28 July 2010

Not Just the Minimum

by Frank Turk

Well, this is what we have come to. Dan tweeted this cartoon in the last 7 days, and I RT’d it:



And in fact one of our friends at Triablogue linked to it because let’s face it: it is both funny and theologically-astute. When Jesus told (for example) Peter to follow him, straight up: he didn’t mean “watch” him, or “keep tabs” on him. Jesus meant “get off your fishing boat, Simon son of Jonah, and go where I am going.”

The point is, of course, that Jesus wants more, not just the minimum. Being a disciple is not the same as being a fan.

But the line drawing here elicited what I would call the classic tempest in a tea pot when one particular tea pot with more than one crack (the infamous Coram Deo) began accusing all involved of blasphemy because – now get this – it’s a cartoon of Jesus.


You see: this cartoon is a violation of the second commandment. The same sin which Israel committed when it raised up the Ashtoreth’s and Baals? That’s this cartoon – because it seems that all pictures are in some way graven images, and a picture of Jesus specifically is a graven image because, well, it’s Jesus. Apparently when you draw Jesus, you are doing the same thing as saying that the bread and the wine are actually God, and therefore you must worship them.



And of course we can’t have that. I mean that seriously: we can’t be worshipping things which are not God – everyone should agree to this as a premise for this discussion, and not merely in theory but also in fact. We shouldn’t pray to statues. We shouldn’t make a bull and offer gifts to it which we might otherwise give to God. We shouldn’t murder our children for any reason, but certainly not to somehow offer their lives to something which is allegedly going to give us health and wealth and (ironically) fertility.

We can’t be making graven images for the sake of worship, now can we? That’s flat out.

But can we in some way make a sermon? I mean this: given that no one as far as I know has started worshipping the cartoon of Jesus slamming twitter-sized “faith”, and no one has offered prayers to it or has otherwise genuflected or splashed one’s self with water to do whatever the water is supposed to do because of this cartoon, what if this is a 30-second sermon?

Do you see what I’m saying here? DJP and Josh Harris and Patrick Chan and myself all used Twitter to send a message in a Twitter-sides data stream that Jesus doesn’t want you personally to be a tweet-sized follower of Jesus. You should put down the proverbial net – or in this case, the actual mouse and KB, or your laptop, or your phone or iPhone – and follow Jesus.

That is: the real Jesus and not the cartoon Jesus, right? The one who actually was a person for reals and who died on a cross so that we can have forgiveness of sin and actual joy.

Not so that we can be just like the Muslims and start intellectual riots over cartoons – especially cartoons which frankly are more edifying than whole segments of the blogosphere which have never made one affirmative statement about faith or how it is lived in the real world.

You personally: I’m not talking about Twitter. I literally want you yourself to follow Jesus.

Right now.








388 comments:

1 – 200 of 388   Newer›   Newest»
Tom Chantry said...

I saw the cartoon and didn't like it at all. I also saw CD's comment and thought it was overkill.

I see two issues here. One is how we handle controversy. Yes, it's possible to go to defcon one every time a mosquito flies by. I would suggest that this has happened at least twice: CD's initial comment and any subsequent comment equating his response to Islamic death threats over cartoons.

The second issue, though, is also a serious one. The question of images - even non-devotional images - of Jesus has been long debated and discussed within the church.

On that issue, this post leaves me yearning for a more serious approach. I am reminded of Phil's post here.

Now lest I be misquoted, let me be clear: I do not think that this issue is a test of orthodoxy as is the nature of Christ. Further, I do not think that you, Frank, are engaging in doctrine as pure recreation. However, there is a long history of doctrinal argumentation on the application of the Second Commandment which you completely ignored in your post.

Do the thoughts of careful theologians in the past merit a cursory dismissal like you give them here? I'll admit, CD's initial blast didn't really bring much in the way of argumentation, but you're writing a whole post on a well-read theological blog. I think the issue of the meaning of idolatry requires something more than a disinterested wave-off.

zostay said...

O_o Wow. I mean wow. I appreciated the cartoon. Crazies.

On a related note, I haven't "Liked" or "Become of Fan" of things like the Bible just because it seems trite. I don't suppose it really matters one way or the other. Maybe if I could get them to name the link "Trust" or "Rely Upon" or a more significant verb, I'd do so.

Sometimes, I think this whole computer thing is just a fad and our grandchildren are going to laugh at us for it like we laugh about phrenology. (This is from someone who makes a living writing software.) Ah well... off to make money and write more software...

Cheers.

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

I did say specifically here, "start intellectual riots over cartoons." I think that's nuanced statement which still conveys, as far as I'm concerned, the attitude of CD specifically in this matter.

I am more than happy to treat this subject with the seriousness it deserves -- but CD's reacytion doesn't deserve serious treatment.

If the question of idolatry is at stake here, let's see how you would phrase it for the sake of making the point of why you personally were unconfortable with it. You're a reasonable person, and I can and will respect that.

Here's where I'd start with this cartoon: is it intended as an object of worship, or as an object lesson in which Jesus' actual teaching is framed up against contemporary fads? As I said in my post -- which I think is a serious point to be made and dealt with -- the objective here is not to get people to worship a picture: the objective is to write a sermon in a media-appropriate sized chunk.

Is it your position that there are no sermons which can be conveyed by a cartoon where one of the speakers must be Jesus?

Solameanie said...

Frank:Being a disciple is not the same as being a fan.

That statement is worthy of framing.

As to the argument Tom raises, I am certainly not dismissive of the arguments of this subject through the years, but it all comes down to what the Second Commandment actually says:

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I'm no Hebrew scholar, but at least in the English text it seems clear to me that the intent is making an image with the intent of worshipping or serving it. Aaron made the Golden Calf when the people demanded another god to worship. I have a hard time seeing someone doing an artistic rendering of a biblical scene (such as Jesus walking on water) and having that immediately slammed into the same category as someone making an image of Jesus to put in their family shrine.

But maybe I'm dense and not seeing the obvious.

Tom Chantry said...

Point taken re. your clarification. And again, I was put off by the initial reaction to the picture. For what it's worth, I saw it on Dan's blog, thought about emailing him, went to check the com thread first, read CD's statement, and said, "Oh brother! It's the Lord's Day, and I'm not getting into this!" So I sympathize with what you're saying.

To your question, "How you would phrase it for the sake of making the point of why you personally were unconfortable with it?" I would respond in this way:

I am convinced that idolatry involves not only images of false gods, but also of the One True God. My understanding of the Second Commandment is that it prohibited the use of visual art to depict God, and that it was this which was violated in Exodus 32 and wherever else we see a golden calf. I understand that Jesus is God come in the flesh, but the history of idolatrous worship of images of the Man Jesus lead me to doubt that this makes any difference. God has warned us in the strongest of tones not to depict Himself through visual arts, and I find the practice at the very least dangerous.

To your question, "Is it intended as an object of worship?" I would respond:

No, clearly not, and for that reason it is not nearly so offensive to me as a crucifix. However, I would note that the Second Commandment makes two prohibitions, "you shall not make any carved images..." and "you shall not bow down to them and serve them." I stand with those who hold that this wording implies that even the making of the images is contrary to God's law, but I can easily maintain fellowship with those who disagree and say that only the making of images for the purpose of worship is prohibited.

And finally, to the question, "Is it your position that there are no sermons which can be conveyed by a cartoon where one of the speakers must be Jesus?" I say:

Yes, that is my position. Verbal preaching is expressly commanded in Scripture, which is why verbal illustration of the sort used by Jesus and the Apostles cannot be considered the equivalent of the use of visual artistry. Verbal preaching is closely related to the verbal revelation of God in a way that visual artistry is not. Visual artistry necessarily takes us further from the self-revelation of God in Scripture, and that, I believe, is why it has been prohibited in the law.

What I would not say is that Dan is a blasphemer for posting the cartoon, nor that you are a heretic for defending its use. I hope this thread doesn't go there, and I won't take it there.

DJP said...

Would it have mollified CD if I'd added to my post the words "Please do not worship this picture"?

But since the second commandment is sweeping, wouldn't I have to put that on every picture? And CD's own avatar? And the descriptive words we type?

Mark B. Hanson said...

I think beyond Frank's and Tom's point/counterpoint lie two further questions:

1. Is there the slightest chance someone would mistake this image as something intended for worship - that they would worship the wrong Jesus because of it?

2. Does this cartoon denigrate Jesus in any way? That is, might a person reading this cartoon think less of Jesus because of it?

To my mind, the answer to the first question is unequivocally "no", and to the second, "probably not". But those questions should certainly be considered in deciding whether blasphemy is at stake.

Robert said...

I don't mind the cartoon because it depicts what is seriously wrong with a lot of people's conceptions of what the Christian life really is. This is especially true given the age of technology that we live in. People make up and break up on fb. They use it to communicate and to show their thoughts. I use fb to post my thoughts on Scripture from time to time and hopefully spark meaningful conversation. I don't have a problem with that, but I think there is a huge problem with people doing as little as possible (i.e. following/liking "The Bible", "I Love God", etc.).

I'm reading one of the books from "The Essential Edwards Collection" by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney and saw some interesting statistics on this type of nominal Christianty. For instance, Rodney Stark did a study of some prominent evangelical megachurches and found that only 45% attend services weekly or more often, only 46% tithe, and only 33% read the Bible daily. Also, a couple of pollsters ( D. Michael Lindsay and George Gallup) performed a study with the following results for those who claimed to be born again: 33% are pro-choice (abortion), 26% believe in astrology, and 20% believe in reincarnation. This shows me that people find it way to easy to claim the name of Christ without truly following Him. Sure, some of these people may be immature Christians, but I tend to think that most have never really heard a true gospel presentation like Peter or Paul present to people in the NT.

I agree with Frank that so long as we are not worshipping the cartoon, there isn't a real problem. And as long as we're not taking this simplistic approach to teaching the truth, either. We have to get back to the Bible eventually and deal with the hard truths. And I think this cartoon can be a useful tool to get from Tw and fb to the Bible.

Tom Chantry said...

But since the second commandment is sweeping, wouldn't I have to put that on every picture? And CD's own avatar? And the descriptive words we type?

That raises an intriguing point. This is in fact the Anabaptist interpretation of the Second Commandment - that all visual art, or at least all depictional art - is a violation. (I don't know whether they would have had a problem with Cubism!)

I believe that the rather obvious biblical answer is that art specifically depicting things other than God was used in the Tabernacle and in the Temple - in both cases at God's expressed command. The wide sweeping language prohibiting depictional art must be limited by that in some sense.

Some would suggest (as Frank has) that the limitation is in the intent to worship; others have said that the limitation is rather in the subject: God is not to be either worshiped or depicted through images.

Melinda said...

Tom-
So are you saying that all my years of viewing Sunday School felt board lessons was idolatry?

Tom Chantry said...

Melinda,

I am not saying that you are an idolator, nor that your teachers were idolators. I'm avoiding those terms because I think they imply an intent which is not there. What I am saying is that a serious consideration of the Commandments has led many Christians, myself included, to conclude that visual depictions of God - even of the incarnate Christ - are not the wisest way to perpetuate the faith.

witness said...

If CD thought it was soooo blasphemous to use that image, how come he can use it to point out you guys were wrong.

Seems hypocritical to me, but I m' sure he has good reason for it..

Turretinfan said...

What a sad world where Muslims are more zealously opposed to depictions of their prophet than Christians are of their God.

DJP said...

...because Muslims should be our model? I don't think so.

Rob said...

It's actually a fairly funny cartoon with a good message behind it in this social networking age, but in terms of the second commandment issue, this comic isn't inspiring me to worship that particular image. In fact, I have more of a problem with that Warner Sallman painting of Jesus with the blue eyes and long flowing hair than with a silly cartoon like this one.

Sharon said...

This cartoon was printed in our church's bulletin this past Sunday. I was bothered by the cartoon's placement in the bulletin. Somehow it did not seem to convey a respectful, reverent message to our congregation and perhaps to any unbelievers that may have been visiting. I am no theologian so have had a hard time trying to figure out why it botheed me and your post has helped. I've no objection to cartoons and in fact read them in the newspaper on a daily basis - just don't like them in my church's bulletin. We are there to worship - not to be entertained. Thanks for the post.

Turretinfan said...

"...because Muslims should be our model? I don't think so."

Was that what I said? I don't think so.

Frank Turk said...

One thing about the second commandment: it is one commandment, even though we break it up over two verses in the English Bible. It seems to me that the contemporary convention of making 2 senstences of it is not as useful as (here we go) the KJV -- which separates them by a colon, showing that the latter is consequential to the former. So don't make these images so that you will not consequentially bow down to them.

In that, I don't think we should be flip about Jesus. If this cartoon was part of a series where Jesus was made into a simpleton, or ridiculed, or shown to be impotent or useless, I get the point. But reading all that into this one frame is ungracious at best -- especially when it is a habitual activity on the internet and via Twitter to cite one-sentence quips from dead guys.

And I'm with DJP on this: somehow, even if we don't like the cartoon, our reaction should be Christocentric and no Muslim-comparative. Somehow our reaction should distinguish us from pagans.

Robert said...

Then what do we do with the name of Christ? What about writing the name God? If the intent is to worship the name and not the meaning of it, then we're in trouble and that can surely be done just as easily as for somebody to think of this comic as truly representing Christ. I think we have to look at the heart. Isn't this what Jesus was getting at in the Sermon on the Mount? Quit worrying about the vain externalities and cleanse your hearts.

Turretinfan, how would you answer Melinda's question regarding felt boards used to teach children? I know that my wife uses such materials for teaching pre-k children in Sunday school and it has helped them learn much about God. And if you think there is a better way, I'd like you to sit in the room with children ages 2-5 and see how well it works. So long as the teachers don't tell the kids they can just worship clouds on mountains (Mt. Sinai) or some painting/image of Jesus walking on water or rising in the clouds to heaven, then I don't see the problem. They have to be taught that Jesus came in the flesh...that God came in the cloud...that Jesus will return at the end of the world...in His glorified body.

Turretinfan said...

Or to provide another example, did CD argue like this: "You see: this cartoon is a violation of the second commandment. The same sin which Israel committed when it raised up the Ashtoreth’s and Baals? That’s this cartoon – because it seems that all pictures are in some way graven images, and a picture of Jesus specifically is a graven image because, well, it’s Jesus. Apparently when you draw Jesus, you are doing the same thing as saying that the bread and the wine are actually God, and therefore you must worship them."

No, that's similarly an inaccurate depiction of the objection.

The objection is not that drawing images of Christ is a violation of the first commandment (Baal etc.), nor is it that drawing images of Christ without intending to worship Christ through the images is equally heinous to the Roman Catholic practice.

The objection is to creating representations of God, contrary to the word of God. There's one authorized representation of Jesus Christ, namely the bread and cup of the Lord's supper. It's not a likeness of Christ, but be content with it.

Don't be like the people of Israel who felt the need to make God visible before their eyes in other ways than He had appointed.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"our reaction should be Christocentric and no Muslim-comparative"

Wasn't it you putting pictures of Muslims in your post?

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan, how would you answer Melinda's question regarding felt boards used to teach children? "

It was wrong, but obviously done in ignorance. Repent of what you did, and God who is rich in mercy will forgive.

(Word verification: "inquiti")

Tom Chantry said...

Confusing discussion now, because there are various voices. For my part, Frank, I get what you're saying about a Christ-honoring response not looking at all like the Muslim response.

I also agree that this cartoon did not do all the terrible things that cartoons might do with an image of Christ.

As I said earlier, I have no trouble fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters who hold to the interpretation of the Second Commandment which you just gave. I do not agree with it, but that doesn't in my mind make you the equivalent of either a crucifix-adorer or a Baal-worshiper.

To clarify my position just a bit, I believe that the prohibition against visual images of the divine is given for revelational as well as doxalogical reasons. Part of the problem with visual representations of God is that they limit the degree to which He is revealed in a way that verbal discussion does not. The Israelites might have thought that a golden calf was a particularly glorious representation, but they implicitly attributed to God all the limitations of a calf. God wills to be revealed by the reading and proclamation of His word. Any drawing of God - even of the incarnate Christ - must both add interpretive detail from the artists mind and at the same time limit the presentation of God to that detail.

It is, then, precisely because visual images are used to teach that some of us believe that God would not have us ever make images of Himself. Such teaching cannot be as precise as verbal communication is intended to be.

witness said...

Turretinfan, is CD perpetuating blasphemy by again showing that image in his own post?

Just asking.

Turretinfan said...

"I do not agree with it, but that doesn't in my mind make you the equivalent of either a crucifix-adorer or a Baal-worshiper."

Amen.

Tom Chantry said...

They have to be taught that Jesus came in the flesh...that God came in the cloud...that Jesus will return at the end of the world...in His glorified body.

This point is often raised. I do not believe it really impacts the discussion very much one way or the other. No Christian - including those of us who avoid the use of images of Christ when teaching our children - would ever disagree with this statement. Do you really mean that without pictures it is impossible to communicate the reality of the incarnation?

Turretinfan said...

Witness:

Is someone perpetuating blasphemy when they report blasphemy? When, for example, Scripture records the blasphemy of Rabshakeh (which I will reproduce below) are they perpetuating blasphemy?

2 Kings 18:28-30
Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

That is blasphemy, yet both Scripture and I are guitless in our reproduction of it. Do you agree?

-TurretinFan

Weeks said...

Of all the various and effective idols in all of the West to lament, we choose this? Whether it's a "graven image" in the first place is up for grabs in a big way from where I sit, as some of the definitions I'm inferring from the comments here would preclude all Christian artwork, period. I suppose the Sistine Chapel and Da Vinci's Last Supper are both idolatrous distractions as well. Where's the room for Christians to create culture with which to engage the darkness of the world around us?

Robert said...

Tom,

I will not say that it is impossible. What I will say is that for a two year-old, it is hard to explain some things with only words. Especially when you are teaching from the Bible as a whonle and not just the popular stories that some churches teach kids. I will say that we also need to balance that by explaining to the kids that we do not see God and that He is not confined like we are (dimensionally). I don't think we should necessarily be pragmatic, but I do think that we should be concerned with how well our kids are learning.

I have no problem with the fact that your convictions lead you to not agree with the use of this cartoon. I do have a problem with somebody telling me we should repent from this method of teaching because we do not have the same conviction (this is more aimed towards Turretinfan's response). I'm not even going to derail this post by getting into the vast amount of issues we'd be dealing with, then.

Turretinfan said...

Robert:

Since I view it as a sin, I'd be a horrible Christian if I didn't think people should repent of their sin.

You're welcome to disagree with me about whether it is a sin, but you should at least grant that it is consistent for me to view it as a sin and call sinners to repent.

Weeks:

Yes, the Sistine Chapel is an abomination - even more so than the cartoon above, because it dishonors the Father by portraying the Father in human form.

The "Last Supper" is probably less grievous than the cartoon because it is seriously intended. Nevertheless, it likewise depicts God the Son with an attempted representational likeness.

-TurretinFan

Tom Chantry said...

What I will say is that for a two year-old, it is hard to explain some things with only words.

I'll respond that in my experience, it's even harder to teach a two year old anything precise using more than words. Words engender a precision to which visual depiction cannot hope to attain. Pictures create a reality for children which rivals the reality of the actual world, and pictures of events which were initially depicted in words must necessarily add shades of meaning which didn't come from God. I can appreciate that it can be a difficult thing to teach a two year old about the incarnation without pictures, but I affirm that it can be done with words, especially with repeated words. (Here's my catechism
on the incarnation if you care to see what I mean.

Having spent untold hours in my two-fold career as a pastor and an educator telling children, "That never happened; it's not in the Bible," when they had had their brains filled up with visual depictions of various Bible stories, I have a different perspective on what is "hard." I fear that taking the easy road of relying on pictures to teach these things may be inviting much more complicated problems down the road. In other words, I too am concerned with how well our kids are learning, but I care equally much about what they are learning.

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

I agree that the discussion gets confusing, and this one may be headed that way. The irony is that I think I would agree with almost all the finer points of doxology and revelation you refer to here.

My point is explicitly homiletic. If one delivers a sermon with a word picture that is not in Scripture but reflects the meaning of Scripture, has one done something wrong? Then why specifically is it wroing to do exactly that with picture-pictures?

witness said...

~TurretinFan

The answer to your question is maybe. When you report/repeat blasphemy what is your intent?

It is obvious what the intent is behind Scripture, but what is in your heart and CD's?

Tom Chantry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Turretinfan said...

Feel free to ask CD about his heart. I don't answer for him.

I agree with you that intent is important.

My intent in quoting the blasphemy above should be obvious - it's serving as an illustration of blasphemy.

Tom Chantry said...

I know it's going to seem like I'm talking in circles here, but in a word, because God forbade visual representation of Himself yet encourages verbal proclamation.

In a world in which people always made visual representations of their gods - both to reveal their supposed attributes and glory and also as focal points for worship - God said, "Don't do that with me." God is jealous of His glory and jealous of His truth. He will not have His people sully either of those by representing Him in an unauthorized way.

Now I can understand that someone might infer from this that there is a prohibition against word pictures as well. Yet we know that God instituted verbal proclamation - in less technical language we call it preaching - as a way of perpetuating the faith. We know also that the Great Preacher drew word pictures of God (the father of the prodigal, e.g.). Thus we know that word pictures are not forbidden. Yet the language of the Second Commandment certainly seems to prohibit drawing pictures of God.

Some will say, "Yes, but that was before Christ came in the flesh." And are we to infer from that fact that the prohibition was removed when nothing of the sort was even hinted at in the New Testament?

Does it tell us nothing that not one of the four evangelists ever descended to even a brief description of Jesus' appearance? Isn't it odd that we have some sense of what David looked like, and even what Saul looked like, but none at all of what Jesus looked like?

In the end it seems to me that we have absolutely no reason to believe that God ever intended for people to draw pictures of Himself; in fact He gave a commandment warning against that practice and He confirmed that prohibition by avoiding giving us a visual description of His Son. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that when He authorized the preaching of His truth to the nations He did not intend for preachers to have the same latitude to make metaphoric illustration as Jesus used when He preached.

Frank Turk said...

T-fan: you're sure that the goal of DaVinci in The last Supper is "an attempted representational likeness"? You mean he thinks that's what jesus definitely looked like, and that is the point of the painting?

You're sure?

I'm not so sure.

Robert said...

Tom,

Excellent catechism...thanks for the link. We do the same type of thing with our sons. Our oldest loves to read, so he is a bit easier...I'll let him read a bit then discuss what he's been reading to see how much he really understands and where he needs help. We do have picture books that our youngest son uses and we have had to explain the difference between the pictures and the reality of God (although it amazes me that he has never had a problem with the fact that Jesus is God). It does help him to grasp some of the concepts better, though. He is autistic (highly-functioning) so I'm not sure if that plays into it some or not.

I guess some of my concerns are also rooted in the fact that I have seen many kids who can recite their way through verses and such, but never truly understand what the Bible means. Of course, the same could be said for kids who can draw what they think is going on, but not really understand it.

I think either way can work...and that both ways have their difficulties. I would call this more of a preference issue and each person should stand by their convictions from Scripture.

Turretinfan said...

Maybe you've read too much Dan Brown?

Turretinfan said...

(that was to Frank Turk who doesn't think da Vinci was trying to portray Jesus)

Frank Turk said...

I just read Tom's last comment, and then I read the book of Revelation.

And then I re-read Tom's last comment.

And then I decided that I would let Tom read Revelation again. :-)

witness said...

~TurretinFan

So your telling me there can be an instructive and meaningful purpose in using something that otherwise might have been blasphemous, if the intent is right?

I agree, it is almost redeeming to take something someone may have done in the wrong spirit and use it to glorify God instead.

Perhaps what Dan and Frank did is not blasphemous, but rather a simple failure on your part to see God glorified in their pointing out following Christ is taken too lightly.

Respectabiggle said...

I'd also point out that generations upon generations of our Reformed forefathers taught the Incarnation quite well without using flannelgraphs. Whether pictorial images of Christ are permissible under the Second Commandment or not, I don't think we can make the case based on their pedagogical necessity.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

This is a great little post Frank. And the comments are coming so fast it's hard to keep up with them! (I didn't follow the previously-alluded-to discussion, but it sounds like it was interesting.)

I just wanted to say that the connection to the Muslim is a good connection to make.

Before I got my dream job (housewife/mother), I worked for a bank. One of my tellers was a Muslim, and I was often humbled by her devotion and sincerity, modesty, and tight lips when it came to speaking of others. And one day she did a strange thing: she took a dollar bill that had been defaced, and she set it aside in her drawer to keep it safe. (As tellers, whenever we find money that is torn, defaced excessively, or worn and overly limp and faded, we gather them up and eventually send them back to the FED to be incinerated.) But this teller would not pass on her mutilated money to be eventually burned. Why not? Because the name GOD is on money (in God we trust), and therefore it must be treated with respect and not burned to ashes.

Big Aside: It makes me think of a movie I saw years ago where there's this mentally challenged group of people who manage to get out of the asylum for a while, and the one whose issue had to do with obsessively picking up garbage was let loose on the streets of a major city, with an endless supply of garbage to pick up, never to be seen again.

Back to the Muslim: while I respected her devotion and that she was, for all I could tell, living what she believed, there does seem to be a point where one could say, "That's excessive" and be right.

Tom Chantry said...

Hey! I thought we weren't supposed to talk about eschatology here! Doesn't that mean a thorough ban on the book of Revelation?

OK, seriously, I admit that John provides us with a few physical depictions of Jesus in Revelation. Can you tell me from Revelation what Jesus looks like? The white-haired Man of Chapter 1 (who, in his "likeness" to the "Son of Man" seems as difficult to visualize as anything Ezekiel ever wrote about)? Or perhaps the lamb on the throne in Chapter 4? Or is it the sharp-tongued horseman of Chapter 19? (forgive me)

My point is that two things may be said about the wonderful pictures of Jesus in John's revelation. First, they are - every one of them - word pictures. Second, none of them gives us any clear idea of what the incarnate Christ may have looked like. I'll grant you that He may have appeared in Chapter 1 somewhat similarly to how He appeared in the transfiguration, but even that is unclear.

Frank Turk said...

T-Fan:

You just lost the argument -- by giving up your credibility. I need you to think this through carefully and seriously: do you think that DaVinci was working to paint a picture which represented exactly what Jesus looked like, or was he trying to tell a story from the Bible with one picture?

There may be a third choice -- but any choice but the first makes your previous statement utterly senseless. Unless DaVinci was trying to paint a picture of Jesus expressly to make that the best (read: most representative of the actual guy Jesus in face and body) picture of Jesus ever, your point is utterly unimpressive -- especially relating to the matter of idolatry.

But if, for example, DaVinci was the first guy to paint this scene as if all the Apostles were reacting to what Jesus had just said, as if they were the ones receiving the news that one of them would betray Christ, and to do that DaVinci has paints the most important example of single-point perspective in the history of all painting (with Christ at the center vanishing point, the apex of the image), then your radical oversimplification that this is merely "an attempted representational likeness" seems to not actually have encountered this painting at all. It has only dolloped out a systematically-self-contained ladle full of ideas which, frankly, have no relationship to what DaVinci actually did.

Turretinfan said...

I maintain my totally incredible position that Leonardo da Vinci was trying to portray the Last Supper in his painting "The Last Supper."

I don't maintain the other incredible straw men attributed to me, but those straw men have lost the battle. When you have put the straw you've scattered away, I'll be happy to talk with you.

DJP said...

Frank to Tfan - by giving up your credibility

...which he had, at some point in this meta?

Turretinfan said...

"...which he had, at some point in this meta? "

Feel the love!

Robert said...

Merrilee,

I would submit that the Muslim has made an idol out of the handwritten name of God. It isn't like the concept of God is being destroyed if the money is burnt. In fact, I would submit that if this cartoon is off limits, then so would be the use of God's name on money. The image in the cartoon is used to express that Jesus wants us to follow Him literally. The intent of "In God We Trust" is to show that we are dependent upon God and trust in Him.

I had to go to Africa for a couple of weeks in March for work and my roommate was Muslim. He had an obvious problem with the fact that I would place my Bible on the floor by my bed every night so that I could wake up and read it. We had a trailer and lockers, but no bookshelf. The floor was cleaned daily, so I wasn't concerned that my bible would be damaged. The way that he reacted made it seem like he wondered, "how could I let God's Word be defiled?" Which brings me back to thinking, like Frank said about the second commandment, it is all about the intent. Am I planning to worship the physical book...or the cartoon...or the ink on the paper? Or am I worshipping Him?

Tom Chantry said...

I may have missed something in here somewhere, but I fail to see how calling art "representational" is equivalent to saying "it's primary purpose is to provide an exact physical representation." That's not a definition with which I'm familiar.

For my part, I think Frank's description of what DaVinci was doing is very insightful. It also makes the point against a visual interpretation of Christ.

Here's the reason: DaVinci must, if he is to tell the story in one picture, go far beyond the text. He must infer the distinct emotion of the various persons seated at that table, and among them He must infer how Jesus would have looked (not talking here about appearance but expression) when He said those words. In other words, he must import something from beyond the text.

To say that preachers may do the same thing is no argument. Preachers should not do this, while artists cannot help but do this. (Unless they want to produce non-art, that is.)

Furthermore, we respond to visual imagery less critically than we do to verbal communication. If we are looking at a text and someone says, "Jesus must have been so (fill-in-emotion) when he said this," a critical listener will say, "Then why isn't that in the text?" On the other hand, when we look at a picture, we tend to see reality as the artist intends. We accept his version of the story without criticism because it is presented on a somewhat sub-conscious level.

Honestly, I've been in this very discussion before, and the more that is said about the nature of art the more I think two things: I have great respect for true artists, and I appreciate how dangerous it is for them to play around with divine images.

Frank Turk said...

Tom --

Your standards are funny as they run around, Tom. Your examples of physical descriptions of David and Saul but not-Jesus fall apart when we include Revelation. They also fall apart when we read John's account of what happened to thomas, too, don't you think? We don't know if david and Saul had blue or brown eyes, or if they had hook noses are the movie-star schnoz -- we know only some general description of them. By the time we're at the end of John, we have the same for Jesus. that puts your point about what the Bible tells us about Jesus vs. other people into question.

BUT!

You have made the interesting point now that "word-pictures" are not the same as "images".

Was the serpent in the wilderness a word-pitcure? How about the angels over the mercy seat? It seems to me that the argument you are making is forgetting what is actually expressed more clearly in Rom 1 in that God does not want us worshipping created things, and forgetting that Ex 20:4 is not disjoined from 20:5.

Frank Turk said...

rep·re·sen·ta·tion·al   /ˌrɛprɪzɛnˌteɪʃənl, -zən-/ Show Spelled[rep-ri-zen-tey-shuh-nl, -zuhn-]–adjective

1. of or pertaining to representation.
2. representing or depicting an object in a recognizable manner: representational art.
________________________

What DaVinci's objective ijn painting The Last Supper to depict Christ in a recognizable manner (that is: for the sake getting others to worship this object), or was it to tell the story presented by Scripture?

Remember that he's a Renaissance guy. The fact that this has to go this far speaks volumes to the things those offended have overlooked.

Turretinfan said...

Have I argued that LdV was trying to get people to worship this painting? No. I haven't. That wasn't the argument. Scrolling up, I don't see anyone arguing that.

Is it representational art? Yes.

Does it purport to portray Jesus? Yes.

Does it have other purposes as well? Surely it does, whether one adopts Dan Brown's view or a more straightforward view.

Daryl said...

For the life of me I still can't see how the second commandment must not either:
a) Prohibit making images for the purpose of worship

or

b) Prohibit the making of any image of any kind, including a science text book.

Can anyone, Tom or T-fan in particular point to where the Bible prohibits making a drawing and saying, "Now that there, that's God. Right beside the barn.", where the intent is not worship?

Frank Turk said...

Tom said: "we respond to visual imagery less critically than we do to verbal communication."

Indeed not. I think we should apply the same reasonable critical apparatus to art that we do to words. It seems to me the post-anabaptist view of images abandons both the critical reading of Scripture and the critical assessment of the images in question. And given that the cartoon in question has both words and pictures, the ability of the reader to miss the point is such a narrow path that I wonder how committed one has to be to get there. Tom is not that committed -- he has already confessed that he's not on-board with the watchblogging fits already thrown at this cartoon.

What we're talking about here is how language and images are communicated, and whether God thinks that we are confined to words only for communication. every pastor who wear "sunday clothes" (in ever incarnation of that idea) knows it is false to say that we only communicate with words, and that God is only glorified when we communicate with words.

He just has to live the rest of his life as if he really believes that. :-)

~Mark said...

Would critics have been happier if it had just been some rays of light from the upper left corner of the frame and the word balloon emanated from that?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Robert, I agree with you, and that is exactly my point. We have a tendency to head towards extremes and enslave ourselves to such religious devotion in following the rules (which may not exactly be in scripture) that we miss the point, just like Martha did, just like the religious leaders at the time of Christ did.

(I sometimes get a kick out of the word verifications. This one: "extro". As in, don't add any extro to the text, bro.) LOL

Tom Chantry said...

I'm sorry, but I'm really not following you on the first part of your comment. With regard to David and Saul, we are given details of their appearance that distinguish them from other people. Saul was tall. David was ruddy. Granted, that's not much to go on, but it does require us to think about how they looked.

It is intriguing to me that we never get that with regard to Jesus. The Thomas narrative tells us that He really and truly was resurrected in the body as a flesh-and-blood man. It doesn't give me one iota of detail as to how He appeared differently from the other men in the room. All of which is to say that the Bible requires me to know that He was truly man in every sense yet without sin, but it doesn't require me to visualize Him.

I'm really not sure how that's unclear or how its funny.

I fully understand the distinction you are drawing in your last paragraph. As I have said, it is a legitimate approach to the commandment, but one with which I disagree.

I would answer that both the mercy seat and the bronze serpent were commanded by God, as is the Lord's Supper today. I would no more place them in the category of violations of this commandment than I would place the Lord's Supper in the same category as man-made sacraments.

At the same time, the bronze serpent does make the point that once there is a representation, a great temptation exists to worship it. Moses never imagined that someone would give that dumb snake a name and start offering sacrifices to it, but eventually they did!

Far from seeing verse 4 as detached from verse 5, I think verse 5 explains verse 4. Why should we make no images? Because if you do, sooner or later you will worship them. Therefore he said, "Don't make images of me, and don't worship me through images."

Now if He wishes to make an image of Himself, obviously He will do so perfectly and it is no violation. That is not to say that we may do the same.

Daryl said...

Mark,

That's a great question. I bet not, but in this discussion, given the level of commitment to a point, I doubt it would be admitted.

Turretinfan said...

The same joke could have been conveyed by showing a computer screen with an outgoing email from Jesus' email box, forward a "following" notification from Twitter, telling the Apostle that he was supposed to follow Jesus, not "follow" him.

That way would have avoided any likenesses. It might still have annoyed folks who think that the matter portrays God in an insufficiently reverential way, but that's a whole other ball of wax (Third Commandment, not Second Commandment).

Does that answer your question, Mark?

Nathan White said...

I'm very thankful for Tom Chantry's comments here, as well as Turretinfan's.

I'd only add that this issue is bigger than just the second commandment, and cannot be dismissed as frivolously as some have here.

Some of the best material on this topic can be found in Calvin's Institutes. His material there changed my thinking dramatically.

I remember reading the reports of Jim Caviezel being worshiped when he visited Catholic regions of South America. Though his depiction of Jesus in 'The Passion' didn't affect Americans in the same way, we never know who we're causing to stumble. The cartoon may seem harmless and funny, but to someone else it could be blasphemous, or represent Jesus as some kind of witty chum that we can approach on equal terms.

Frank Turk said...

T-fan continues to flounder here.

[QUOTE]
Have I argued that LdV was trying to get people to worship this painting? No. I haven't. That wasn't the argument. Scrolling up, I don't see anyone arguing that.
[/QUOTE]

If that is in fact not your argument, then you need to review your understanding of the second commandment. that's all I will say about that.

[QUOTE]
Is it representational art? Yes.

Does it purport to portray Jesus? Yes.
[/QUOTE]

Yeah, hold on Systematics Man. One needs to think through what you;re saying as if you mean it. Are you even remotely serious in meaning that the primary objective here is to paint a picture for the purpose of people recognizing Jesus -- either in the Last Supper or in the cartoon?

Because if the answer is "yes," you have to help us undertand why (in DaVinci) Jesus takes up so little of the real estate, and in the cartoon the "Jesus" is so nondescript.

You are utterly overlooking the purpose of either one of these pictures -- to make a dubious dogmatic point.

You know what: I concede that no man should make an image that he will bow down to and worship. I did so in the post.

How what? Your point is that the cartoon or DaVinci are violating the 2nd commandment. They are doing no such thing -- because the 2nd commandment is not about creating art but about creating idols from the created world.

[QUOTE]
Does it have other purposes as well? Surely it does, whether one adopts Dan Brown's view or a more straightforward view.
[/QUOTE]

Sadly, Dan Brown doesn't make your point any better.

We will obviously ahve to revisit the issue here on the blog in the future regarding how we can segment the commands of God and make God's wisdom into legalism.

Frank Turk said...

Nathan:

Please call me when you find someone worshipping that cartoon, and I'll convert to Amish simplicity.

Nathan White said...

The Heidelberg Catechism:

96. What does God require in the second commandment?

That we in no wise make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

97. Must we then not make any image at all?

God may not and cannot be imaged in any way; as for creatures, though they may indeed be imaged, yet God forbids the making or keeping any likeness of them, either to worship them, or by them to serve Himself.

98. But may not pictures be tolerated in churches as books for the laity?

No: for we should not be wiser than God, who will not have His people taught by dumb idols, but by the lively preaching of His Word.

Nathan White said...

>>Please call me when you find someone worshipping that cartoon, and I'll convert to Amish simplicity.

Frank, you underestimate human depravity, my brother. But truth be told, we all do. Personally, I don't think that an image of Jesus could ever cause me to worship it, but I am not wiser than God, and certainly believe that I am capable of it.

Daryl said...

Nathan,

Can you find where God commands what Heidlberg says He commands?

People often worship people. Shall we then ban photographs lest someone, somewhere, stumble?

Daryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Aaron said...

To Tom and others:

If you read the second commandment as a general prohibition (rather than just a prohibition against making idols to worship), then the prohibition isn't against just visual renderings of God but of anything at all. The commandment says you shall not make likeness of what is in heaven OR on the earth OR in the water. So if you are going to follow the second commandment then you should follow all of it. Please inform me when all art and photographs have been removed from your home and from your avatar.

And for the record, the argument over whether it is easier to instruct with pictures is a silly one. Everyone in practice believes that visual images are helpful in teaching children. In fact, we use them to teach adults too. You wont ever get anybody to understand what a Zebra is as well by explaining it as you will by merely showing a picture. Any argument otherwise is absurd. If God instructed us not to show pictures of Zebra then I wouldn't do it, ever. PERIOD. But then I wouldn't create some cockamamie argument how it's better to use words rather than pictures in teaching.

Turretinfan said...

Frank:

"T-fan continues to flounder here."

ho-hum

"If that is in fact not your argument, then you need to review your understanding of the second commandment. that's all I will say about that."

That's not especially helpful, but of course it's your right not to argue. I just wish you wouldn't dress it up like an argument.

"Yeah, hold on Systematics Man. One needs to think through what you;re saying as if you mean it. Are you even remotely serious in meaning that the primary objective here is to paint a picture for the purpose of people recognizing Jesus -- either in the Last Supper or in the cartoon?"

Did I say that the primary objective there was to paint a picture for the purpose of people recognizing Jesus, either in the Last Supper or in the cartoon? No, I did not.

"You are utterly overlooking the purpose of either one of these pictures -- to make a dubious dogmatic point."

No. I'm staying with the big picture, rather than losing sight of the forest. The issue is whether the paint on LdV's canvass (the bit of paint there in the middle) is supposed to be Jesus, or a mere human. If it's just supposed to be a mere human, we have no objection. If it's supposed to be Jesus, we object.

You don't think the inquiry should end there, apparently.

"You know what: I concede that no man should make an image that he will bow down to and worship. I did so in the post."

I am glad we agree on that. I further insist that man should not make an image of God, even if he does not plan to worship it.

"We will obviously ahve to revisit the issue here on the blog in the future regarding how we can segment the commands of God and make God's wisdom into legalism."

Calling rigid adherence to the moral law "legalism" is even less valid than calling lax adherence to it "antinomianism."

The issue is really what the second commandment forbids - whether it forbids making any likeness of God or whether it only forbids making likenesses of God for bowing down to them (not to mention, of course, the many other things that the second commandment also forbids).

-TurretinFan

Phil said...

Brothers, I worship the Lord Jesus, but when I saw this picture, I knew, knew that this was Him whom I follow. I therefore printed it out and have given up church, and I state with Aaron, "behold the God that delivered you from Egypt" to anyone I come into contact with. At long last I have the correct object of my worship.

But seriously people who are offended, while you are at it, you ought to make like the Jews and say Y--- or J---- lest people start worshiping His printed name image.
Also I recommend doing your utmost to burn down the Sistine chapel or other works of art because it has graven images of God on it. If that seems too much there is probably a catholic stained glass work of art you can put a rock through so that others will have a lighter punishment in hell. Do it for them if not for God.
Oh and since you are made in the image of God and are gravely fallen (graven image perhaps?) I recommend shutting your eyes lest you see idols and be tempted to worship.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

It is with trepidation that I have commented on a thread in which I have clearly and obviously disagreed with the original post. I haven't done that much, simply because I usually agree with these guys.

Now it has been said by many critics that they descend to ridicule and badgering and that they refuse to interact with actual arguments made. But I remember well what my friend Jim (formerly of Old Truth) has often said about running a blog: bloggers are often chastised for the sins of their commenters.

I have tried very hard not to be argumentative or snide in anything I have said here. I have treated Frank as the brother he has the right to be treated as. We have a differing viewpoint - no more.

I have to affirm that Frank has extended the very same courtesy to me. I'm not so sure about the contemporaneous debate with Turretin Fan, but I'll leave that alone for the moment. Frank has neither ridiculed nor badgered me, nor has he ignored my arguments to attack straw men.

Yet in one comment a reader calls me absurd, my ideas cockamamie, and insists that everybody, myself included, agrees with him and not with me. In doing so he disagrees with what I have said above in the comment thread in such manner as to lead me to suggest that he has not read it thoroughly.

Is it possible that anything I have said here has made anyone so angry? I'm baffled. I never sympathized with Pyro-haters before, and I still can't wholly agree with them. I find that when I disagree respectfully with my hosts, they disagree respectfully with me. But I can understand where the blog gets its reputation.

Oh well, at least it's not a Southern Baptist blog. As Frank could probably tell you, those brothers know how to fight!

Daryl said...

"I am glad we agree on that. I further insist that man should not make an image of God, even if he does not plan to worship it."

T-fan (Tom could answer this as well),

On what basis do you say this? I don't see it in the second commandment, perhaps it can be found elsewhere.

Where?

Frank Turk said...

For the record, the paint on the canvass makes no effort to incite worship of itself. DaVinci's intention was not for perople to worship his painting.

This fact is simply absent from T-fan's statements, and until he can integrate that into his expressions of belief, he cannot be talking about the 2nd commandment.

For example, T-fan finds cartoons and DaVinci offensive because he's an argent follower of Presbyterian seminal systematics (as if those are infallible? really?), and these things have an alleged "Jesus" in them, but sadly the 2nd commandment, read the way he will read it against the image of jesus, is far more harsh toward the image of a created thing like Peter or Judas.

And may heaven forbid we start talking about photopgraphs in T-fan's home -- especially ones of dead ancestors.

T-Fan can have the last word. I'm done talking to him -- becuase like the 2nd commandment, he simply looks over the things I have said which actually would change his mind.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

With all this talk about people sinning by drawing or posting a cartoon depicting Jesus, has anyone considered the approach that's SUPPOSED to be done when you think a brother in Christ has sinned? Any of you who think that someone has sinned because of this incident, have you gracefully and in concern for their Christian witness reproved the person you think has sinned, bringing evidence from God's Word that they have? It's easy to anonymously or publicly cry out "SINNER!"; it's gracious to do what scripture says to do when you think that someone you KNOW is a brother in Christ has sinned. Besides, the object of reproof is CORRECTION, so that the person in question is restored to the body of Christ.

Sir Aaron said...

For the record, I didn't call anybody absurd. Nor did I say everyone agree with me and not others.

I said an argument that it is easier to teach with words than with pictures (or both) is absurd. And to the second point, I said everyone including Tom Chantry, agrees with me in practice on this point. When you teach kids about anything other than the Bible, you undoubtedly use pictures of some kind to teach. Or do you merely describe letters to your child rather than showing them a picture of a letter?

Matthew said...

Apparently Phil Johnson opposes purported images of Jesus. Sermons on the Second Commandment -- "No Graven Images" and "A Jealous God" (http://www.swordandtrowel.org/PJ-CDA03.htm). And a followup "Jealousy, Judgment, Justice" (http://gracelifepulpit.media.s3.amazonaws.com/GL-2008-02-24-PJ.mp3)

Turretinfan said...

"For the record, the paint on the canvass makes no effort to incite worship of itself. DaVinci's intention was not for perople to worship his painting."

I have never contended that LdV's intention was for people to worship his painting.

"This fact is simply absent from T-fan's statements, ..."

Well, no kidding! I haven't argued that LdV's intention was for people to worship his painting.

"... and until he can integrate that into his expressions of belief, he cannot be talking about the 2nd commandment."

I think I correctly identified the issue in my last comment. You, Frank, have got this idea in your head that if I am saying it violates the 2nd commandment, I'm saying that LdV's intention was for people to worship his painting. But I'm not saying that - I'm saying it was his intention to provide a likeness of Jesus.

"For example, T-fan finds cartoons and DaVinci offensive because he's an argent follower of Presbyterian seminal systematics (as if those are infallible? really?), ..."

This kind of comment is hardly helpful. I find the cartoon and painting objectionable because the violate the second commandment.

I am troubled that the cartoon also further violates the third commandment by not treating God in a sufficiently reverent manner.

None of my objections have to do with Presbyterianism as such, nor do they have anything to do with how ardently I admire the work of the real Francis Turretin.

This sort of ad hominem approach to the argument should really be avoided.

"... and these things have an alleged "Jesus" in them, ..."

There is really no denying that.

"... but sadly the 2nd commandment, read the way he will read it against the image of jesus, is far more harsh toward the image of a created thing like Peter or Judas."

Yes. There's no problem (aside from the reverence issue) with the fisherman half of the cartoon.

"And may heaven forbid we start talking about photopgraphs in T-fan's home -- especially ones of dead ancestors."

None of my ancestors were God.

"T-Fan can have the last word. I'm done talking to him -- ..."

Indeed. The use of the third person demonstrates that, in itself!

"... becuase like the 2nd commandment, he simply looks over the things I have said which actually would change his mind. "

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. But, in any event, your (Frank) refusal to engage the issue of whether it is wrong to make images of God, when the images are not for worship, is your choice.

-TurretinFan

Phil Johnson said...

OK. I'm with Tom Chantry. I preached on the Second Commandment a few years ago. If you want a detailed argument for my views on the matter, there it is.

I've worked in publishing for most of my adult life, and I've constantly had to deal with questions regarding cover art representing Jesus. I think the majority view is that images of Jesus are OK if used for didactic purposes. Flannel-graphs and coloring book pictures are thus defended as substantially different from religious wall-hangings. I'm not convinced by that distinction, which seems artificial to me. I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Still, I recognize that my scruples on this issue aren't shared by most of the Bible teachers and church leaders whom I respect (including others on our pastoral staff, and, obviously, my blogmates). So the Romans 14 rule seems applicable here.

In other words, I wouldn't be the type to loudly scold someone for not conforming to my conscience on a question such as this. But since it came up, I thought I'd go on record.

BTW, I get doubly uneasy when Jesus is the punch line in a joke or cartoon. I realize the joke in the above cartoon is not at Jesus' expense, so it's far less problematic than blatantly taking the Lord's name in vain. But I do understand why well-meaning people would be uneasy with making such a joke.

What I don't quite understand is some people's apparent eagerness to publish long, scolding accusations every time they encounter a brother or sister whose own conscience doesn't condemn every single thing that might make me cringe. Is Romans 14 not in their Bibles?

There are some people who seem to aspire to be professional, full-time finger-waggers. Y'know?

Matthew said...

Charles Spurgeon:

http://idolatrycondemned.blogspot.com/2008/05/ch-spurgeon-second-commandment-graven.html

On Psalm 78:58,

“And moved him to jealousy with their graven images.” This was but one more step; they manufactured symbols of the invisible God, for they lusted after something tangible and visible to which they could shew reverence. This also is the crying sin of modern times. Do we not hear and see superstition abounding. Images, pictures, crucifixes, and a host of visible things are had in religious honour, and worst of all men now-a-days worship what they eat, and call that a God which passes into their belly, and thence into baser places still. Surely the Lord is very patient, or he would visit the earth for this worst and basest of idolatry. He is a jealous God, and abhors to see himself dishonoured by any form of representation which can come from man's hands.

From "The Enemies of the Cross of Christ",

I think the Savior must say, “What? What? Am I the Son of God and do they make even Me into an idol? I who have died to redeem men from their idolatries, am I, Myself, taken and carved, and chiseled, and molten, and set up as an image to be worshipped by the sons of men?” When God says, “You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them,” it is a strange fantasy of human guilt that men should say, “We will even take the image of the Son of God, or some ghastly counterfeit that purports to be His image, and will bow down and worship it, as if to make the Christ of God an accomplice in an act of rebellion against the commandment of the holy Law.” No, it is not the material cross to which Paul alludes—we have nothing to do with those outward symbols!

Matthew said...

"A Portrait No Artist Can Paint",

I believe that this difficulty of giving a truthful representation of the Lord Jesus Christ is according to the Divine purpose. Nothing, it seems to me, can be more detestable to the Lord's heart and mind than the worship of His image in any shape or form. If any are determined to break the Law of God about making graven images and bowing down before them, then let the idol be the image of something that is beneath the earth, or in the water under the earth, but, O, you idolaters, pray do not, as it were, make the Lord Jesus Christ accessory to your idolatry! That, He never really can be, for He abhors it! "Get you behind Me, Satan," would be His answer to every proposal that His image should be worshipped, for He could not endure it! It is a dreadful thing that men should ever dare attempt to make any likeness of the Son of God, Himself, to be the occasion of sin. If you must make an image, make it, if you will, of a serpent, or of an ox, but not of the Son of God who came on purpose to redeem us from this, among other sins! Let us not degrade His sacred Personage by making even it to be an image before which we prostrate ourselves!

I know it is said that idolaters do not worship the image and that they worship God through the image, but that is expressly forbidden. The First Commandment is, "You shall have no other gods before Me." Then the Second Commandment forbids the worshipping of God by or through any symbol or image whatever—"You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them." The worship of the image of Christ appears to me to be not the more excusable form of idolatry, if there is any that is less evil than others, but it seems to me to be the more intensely wicked form of it since it is making even the glorious Personage of the Lord Jesus subsidiary to an act of transgression against the Commandments of His Father. If we cannot say concerning the Divine and human Personage of our Lord, "You saw no similitude," yet we can say, "You saw no similitude such as can be engraved in any way whatever."

Solameanie said...

As an aside to this discussion, one can certainly see the dangers of images. I think of the way they are virtually deified in the Orthodox Church. As my friend Dr. Bob Morey once said, "They don't just appreciate art. They worship it!"

Our current culture is obsessed with image. And at the risk of being eschatological here, we know what Scripture says about the worship of the beast and his "image." So caution is certainly the order of the day. I have no desire to violate the Second Commandment, and I don't think anyone else here does. I for one have appreciated the back and forth between Frank and Tom — two brothers who take God's Word very, very seriously. I'm learning as I read, which is always something for which to be thankful. It's not always that way. ;)

BTW, my word verification was "pidele." Not sure how to take that.

Halcyon said...

Sir Aaron hit the nail on the head earlier (on his 12:05, July 28th comment).

To Tom, T-fan, and everyone else who sweepingly condemns all images of Jesus/God:

Anyone who says that ALL representational art depicting Jesus (or even God) is blasphemy are in fact committing blasphemy by espousing logic that is fundamentally anti-revelatory and (consequently) anti-Incarnational.

The primary modes of God's revelation to man (both special and general) are fundamentally imageic:

(1) His word is imageic.

Tom (whom I appreciate for being nice in this discussion) and his ilk are completely wrong when they make some sort of distinction between the "verbal" and the "visual" when it comes to Scripture (or any form of literature for that matter).

Ask yourself something: when you read the very imageic description of Christ in Revelation (which Frank correctly pointed to), does not an image form in your very mind that matches (or attempts to match) those words? What about the imagery of the OT prophecies? Or the Psalms? Or the OT historical narratives? Or the Gospel's stories about Jesus? Does not your mind form images by the very reading of the words? Of course it does; that is how our mind works: it is an image making machine, especially when it reads the imagery inherent in language. The Bible is full of imagery, imagery that produces images in our own minds.

Using your logic in regards to images, however, that would make the Bible itself an occasion to sin, since its very words serve to produce images in our very minds. (Remember: the 2nd commandment doesn't just say "graven images"; it also condemns any "likeness".) Is the word of God now a matter of idolatry, since it leads us to create images in our minds? According to your logic, it is.

(2) Creation is imageic.

How does your logic about the 2nd commandment square with Romans 1:19-20, which basically says that all of creation is one giant representation of God, "even his eternal power and Godhead"? Is all of creation (from every bird in a tree to every sunset in the sky) now an idol and an occasion to sin? According to your logic, it is.

(3) The Word is imageic.

He is imageic in two ways: first, as a teacher of parables. Parables are basically stories, which involves using imagery, which involves creating images in the minds of the listeners. Was Jesus an idolater, giving his listeners an occasion to sin, when he taught his lessons about the Kingdom of God in an imageic way? According to your logic, he was.

Second, in being the "Word made flesh," Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). The Incarnation itself demonstrates (if anything) that God Himself is not adverse to physical representation in that He became His own physical representation in Jesus. According to your logic, Jesus (in being an "image of the invisible God") is himself an idol and abomination to God.

That is why your logic is blasphemous: it denies revelation on all counts including Jesus himself.

If any of you retort with "That's not what I'm saying!" then that just shows what Sir Aaron already demonstrated: you have not followed your logic all the way through. If you had, then you would have realized the absurdity of it all.

Brad Williams said...

Put me with the iconodules. We will meet at the church at high noon. It is not a violation to draw a picture of Jesus because he was/is a man. He took our image and likeness.

Tom Chantry said...

Again, I'm stunned at the ability of people who have not even read my own words carefully, let alone the wealth of doctrinal argumentation on this point, to conclude that I, along with many names far greater than I, hold an absurd position.

I haven't thought it through. I haven't seen the absurdity of it all. Neither have any of the Baptist, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, etc - a list of luminaries too long for it to be worth it for me to list - neither have any of them thought it through or realized what absurd little peons they are.

You know, my admiration for Frank is growing by the minute, and he isn't even commenting.

Whatever happened to simply saying, "I don't agree"? I don't agree with Martin Luther on this issue, but I hardly think its necessary to portray him as a buffoon, or even to portray Frank as a buffoon for having taken his side.

What I cannot agree with is the idea that there is no distinction at all between verbal and non-verbal communication. Do you really think that? Just because words produce mental images there is no distinction between a parable and a painting? And therefore there is no reason at all why the two forms of communication might be regulated differently? That's a rather profound and novel idea that you're propagating, and I don't think you've supported it at all.

I keep coming back to the fact that the Commandments are so terse, and yet God did not say, "You shall not worship any carved image..." but rather, "You shall not make any carved image...; you shall not bow down to them..." Punctuation aside, God did say not to make any carved image. And since we know that he commanded the making of representational art in the Tabernacle, He must have meant something.

In context, it is reasonable to assume that He meant "don't make any carved images of me." It is reasonable, and many reasonable and holy persons have believed that He meant exactly that. But you have ruled us all "absurd" because we fail to grasp your revolutionary idea that there is no difference between verbal and non-verbal communication?

Sharon said...

Al Mohler in his book "Words from the Fire" states that we are to make no image of Him. We should paint no pictures of Him. If we were to know the visual image of Christ, He would have left us His visual image. He did not. And ever picture or portrait of Him is an invention, and as an invention, it robs Him of His glory...God condemns images and leaves no doubt concerning the matter."

Brad Williams said...

Tom and Phil,

I think that you guys would like my pictures of Jesus. When I draw him, I only draw the man part, not the God part. :) I always check the felt images we have used to make sure they do the same.

Tom Chantry said...

Let me ask this, when John Calvin wrote, "We believe it is wrong that God should be represented by a visible appearance, because he himself has forbidden it (Ex. 20:4) and it cannot be done without some defacing of his glory," did he use "blasphemous logic"?

I mean, it's OK to disagree with Calvin. Frank disagrees with him on this, and I disagree with Calvin on other things, but must we label him a blasphemer?

I'm reminded of once reading these words: But there were always a few lay participants who seemed to come to every discussion with the attitude that theology is (or ought to be) a dialectical exercise done mostly for recreation. They evidently thought the tools of the sport are nothing more than one's personal feelings, speculations, and inventiveness. Discussing doctrine was purely a diversion for them; nothing serious.

It's odd to me that this meta is running full circle. Frank started out by asking (quite rightly) why someone who disagreed with Dan's use of the cartoon in question had to imply that he was a "blasphemer," and now, after hours of discussion, someone shows up in the thread to imply that anyone who disagrees with the use of the cartoon is - you guessed it! - a blasphemer.

DJP said...

Goodness, what a contentious thread!

It will be such a relief, tomorrow, to ease back into the calm, amiable, tranquil, unstirring waters...








...of Da Gifts.

{ waits for hysterical laughter to die down }

Zaphon said...

"Would to God that I could persuade those who can afford it to paint the whole Bible on their houses, inside and outside, so that all might see; this would indeed be a Christian work. For I am convinced that it is God's will that we should hear and learn what He has done, especially what Christ suffered. But when I hear these things and meditate upon them, I find it impossible not to picture them in my heart. Whether I want to or not, when I hear, of Christ, a human form hanging upon a cross rises up in my heart: just as I see my natural face reflected when I look into water. Now if it is not sinful for me to have Christ's picture in my heart, why should it be sinful to have it before my eyes?"

This is from WIKI, and it's attributed to Martin Luter, but no source cited. Assumig it's accurate, here's what he thought on this thing.

{BTW, don't chide me if this is not his, I don't have all day to go tracking down sources.} Just my 2 pennies.

Brad Williams said...

Tom,

In all seriousness, I do not think you are a blasphemer for this. I disagree with you on the grounds of the incarnation. I am actually very happy when this discussion pops up from time to time because it gives occassion for the very serious discussion of Jesus' humanity and deity.

I have many reasons that I disagree with you, none of which a careful student has not heard before. So, I probably have nothing to add that would convince you. I simply believe that the objection to an artistic rendering of Jesus results from a discomfort with Jesus' "manhood." I also think it is often borne out of an appropriate revulsion to idolatry. But that should not make us any more upset at renderings of Jesus any more than adultery sets us against sex.

Alas, it is hard not to argue this. But I will close by saying that if Jesus can die, then he may be drawn.

Love,

Brad

Tom Chantry said...

Brad,

Thank you for that reply. I would only suggest that there is another possibility. Could not a serious attempt to apply the Commandment lead someone to this conclusion?

I assure you, Calvin (quoted above) was not "uncomfortable" with the humanity of Christ, and neither am I. I would join you in repudiating any argument that suggested that Jesus should not be drawn because it implied that he was a flesh-and-blood human.

That this is not the argument which has been made through the years is evidenced in many places. Appropriate revulsion to idolatry which has been informed by a serious attempt to understand and apply God's Word is the culprit. If the conclusions are wrong, so be it, but they have not been reached in the manner that many today seem to assume.

Matthew said...

knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him. (Rom 6:9)

It is right to say those who give God's name to idols/images are taking His name in vain. (Exodus20:7, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 42:8 and Isaiah 48:11)

Robert said...

Phil,

Thank you for referring to Romans 14, because (as I replied to Tom earlier), I believe this is strictly a preference issue with the regards of how to teach. Now making an actual idol to worship is a whole other matter, but to me that gets back to where your heart is (both in creating the image/art and what you use it for). But I am in agreement that the whole blasphemy argument is going a bit far (as well as comments to repent).

Sadly it is becoming harder to glean through the comment stream. Remember that brethren in Christ are not the enemy. As Paul wrote, we are battling against powers and principalities. So let us try to be edifying and loving towards one another. Otherwise, as Paul wote, we'll be nothing but a noisy gong.

Frank Turk said...

Yeah, let's throw some cold water on this for a minute all around. I'm personally aware of the monumentally-stupid Eastern Orthodox position that iconoclysm is synonymous with Nestorianism -- that is, that people who deny the uses of iconography are denying incarnational revelation.

"PHEH" upon that as one of the least-scriptural denunciations from the East in its history of such things. Anyone dressing up that thinking in any westernized disguise need to go someplace else with their weirdness.

It's bad enough that some people (who haven't made their actual appearnace here yet) are willing to call anyone who finds the little cartoon funny and informative "blasphemers". Let's not make it worse by becoming what we ought to hold in disrepute.

Keep it between the ditches, people.

Daryl said...

I am about to listen to Phil's sermon on this, so no doubt I'll see things I don't see right now.

I agree with Tom. If it is wrong to make a picture of God, at all, then it must also be wrong to make a picture of Jesus.
His humanity and his divinity are not separable (that is part of what the hypo-static union means),so to say that one can draw the human bits without the God bits doesn't sit with me.

But I disagree with Tom in that I still don't see where the 2nd commandment forbids making graven images, even of God, without the intent to worship.
And, if the intent to worship is not required, then surely that commandment forbids science textbooks AND flannel-graphs.

"If He can die, then He can be drawn" doesn't work because no one is saying God can't be drawn, they're saying His must not be drawn, just like we mustn't kill God.

So, it seems to me that if Scripture forbids making images of God, then drawing Jesus is wrong, full stop.
If Scripture only forbids making images for the purpose of worship, then it isn't wrong to draw Jesus, for the right reasons. (I tend to think that most of the time Jesus is drawn for the wrong reasons...)

Which I think is Tom's point. He allows room for those who see Scripture differently. We should to, while still arguing the point, from Scripture.

By the way, if Jesus thoguht word pictures and picture pictures are the same thing, then the story of Lazarus and the rich man is blasphemous. But, of course, it is not.

Reeecherd said...

A simple thanks for the reminder that following Christ means denying yourself, picking up the cross and striving to be like Christ every moment of every day. It does not mean being a Christian just on Sundays or when you're around other "Christians."

Robert said...

DJP,

I literally laughed out loud. Now I am anxiously awaiting the calm discussion to come from tomorrow's post about Mr. Poythress's argument.

Brad Williams said...

Tom,

I do believe that it is an attempt to apply the second commandment that has led you and others to your position.

Do you think it is wrong to pain a picture of Jesus because to do so is to assume to paint a picture of deity? Do you think it "Nestorian" to allow that one can paint a human Jesus without violation of the second commandment? This really is a wonderful discussion on the hypostatic union, which is far more than just a funny word.

My logic in that matter is that we know it is a terrible sin to draw "God." Yet, Jesus is the God-man. Is it possible to represent the "Man" Jesus without violating the second command? Well, I think so. If Jesus can die as a man, and God cannot die, it seems that we might be able to draw Jesus as well. Can Jesus die in his humanity and not in his deity?

Are we heretics yet?

Word Verification: tighted. As in, I get up-tighted in this discussion because there be dangerous heresies here.

Robert said...

Matthew,

I don't see how any of the verses you referenced back up your argument at all. I just looked them up and read whole chapters just to be sure (except for the passage from Exodus - for obvious reasons). I'm just curious how you apply those to your position?

word verification - cheess

DJP said...

So, are folks saying that if there'd been cameras, and if Joseph had wanted a family portrait, then Jesus would have refused to participate because it would have made the photographer and everyone who looked at the photo de facto violators of C#2?

Brad Williams said...

Daryl,

"If He can die, then He can be drawn" doesn't work because no one is saying God can't be drawn, they're saying His must not be drawn, just like we mustn't kill God.

For the record, I deny that God can be drawn. That is precisely why I think it is sin to attempt to do so.

we mustn't kill God.

We can't kill God, just like we cannot draw Him. Yet, we affirm that Christ died. How did Jesus die, who is "hypostatically" the God-man without the inseperable God "part" (I speak as if insane) also perishing?

Halcyon said...

Frank:

Ah...(grumble, grumble)...you're right. Keepin' it between the ditches.

Tom:

In light of Frank's words, forgive me, brother. My use of "blasphemy" was purely rhetorical, but retaliatory as well. That was not a proper attitude, and I was wrong to use it.

There is (of course) a distinction between the "verbal" and "visual," but it is merely superficial; fundamentally, there is no distinction. They are both imageic. Thus, my argument stands (minus all the uses of the word "blasphemy").

So...I don't agree. 8^)

For the record (in regards to Frank's last comment), I'm not Eastern Orthodox, but I think the Incarnation does weighs in on this issue, and that it has scriptural grounds to do so. I suppose that that is another ball of wax, however.

Brad Williams said...

Daryl,

And, by the way, I respect your thought process in this, and I do not mean to belittle those who disagree. I do think that it is an honest attempt to apply the second commandment, I simply believe it to be erroneous and it reflects a poor Christology. Either that, or I am an accidental Nestorian in this regard.

Daryl said...

Brad,

I agree with you on the larger issue. I just disagree with that argument.

If you shook Jesus' hand, did you shake God's hand? Yes.

When Christ comes back, in all His glory, does His body come with Him? I think so. That's, briefly why I think drawing Jesus is drawing God.

But I do agree. I think the whole thing is a misapplication of the 2nd commandment. I think it's about images for worship, not images per se.

Solameanie said...

Here goes my dense mind again. I have a hard time comprehending how having a mental image pop in my head of a scene in Scripture (including the Lord Jesus) is somehow tantamount to actually, physically constructing an idol or a graven image. Doesn't the word "graven" mean something?

Tom, for the record, I love you, bro. Even if you can still grow a beard and I can't.

trogdor said...

Sadly, I'll be far too busy tomorrow to get to the comment thread until it's at about 283 comments, the last 60 of which are an exchange of Riccardi's reasoned arguments and some troll's rantings. Dare I wade in here instead? Oh, why not.

I've so far been on the side that images of the Father are forbidden, images of Jesus, not so much. My understanding of the 2nd commandment has been based on the question: if you were to make an image of God, what would you make? How would you depict someone who is completely transcendent, utterly unlike anything in creation? However you would draw Him, however you would form an image of Him, it would by definition be fall blasphemously short.

With Jesus, does this problem exist? We have a pretty good idea what a 1st-century Jewish man would have looked like. His physical body is not transcendent and indescribable, as is the Father. Unlike the Father, who could never be accurately depicted by any physical representation, it was possible for people to see Jesus and know exactly what he looks like. An "image" of Jesus could be as close as a picture of us; an image of the Father cannot even be in the same category.

So my questions are as follows:
1) Where does my logic fail here?
2) Purely hypothetical: say the Polaroid was invented in Judea during the life of Jesus. Would it have been blasphemous (or just wrong) to get him and his disciples on one side of the table and snap a picture?

DJP said...

Careful historians will note that I raised the photo-op issue first.

trogdor said...

Curses and drat! Too long-winded for my own cleverness.

Halcyon said...

Solameanie:

"Graven" does mean something, but so does "any likeness" (Ex. 20:4).

Turretinfan said...

Somehow, I'm sure that the answer "I'm not sure" whether it would have been wrong to take a photo of Jesus will be very satisfying. Thankfully, no one at all is presently faced with the problem "Should I photograph Jesus?"

Barbara said...

What about those of us who are audiovisual learners and have to have some kind of mental image of historical events - including the people involved in them and their moving about, their surroundings, etc - in order to understand the context? If the Scripture tells me that Jesus was sitting and talking to His disciples, I immediately have an image in my head of Him sitting on the ground in His robe and talking to His disciples. It's the way my brain works. I need pictures to grasp it. I need to hear it, see it acted out, that kind of thing. It helps. Surely I'm not the only one?

Frank Turk said...

DJP:

time travel and anacronistic arguments only persuade those with imaginations who do not fear the fanciful but embrace analogical thinking.

Jesus would also not drive a car or have a bank account because that's being yoked to unbelievers.

Get with it.

Frank Turk said...

I'm trying to figure out, btw, why the photograph of my family on my desk is not idolatry, given Ex 20:5-6.

Just sayin'.

Turretinfan said...

Your family is not God,

You don't mistakenly think they are.

Halcyon said...

Barbara:

You're not alone. I expressed similar ideas earlier (though I was unfortunately harsher in tone than you).

Halcyon said...

T-fan:

It doesn't matter if his family is not God. Exodus 20:4 still says "any likeness of anything".

Sir Aaron said...

@Tom
"I'm stunned at the ability of people who have not even read my own words carefully, let alone the wealth of doctrinal argumentation on this point, to conclude that I, along with many names far greater than I, hold an absurd position."

Look, you need to read my words as well. I never said your doctrinal argumentation on the second commandment is absurd. I said your argument that we learn better from oral communication than we do from visual communication is absurd. And it's absurd because it's blatantly false. Most humans learn better through visual communication. Now if you want to argue that the second commandment says we can't make pictures of Jesus, even for instructional purposes, than I'd respectfully disagree. I wouldn't say its absurd because obviously others of great repute hold that position. But it is pretty silly to say that the second commandment implies that because God makes such pictures off limits, that somehow its better to communicate orally (or teach, instruct, etc.).

With respect to the second commandment, I'd argue that it does not at all say we can't make picture of Jesus (or as I said before, anything at all). Whether it is unwise for us to make such images (for various reasons such as accuracy, possible idol worship, etc.) that's different than saying it's illegal under any circumstance. And nowhere have you or others tackled the thorny issue of the verse which says you can't make any image of anything in heaven OR on the earth OR in the water. I mean it's in the same sentence!

[corrected for spelling]

Halcyon said...

In case anyone's curious, parallel readings of Exodus 20:4 clearly demonstrate that "graven image" means an "idol" and not images per se.

In other words, Exodus 20:4-6 is clearly intended to condemn objects of worship and not any images whatsoever. That is an important point.

Frank Turk said...

T-fan --

That actually a really funny response. You're saying that the 2nd commandment is all about the probability of worshipping the object -- and that people are not prone to making an idol of their families?

Really?



Really?
















Really? You're serious?

Phil Johnson said...

Let me add this to my previous comment:

People who seem to lack any scruples whatsoever when it comes to irreverent jokes and remarks about God ought to get a load of Romans 14, too.

In an era when evangelicalism's erstwhile "house organ" is publishing tripe like this, it might be worth pondering seriously why Scripture includes so many emphatic warnings against careless idle words and whatnot.

It's a serious mistake to assume that unless you are deliberately committing some gross and obvious act of wanton blasphemy, you needn't worry about casually making light of sacred things or speaking of God in an overly-familiar way.

Sir Aaron said...

Halcyon:

Good point. Additionally, even if it were images generally and not just idols, there is still the little matter that the verse pretty much says images of anything not just Jesus or God. In fact, it doesn't say Jesus or God but anything in heaven.

[Which, of course, brings up the whole question of why He granted an exception on the Ark, etc...but, I don't want to wade into that one quite yet.]

David said...

Images aside, it seems that there may be a historically valid position against putting words in Jesus' mouth.

DJP spends more than a little bit of blog space defending the position that God has said what He has said. Mightn't saying that He said something that He didn't say (even in the context of a cartoon) have some application here?

Sir Aaron said...

@Phil Johnson I can't speak for everyone on both sides, but I for one agree with you on that point. I don't think it's forbidden to make any image of Jesus but that doesn't mean I don't think there are times that making such an image is not unwise, immoral, or just blatantly blasphemous. For example, at my home we don't tolerate the use of God in OMG. It's not because I think there is a technical violation of law, but I think it is nevertheless disrespectful and therefore, should be avoided. I do allow the use of "gosh", however.

Sir Aaron said...

@David:

That's a valid argument in my opinion. I'm not sure I agree (although I'm open to it), but an argument about whether said cartoon is wise and whether it's a violation of a commandment are birds of a different feather.

Matthew said...

Robert,

As for how I apply my comments:

Giving God's name to idols is one of the sins committed at Horeb:

"they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."(Exo 32:8)

The making, worshiping, sacrificing, and the calling of idols by the name of God are all of them exceedingly heinous and sinful. The name of Jehovah belongs to God alone. To give His name to images/idols to give, or ascribe, His glory and praise to another.

"And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, This is thy Elohim, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow shall be a feast to Jehovah. (Exo 32:4-5)

Also,

"Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy Elohim, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."(1Ki 12:28)

---
It is right to say those who give God's name to idols/images are taking His name in vain. (Exodus20:7, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 42:8 and Isaiah 48:11)

Tom Chantry said...

Halcyon,

I perfectly understand. Think no more of it.

Tom Chantry said...

One last comment before I leave for church (real church, not Twitter-church, Frank).

One of the issues arising repeatedly out of the comment thread is the insistence that if the Second Commandment is to be read in a two-fold manner it must be read as rejecting all images of all things. In other words, many commenters assume that the only connection between "do not make" and "do not bow down" is one of purpose: it's OK to make so long as you do not intend to bow down.

I have suggested instead (and been roundly ignored) that the context makes clear that the images forbidden are images of God - whether for revelational or doxological purposes - and that the express command to include representational art in the Tabernacle proves that all images are not forbidden, only those which purport to represent God. In other words, the connection between the two clauses could be thematic (two things about images of God: don't make them and don't bow down to them) or purposeful (don't make them in order to bow down to them). I hold the second.

I think it should be fairly obvious that an image of God is intrinsically an object of worship. If it is not, we have a problem. In Scripture, those who encountered God in any physical manifestation fell down and worshiped Him. So to did those who came into the presence of the incarnate Christ, so long as they realized who He is. Thomas, for example, when confronted with the risen Christ, instantly worshiped him.

This is a sufficient explanation for why such images may not even be made: they will necessarily invite worship. I do not mean to say that everyone who ever saw a flannelgraph Jesus worshiped Him, but to say that Jesus being Jesus, any image of Him not only can but in fact ought to evoke worship. How else can we encounter God's image but with worship?

So if God is going to make a command that we not worship Him through images (and we all agree that He did), how could He not prohibit the making of such images?

Can we at least admit that a thematic connection rather than a purposeful connection is a reasonable possibility?

Yurie said...

I understand:

False word-picture of Christ (say, in a sermon) = blasphemy/heresy

False image-picture of Christ (say, a drawing) = blasphemy/heresy

But, if I am allowed to paint conjectural word-pictures of Christ that communicate truth (like if I said, "imagine you're in a court room and Christ pays the fine that you cannot possibly pay..."), why can't I paint conjectural image-pictures of Christ that communicate truth?

In other words, if I said in a sermon on following Jesus:

"Suppose Christ came to Peter and said, 'Follow Me' and Peter replied, 'Sure, what's your Twitter?' Is this truly what Jesus meant by the command, 'Follow Me'? Or did He mean something deeper?"

And then I continued on in the sermon... Didn't I just paint a picture of Jesus and Peter (in everyone's mind) of an incident that looks just like what this controversial picture portrayed?

I assume that it must be wrong to paint any kind of picture (words or image) that are conjecture or imagination which involve the Godhead, even if they communicate truth. I assume that this eliminates all analogies, metaphors, and allegories (unless they are strictly from the Bible) to depict the Godhead, if we make the fundamental assumption (as I would) that words and images are communicative devices of different kind, but similar function.

Stinks to be John Bunyan!

Tom Chantry said...

I mean I hold the first. Sorry.

Jugulum said...

Tom,

That's a helpful summary of the possibilities.

And this paragraph was, in my opinion, the most significant food for thought in the whole thread:

"This is a sufficient explanation for why such images may not even be made: they will necessarily invite worship. I do not mean to say that everyone who ever saw a flannelgraph Jesus worshiped Him, but to say that Jesus being Jesus, any image of Him not only can but in fact ought to evoke worship. How else can we encounter God's image but with worship?"

Turretinfan said...

"You're saying that the 2nd commandment is all about the probability of worshipping the object -- and that people are not prone to making an idol of their families?"

Uh - no. That's not what I'm saying.

Brad Williams said...

Tom and Jug,

That argument cannot hold. Everything in creation ought to evoke worship of the Triune God. You should not encounter a single fig that doesn't cause you to exult in the Creator.

Sir Aaron said...

Tom:

I can't really go along with that line of thinking.

#1) The verse doesn't say we shouldn't make images of God. First it says we shouldn't make idols (or graven images). Then it says we shouldn't make images (or likeness of). Not of God but of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the water. Then it says we shouldn't worship (or bow down) or serve them. The context is not that we shouldn't make images of God for fear of misrepresenting Him but that we shouldn't be making objects of worship. I can't see where you can say the context is that we shouldn't make images of God. The context is most certainly, we shouldn't make idols.

#2) any image of Him not only can but in fact ought to evoke worship. How else can we encounter God's image but with worship. Well, for that matter, shouldn't the mere mention of God's name evoke worship? Shouldn't we be worshipping constantly? The problem here is that Jesus was 100% God but also 100% man. When we make a picture of Jesus for instructional or otherwise, legitimate purposes (just so we aren't talking about disrectful, immoral depictions), we are really trying to depict what men actually saw, that is the part that was man. Secondarily, if an image of Jesus caused me to bow down in worship, would I be worshipping the picture or worshipping Jesus? I think I could successfully argue the latter.

DJP said...

BTW:

The commenter who feels fine about saying he is a fanatic ("a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics") about Turretin, and feels fine about going under the graven image of Turretin, assuming none will also be moved to religious zeal for Turretin, attempted to explain why it was OK for Coram Deo to post the cartoon that he called blasphemous.

His argument was that CD was merely reporting blasphemy, and that makes it OK.

Now, note: on my blog, I merely posted the cartoon under the heading "When I say 'Follow'...." I made no further comment in the post.

Yet CD commented:
"Dan,

Please delete this blasphemous post, and repent.

In Christ,
CD"

So I, merely by posting the cartoon, committed the sin of blasphemy, and needed to repent.

This can only mean that anyone who merely posts the cartoon has committed the sin of blasphemy, and must repent.

The fanatic Turretin zealot's argument in no way responds to Witness' question.

Rachael Starke said...

Another vintage Pyro-tecknickle thread. Thought provoking, and just plain provoking, all at the same time. :)

I have a Facebook friend who posted just the verbiage as a status update. I thought that was a neat way around all the fooferah ---until I read David's point about saying things Jesus didn't say. Entire potential blog-series aside about how many pastors today might be committing idolatry by saying things Jesus didn't say, it seems like a pretty fast and slick slope to go from there to the point where you're only permitted to say the exact words Jesus said - you know, from the KJV.

And for the record, Frank, when you updated your avatar to be an actual image of your visage, I was not tempted to worship you. I know you're relieved.

Turretinfan said...

DJP:

Do you see the difference between repeating what Rabshakeh said in the context of "Here's an example of blasphemy" and repeating what Rabshakeh said in the context of "Rabshakeh pwns Hezekiah"?

-TurretinFan

Sir Aaron said...

Secondarily, if an image of Jesus caused me to bow down in worship, would I be worshipping the picture or worshipping Jesus? I think I could successfully argue the latter.

Not to spend in inordinately long time on this point, but I meant if the image were created for some other purpose but as a result of seeing, I was caused to worship (like seeing a rainbow actually causes me to worship). I don't mean the romanish imagery created for the purpose of causing you to worship.

Sir Brass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Brass said...

Considering the exacting detail with which God used to instruct the tabernacle and temple builders to build their structures, and the exacting, often mind-numbingly exacting detail in which He described how the sacrifices were to be presented and offered it seems to me to show the deep, DEEP concern our God has for how He is worshipped.

Thus, when He says not to make a ANY graven image, I take it to mean Himself included. Note also that NO actual detailed description even exists of Christ. He is a male human and that is really all we know, aside from Isaiah's prophesy where is says that he would not be visually extraordinary that we might look upon Him (I'm describing, not quoting here). Seems to me that Scripture finds it fitting to not describe Jesus to us visually in literary form. And, I find it wise that we not go beyond what Scripture says other than arrive at logical conclusions (since those conclusions are arrived at from evidence in scripture).

I was first introduced to this view on the 2nd Commandment (almost typed Amendment there.... you can tell how I spend part of my past time, can't you :P) by J.I. Packer in "Knowing God." I take his view that it is unwise to have depictions of Jesus, for the very reason Tom stated that he does not use visual representations with children: images stick in our minds, and stick to the words we hear as well. Thus, when someone reads scripture and the listener has been raised seeing visual representations of Christ, his mind binds the two together and now in his mind is a depiction of Jesus that God never in His revealed Word gave.

It seems that if God is willing to strike down a man who reaches over to steady the Ark of the Covenant because it is only to be carried by priests, NOT on an ox-cart and that He is just and Holy for doing so, then it is wrong for us to dismiss "innocent" use of visual art and NOT offer correction.

I side more with Tom here than Tur8 here, though I agree with both that the 2nd Commandment means "Don't" even for homiletical illustrations.

I think the same point and humor could have been made not using an image and still been reverent towards our Lord. Something like this, perhaps?

"When Jesus said to Peter to come and follow Him, he didn't mean on Twitter."

I find the POINT humorous and very applicable, but means matters as does the end.

And yes, CD was over the top. As to his heart, I stand with Tur8 and others who refuse to say a thing about it. CD's state of heart is between him and the Lord.

Sir Aaron said...

Sir Brass,

#1) I'd wholeheartedly agree that the second commandment includes any image of God in a "graven image" (which is translated as idol in other versions). If I made a golden calf and worshipped it as Jehovah, that would be evil. But the verse doesn't say no images of God. It says no images of anything that you will worship. It's wrong to only apply the no "image of God" with some other standard than you do the rest of the verse.

#2) We have as much a description of Jesus as we do any other person in the Bible. In fact, we might have more of a description of Jesus than any other person. In fact, Jesus is one of the few Biblical characters described as a baby. If lack of a physical description is a guideline, should we then not make any images of anybody from the Bible?

#3) People worship apostles and "saints" just as they do Jesus. If the guideline is, don't make an image because we might worship it, then should we not make any images of them for any purpose?

Sir Aaron said...

Making an image in the mind is wrong surely as making an image on paper. So if you post a comic without the image and it causes me to form an image of Jesus in my mind, then you've caused me to sin. That is,if you believe making such an image is wrong.

Solameanie said...

Halcyon,

Let's read the whole sentence . . .

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

What is the focus of the sentence? "An idol." An idol to bow down and worship. Not just of what is in heaven, but also on the earth beneath or in the water. On the earth is fairly obvious, and under the water I assume means fish, crustaceans, whales etc.

Obviously no one thinks there's anything wrong with pictures or paintings of whales or octopii. However, if you were to make a painting of a whale or octopii with the purpose of worshipping it, that would be an idol and therefore sin.

I don't mean to sound snide or flip. Really. But I really think we're missing PURPOSE here.

Sir Brass said...

Aaron, you're missing the focus of the commandment that Tom keeps repeating (and yes being ignored on too):

"To clarify my position just a bit, I believe that the prohibition against visual images of the divine is given for revelational as well as doxalogical reasons. Part of the problem with visual representations of God is that they limit the degree to which He is revealed in a way that verbal discussion does not. The Israelites might have thought that a golden calf was a particularly glorious representation, but they implicitly attributed to God all the limitations of a calf. God wills to be revealed by the reading and proclamation of His word. Any drawing of God - even of the incarnate Christ - must both add interpretive detail from the artists mind and at the same time limit the presentation of God to that detail."

Graven images would include anything we would use for idolatry so of course statues of biblical figures would factor in there. Now, that wouldn't be true if they were not used in the religious worship context, as they are not divine.


However, Jesus being divine, it applies always because of the reverence due to Him as God the Son.

We find lack of a positive physical description (stages of life do not count) other than that he was male, human, and after His resurrection had the marks of the nails and spear on Him, and also see the 2nd commandment. I too think that the golden calf represented not another god but a depiction of YHWH, and that was condemned soundly by the Lord and judgement carried out. That is not to say that cartoon Jesus is on the same level and severity of offense, but it is along the same lines. The difference is in degree, not of kind. The Israelites were guilty of multiple sins: making a graven image AND worshipping it, violating both sections of the overall 2nd commandment.

We are to regard Christ as Holy. Creating a visual representation of Him not given in scripture necessarily adds to what has been given to us and at the same time limits our thoughts of Jesus physically due to influences NOT found in Scripture nor truly inferred.

God is SPECIFIC in things such as how He is represented in worship and in everyday life. Thus why the commandment to not take His name in vain is so broad (see Phil's sermon on his site regarding that one... VERY good). I would say that the 2nd Commandment is also just as broad in application.

What Tom, myself, and Turretinfan are all espousing to slightly differing degrees is agreeing with the consistent Protestant interpretation throughout the centuries (not that that itself lends meaning.... "pedigree" doesn't matter much if that pedigree means you're wrong on what scripture says.... c.f. Bob Sungenis in his 1st encounter with Matt Slick). That is, we agree with the historical interpretation given by our theological forebears. Their wisdom on this and other issues is sorely ignored these days, sadly enough.

Solameanie said...

Ooops. Should have read the rest of the meta before answering Halcyon's comment to me.

I shall now go make peach tree tea for myself in penance.

Sir Aaron said...

Sir Brass:

Do you have a link? I'm trying to find Phil's complete series on the ten commandments.

Ok, we have as much a description of Jesus as we do any other person, and I'd argue that stages of life do matter. They are part of the physical description of a person. Additionally, Revelation gives us a description of Jesus, and although poetical imagery, it still describes Jesus in his glorified form.

Scripture tells us over and over that God is not visible and no man has ever seen nor can see God. To make an image of God would be wrong because we can't even begin to portray Him. But that can't possibly apply to Jesus because man did see Jesus, indeed, even after He was in Heaven!

Steve Lamm said...

In his 3:29pm comment, Tom Chantry identified the crux of the issue - what exactly does the text of Exodus 20:4-6 forbid?

This issue must be decided exegetically, from the text itself, not first by appeals to authority as a few brethren have done.

No matter how much we respect the fine theologians and preachers of the past, let's not forget the "herd mentality" that such issues often generate (and that cuts both ways on this issue).

So to the brethren who take a more restrictive view on this, make your case exegetically and show how Exodus 20 forbids depictions such as the cartoon or the DaVinci's Last Supper.

I would like to see what Tom Chantry has to offer on this. I'm also going to listen to Phil Johnson's message.

For the record, I don't think that the 2nd commandment forbids DaVinci or the cartoon, and I think the 2nd commandment is an extension of the 1st, but sure I'm open to biblical correction on this.

Thanks,
Steve Lamm

Bverysharp said...

Frank,
In this statement to CD (who I don't know or follow his blog)under the origonal comments on the 'cartoon' post...
there is soooo much pride.

Here is your signature:

"Actually in Christ,

Frank"

I don't drive by much and probably expect this post to not be considered for publication by you, but what I see in much of this thread is mere "Christian billiards" with you Frank 'running the table' not because it is your blog but because of pride which is hard to see in ourselves by the way. In an almost prideful and belligerent way you...you probably know and remember the fat kid at the old 1950's downtown pool hall that had a smirk on his face while others tried to compete but as fate would have it they just couldn't win because the fat kid would do anything to win. that is what I see, the grin and the eybrow up like come on boys...see if you can bump me from my run on the table. I see nothing from the Spirit just flesh.

bp said...

If it’s true that these are, indeed, two separate commandments:

1. Don’t make any graven images.
2. Don’t bow down to them

Then why is #2 even there? After all, how can you be tempted to bow down to something you are forbidden in the first place to make?

Tom Chantry said...

Blogs are odd places.

It's 9:15 at night, I just got my kids in bed after preaching on Genesis 1 and 2, and I find that Steve Lamm wants me to exegete Exodus 20:4-6.

I get what you're saying, Steve. You want this to be decided from Scripture and not from history. For my part I only cited Calvin in response to a subsequently retracted statement about the quality of the logic I was using. My point throughout the day has been, "Don't dismiss this without a thought; there is a long pedigree for this interpretation."

As for the text, we've been talking about it all day. I read it one way, Frank another. Fair enough, and as Phil implied (and I agreed) fair-minded Christians can reasonably disagree on this particular point. I still think my approach to the Commandment is both the safest and the clearest understanding of the text.

My hope was that it would prove possible to have a fair and rational discussion of this difference of opinion, and to some degree that has been accomplished. As one who has been in opposition today, I do not see any truth in Bverysharp's description of Frank. It just hasn't happened.

As for commenters, some of you seem very angry, and irrationally so. I started out the day saying that while I didn't like the cartoon, I thought CD's reaction was overkill. I wasn't angry about it then, and I'm still not angry about it now.

Thank you, Frank, for engaging everything I said fairly and reasonably. I'm unconvinced, but I have had a fruitful day of contemplating some arguments I had not heard before. I hope the same was true for someone else, because otherwise there was a lot of vitriol expended (by some parties) to little purpose.

mikeb said...

So many of the arguments in the comments are fallacious. Some appear to think that because everyone does it these days, that makes it right. Others think that if they do it in Sunday school, it must follow that it is true. Given the state of the world and that of the church these days, these arguments are a waste of time.

Steve Lamm lays it out perfectly. While some comments have touched the surface here and there, so many people (like Pyro posts' comments) simply say "we'll that's what I believe and you're crazy, absurd even, if you believe something else!"

I've got a great idea. How about the majority of you ACTUALLY deal with the main points of the argument for once!

1.) What does the original text of Exodus 20:4-6 mean and how do we apply that as Christians?

2.) What has the church held on this view in the past, especially that of the Church fathers, the Reformers, and Modern (conservative)scholars?

3.) If you agree that the 2nd commandment has 2 parts, then do you agree that the image of Jesus is the same as the Image of God?

For example, Brad said My logic in that matter is that we know it is a terrible sin to draw "God." Yet, Jesus is the God-man.

I think Brad should check out what John 14:9 says "He who has seen Me has seen the Father".

4.) If you don't agree with the 2nd commandment being 2 parts, can you at least conceive that some idiot somewhere might honor this thing as God?

5.) If you won't agree to #4 above, then can you at least agree that even if "all things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful."

What are your answers to the above? Some people need to stop just saying what they believe and start proving WHY they believe it.

To sum up, I think Phil said it best:

It's a serious mistake to assume that unless you are deliberately committing some gross and obvious act of wanton blasphemy, you needn't worry about casually making light of sacred things or speaking of God in an overly-familiar way.

Coram Deo said...

Phil said: "Good report from my neurosurgeon. He removed my staples and cleared me to go back to the office, starting tomorrow."

That's great news, Phil! Praise the Lord!

Soooo...onto the matter at hand.

As has been pointed out repeatedly in this combox ["over the top"; "overkill"] and in the subject post ["crackpot", Cent? Really?] I'm manifestly not as spiritually mature as the Pyros, or Steve Hays, or T-Fan, or many [probably most] of the solid, thoughtful folks that have posted material on this subject [Tom Chantry - blessed are the peace makers].

With God's help I'm growing in this area, albeit painfully slowly by many measures.

And although I'm not seeing much in the way of minds and hearts being swayed in one way or the other through this discussion, I do pray that God in His grace and mercy will give pause for His people to carefully consider and reflect upon the Person of Christ, and how we ought to approach Him with those same aforementioned hearts and minds which He fashioned and knitted together in our mothers' wombs.

I could be wrong, but I frankly can't see Him being pleased by being falsely represented in a flippant cartoon caricature, and having words put in His mouth.

To me this is blasphemous.

If my understanding of scripture is wrong, and images of Christ are a Romans 14 issue as Phil has suggested, then please pray for me that the Lord would continue to sanctify me and lead me out of my malaise of legalism and into His glorious liberty.

Frank,

I don't mind being a punching bag for you in this matter; in fact I'd like to thank you for picking up on what you've [wrongly in my view] characterized as a "tempest in a teapot" and placing it upon a fairly large platform for consideration and discussion.

Please understand that my thanks has nothing to do with mundane things like blog traffic [I don't care about stats] or seeing myself under the microscope at Pyro; after all who in his right mind wants to be publicly flayed at Pyro?

Instead it has everything to do with pausing and considering the breathtaking encroachment and ever-increasing acceptability of rank idolatry within vast swaths of modern-day, mile-wide, inch-deep church-ianity.

Case in point [as I've previously observed at Triablogue]:

Nobody [with the notable exception of TF it seems] is asking why professing Christians would attempt to depict Jesus in this [or similar] manner in the first place with so many other "point-making" options available.

On the one hand I can easily understand why anti-theists rejoice over "Piss Christ"; because they hate God.

But why are professing Christians okie-dokie with irreverently depictions of Him? And why are some professing Christians so absolutely zealous to defend the practice and convinced, CONVINCED that to question the practice is akin to a return to the "Spanish Inquisition"? [HT: Cent]

Are we terrified that Romans 14 might be secretly in jeopardy if we don't rush to the defense of the inviolable right - nay duty! - to create images of Christ?

Some folks seem awfully angry and rigid about angry and rigid opposition to depictions of the Son of God.

And one more observation; through this "image and idolatry dust-up", and maybe it's just me, but has anyone else noticed a disturbing connection to Romanism?

The general reaction that I've been observing in the blogosphere over the past few days bears a striking resemblance to Rome's nefarious e-pologists predictably coming out in force whenever a dogma peculiar to the Mother Church is prodded by a Reformed thinker, even as they sit by blithely ignoring [or promoting!] the grossest of blasphemies, impieties, and indignities being heaped upon the Triune One True and Living God.

Just sayin'...

In Christ,
CD

Sir Aaron said...

Respectfully, MikeB, there has been very little vitriol, IMHO. Sometimes the written word can come off that way, but I don't feel it's true. And I'm the only one who used the word "absurd" and that didn't have to do with the direct argument over the second commandment but rather, the notion that people learn better or even as well through oral communication as they do with visual communication. I still maintain the notion is absurd and contradicts everything we know about human learning. Moreover, it's not a proper justification for a particular view of Scripture

If you dig through all of the posts you'll see most of us already answered your questions. One side says the second commandment pertains to making idols. That's the context and the meaning of the second commandment. Don't make idols or anything to be used as an idol. The other says it pertains to both making idols and to making any images of God, including Jesus. The former postiion has repeatedly quoted Scripture. Tom Chantry is the only one that offered an explanation of the text from the latters' position. All sides agree that just because something isn't technically illegal, that doesn't mean we should do it.

Sir Aaron said...

Tom:

As for commenters, some of you seem very angry, and irrationally so. I started out the day saying that while I didn't like the cartoon, I thought CD's reaction was overkill. I wasn't angry about it then, and I'm still not angry about it now.

You didn't mention any names. However, I want to apologize for seeming vitrolic or angry. That is certainly not the tone I was trying to convey.

DJP said...

Is this meta upside-down? Do you have to start with CD's comment, then read backwards to see the many, many times it's already been responded to?

RazorsKiss said...

My two cents - love Tom Chantry's comment - disappointed in the offhand dismissal of a very pertinent issue regarding the Second Commandment.

Mohler: "We are to make no image of Him. We should paint no pictures of Him. If we were to know the visual image of Christ, He would have left us His visual image. He did not. And every picture or portrait of Him is an invention, and as an invention, it robs Him of His glory. The worship of icons is just wrapped up in the foolishness of the same lie. God does not command or authorize the use of images in order to understand and worship Him. As a matter of fact, God condemns images and leaves no doubt concerning the matter."

Calvin: "Let Papists, then, if they have any sense of shame, henceforth desist from the futile plea, that images are the books of the unlearned—a plea so plainly refuted by innumerable passages of Scripture... I am not, however, so superstitious as to think that all visible representations of every kind are unlawful. But as sculpture and painting are gifts of God, what I insist for is, that both shall be used purely and lawfully,—that gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon us, for his glory and our good, shall not be preposterously abused, nay, shall not be perverted to our destruction. We think it unlawful to give a visible shape to God, because God himself has forbidden it, and because it cannot be done without, in some degree, tarnishing his glory. And lest any should think that we are singular in this opinion, those acquainted with the productions of sound divines will find that they have always disapproved of it."

Phil said...

I was having problems slogging through the entire 157 comment post, but did anyone yet say that the whole point of Christ was to be our brother? To become a man to be punished as a man, for the sins of man. In some way He is the everyman. To depict Him as ordinary is to celebrate His very presence, to outright ban drawing a Jesus in any way is to close down the avenue by which we may celebrate His first coming.

And also Dan, don't you think that having your picture on your profile is blasphemy since Jesus lives inside your heart?

RazorsKiss said...

For the record, I do believe that it is blasphemy, yes. Blasphemy is not the unforgivable sin, or no self-idolater would ever be redeemed. Let's not get in a tizzy about calling it what it is, if it is indeed a violation of the second commandment, which directly encroaches on what God commands about Himself, and His image. Might as well get in a tizzy about being called a "liar", rather than a "factual self-contradiction", no? ;)

The point that IS being made:

1) God forbids images of HIMSELF

The point that is NOT being made:

1) Images altogether are forbidden.

The point that IS being made:

2) Since God commands that we not make images of Him, our good intentions in the matter are really irrelevant, aren't they?

The point that is NOT being made:

2) Jesus would have been in trouble if photographers were around, or a good portrait painter! (He wasn't, so why are we talking impossibilities?)

The point that IS being made:

If God forbids us to make an image of Him, we are not to make an image of Him. To violate His express command is, therefore, sin - and the term for that sin, given it's subject, is blasphemy. The tear your robes type.

This is nothing new, this has a LONG pedigree of orthodoxy, and it's being treated in the Pyro combox, largely, as if no one has heard of this before. Iconoclasm wasn't just for images of saints, folks. There's a reason our crosses are empty, and Romanist crosses aren't. Ponder that, and see if this is as minor an issue as it seems to be considered, would you? Thanks,

~RK

(Do I get some potshots thrown at me for having an odd nickname too? If so, can I make some rebuttals about "Centurion"? ;))

Sir Brass said...

Phil, you miss the point that Jesus is both God AND Man. As PJ pointed out only a few blog articles previous, you cannot separate Jesus' humanity from His divinity. You can't combine them either. They are distinct yet indivisible. As such, His divinity is always together with His humanity. To say that you're only representing His humanity is to claim to split the divine person's unique nature and that is indeed pure blasphemy.

Tom Chantry said...

Sir Aaron,

Your first comment seemed extraordinarily passionate, but I'll take you at your word that you are not angry.

For what it's worth, you have not yet really dealt with what I said about visual verse verbal communication. I have never claimed that verbal learning is easier, but that it is more precise. What I claimed was harder was the task of having to un-teach all that is set in a learner's mind quite firmly by an image.

To take da Vinci, if he is going to be any sort of artist at all (and obviously he is) he is going to have to add a great deal of interpretive detail involving expressions, emotions, and context to his scene. All that presents itself as reality - especially to a child. It must subsequently be unlearned if we are to get back to the Jesus of the Bible. The very facility with which children learn visually is the reason why visual representations are so dangerous. Mis-communication is inevitable, and it is very hard to unlearn.

To give an example, I once taught a class of elementary children the book of Exodus. It was shortly after "The Prince of Egypt" came out. They never could distinguish what we were reading in the book from what they had seen in the film. What they had seen had become reality to them, and the book was only a book - even though it was God's book. So was it easier to teach them the story of Moses through a film, or in the long run was it much, much harder?

I kept thinking, "At least Jesus wasn't in this film. They'll grow up with a false perception of Moses, but that shouldn't damn any of them." Hopefully when they were a few years older they didn't watch "The Passion of the Christ."

So, no, Aaron, I'm not making a point that's patently absurd, and yes, I do understand that children tend to learn visually. I hope this clarifies what I'm saying.

DJP said...

And also Dan, don't you think that having your picture on your profile is blasphemy since Jesus lives inside your heart?

Poor aesthetics, undoubtedly; but blasphemy? Hardly.

Robert said...

I have watched "The Passion of the Christ". No, I don't think the actor was an exact replication of Jesus...I only know that Jesus is God and man and that He looks like a man in the flesh. However, it gave me a LOT stronger portrayal of the physical realities of the scourging, mocking, and the crucifixion that my Creator, my Lord, took on Himself which I richly deserved to face myself. What can not be portrayed or understood truly by any of us (unless we are unsaved - only those will face that wrath ultimately) is the wrath of God and what that feels like.

I think the main thing is that we define the context and that we do not try to portray God in any fashion that denies His nature.

As for Romanism...I converted from Catholicism and I think that unless you've actually been in that environment, you can't truly understand the difference. I used to genuflex at the pew...looking to the crucifix and thinking I was honoring God. And that is the intent of the RCC with all the crucfixes and booths and statues.

The point is, we need to quit just looking at the external and realize what Jesus was getting at when He taught during His earthly ministry. It is about the heart...what is the motive? Is this cartoon an attempt to get people to worship the image? Is it an attempt to belittle Jesus? Or is it an attempt to show how little people think of following Jesus Himself? I tend to believe the last of those, myself.

witness said...

Robert, I brought up motive yesterday and Turretinfan ignored the implications of it.

He and CD have also failed to distinguish the difference between Dan's use of the image and CD's in their blogposts.

Evidently Dan's crime was displaying it... and CD displayed it but somehow without the sin.

witness said...

CD was your intent and motive in posting that image to blaspheme and mock Christ?

This is the heart of the whole matter.

witness said...

Turretinfan how are you able to defend CD's use of a blasphemous image without supoorting said blasphemy?

mikeb said...

Robert, are you saying that it's "okay" for Catholics to genuflect at a statue or crucifix, as long as they are thinking in their heart about Jesus? What about if they offer prays to Mary but are really, deep down, in their heart ultimately thinking of Jesus?

What matters first is what God meant in His Word and if we are following that Word. This tells more about the heart than anything else.

Bverysharp said...

Let's go out into the field...
One evangelist arrives at the same time another does into a spiritually dark corner of earth untouched by the God's Gospel. The natives of this corner have never heard about or seen any 'depictions' of Christ. Evangelist #1 and #2 both learn the language and the natives then say, "Tell us about this Lord". Evangelist #1 reads through the Gospels and allows the Spirit of Truth to convey the image of God in Christ to their hearts and minds. Evangelist #2 pulls out a old rolled up painting and hands it to the natives of the corner of Earth and says this is kinda what the Lord looked like. Both leave... years later the old picture gets rained on and what do you think the natives would do? Probably redraw the image and make one that is in their image and closer to the looks of their people, some might even start worshipping it because the newer natives were not at the time of the origional showing of the painting or teaching of the Gospel of God and His chosen Christ and they had not been presented Jesus in the right way. The ones who had heard the Gospel and beleived would be able to (even without a bible) to proclaim the good news of Jesus to anyone else in the land. Others would only have a made up image and without the Spirit in the Gospel they might actually in thier own minds think that since they have an 'image' or 'likeness' of this new teaching (to them a god) that they knew him and were correctly worshipping him.
The point is... why confuse anyone.. let's stick to proclaiming Him from scripture and truth and not false 'representations' of Him because they are not Him and only a figment of our 'IMAGination'. No one can get 'saved' by an image, but the Elect of God will get saved by hearing the Gospel of God whether written or preached.

bp said...

3Thou shalt have no other gods before me

4Thou 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:

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


Tom, verse 3 states that we should not have any other gods but God. This is an obvious lead in to vs. 4, which says not to make ANY image of ANYthing in heaven, on earth or under the earth (not just an image of God, but ANY image). Vs.5 says not to bow down to them. The flow of this is so clearly: Have no other gods before Me, so don’t make any images at all and bow down to them or serve them .

I know this has been said, but (maybe I missed it), I don't think there's been a credible answer: if you don’t believe this is what Scripture is saying, and think there are two distinct commandments here, then you would have to say that we cannot make ANY image of ANYthing at all. How do you get, specifically, "Don't make any images of God" out of this?

Tom Chantry said...

BP,

I'll be very careful here and say what I'm not doing first. I am not accusing you of latent Romanism, or of trying to sneak Catholic idolatry in the back door.

However, you have just presented the Roman Catholic exegesis of Exodus 20:3-6. Exactly. Their argument is that what Protestants call "the Second Commandment" is really a continuation of the First, and that therefore only graven images of false gods are forbidden.

To make up the compliment of ten commandments they divide the tenth into two. This is why there is so often confusion between Catholics and Protestants on the numbering of Commandments. (We say abortion violates the sixth; they say the fifth - but we mean the same commandment!)

Protestant Christians have always held that the second commandment (verses 4-6) addresses the false worship of God through images. An examination of the history of the golden calf bears this out: the Israelites sinned when they made an image to represent the true God.

Robert said...

Mikeb,

I am saying that the teaching of the RCC doesn't allow for the beliefs that you mention. From the meaning of various items (communion, crucifix, etc.) to Mary being called "immaculate" and what that means. The ultimate reason that I left the RCC is the fact that they set "things" over and above Christ.

I do think there are people who are saved (not tons, but some) in the Catholic church, but I would say for the most part that they are immature and/or don't truly understand the doctrinal beliefs of the RCC.

I just think that before anybody shouts Romanism over something, they should have a real understanding of it.

Daryl said...

Here's what I'm seeing, and here's why I like Tom Chantry's comments so much, even when I disagree with him.

To my mind, Tom's best argument is this:

The 2nd commandment forbids the making of images for worship. God's image (if there could be one) must and would always cause worship, ergo, any image of God, made for any reason, is wrong, because it should necessarily cause worship of that image.

Any yet, he also allows that others might not see it that way, so terms like blasphemy are out of bounds and he'll not nit-pick over this.

I see Tom's reasoning, I respect it, it makes sense. I just disagree because I think it goes beyond Scripture.

Many others (like T-fan) have said that the 2nd commandment expressly states that it is wrong to make an image of God for any reason, even if it never ever causes worship. Full stop.

For those guys, that cartoon is wrong just because Jesus is pictured in it.

For the life of me I can't see where the 2nd commandment says "Don't make an image of God ever ever for any reason at all."

So why won't the guys who claim that the 2nd commandment says "Don't ever make an image of God for any reason ever" show us where it says that?

This whole line of argument smacks of the same reasoning the Jews used to not burn incorrect copies of Scripture because God's name was written there, or of their crazy idea that they shouldn't pronounce the Name because they might get it wrong and that would be sin.

As I say, I understand Tom's argument which seems to me to be essentially a call for caution. But I don't see the "just so" argument being used over and over.

Help!

Tom Chantry said...

I should clarify, I believe that images of God - even of the incarnate Christ - are a violation of the Second Commandment. I see this as more than a matter of "caution" - it is a matter of "obedience."

What I have said is that I understand that the full interpretation of this point requires some careful thought. It isn't quite as simplistic as "don't commit adultery." For that reason, I can accept as a brother someone who differs on their interpretation of the Commandment. I would not view someone who read the Seventh Commandment differently (say, to condone homosexual marriage) with anywhere near the same degree of respect and fraternal love.

Beyond that, I think there is a way to discuss these matters. Running into someone's blog and tossing a "this-is-blasphemy" grenade before scuttling away is not the way I think brothers ought to discuss the Commandments.

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan how are you able to defend CD's use of a blasphemous image without supoorting said blasphemy?"

Well, are you seriously suggesting that CD was endorsing a blasphemous image?

If you're not suggesting that, and if you're recognizing that his use is non-adoptive, then how would any support from me (I don't recall specifically defending him) be support of blasphemy?

-TurretinFan

Daryl said...

Tom,

That makes sense. But still, when I read the second commandment I see no explicit prohibition of making an image of God for, say, illustrative purposes.

Even in your arguments, I don't see you arguing that it is explicitly there. I see you drawing inferences that are logical and thought out, but, to my mind, beyond Scripture.

I read the second commandment to say (as I've said before) one of two things:

1) Don't make any graven image of anything ever for any reason. (I don't think any of us are going there)

2) Don't make a graven image of any created thing and worship it.

But where are we told to not make a picture of God for any reason?

Turretinfan said...

Let me clarify a few things:

a) My position is that making any image of any created thing as an image of God is prohibited.

That's the case whether it is a golden calf (as in Israel) or a cartoon of a guy that is supposed to be Jesus.

b) I have taken the blog poster's comments (Frank Turk's comments) to the effect that if I have that opinion, I just don't understand the second commandment, to mean that he's not at all interested in having my view discussed here.

That's why I have simply stated it, not defended or explained it. But to those who have pointed out that I have not defended my position in that regard, I fully agree with you that I have not defended it.

-TurretinFan

Daryl said...

T-Fan,

The trouble is, as soon as you say that it's wrong to make an image of God for any reason, even apart from worship, then it's automatically wrong to post that cartoon, even to demonstrate the blasphemy of it.

Unless you say that making the picture is not the same as using or having it, well then by any definition the painted is in the wrong and no one else is. And I don't think anyone is saying that either.

Robert said...

Turretin,

Anybody using the 2nd commandment as saying no image of God could not post that picture and not be guilty of the same...that is inconsistent, IMHO.

witness said...

Daryl said:

"The trouble is, as soon as you say that it's wrong to make an image of God for any reason, even apart from worship, then it's automatically wrong to post that cartoon, even to demonstrate the blasphemy of it."

BINGO!!!

Unless of course that was not your intent!

Phil said...

And also Dan, don't you think that having your picture on your profile is blasphemy since Jesus lives inside your heart?

Poor aesthetics, undoubtedly; but blasphemy? Hardly.


Well now is this not a serious issue, and is not better to err on the side of caution? Therefore I ask once more Dan:
When people look at you do they see Christ? Therefore it's time to learn another lessons from the Muslims (and rage boy) and don that burka Dan. For the sake of your weaker brother, lest they be tempted to worship and disobey.
You don't want them to violate the second commandment do you?

Phil said...

To say that you're only representing His humanity is to claim to split the divine person's unique nature and that is indeed pure blasphemy.
Bass, nobody made the claim that the picture of Jesus is merely a man, therefore worship the mere man.
But worse, by that logic Jesus didn't get tired, hungry, lonely, grow, learn, or feel pain. Nor indeed can you point that out to someone because that would be to divide Christ and therefore blaspheme. If we can't point out that Jesus was indeed a man and celebrate that then neither can we accept the testimony of scripture that He was a man.

mikeb said...

Robert, did Calvin and Luther understand Romanism enough to condemn its practices of idolatry?

BP and others, I often wonder how much of today's watered-down Christianity seeps into our exegesis of the text. How much of our interpretation of the 2nd commandment is influenced by our growing up with images of Jesus in kids bibles, Sunday school, movies, cartoons, etc? You can see this in the above comments, where people assume that since they've always done it, it must be right. They then go back to the text and say since it doesn't explicitly say we can't do certain things, there must be room in there for our view. Other examples of reading modernity back into the text, over and against church history, include birth control views and the understanding of Genesis 1.

Turretinfan said...

"The trouble is, as soon as you say that it's wrong to make an image of God for any reason, even apart from worship, then it's automatically wrong to post that cartoon, even to demonstrate the blasphemy of it."

I think the blasphemy (if any) in the cartoon lies in its irreverence, not its idolatry.

But yes, I tend to agree that we probably should not make meta-images - images of images of God.

"Unless you say that making the picture is not the same as using or having it, ..."

I do also distinguish between making, using, and having. It would seem to be worse to use and/or make an image of God than to merely have it (if having the image is even something culpable).

" ... well then by any definition the painted is in the wrong and no one else is. And I don't think anyone is saying that either."

No, no one is saying that. There are many ways to violate the second commandment. In general terms, we say that it is by making images of God or worshiping God in any way not appointed by his word.

It's understandable how one might conclude that somehow a "non-worship" image of God would be acceptable, in light of that summary.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"Anybody using the 2nd commandment as saying no image of God could not post that picture and not be guilty of the same...that is inconsistent, IMHO."

Daryl made a similar comment. The meta-images question is interesting. The argument in defense would be that CD (or whoever) is not making an image of God, he's making an image of someone else's idol. I'm not sure whether I buy that argument. So, I try to abstain even from posting other people's images of God.

I'm not sufficiently persuaded in my own mind to condemn CD for posting idols as empty idols, nor am I sufficiently persuaded to defend him either.

-TurretinFan

Daryl said...

T-Fan,

Thanks for that answer.

I think I see your reasoning, although I still think it is inconsistent.

But still, where are we told not to make such non-worship images of God?

I don't think it's there in the 2nd commandment and I think we're on really dangerous ground to infer a command (and call the breaking of such on unstated command, blasphemy)that isn't explicit. That smacks of legalism to me.

For me, this isn't about the relative irreverence of many images. I don't like that either and I think it's wrong. I think that falls under taking the Lord's name in vain.
It's about the picture itself.

Where?

Sir Aaron said...

I really don't like being lumped in with Catholics. Catholics make statutes of everybody and bow down in front of them. They pray to saints. So however they may claim to exegete the text, the practice in reality is much different.

Its my understanding that the Lutherans count the commandments the same as the RCC. But whether wrong or right (and I don't like the way they count them) we shouldn't base our own exegesis on our desire to be different than the RCC.

The golden calf incident wasn't merely about making an image of God. It was making an image of God and then worshipping that image as God. We'd all agree that making ANY image and worshipping it as God violates the second commandment. But you cannot get me to accept the premise that the second commandment refers only or even primarily to making images of God.

Tom Chantry said...

Sir Aaron,

For my part, I'm not lumping you in with Catholics. Your argument has been that the Second Commandment is about the proper worship of the one true God, which is the universal Protestant position. BP utilized the Catholic argument that Exodus 20:4-6 are merely an extension of the first commandment. I'm guessing he didn't do it intentionally or even knowingly, but that's what he did.

You and I differ as to whether it is legitimate to make images of God for non-doxological purposes. You say it is possible, I say that to encounter the representation of God and to not worship it is even more problematic.

Turretinfan said...

Hey, if you believe High Priest Aaron, they didn't really even make the calf - it just kind of jumped out of the fire after they threw in their gold.

Robert said...

TF,

I don't get how you make that connection regarding Aaron's comment. Did I miss something?

Frank, you're pushing close to 200+ comments for two weeks in a row. I think next week you should look at a calmer topic like infant baptism or male/female leadership in the church. 8o)

Daryl said...

Robert...I think T-fan was talking about the actual High Priest Aaron...not the Sir Aaron we all know and love.

Turretinfan said...

Daryl,

Yes, I originally wrote just Aaron, but added "high priest" to distinguish from Sir Aaoron.

Tom Chantry said...

I've made various arguments as to why the commandment prohibits the making of images of God, not only the making of images for the purpose of worship. Nevertheless, various commenters keep insisting that I address this question. I'm going to summarize my arguments below, and I'm going to subsequently ignore anyone who says, "Yeah, but how do you explain that the commandment prohibits the making of images..." Enough Already!

Tom Chantry said...

1. The language is "Do not make any carved image...; do not bow down to them..." It would require a leap of logic to assume that the making of such an image is acceptable so long as it is not worshiped, given that two imperatives are utilized. Do not make. Do not bow down. It is not self evident that these are related in the manner Turk has insisted - that the second action indicates the purpose which invalidates the first. They seem rather straightforward to me, no matter how they are punctuated.

2. Furthermore, the terseness of the commandments as a whole makes me wonder why God would not merely say "Do not bow down to images" if He did not also mean to prohibit any making of the type of images he is talking about. This leads me to conclude that the making of images is prohibited as well as the worshiping of images.

3. That the commandment does not prohibit all visual artistry, or even all representational visual artistry, is evident from the instructions for the Tabernacle, which included representational visual artistry. Something must qualify the prohibition. If it is an additional prohibition to not worshiping images, it must be the type of image. Context (both in the commandment itself and in subsequent events in Exodus) leads to the conclusion that the type of image which was prohibited was one representing God - whether he was represented as a bird, a fish, an animal, or any other creature.

mikeb said...

But you cannot get me to accept the premise that the second commandment refers only or even primarily to making images of God.

Sir Aaron, can you give examples in the OT where the Israelites made images of God? They made images of other things. Why not make "non-worshipped" images of their creator God, if the 2nd commandment didn't prohibit this?

If you don't think the 2nd commandment forbids images of God, how would you draw the great I AM?

Tom Chantry said...

4. It is easy to understand why such a prohibition would be necessary, since the presence of God always provoked worship. How could any visual representation of God not be worshiped? Thus God, desiring to prohibit the worship of Himself through images, also prohibited the making of those images.

5. It is further easy to understand why God would prohibit the very making of an image of Himself because He is spirit, and any physical representation would degrade His glory. At least in the Old Testament any image representing God would have necessarily been an insult, since God had no physical form. The dual prohibition against making images and worshiping would have been well understood by the Old Covenant saints, and not due to an inherent Pharisaism.

6. If the Commandment once meant that God was never to be represented through visual imagery, then it would require a substantial reversal in God’s word to assume that He now sanctions the practice with regard to the second Person of the Godhead. The incarnate Christ is no less the Almighty God than is the Father or the Spirit. The same reverence is due to Him today as was due during the Old Covenant. It should be evident that this is no denial of His true humanity. Yet the New Testament never suggests a change in the standard regarding images; in fact its warnings against idolatry are as clear as those in the Old Testament.

7. (This one is a less conclusively exegetical point, only offered as a supporting observation.) The striking failure of any of the four evangelists to make the slightest reference to the normal appearance of Christ (normal being aside from the transfiguration) supports the idea that faith in Christ is not necessarily linked to visual imagery. Quite the contrary, “blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.” Perhaps this is why we know less about the appearance of Jesus than we do about John the Baptist, or Esther, or Esau, or…

Robert said...

Wow...I'm feeling really slow now. Sorry for confusing that somehow.

Tom Chantry said...

Cursed character limit! I knew someone would post between those parts of the list!

Oh well.

So, now, if you want to tell me these points are inconclusive, or that you disagree with them, that’s fair. But if anyone else says, “Hey, why don’t you deal with the text and tell me why you think the commandment says what you think it says…” well, I might tear out my hair. And as you can see from my profile, that’s not a good plan.

Daryl said...

Tom,

Thank you. I'll leave your hair unprovoked.

Your points 1 & 2 make it 11 commandments. That's fine, except I don't even see you trying to make a case that the apparently 2 commands are really 2 separate commands.

I think that #3 is the least convincing (your last point aside which you didn't really offer as a convincer anyways).

In the commandments regarding stealing and murdering there are cases throughout the OT where God essentially overrides that command.
I think in particular of the conquest of Canaan when the elderly, children and women were killed indiscriminately and all their goods taken by force at God's express command.
Does that then change the meaning of those commandments whereby it's only stealing and murdering for an express purpose is forbidden?
If not, then why is it that the images used in the Tabernacle mean that images, for an express purpose are forbidden and not images in general, even though the command seems to read like it forbids images in general?

I don't know Hebrew, but it seems more likely that the commandment says "Don't make an idol, Don't bow down to it and worship it."
If that's the case (someone correct me if I'm wrong), then intent is everything. Idols, by definition are for worship, not decoration.

On points 4 & 5, while I think you're exactly right that a real image of the True God should cause us to worship, it seems to me that that actually argues against your point.
As you say, no one has seen God and no one knows what Jesus looked like. So while it's true that a real image of the True God would cause us to worship, no such image exists or can exist, so that's not really a problem, is it?

So no hair pulling required. That's just how I see it.

Tom Chantry said...

Daryl,

My interpretation no more makes the commandment into two commandments than the tenth, which prohibits covetousness of various things. Or the sixth, which prohibits both killing and hatred. Or the third, which prohibits both rash vows and irreverent speech about God.

The point being, each commandment deals with a specific area of morality. This one deals with the proper worship of God. Yet God was not content to say, "do not bow down before idols." It is as though he knew that someone would say, "Hey, if I make an image of God to teach my children, then it's not an idol, so as long as I don't bow down to it, I can make it!" For some reason He found it necessary to say "don't even make it."

You are, I believe, utilizing your assumption re. the relationship of the two imperatives (that it is purposeful) to redefine "image" as "idol." Very well. Why then does God explicitly add "or any likeness."

Do you see my point? A straightforward reading of the commandment suggests that God is really, really going out of His way (in a document which was intended to be etched in stone and hauled all over the desert) to say "Don't even make it!"

Tom Chantry said...

As you say, no one has seen God and no one knows what Jesus looked like. So while it's true that a real image of the True God would cause us to worship, no such image exists or can exist, so that's not really a problem, is it?

So these false images of God are helpful how? Are you among those who say that they are teaching aids? Why? If I'm giving a lecture on Thomas Jefferson, but, lacking a slide with Jefferson's picture, I put up a slide of Bea Arthur, that is an effective teaching tool? Just in case anyone couldn't figure out from my words that I consider Thomas Jefferson to be an actual human - just like the one in my slide?

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