Mar 262014
 

christ-pantocratorThe big controversy in the 8th century was over icons.

The early church was not adverse to images at all… the catacombs and recently uncovered places of Christian worship that date to the third century show a rich history of art in the church.

As art flourished in this time period, it flourished in the church and among Christian who decorated both the churches and their homes with symbols of the faith.

There came a growing concern among some bishops that the paintings and sculptures were becoming objects of worship themselves, thus leading the people into idolatry.

However, many in the Eastern churches believed that a church was not a holy place unless it was adorned with images and icons as an aid to worship.

To the iconoclasts it was a violation of the second commandment to depict Christ in art…a painting could not capture His glory as God and thus was a caricature of who He was.

The Emperor Leo III commanded the destruction of icons in 726 against the desires of the Pope, many local priests…and most of all the people.

Thus, the battle turned into not just one over a doctrinal issue, but of a clash between church and state.

In 787, the Second General Council of Nicaea was convened and it proclaimed that while it was unlawful to worship images, it was necessary and good to venerate them.

Today icons and images are vital parts of both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox worship.

This became a controversy again during the Reformation…while Lutherans maintained an appreciation of art in the church without the veneration of icons or images, the Reformed branch stripped their churches bare to walls.

The basement of St. Pierres in Geneva is piled high with all the things Calvin had removed in line with the rest of the Swiss Reformers.

I think they took it a tad too far…

What do you think of icons and images in the church?

Names You should Know

Boniface: A British monk/missionary who carried the Gospel through Europe and into Germany.

John of Damascus: The spiritual leader of those who supported the use of icons, he remains a major theologian of the Eastern church and influential in the West as well. He has a very interesting take on hell..

Much of the material here was taken from “Heroes and Heretics” by Iain D. Campbell

  69 Responses to “Church History: 700-800”

  1. Xeniafest is coming

  2. I have my own iconography. My own little Mt Rushmore of voices.

  3. Most of the Icon’ry today in the church, politics and business is in the form of dead presidents on green pieces of paper.

  4. The church seems to have its Icons today…each sect has the visage of its Gurus all over the place…on web sites, on book covers, all over facebook…you name it.

  5. The link on hell was great. I love the kind of thinking that is robustly rooted in the greatness of the goodness of God. My professor used to say that hell was the mercy of God upon those who reject him as his presence would bring them such torment.

  6. “What do you think of icons and images in the church?”

    God commanded icons – so they can’t be all that bad.

    The command is not to worship them.

  7. “hell was the mercy of God upon those who reject him as his presence would bring them such torment.”

    Wow, that’s pretty bad even for evangelicals.

    So, a person who never heard the gospel or a person who heard it but sees all the cluster-you-know-what the church is and has doubts as to the truth of the gospel would rather be tortured in hell forever than be in the presence of a good and loving God (if one exists) if and when they found out the truth on the other side…

    Not true Dreadly. Nearly all of my atheist friends say they would embrace God and apologize if they found out on the other side that he/it was a real thing. To a man and woman, none would choose to suffer an eternal torment vs. bending the knee to a good and loving God if they were confronted with the evidence meeting him/it on the other side.

  8. What Dread laid out is what evangelicals have to tell themselves to make hell less terrible…to make it as if real human beings would rather be tortured with no end than bend to a good and loving God.

    It’s not true. It’s part of the evangelical mythology and apologetic. If Jesus Christ walked on water and turned water into wine and healed the shriveled hand in plain sight today…the vast majority of atheists would believe in the supernatural and in Jesus.

    The fact is we don’t have that sort of undeniable miracle as testimony today. We don’t get to, like Thomas the Apostle required, poke our hands in the holes in Jesus’s side and hands and verify he’s legit.

    We get the Evangelical Circus and we’re told “that’s all the evidence you get! Turn or burn!!!!”

  9. If Jesus Christ walked on water and turned water into wine and healed the shriveled hand in plain sight today…the vast majority of atheists would believe in the supernatural and in Jesus.
    _____________________________________________________________________
    Not so at all. There will be plenty of false miracles and signs in the age to come and many will be deceived by the miracles. Jesus warns of this in Revelation. This is nothing new since Pharaoh was able to do the same miracles as Moses. There may be a time soon when supernatural miracles abound again and people may start to believe in the supernatural but not the real Jesus but rather a fake messiah.

  10. The native american lives and dies and no gospel message, no choice to be saved, never heard. He lives and dies and on the other side he faces the good and loving God:

    Native American: “Wow, God, it’s you!”

    God: “Nope, too late, you were worshipping the wrong god, some dude called the Great Spirit, I’m going to torture you in hell now forever. Sucks to be you”

    Atheist: “Wow, God, I had no idea, I saw all the idiots claiming you were real and they talked to you and whatever…and I just didn’t see any evidence other than evidence those folks were delusional, dishonest and pretty much jerks like everyone else. I see you are real now and I believe. I am sorry I took such a strong stand against you on earth. Please forgive me.”

    God: “Nope, too late. Read the contract I’m bound to. I have to torture you in hell forever or I get sued by the devil for breach of contract. Later!”

  11. Most rejected Jesus despite the miracles.
    The Bible says that without faith it’s impossible to please God and faith must be exercised in this life.
    This thread is about church history and not agnostic apologetics.

  12. “Most rejected Jesus despite the miracles.”

    Different day and age. Different context.

    The bible says others were doing supernatural ‘miracles’ during that age and all believed in witchcraft and sorcery and supernatural.

    Jesus wasn’t doing anything special…as others did similar according to the bible.

    Today, no one does anything supernatural b/c we know the stuff to be bogus and we can vet the tricks and see through the psychics and yogis and Benny Hinn’s.

    If legit miracles were done today…folks would believe.

  13. This is church history. We’re making church history and church history is riddled with refrains like Dread made above.

  14. Jesus resurrecting was special. That one no one else was doing (it seems) and that was the cherry on top that proved he was God.

  15. If you are a good and loving God, why be so coy? From the Calvinist perspective, why reveal yourself only to a few? From the Arminian perspective, why only send the gospel to a few and leave so many humans w/o the gospel message thus damning them to hell according to the apologetic that says you must respond to the ‘correct’ gospel?

    Only good answer is we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next and my personal “faith” is in a good and loving God even though I can’t prove it and can’t show you a specific verse in your god the scripture that says it explicitly, even though there are many explicit verses you all deny are to be taken literally and you explain them away and appeal to “context!” and “descriptive not prescriptive!” and every other asterisk in the apologetic.

    When pressed, you all agree that salvation is nothing you do…you can’t earn it…and all sin…none are sinless post-salvation…there is no true victory over sin and no true validation by works and sinlessness that you’ve been saved.

    When pressed, you all agree that salvation is not a function of “correct doctrine” as when pressed you all end up appealing to “mystery!” and not doctrine.

    Quite an elusive “salvation”…and I think that proves something.

  16. RiBo

    Are you going to ruin this thread too? You rapid fire posts, change the subject and again bring your personal slant on Jesus and salvation. This thread is about church history and particularly icons and their place in the practice and worship in the church. If you have something intelligent to add to that do so, if not take it somewhere else.

    MLD

    Which icons does God command, and please don’t start another baptism and communion direction?

    I’m personally opposed to how I believe I have seen icons used and worshipped. From simply having a plastic Jesus or Mary stuck to the car dash or in the more mystical paintings and decor, I see them often used as talsmins or luck charms to bring good things to life. Not so much as objects of worship but more like containing mystical power through proper practice and adoration.

    Now when they are used to remember how God delivered us… I think I like that idea.

  17. You know, I can’t read here anymore. I see and read any postings by RiBo and I get so anxious and my stress level increases, because I know no one will keep him in check and he dominates each and every thread here, always with his own agenda, despite repeated requests from Michael to go to his own blog with his twisted view of God. I think he is dangerous, and his main purpose is to try to sow discord and doubt among us, and he cares for no one but himself. There–I have given my two cents worth. I was so looking forward to learning about church history, of which I know very little, particularly since Xenia so intelligently expresses her faith–I wanted to hear her on the value of Iconography–but I just can’t take it anymore.

  18. So, Michael, the issue of icons and images. Is this one where you may actually have some disagreement with the venerated Packer?

  19. Catherine, you are entitled to your opinion, but you’re wrong.

    Your faith is fear-based and that is evident. Fear-based seems to be the history of the church up to this moment. Very sad…very telling.

  20. “What do you think of icons and images in the church?”

    I think those who revere the use of Icons do so sincerely (in general) and it is merely a tangible focus of their faith, like looking at a picture of loved one who has passed and their image sparking fond memories.

    I think those who see it as “idolatry” should steer clear of it if that’s what their Conscience is telling them.

  21. Catherine,

    My apologies…it’s been a busy morning for me.
    You have been a long time reader and supporter and it saddens me greatly that things have come to this.

  22. Michael, you could care less if I quit reading here. You could care less that many others quite reading here when you erred on the side of the part of the Group that doesn’t like me.

    You’re full of it. You want everyone to agree unless it’s unimportant doctrinal minutia you like to debate ad nauseum.

  23. You wonder why evangelicals get a bad rap? Look in the mirror. I understand why the tide is turning against you guys. You are dishonest and you run from real discussions that challenge your sacred cows and then you mark as enemies and you shun and you ban etc.

  24. I discuss things with both Atheists and Evangelicals…and I can state with certainty that Atheists…while exhibiting some of the same tendencies as evangelicals when their sacred cows are challenged…are far more “gracious” and “loving” and open to dissent and reasoned argument and pushback than evangelicals.

    With evangelicals, it is generally always the same: When push comes to shove, little tolerance for difference of opinion, martyrdom when challenged, mark, shun, name-call, use fear-based manipulation, then ban if none of the above are successful.

    Motives are always ascribed: “It’s an agenda! He wants to tear down the faith!”

    Not at all. I want to find out what is more likely true…and you guys prove that the Atheists and others who are critical of you have legit concerns.

  25. RiBo,

    You have mail.
    At this point, this is not worth doing anymore.

  26. Bob,
    “MLD – Which icons does God command, and please don’t start another baptism and communion direction?”

    Read in Exodus where God commanded the woodworkers and other artisans to make carved images for the Tabernacle – carved images on the Ark of the Covenant – carved images on the utensils … all icons commanded by God.

  27. ICON
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~

    Pastor Chuck Smith abhorred icons while his son Chuck Jr. is more open minded to them.

    Many a gifted Christian artist has refrained from creating art with a biblical theme lest they cross the icon line. The Christian community has been robbed of much art I believe because of the anti icon bias.

    As an artist myself I find icons to be very beautiful and simply enjoy them as wonderful art.
    One of my art projects:
    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2007/09/davids-art.html#links
    (You have to scroll up after the jump)

    While our true focus is always to be upon Jesus Christ, some find that icons and art can help them to focus on Him.

    I just wrote about this focus on Jesus Christ @ my blog here:
    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2014/03/life-expectancy-of-ministries.html#links
    (You have to scroll up after the jump)

  28. KevinH,

    I think Packer and others have a solid exegetical ground for their beliefs.
    I’m just not so sure that God didn’t provide art for the purposes of enabling worship as well.

  29. MLD:

    Thanks for the response. I’m never quite sure where or what you are going with the comments and it seems to always come back to the two items I mentioned.

    Now the question I would poses is this, are those items and the construction of the Temple actually icons in the same sense as the church’s adoption of painting, statues, chalices and such of the 8th Century on? I would submit that Roman, Greek, Near East mysticism and culture, synchronized by the church, are more the basis than any commandment of God. This is why I find no recognition or support in my faith through them.

    I will admit my lack of ignorance, knowledge and education about the icons also contributes greatly to my ideas and lack of consideration for them. Because of this, I do respect those who understand, hold a greater admiration and view of them.

    I would appreciate a greater explanation of what each of the more recognized icons represent and remind the viewer of. For this I believe Xenia will be a great help.

  30. Catherine, I hope you can stick around but I don’t blame you for leaving. This continual assault on the Christian faith is very tedious. If you notice, a lot of thoughtful people such as yourself have left and pretty much those of us who remain are crusty folk who can put up with the blog equivalent of a piece of broken glass in the shoe. I miss the other people who added so much to the discussion. By the way, I still remember you daughter R. in my prayers!

    To answer the question, “What do you think of icons and images in the church?”

    Obviously, I love them. Michael has linked to Orthodox Info’s article explaining icons so there’s no need for me to repeat that material. I think the simplest, truest response is that I love icons because I love the people they represent. It’s like walking into your grandmother’s house and seeing all the framed photos of family members on the mantel: There’s Aunt Frances, there’s cousin Bill, there’s great grandpa George, and so on. Same with icons: There’s St. Seraphim, there’s St. John the Baptist and hey look! There’s the Theotokus! A church-full of icons reminds us that we are part of huge ancient family. Icons are like family photos. My family!

    To Protestants, the veneration we give icons looks very much like idol-worship. However, veneration is not the same thing as worship, which is only reserved for God. The bowing and kissing looks idolatrous but one has to keep in mind that these practices originated in a culture very different from that of modern America. Bowing and kissing was the way ordinary people greeted each other. In church we practically venerate each other! When I first arrive at church I go up to the front of the nave and venerate a few icons, light a few candles, and then face the congregation and bow. They all bow back at me. We are acknowledging the Image of God in each other, as we are all icons of God since we were created in His image. The image is distorted by sin but it’s still present. We kiss each other a lot, too. So the bowing and kissing activity bestowed upon an icon is not too much different than the way we treat each other: with reverent respect. (I should add that when we bow towards each other it is with the unspoken “Dear brother [or sister], forgive me a sinner.)

    The Saints are our older brothers and sisters in Christ, those who, in the foot race that is the Christian life, crossed the finish line ahead of us and are now in Heaven, “the Great Cloud of Witnesses,” cheering us along. We ask them to pray for us. Why not just pray straight to God, you will ask? But everyone asks people to pray for them. The PhxP prayer thread is for this very purpose and one could ask why ask others to pray when you can go straight to God? But St. Paul asks people to pray for him so asking for intercessory prayer is a Good Thing. We see the Saints as vibrant members of the Church and see no reason not to ask them to pray for us, just as I would ask one of you to pray for me. The Saints are dead people, you say? By no means! Jesus told the crowd, in reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the He was the God of the living and not the dead. So the Saints are alive, more alive than you and me. Heaven is “realer” than earth, if you want to believe C.S. Lewis. Also, it has always seemed to me that the “membrane” between Heaven and Earth is very thin in the Orthodox world view. The inhabitants of Heaven- the angels, the Saints, and God Himself- are right there with us. You can almost see them. You can almost touch them. If you listen, you can hear them.

    That’s enough for now, I guess. I could write all day on this and bore you all to tears.

    Re: St. John of Damascus’ view of heaven. His view is popular among some Orthodox Christians but it is not dogma. My own mentor wrote a paper refuting it and affirming the more traditional view of Heaven and Hell as literal places. The Orthodox always want to default to a position that emphasizes God’s love so theories like this are popular and may be true, for all I know. It’s the “River of Fire” theory of Heaven and Hell that says that God is a blinding light and those who love Him will perceive this light as a gentle, embracing warmth and those who hate God will perceive it as a painful, scorching blast. I used to favor this theory but I have gone back to the more common view. We shall see!

  31. Bob,
    The time of Exodus was more primitive than the 8th century – so they had less to work with.

    I could push the icons further – what about the serpent on the staff … tell me there wasn’t some worshiping going on there?

  32. Xenia,

    That was gold!
    Feel free to write more…I have requests to give you your own column. 🙂

  33. While not quite an icon I find the Jewish adoption of the “hamsa” or “hand of God” a bit over the edge. During my studies of the scriptures I ran into this symbol of the “hand of God” and how it was adopted by the Jewish people and modified over the years to include an eye (ward off the “evil eye”), the Hebrew letter shin (for the name of God) or the star of David.

    Surprisingly this decoration/symbol appears to be a bit out of context with scripture and is used as a talisman more than a representation of faith. I believe it is easy to fall into this practice and I see it used by many who wear crosses and other Christian symbols. I find it easy to fall into such practice.

  34. “The Saints are dead people, you say? By no means! Jesus told the crowd,…”

    This is how Lutherans look at communion. We are not only communing with God, with each other but at the same time all the saints of old are present. Great symbolism when the altar is against the wall, it is then said that the table extends into eternity on the other side.

  35. Xenia:

    Thank you!

    MLD:

    “I could push the icons further – what about the serpent on the staff … tell me there wasn’t some worshiping going on there?”

    Yes I believe you are right.

    But the question is why would God use an image that was common to Egyptian culture and in a place close to where an Egyptian temple once stood (Archeological evidence) to heal the people of a plague God sent?

    My JPS Commentary of the subject says this:

    “Could the snake slay or the serpent keep alive? It is, rather, to teach you that whenever the Israelites directed their thoughts on high and kept their hearts in subjection to their Father in heaven, they were healed; otherwise they pined away”(Mish. RH 3:8).”

    Milgrom, J. (1990). Numbers (p. 460). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

    Maybe God uses culturally relevant things to command people to focus on Him and Him alone. I believe that may be the message of many an icon.

  36. My tribe (Calvinistic Reformers) were determined to rid themselves of anything remotely Roman Catholic and in my opinion over reacted to some things.
    That over reaction to things R.C. or Orthodox continues…

  37. But when chatting (talking) praying, or what ever you want to call it, etc..to saints of old, how do we know God has granted them the ability to hear us? If we can not be certain they hear us, what is the point asking them to pray for us?

  38. Bob,
    “I believe that may be the message of many an icon.” I think you are right.

    I have never been a Roman Catholic, but I never understood why protestants go crazy over Rosary beads. They are just a symbolic placeholder and guide to prayer.

  39. Andrew, I think the best answer to your very reasonable question is that prayers are answered, sometimes in miraculous ways. Saints have appeared to people, etc. It takes faith to believe these things.

    On a slightly different topic, 8th century iconoclasm (icon-smashing) came about as a response to Islam, which began to threaten the Byz. Empire. Islam appeared to have a more pristine monotheism with no complicated, hard-to-understand doctrine of the Trinity. The Muslims took the commandment against graven images to the max and didn’t permit the use of images of humans or animals at all. Islam appealed to many because of its seeming simplicity and purity. So, let’s get rid of the icons and simplify Christianity, too, was the idea. The Filioque was adopted in the West for similar reasons.

  40. Xenia, prayers being answered in miraculous ways to me is testimony that God hears our prayers so I am confused how that answers the question if the saints can hear us or not. Now I must say I don’t know much about saints appearing to people but if that happened to me I think I would go to a psychiatrist to see if I was hallucinating. I mean no offense but how could we know they were real?

  41. I think most people will agree that departed Christians (“saints”) are alive in heaven. I think I can say this because at every Protestant funeral I have ever attended the minister always made mention of the fact that the newly deceased was up in Heaven looking down on the proceedings or that there was a grand reunion with the newly deceased met up with relatives or how we’ll all be rejoicing with the newly deceased when we die. The idea that dead people are dead does not seem to be believed among most Christians. The Seventh Day Adventists believe in soul sleep but as far as I can tell, all other Christians believe departed Christians are alive and awaiting their resurrection bodies.

    Can they hear us. Well, why not? Earth is a very limited place, governed by rigid physical laws that I don’t think apply to the heavenly realm. We can only listen to one phone call at a time, can only read one email at a time, etc. But Heaven is eternal and is governed by different laws.

    The Saints are still members of the Church and therefore, still care about us. If “the fervent effectual prayers of a righteous man availeth much,” then how effectual and availing the prayers of those in heaven must be!

    Do the Saints take prayer requests? Yes, I believe they do.

  42. Xenia, Thank you for your response. Are the Saints only those determined to be saints by the church or is it all Christians that have passed away?

  43. Andrew, all Christians who have passed away are saints and are part of the Great Cloud of Witness. Certain people have been canonized over the years because of the holiness of their lives. We don’t know the names of all the Saints. Sometimes we’ll designate “St. So-and-so and everyone who was in the jail cell with him” who were all martyred for the faith.

  44. Xenia,

    Are there particular saints you pray to personally?
    Specific icons that you have that mean something personally?

  45. Can those who have gone before us (a great cloud of witnesses) hear our prayers and therefore pass them on to God?

    I have a hard time with that. I find history would say to me this is more of a position adopted from paganism than scriptural teaching.

    Now do I believe the saints are alive and well? You bet!

    Of course this is where I begin to have trouble with icons, prayer to saints. Why not to Jesus, the sole High Priest and mediator? Is there some advantage to a middleman between Him and us? Can’t He understand our groaning?

    Got to go, and again thank you for the decent and knowledgeable conversation.

  46. Xenia,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your presence here! Thanks for sharing from your perspective.

    I honestly would like to hear your opinion on this verse since it seems to forbid consulting with the dead at face value. This is not me refuting you. I really want to know what you think. Since I don’t read Greek I don’t have knowledge of the original intent of these words.

    Deuteronomy 18:10-13
    Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (NIV)

    Once again, I fully am enjoying what you have shared here today. I also think that you should write more here @ PP.

  47. Michael, I always ask my beloved St. Xenia of St. Petersburg to pray for the women and girls in my family. In her icon, she is depicted as a gray-haired older woman. A few years ago I spent a few days at St. Xenia Skete, a small monastery up in the mountain in northern CA and the sisters gave me a large icon print of her, which I have framed. I am very fond of this icon. If the house was on fire, that would be on of the things I would grab. That and my prayer book. And my chihuahua. (What? Not my Bible? I don’t have a special Bible, I have a shelf-full and none of them are especially “special” to me. If the house burned down I could always buy a new Bible.)

    I am very fond of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Also St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco, a local Saint. I mostly pray straight to God but I ask these Saints to pray, too. It was a little awkward when I first converted to Orthodox but now it seems as right as rain and as natural as breathing the air.

    Here’s some biographies:

    http://orthodoxwiki.org/Seraphim_of_Sarov

    http://orthodoxwiki.org/John_(Maximovitch)_the_Wonderworker (of Shanghai & SF)

    http://orthodoxwiki.org/Xenia_of_St._Petersburg

  48. No offense intended at all to ortho believers, but this is what I know about icons.

    Being half greek and raised in a faithless home, my entire church experience growing up was greek ortho weddings and funerals. Many were at the big church in DC, with the little balconies for chanters.

    The place scared the heck out of me. “Who are those people on the walls? Which one is God? Why do they all look so angry?”

    The only childhood thought that I still think is valid is the representations. The stern, angry looks on the faces of the icons do not seem appropriate.

  49. Hi David,

    In the verse you cited, “consulting the dead” is part of a list of occultic practices which are clearly forbidden by all Christians. “Consulting the dead” would be akin to modern day spiritism and seances.

    When this verse was written, the dead were still pretty much dead because Christ had not yet defeated death. The righteous dead were in Abraham’s Bosom awaiting the coming of Christ and were not available to be conjured up as when the Witch of Endor summoned Samuel, if indeed it really was Samuel who appeared. After the Resurrection, the situation changed, death has been conquered and heaven is populated with those who love God, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    But this brings up a good point as to why certain deceased people are formalized as Saints and some aren’t. It prevents people from trying to talk to their dead aunt Lucy who might not even be in heaven. Canonization involves an investigation into the life of a deceased person determine the probability of them actually being in heaven and if they are worthy to receive our veneration and prayer requests.

    So…. to go to an occultic medium and ask her to summon the spirit of your late husband is forbidden. To ask St. Xenia to help me pray for a job for Michael (as I often do) is proper.

    I want to emphasize that we mostly pray straight to God! But we all ask people to pray for us so we all appreciate a little help.

    I appreciate the tolerant tone of the discussion. I know I am talking about something that you all disagree with. Thank you.

  50. Jim, it’s interesting that you would mention the stern appearance of the icons in your Greek church. The old Russians also thought Greek icons looked too scary and Russian iconography is noted for depicting the Saints in a more gentle, tender way. The icon of Christ in my parish depicts a very sympathetic Jesus.

  51. Xenia, are old testament figures such as David, Adam and Eve, etc.. ever canonized as saints? I guess I never heard of anyone praying to one of these old testament folks.

  52. Andrew, yes, they are but you are right, for some reason, you don’t see people going to them for intercessory prayer very often. I don’t know why other than we relate better to Saints who were part of the Christian Church although we do consider the OT Saints to be part of the Church as well. Just personal preference, I guess. There are icons of OT Saints for sure and people name their children after OT Saints.

  53. Not all icons are of a particular person. Many icons depict an event.

    The best icon of all, the one that explains the Orthodox view of the atonement, is the icon of the Resurrection.* It depicts a very lively Christ, post Crucifixion, in Hades. He’s standing on the remains of His Cross which is crushing Satan and Death. He’s got Adam and Eve by their wrists and He’s dragging them out of Hades, a rescue operation for sure. He’s got them by their wrists, not their hands, to demonstrate that they are helpless to save themselves. In the background is a crowd of OT Saints, also being rescued. This is the Harrowing of Hell. This is Christ “trampling down death by death,” as we sing at Pascha (Easter). It is glorious! This icon affects me like none other.** I confess that I never really “got” the purpose of Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection until I saw this icon. Then it all clicked and made sense. For fifty years I did not really understand it and at one glance it all made sense.

    http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/the-resurrection-icon-of-victory/

    *proving that a picture is worth a thousand words.

    **There are many, many versions of this icon, not just one.

  54. Hehehe, Dread was right, this thread did turn into a Xeniafest. More like a Xenia Blab Fest!

  55. This is a much better fest than the “fests” that many of the threads around here turn into.

  56. Xenia,

    We count it a privilege to have you teach us.
    Your tradition is ancient, yet alive and we all benefit from deeper understanding of our diverse beliefs.

  57. Michael, I don’t see it as teaching, more like explaining.

  58. Xenia,

    Until we get out of the Middle ages, you’re going to have to do most of the explaining… 🙂

  59. What a lovely place PxP is today. Thank you Xenia and than you Michael. And I hope I don’t lose any man-cred for using the word “lovely”.

  60. J.U.,

    It’s a neat place when it works…and you lose no man cred at all. 🙂

  61. Praise God for the EO part of the Body of Christ along with the others…

  62. Xenia,

    You said:

    “I appreciate the tolerant tone of the discussion. I know I am talking about something that you all disagree with. Thank you.”

    I think all of us here appreciate a civilized discussion about these things. I am grateful for your explanation of my query to you. Your answer was unexpected by me. No one from the Christian traditional streams that I have personally encountered has ever given the insight you have.

    I think any disagreement comes from some of us hearing this statement or one like it so many times from our pulpits:

    “The Bible teaches that spiritual guidance should be sought from God alone through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He has provided everything we need for this life in his Word.”

    So naturally we don’t go past that statements premise and even think about conversing with a loved one who has graduated from this life. The thought of asking for a little prayer back up from our loved ones doesn’t even occur to us.

    So just perhaps we miss out on something because of a misunderstanding of scripture.

    This verse also causes some of us to step back from speaking to those who are no longer here on earth:

    Isaiah 8:19
    When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (NIV)

    As you have said, there are people who are still alive, just not here, therefore they may not be the “dead” spoken of here because they actually remained alive. And asking for prayer back up is not the same as seeking consultation is it?

    Thanks for giving me your answer. A lot of food for thought here.

    Here is another scripture:

    1 Timothy 2:5
    For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus.

    In conversing with loved ones who are no longer here on earth it seems that you are not looking for reconciliation with God through them. Just some prayer back up. But this verse is used by some as if it forbids even thinking of talking to those who are no longer here on earth.

  63. “The Bible teaches that spiritual guidance should be sought from God alone through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He has provided everything we need for this life in his Word.”

    and yet they all write books and make recording of their own spiritual advise 🙂

  64. My favorite Christian from this time period is the Venerable Bede.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bede

    and here is his “Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation”

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book1.asp

  65. I made a mistake in my post #53. In the Resurrection icon, Christ is standing on the smashed gates of hell, not on His Cross. In many icons, the smashed gates are in the shape of the pieces of the Cross but the main idea is that Christ smashed the gates of hell. He did this by means of the Cross which explains the double meaning. (Thanks to Doug G. who pointed this out.)

  66. MLD #63

    Good point dude!

  67. Ribo is back again. Like a fly, spoiling the ointment.

  68. RE Xenia @ # 30:
    Great comment!
    In it you wrote:

    To Protestants, the veneration we give icons looks very much like idol-worship. However, veneration is not the same thing as worship, which is only reserved for God.

    In my own Native American tradition (Menominee tribe of Northern Wisconsin) the hawk is a very powerful spiritual totem. It is only revered, NEVER worshiped. Whether it’s the the icons of your tradition or the talismans my people revere, thanks for pointing out that reverence is not the same thing as worship.

  69. “This became a controversy again during the Reformation…while Lutherans maintained an appreciation of art in the church without the veneration of icons or images, the Reformed branch stripped their churches bare to walls.”

    And sometimes calligraphed Bible verses on the bare whitewashed walls.

    Just like the Wahabi (Islam’s iconoclasts) do to the mosques they take over.

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