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Graven Images

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  • Homer
    Hi everyone, I don t post here much (never) but I would like to know what everyone thinks on this subject. Well, in our evening family worship we are reading
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 16, 2005
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      Hi everyone, I don't post here much (never) but I would like to know
      what everyone thinks on this subject. Well, in our evening family
      worship we are reading through Revelation. This book seems to be very
      descriptive and the thought came to mind, boy, it sure is hard not to
      imagine all of this stuff about golden vials filled with God's wrath
      and angels in white clothing. So I was wondering if it is okay or not
      to imagine these things in your head. In the Second Commandment it says
      not to make a graven image of anything "In the heaven above or in the
      earth beneath or in the waters under the earth".

      So, where do you draw the line? That you can make imagine things but
      you can't make them?? I would love to have educated opinions on this
      topic, as I am confused.

      Thanks,
      Michael

      P.S. Soory for any spelling or grammatical errors.
    • gmw
      Dear Homer, Good question! Sorry you didn t get an answer pronto, I ve been far too busy for my own good. But I got some time this morning here, and I shall
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 20, 2005
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        Dear Homer,

        Good question! Sorry you didn't get an answer pronto, I've been far
        too busy for my own good. But I got some time this morning here, and
        I shall do my best to help.

        1. You are right to be concerned about our inward thoughts, as the
        second commandment (like the other commandments), does indeed reach
        into our inward thoughts. Larger Catechism #109: "The sins forbidden
        in the second commandment are ... the making any representation of
        God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our
        mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature
        whatsoever," etc.

        2. However, I believe there is a vast difference between our thoughts
        being guided by the Word of God, as when we read the very descriptive
        Book of Revelation and allow it to "draw the picture" for us in our
        minds, and devising an image of God in violation of the 2nd
        Commandment. God has the perogative to reveal Himself however He
        pleases, but we do not have the right to devise and imagine things
        about Himself that He did not reveal -- I think this is at the root of
        the 2nd Commandment, and why it is summed up as forbidding "the
        worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His
        Word" (Short Catechism #51). Who are we to determine what God is, or
        how He is to be worshipped? God must reveal these things to us. And
        so, if God would ever command the making of bronze angels, or the
        building of a large brazen serpent, we would obey, not wondering if
        doing so breaks the 2nd Commandment. Why not? Because doing what God
        commands us to do in His worship is what the 2nd Commandment is all
        about. When we read the Word of God, and we listen to descriptions
        that God gave of angels, Himself, Christ, etc., and we think about
        those descriptions (about what they mean, too, not just picturing it
        in our minds), we are not worshipping God by images, but according to
        His Word, which is the whole point.

        I found this in Francis Turretin on Lord's Day, and stuck a bookmark
        there so I could type it up for you. Turretin is refuting those who
        might argue that since there are picturesque descriptions of God in
        the Bible, and since He appeared in visible form to some, it must then
        be lawful to make images of God. Against this Turretin writes,

        "IX. Although God sometimes manifested himself in a visible form and
        in such an appearance is described to us in Scripture (when members
        and bodily actions are ascribed to him), it does not follow that it is
        lawful to represent him by an image.... XI. From a mental image to a
        sculpted or painted image, the consequence does not hold good. The
        former is of necessity, since I cannot perceive anything without some
        species or idea of it formed in the mind. Now this image is always
        conjoined with the spirit of discernment by which we so separate the
        true from the false that there is no danger of idolatry. But the
        latter is a work of mere judgment and will, expressly prohibited by
        God and always attended with great danger of idolatry."

        So, my iconoclastic friend, read the Word, asking God's Spirit to
        accompany it, that you might read it according to faith, and then be
        guided in your thoughts by the Word and Spirit, so that your thoughts
        are not your own imaginations, but simply the proper use of your mind
        as you hear the Word of God. You do not violate Scripture in doing so.

        I hope this is helpful. Whether it is or it is not, we should maybe
        talk about it either on the phone or even over some pizza sometime SOON.

        Your friend and brother,
        gmw.



        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Homer"
        <h_doyle49@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi everyone, I don't post here much (never) but I would like to know
        > what everyone thinks on this subject. Well, in our evening family
        > worship we are reading through Revelation. This book seems to be very
        > descriptive and the thought came to mind, boy, it sure is hard not to
        > imagine all of this stuff about golden vials filled with God's wrath
        > and angels in white clothing. So I was wondering if it is okay or not
        > to imagine these things in your head. In the Second Commandment it says
        > not to make a graven image of anything "In the heaven above or in the
        > earth beneath or in the waters under the earth".
        >
        > So, where do you draw the line? That you can make imagine things but
        > you can't make them?? I would love to have educated opinions on this
        > topic, as I am confused.
        >
        > Thanks,
        > Michael
        >
        > P.S. Soory for any spelling or grammatical errors.
        >
      • Homer
        Thanks Mr. W, it was very helpful indeed. I would like it if we could all get together for pizza or something! Gotta get back to school (and lunch), Homer
        Message 3 of 8 , Dec 20, 2005
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          Thanks Mr. W, it was very helpful indeed. I would like it if we could
          all get together for pizza or something!

          Gotta get back to school (and lunch),
          Homer (Michael)


          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
          <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > Dear Homer,
          >
          > Good question! Sorry you didn't get an answer pronto, I've been far
          > too busy for my own good. But I got some time this morning here,
          and
          > I shall do my best to help.
          >
          > 1. You are right to be concerned about our inward thoughts, as the
          > second commandment (like the other commandments), does indeed reach
          > into our inward thoughts. Larger Catechism #109: "The sins
          forbidden
          > in the second commandment are ... the making any representation of
          > God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our
          > mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature
          > whatsoever," etc.
          >
          > 2. However, I believe there is a vast difference between our
          thoughts
          > being guided by the Word of God, as when we read the very
          descriptive
          > Book of Revelation and allow it to "draw the picture" for us in our
          > minds, and devising an image of God in violation of the 2nd
          > Commandment. God has the perogative to reveal Himself however He
          > pleases, but we do not have the right to devise and imagine things
          > about Himself that He did not reveal -- I think this is at the root
          of
          > the 2nd Commandment, and why it is summed up as forbidding "the
          > worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His
          > Word" (Short Catechism #51). Who are we to determine what God is,
          or
          > how He is to be worshipped? God must reveal these things to us.
          And
          > so, if God would ever command the making of bronze angels, or the
          > building of a large brazen serpent, we would obey, not wondering if
          > doing so breaks the 2nd Commandment. Why not? Because doing what
          God
          > commands us to do in His worship is what the 2nd Commandment is all
          > about. When we read the Word of God, and we listen to descriptions
          > that God gave of angels, Himself, Christ, etc., and we think about
          > those descriptions (about what they mean, too, not just picturing it
          > in our minds), we are not worshipping God by images, but according
          to
          > His Word, which is the whole point.
          >
          > I found this in Francis Turretin on Lord's Day, and stuck a bookmark
          > there so I could type it up for you. Turretin is refuting those who
          > might argue that since there are picturesque descriptions of God in
          > the Bible, and since He appeared in visible form to some, it must
          then
          > be lawful to make images of God. Against this Turretin writes,
          >
          > "IX. Although God sometimes manifested himself in a visible form
          and
          > in such an appearance is described to us in Scripture (when members
          > and bodily actions are ascribed to him), it does not follow that it
          is
          > lawful to represent him by an image.... XI. From a mental image to
          a
          > sculpted or painted image, the consequence does not hold good. The
          > former is of necessity, since I cannot perceive anything without
          some
          > species or idea of it formed in the mind. Now this image is always
          > conjoined with the spirit of discernment by which we so separate the
          > true from the false that there is no danger of idolatry. But the
          > latter is a work of mere judgment and will, expressly prohibited by
          > God and always attended with great danger of idolatry."
          >
          > So, my iconoclastic friend, read the Word, asking God's Spirit to
          > accompany it, that you might read it according to faith, and then be
          > guided in your thoughts by the Word and Spirit, so that your
          thoughts
          > are not your own imaginations, but simply the proper use of your
          mind
          > as you hear the Word of God. You do not violate Scripture in doing
          so.
          >
          > I hope this is helpful. Whether it is or it is not, we should maybe
          > talk about it either on the phone or even over some pizza sometime
          SOON.
          >
          > Your friend and brother,
          > gmw.
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Homer"
          > <h_doyle49@y...> wrote:
          > >
          > > Hi everyone, I don't post here much (never) but I would like to
          know
          > > what everyone thinks on this subject. Well, in our evening family
          > > worship we are reading through Revelation. This book seems to be
          very
          > > descriptive and the thought came to mind, boy, it sure is hard
          not to
          > > imagine all of this stuff about golden vials filled with God's
          wrath
          > > and angels in white clothing. So I was wondering if it is okay or
          not
          > > to imagine these things in your head. In the Second Commandment
          it says
          > > not to make a graven image of anything "In the heaven above or in
          the
          > > earth beneath or in the waters under the earth".
          > >
          > > So, where do you draw the line? That you can make imagine things
          but
          > > you can't make them?? I would love to have educated opinions on
          this
          > > topic, as I am confused.
          > >
          > > Thanks,
          > > Michael
          > >
          > > P.S. Soory for any spelling or grammatical errors.
          > >
          >
        • donstudybible
          In the Second Commandment ... You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth
          Message 4 of 8 , Dec 25, 2005
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            In the Second Commandment
            > it says
            > > > not to make a graven image of anything "In the heaven above or in
            > the
            > > > earth beneath or in the waters under the earth".


            You shall not make for yourself a 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;
            5: you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,


            It seems that a mental image is very different from a "graven image". And the intent to worship
            must figure into this somewhere or else all drawings and photographs of anything for any
            purpose would be forbidden.
          • gmw
            The Heidelberg Catechism is helpful on this point: Q96: What does God require in the second Commandment? A96: That we in no way make any image of God,[1] nor
            Message 5 of 8 , Dec 25, 2005
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              The Heidelberg Catechism is helpful on this point:

              Q96: What does God require in the second Commandment?
              A96: That we in no way make any image of God,[1] nor worship Him in
              any other way than He has commanded us in His Word.[2]

              1. Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18, 25; Rom. 1:22-24; Acts 17:29
              2. I Sam. 15:23; Deut. 4:23-24; 12:30-32; Matt. 15:9; John 4:24

              Q97: May we not make any image at all?
              A97: 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
              of any likeness of them, either to worship them or to serve God by them.[1]

              1. Exod. 23:24-25; 34:13-14; Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:22; II Kings 18:4;
              John 1:18

              Q98: But may not pictures be tolerated in churches as books for the people?
              A98: No, for we should not be wiser than God, who will not have His
              people taught by dumb idols,[1] but by the lively preaching of His Word.[2]

              1. Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-19
              2. II Peter 1:19; II Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 10:17

              gmw.

              donstudybible wrote:

              > In the Second Commandment
              > > it says
              > > > > not to make a graven image of anything "In the heaven above or in
              > > the
              > > > > earth beneath or in the waters under the earth".
              >
              >
              > You shall not make for yourself a 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;
              > 5: you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your
              > God am a jealous God,
              >
              >
              > It seems that a mental image is very different from a "graven image".
              > And the intent to worship
              > must figure into this somewhere or else all drawings and photographs
              > of anything for any
              > purpose would be forbidden.
              >
              >
              >
              >
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            • Don Nelson
              I m new here, so I read the December messages to get a sense of what s been happening in the discussion. It seems to me that the purpose of not celbrating
              Message 6 of 8 , Dec 26, 2005
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                I'm new here, so I read the December messages to get a
                sense of what's been happening in the discussion. It
                seems to me that the purpose of not celbrating
                Christmas is to honor God, Who has not prescribed such
                special days. A lot of time, energy, negative emotions
                and attention are clearly being expended on Christmas.
                Don't the world and Christmas wind up winning when we
                let them grab us so strongly? What would happen if we
                just ignored it and spent all that time, energy and
                attention on worshipping God or reading good books or
                other positive pursuits?

                Don N




                __________________________________
                Yahoo! for Good - Make a difference this year.
                http://brand.yahoo.com/cybergivingweek2005/
              • Edgar A. Ibarra Jr.
                Hello Don and welcome! You are correct that more time should be put into the positive pursuits of discussing theological issues and our energy in that. You
                Message 7 of 8 , Dec 27, 2005
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                  Hello Don and welcome!

                  You are correct that more time should be put into the positive
                  pursuits of discussing theological issues and our energy in that.
                  You will see in past months, much of that has occurred, both
                  positive and negative. I think Xmas was almost avoided here in
                  matter of discussion, however we also understand that during this
                  time of the year, this topic will inevitable be brought up for
                  various reasons. I do not think the world and Xmas wind up winning
                  when we discuss it though. When we discuss it we are bashing both
                  the world and Xmas and at the same time instructing other Christians
                  to flee from such idolatry. When Christians flee and abandon this
                  idol, the Kingdom of Christ wins and the world loses. In order for
                  them to flee they need to "hear" the Truth and be converted by the
                  Spirit of Christ, silence will not bring this about per se. So,
                  while it may be perceived as negative to bash the idol and be an
                  iconoclast, it ultimatly is VERY positive.

                  I hope you enjoy your membership here and are both edified and
                  challeneged in a positive and most fruitful manner as many of us
                  have been by each other.

                  War against Rome,

                  Edgar Ibarra
                  RPNA
                  Albany, NY

                  --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Don Nelson
                  <donstudybible@y...> wrote:
                  >
                  > I'm new here, so I read the December messages to get a
                  > sense of what's been happening in the discussion. It
                  > seems to me that the purpose of not celbrating
                  > Christmas is to honor God, Who has not prescribed such
                  > special days. A lot of time, energy, negative emotions
                  > and attention are clearly being expended on Christmas.
                  > Don't the world and Christmas wind up winning when we
                  > let them grab us so strongly? What would happen if we
                  > just ignored it and spent all that time, energy and
                  > attention on worshipping God or reading good books or
                  > other positive pursuits?
                  >
                  > Don N
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > __________________________________
                  > Yahoo! for Good - Make a difference this year.
                  > http://brand.yahoo.com/cybergivingweek2005/
                  >
                • nodelink7
                  ... Yes, even one of my children marvelled at the congested, shopping mall a few weeks ago and at the time and money that were being devoted to serving the
                  Message 8 of 8 , Dec 28, 2005
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                    --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Don Nelson
                    <donstudybible@y...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I'm new here, so I read the December messages to get a
                    > sense of what's been happening in the discussion. It
                    > seems to me that the purpose of not celbrating
                    > Christmas is to honor God, Who has not prescribed such
                    > special days. A lot of time, energy, negative emotions
                    > and attention are clearly being expended on Christmas.
                    > Don't the world and Christmas wind up winning when we
                    > let them grab us so strongly? What would happen if we
                    > just ignored it and spent all that time, energy and
                    > attention on worshipping God or reading good books or
                    > other positive pursuits?
                    >
                    > Don N

                    Yes, even one of my children marvelled at the congested, shopping mall
                    a few weeks ago and at the time and money that were being devoted to
                    serving the recent holiday. Meanwhile, Christians continue commonly
                    in ignorance of their Bibles, ignorance of systematic theology,
                    ignorance of church history, neglect of covenants and vows, with a
                    lack of testimony and lack of devotion to their God. Clearly, the
                    fervency of devotion to holiday and culture and the contrasting lack
                    of devotion to God are related.

                    gg
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