Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Unfortunately there is probably more dispute circulating about the use of icons than of any of the other tools I have mentioned. When Tom and I were in Lebanon some years ago we were invited to lunch by an orthodox priest. What we did not realize until we arrived was that we were supposed to settle a long standing dispute between he and a friend as to whether or not the use of icons of Christ was acceptable.Let's stop down and think about how incredibly esoteric that argument is. Icons were born in an age when most could not read and were a means of telling story. I would venture to say that while ost now have the ability, few have the inclination, to engage in argument as subtle as that expressed concerning icons.
The friend thought they were satanic, graven images that were expressly denounced in the Old Testament. Our orthodox friend explained that early Christians felt that the Old Testament proscriptions against making images was overturned by their belief in the incarnation. They believed that because God took on flesh in the human form of Jesus it was permissible to create depictions of the human form of the Son of God. Although icons are images, they are not simply illustrations or decorations. They are symbols of the incarnation, a presence which offers to the eyes the spiritual message that the Word addresses to the ears.
Which means that practically, icons are what you make of them. They are object d'arte which some may leave at simply that and some may choose to "venerate." In other words, idolatry, which is what the prohibition against graven images is all about, is in the eyes of the idolater. We can or cannot make idols of just about anything.
Christ is supposed to "fix us" to the place where we have no idols - only Him. But sometimes we have to remove the idols from our presence to maintain our focus.
So what should you remove from your presence?