Iconoclasm

This post was posted on Father Stephen’s Blog. It was posted in relation to the recent comments said on The View by Whoopie Goldberg and an “adament” Catholic, in which the later claimed that the reason that we don’t have saints anymore is because they were all halucinators. It is also born out of my own search to understand more fully the role of Icons in the Orthdox Church.

I will admit, aside from the veneration of Mary, one of the hardest things to come to terms with in Orthodoxy were Icons. Not so much the icons themselves, but the actions directed towards Icons. When I first entered an Orthodox church I saw people kissing these icons, and I was able to do so with a clear conscious as that this was glorifying to God, but when I told someone about that they said “I don’t know. Isn’t that taking it a little too far.”

I think in this case, it is the East that must come to the aid of the West. Just as the Latin West was one of the major proponents FOR Iconodules at the 7th council, so now the East should return the favor. After all, the anathema has been lifted, and though we do not enjoy full communion yet, perhaps the issue of Icons can be one of the things that brings us together so that we may be, as Christ wishes and commands, “one.”

After evaluating it, I think “No.” It is not taking it too far. Here is the reason.

When Christ came to the earth, we were witness to the incarnation of God. Somehow, bread and wine now became blood and body. The dead came back to life. Saints were taken up into heaven. Dead men came alive and preached repentence. Things that had been used for evil and perverse purposes before this point were transformed into the Holy. Why do you think that Jesus spent time with prostitutes and tax collectors? He was fullfilling the mission of the Father, to invade the world with the Kingdom of God! Why then can we not believe that God in his infinite goodness would desire to reconcile once pagan art to himself?

Think about it. Before Christ, art had been used as idolatry. It had been ascribed to as a representation of a false God. The Israelites were told not to create “vain images”. The reason being that no Israelite had seen God and thus had no right to describe him in visual form. After all he is Yahweh, “I am who I will be.” All they had seen was God’s law. When Christ came, we see not the law, but the fulfillment of the law, CHRIST INCARNATE. So really Icons are in fact of the same substance as the incarnation. To believe in Icons is to believe in the incarnation. (I don’t think that I can really buy the argument that the opposite is true however because I have known many people outside of Orthodoxy who were true God worshipers but did not kiss icons.)

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