons of Jacob?

From this sort of argument, even though it is benign to think of Mary this way, one could do such a thing. And, although it is impossible for either Enoch, Moses or Elijah as well, if perchance Mary's remains were discovered, Mary's skull could be given to a modern day forensic anthropologist/paleontology Criminalist to have them recreate her likeness and form rendering her similitude when she was alive as the mother of Jesus?

I met a man in his eighties who claimed to have documents that traced his family all the way back to the days of Moses and Aaron proving his family's heritage were of and from the Levitical priesthood of Aaron. Based on the exacting knowledge of this science of forensic recreation, I could imagine what features Aaron had by looking at my friend?

Now, having said that, the science is there that such a person could recreate what Jesus looked like if the person had his actual skull to work from; which, as we understand, is impossible to have, seeing He is risen and sits at the Very Right Hand of God Almighty soon to return to this earth to claim in toto His Bride!

It is not far fetched that we could take the skeletal remains of one of His brothers or Mary and come close to what His image and likeness is?

Having said that, I am more convinced now that it would violate the 2nd Commandment to do so.

However, I am not convince, if such artistic renderings continue to be produced in violation of the 2nd Commandment, we would sin to take those lemons and make lemonade with them for evangelistic purposes to bring someone to the revelation of the Truth by such lemons so they could come to understand as maturity comes about in their frame of mind it's a violation for them to make such an image of Christ?

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
Eph 2:15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
Eph 2:16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Eph 2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

ChaferDTS said...

"I'd be interested in hearing those sermons, where MacArthur condemns purported images made to represent the Lord, if they are available online."

He condemns their use of images. They are found on YouTube it's called The Pope and The Papacy. He made a long list of things at the RCC as well.

"I'd also be interested in reading the early dispensational writings that condemn purported pictures of the Lord -- if they are available online, or if you can quote them (sources would be helpful too). "

Best known would be The Principles Of Theology : An Introduction To The Thirty-Nine Articles by Dr. W.H.Griffith. He was an early dispensationalist and co founder of Dallas Theological Seminary with Lewis Sperry Chafer. It condemns veneration of relics and images. This is an exposition of the 39 Articles.

"From what I've read by MacArthur, he denies that the Second Commandment applies to making purported images of the true God and, in essence, adopts the Romanist belief that the incarnation of the Son of God ushered in a new-economy of images. "

That would be incorrect. His note in Ex. 20:4-6 of The Mac Arthur Study Bible would appear to contradict what you claim.

ChaferDTS said...

The mode or fashion of worship appropriate to only one Lord forbids any attempts to represent or caricature Him by use of anything He made. Total censure of artistic expression was not the issue; the absolute censure of idolatry and false worship was the issue. Violation would seriously affect succeeding generations because the Lord demanded full and exclusive devotion, i.e., He is a jealous God ( cf. 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 5:9 ) . The worship of man-made representations was nothing less than hatered of the true God. ( The Mac Arthur Study Bible, pg. 124, NKJV )

Matthew said...

@natamllc

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

Not dumb images.

"He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it." (Exodus 32:20)

So much for "lemonade"

--

@ChaferDTS

ChaferDTS said... "He condemns their use of images. They are found on YouTube it's called The Pope and The Papacy. He made a long list of things at the RCC as well."

MacArthur condmened RCC Mariolatry and the RCC's false Christ, but I didn't find a statement where he condmened purported images of Christ. If there is one, perhpas you can provide it?

ChaferDTS said... "Best known would be The Principles Of Theology : An Introduction To The Thirty-Nine Articles by Dr. W.H.Griffith. He was an early dispensationalist and co founder of Dallas Theological Seminary with Lewis Sperry Chafer. It condemns veneration of relics and images. This is an exposition of the 39 Articles."

Okay... they condemn the veneration of them... but no specific, clear, concise, direct, quote you can provide from them that condemns purported images of Christ?

ChaferDTS said... "That would be incorrect. His note in Ex. 20:4-6 of The Mac Arthur Study Bible would appear to contradict what you claim."

Uh... no... Did you look at MacArthur's comments on the link I provided? He said as much. MacArthur: "You could never make an image of a spirit being, right? So He couldn’t be talking about an image of Himself. I mean, not essentially." The MacArthur Study Bible note on Ex 20:4-6 starts out good (contradicting MacArthur's statement). However, note how MacArthur uses the past tense "was" "was" in his commentary and at the end: "The worship of man-made representations WAS nothing less than hatred of the true God." i.e. 'they were hatred, but now they're love, because of the new economy of images!'

Perhaps I'd be more charitable with MacArthur's words if he repudiated his old (false) claims, removed them from the web (if possible), stopped using images (e.g. cover art: The Jesus You Can't Ignore [2009], The Murder of Jesus [2004]), and made clear in no uncertain terms that purported pictures of Christ are idolatry... but he hasn't.

Matthew said...

*condemned
*perhaps

natamllc said...

Matthew

hah!

lemons+crushing+mixing with water=unsweetened lemonade!

calf/lemons+calf/crushing+mixing with water = unsweetened lemonade/judgment!

problem?

:) or :(