Friday, August 20, 2010

Second Helvetic Confession on Images

The following is CHAPTER IV of the Second Helvetic Confession (1562, revised 1564) "Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints" (link to Confession) Adopted by the Reformed Church not only in Switzerland but in Scotland (1566), Hungary (1567), France (1571), and Poland (1578).

IMAGES OF GOD. Since God as Spirit is in essence invisible and immense, he cannot really be expressed by any art or image. For this reason we have no fear pronouncing with Scripture that images of God are mere lies. Therefore we reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians.

IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come "to abolish the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets" (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are therefore the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16). But "what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (II Cor. 6:16).

IMAGES OF SAINTS. And since the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they lived here on earth, rejected all worship of themselves (Acts 3:12 f.; 14:11 ff.; Rev. 14:7; 22:9) and condemned images, shall anyone find it likely that the heavenly saints and angels are pleased with their own images before which men kneel. uncover their heads, and bestow other honors?

But in fact in order to instruct men in religion and to remind them of divine things and of their salvation, the Lord commanded the preaching of the Gospel (Mark 16:15) - not to paint and to teach the laity by means of pictures. Moreover, he instituted sacraments, but nowhere did he set up images.

THE SCRIPTURES OF THE LAITY. Furthermore, wherever we turn our eyes, we see the living and true creatures of God which, if they be observed, as is proper, make a much more vivid impression on the beholders than all images or vain, motionless, feeble and dead pictures made by men, of which the prophet truly said: "They have eyes, but do not see" (Ps. 115:5).

LACTANTIUS. Therefore we approved the judgment of Lactantius, and ancient writer, who says: "Undoubtedly no religion exists where there is an image."

EPIPHANIUS AND JEROME. We also assert that the blessed bishop Epiphanius did right when, finding on the doors of a church a veil on which was painted a picture supposedly of Christ or some saint, he ripped it down and took it away, because to see a picture of a man hanging in the Church of Christ was contrary to the authority of Scripture. Wherefore he charged that from henceforth no such veils, which were contrary to our religion, should be hung in the Church of Christ, and that rather such questionable things, unworthy of the Church of Christ and the faithful people, should be removed. Moreover, we approve of this opinion of St. Augustine concerning true religion: "Let not the worship of the works of men be a religion for us. For the artists themselves who make such things are better; yet we ought not to worship them" (De Vera Religione, cap. 55).

15 comments:

Lvka said...

Here's what The Mozaic Confession had to say on images:


"THUS SAITH THE LORD:

Thou shalt make two cherubim of pure gold.

AMEN". +

natamllc said...

LUKA

there you go again.

What is the point here you are making?

Are you justifying the practices you adhere to in the EOC with Mozaic practices?

If that is what you attempt by commenting that way, please reconcile your wisdom with the wisdom of Hebrews, here:

Heb 8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
Heb 8:2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
Heb 8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
Heb 8:4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
Heb 8:5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."
Heb 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
Heb 8:8 For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
Heb 8:9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Heb 8:11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."
Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Turretinfan said...

Luka,

If your iconostasis were a frame like the cherubim, and you worshiped in Spirit and in Truth the unseen God between the two sides of the iconostasis, we wouldn't object as we do.

But you know very well that people in your church kiss the icons (whereas no one kissed the golden cherubim) and light candles before them and pray as though toward them.

It's not the same - no matter how much you might wish it were.

- TurretinFan

TimB said...

Keep your Crosses full and your tombs empty and rightly divide Law and Gospel.

Turretinfan said...

Crosses full?

TimB said...

Cyberbrethren had made a post on " iconoclastic agenda" I found helpful http://cyberbrethren.com/2009/02/28/lutherans-and-the-crucifix/

I recomend all read the link, here is a snipit

Objection 5: A crucifix that bears the Lord’s image is idol worship.
The sentiment expressed in this argument betrays a gross
misunderstanding of the commandment (singular, not plural) prohibiting
idol worship (Exodus 20:4-6). Many Protestant denominations divide up
the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) so that "Thou shalt not make unto thee
any graven image," and "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor
serve them" was split into two commandments. Early Protestants altered 
the Commandments to advance their iconoclastic agenda. Until then all
 Christians and Jews considered "making" and "bowing down" as part of
the same commandment. For three thousand years, from Moses until the
Protestant iconoclasts’ scriptural revisionism, making and bowing down
to graven images constituted one commandment. Iconoclasm required the
Reformed to change the meaning of Holy Scripture as reflected in the
Reformed Church’s Westminster Larger Catechism of 1647............

TimB said...

Yes even those at my own church seemed to prefer an empty cross, I like 'em with the Corpus.

Lucian said...

no one kissed the golden cherubim

Ever been to a synagogue? Jews are as much a 'kissing culture' as us.


light candles before them

Uhm,... like the Temple Menorah, you mean?... :-\


and pray as though toward them.

You mean as Moses did, when He sat down on hid face to meet God from between the two Cherubim? (Exodus 25:22)


If your iconostasis were a frame like the cherubim

You mean like the courtain in Exodus 26:1, which divided the Holy (where the Priests and Levites worshipped daily) from the Holy of Holies (where only the High Priest entered once a year, on the Day of the Atonement)?


It's not the same - no matter how much you might wish it were.

Seems pretty much the same to me...

TimB said...

" Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious?"
While not a big fan of the pietism movements
I could think that many of the great paintings would reinforce reading and hearing the word.

http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/2006/01/essential-paintings-for-theologians.html

Lucian said...

and you worshiped in Spirit and in Truth

I, uhm.. don't think that means what you think it means..

To worship in Spirit and in Truth means just that: to worship in Spirit and in Truth... it doesn't mean anything else...

Viisaus said...

"Ever been to a synagogue? Jews are as much a 'kissing culture' as us."

You insult our intelligence once again with this non-sequitur argument.

Firstly, the original Jerusalem temple cult vastly different from later synagogue-cults which are merely its very pale imitations.

You have no Biblical proof of Israelites kissing those cherubim or lighting any candles for THEM - or praying to them. You know this, and thus made your dishonestly evasive insinuating quip about modern Jews.

Secondly, Talmudic Jews have been spiritual descendants of Christ-rejecting Pharisees. As such, they have loads of their own obnoxious man-made superstitions and legalistic extra-Biblical practices. We need not follow their example.

Viisaus said...

"You mean like the courtain in Exodus 26:1, which divided the Holy (where the Priests and Levites worshipped daily) from the Holy of Holies (where only the High Priest entered once a year, on the Day of the Atonement)?"

Again you are brazenly comparing apples and oranges (as you lack any better material), but even if we'd grant your point for the sake of argument, you are shootinng yourself on foot here.

For Jesus' great mission was (among others things) to TEAR DOWN that curtain (Matthew 27:51-53), to open the way between men and God through His own mediation - free from any inferior mediators, be they earthly priests (like in the OT) or saints and angels in heaven.

So thus you are essentially saying that the EOs are, with their iconostasis, impiously returning to an obsolete Old Covenant practice, "Judaizing"...

TimB said...

"For Jesus' great mission was (among others things) to TEAR DOWN that curtain"

Kind of like Mr. Gorbachev :)
I like to think of the "rend the heavens" verse.

Lvka said...

Jesus' great mission was to TEAR DOWN that curtain

..which is probably the reason why we have doors and courtains in the iconstand, which the Priest opens wide at appointed / symbolic times during the Liturgy.. and which are kept open and never closed during Easter-season.. :-)


to open the way between men and God through His own mediation - free from any inferior mediators, be they earthly priests (like in the OT) or saints and angels in heaven.

You are aware that 1 Peter 2:5, 9 is a reference to Exodus 19:6, right? -- [so if you're suggesting that this verse is supposedly directed against the existence of a sacerdotal priesthood, I think Moses himself would be very much surprised!.. Looks like he (and God) had no problem with the two kinds of priesthood (general and special) existing side by side.. so why should we?..]


Firstly, the original Jerusalem temple cult vastly different from later synagogue-cults which are merely its very pale imitations.

So you're suggesting then that the amount of kissing and veneration going on at the First Temple was signifficantly higher than that of the Second one, right? :-) -- It seems to result so from your own words...


your dishonestly evasive insinuating quip about modern Jews.

Judaism was, is, and has been a traditional culture, civilisation, and religion.


Secondly, Talmudic Jews have been spiritual descendants of Christ-rejecting Pharisees. As such, they have loads of their own obnoxious man-made superstitions and legalistic extra-Biblical practices.

All Eastern and Oriental cultures displayed and still display this trait. It's not something unique to Judaism.


Again you are brazenly comparing apples and oranges

Uhm,.. you mean like you guys here comparing icons to idols, when the Scripture make such a clear and obvious distinction between the two, which you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge? :-)

Turretinfan said...

In response to this: " Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious?"

Timb wrote: "While not a big fan of the pietism movements"

The reference to "pious" isn't a reference to pietism.

Timb continued: "I could think that many of the great paintings would reinforce reading and hearing the word."

The Holy Spirit doesn't seem to think it's a commendable practice.

-TurretinFan