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Hal Sanders

January 02, 2014  3:25pm

Legalistic and pretentious is the best way to describe this article. I know of no one who sees an icon or picture of Jesus as an infant or as an adult as an object of worship. The writer will find a lot of agreement in one cult in particular. She is forgetting that while Jesus is divine He was also human. He came as human flesh to dwell among us.

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Bishop Wayne Felton

December 28, 2013  6:27am

The tenor of this article resonates with an unquestionable love for God and His Word. Far from perceived legalistic innuendo, there's a clear and cogent call to always embrace the ancient commandments of God as existential realities. Imperative writings such as this, vocative enough to arrest our attention yet warm enough to capture our heart, is an encouragement to those who diligently seek the Lord. In the midst of a church-world which reeks with deteriorating moral fiber, voices such as the noble author of this article should be commended. Her exaltation of the Godhead coupled with uncompromising Scriptural resolve seems inept in todays pluralstic world, magnifying how far the so-called Evangelical has fallen from receiving the pure presentation of the Word of God (as well as how deep pluralism has influenced individual Christian's theology). "To God be the Glory" and strength to every voice which exalts God, heralds Scripture, and holds to (as the late Yaroslav Pelikan stated), "Everything the 1st Century Church of Jesus Christ believed, taught, and confessed."

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Charles Cosimano

December 25, 2013  2:09am

If you really want to make someone not want to ever have anything to do with Christianity, this article would probably be a good place to start. It feeds every negative stereotype of Christians since the days of Tacitus. What an utterly joyless existence it presents.

audrey ruth

December 23, 2013  3:26am

Brittany, I am familiar with Jeremiah 10:1-4, and I can't see what it has to do with Christmas trees, unless people are actually worshiping Christmas trees. In our home, nativity scenes take precedence over the Christmas tree which is very small (tabletop size). Our children (and now grandchildren) have learned from birth what Christmas is all about - that's it's a day to honor the coming of JESUS into the world as our Savior to show us the goodness of God and pour out His lifeblood, then rise from the dead, that we might have His presence continually with us in this world and be heirs of His kingdom throughout eternity as well. Thomas, I hope you can see that my comments here have indeed been clearly thought out and without indignation. Look at the nativity scene pictured above - do you see Jesus' skin tone, hair color, eye color, etc? Our nativity scenes are the same way. We've never had any focus on Santa, etc, because we've always wanted to focus on TRUTH instead of myth.

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Brittany Stevens

December 21, 2013  10:06pm

I understand the position in the sense that she wants to follow the commandments, but at the same time, why are wreaths, stockings, etc. allowed in the house? I personally have struggled with whether or not I was being legalistic, one thing being not having a Christmas tree (see Jeremiah 10:1-4). What would Jesus REALLY feel about all of this? Is having an image to represent him really making an idol? Eh.. I'm not sure I would go that far. Yes please stand up for your beliefs and make them known. Don't go with the crowd of today and question things, but I also believe there is a point when things have gone a little far. Then again, that's why we're all allowed (for now) to have our own opinions.

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Thomas Slawson

December 21, 2013  8:01pm

The bitterness with which some of you are responding to Mrs. Hill is in total contradiction to the loving spirit of Christ you claim to embrace. She's been accused of legalism, spreading "rubbish" and called an "over educated liberal." And some of you have generally resorted to petty mudslinging. We know Mrs. Hill and her family personally. She has brought us meals when our son was in the hospital, visited us in times of need, ministered to my wife and children numerous times. We've seen her lovingly care for her children, and carefully minister to the saints. Is it so hard to believe that this dear woman might love her children and above all want them to honor the Lord? The fact of the matter is, many here have not responded with clearly thought out counter arguments to her point, but with emotionally laced language of indignation, simply because you don't like it. I'll take Mrs. Hill's supposed "legalism" over the graceless spirits being displayed here any day.

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Dessie T

December 21, 2013  4:23pm

While I certainly think Megan is allowed to state and live her beliefs, I disagree w/ her strongly. I'm most concerned about her children. I grew up in a fundamentalist, legalistic church and it was no fun. Can Christianity be fun? Absolutely. If you attended Vacation Bible School you know what I mean. I hope she reconsiders her position. Personally, the rules of my church did nothing but turn me away from Christianity.

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audrey ruth

December 21, 2013  12:21pm

A further thought: The author of this article opines that "Jesus doesn't belong in Christmas decor." If He doesn't, who does? Santa Claus, who is nothing but a myth? (Ditto for flying reindeer.) Snowmen? I'll take Jesus any day, thank you. And angels, Joseph, Mary, shepherds, wise men and a stable. I prefer truth to myth. Tell it like it was!

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WILLIAM KRAMER

December 21, 2013  11:34am

There are 42 comments at this time. Adding the article itself makes 43 opinions being expressed so I'll offer my observation to make an even 44. Read them all and rather than God's glory being displayed in spirit and truth we may see some similarity to 2 Corinthians 12:20. I'm grateful our Redeemer's blood covers us all...the 44 of us and all who will trust in Him.

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audrey ruth

December 21, 2013  11:27am

Wow. Look at the nativity scene pictured above. Does it portray Jesus' skin color, eye color, hair color, or anything else? If you want to be authentic (and I don't blame you for that), tell your children to color Jesus as He really was when He was on earth - a Jew with authentic skin color, brown eyes, brown hair. We've had nativity scenes in our house during Christmas time from the time our children were very young. We ended up having to leave them up year round because they have been conduits for our children really grasping the reality of Jesus leaving Heaven for earth, for His willingness to dwell among men and be so hatefully mistreated for us, that we might be saved from sin and become heirs of His kingdom. THIS IS WHY HE DIED ON THE CROSS AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD. Now our grandchildren love to look at and handle the nativity pieces. They too are learning from a very young age the glory of God's love for mankind, the glory of God's love for THEM. Praise God!

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Brian Elmer

December 21, 2013  9:08am

I hardly think that a picture or image of Jesus is an idol or object of worship. Perhaps there are some who are labeled Christian that worship images of Christ (not to mention them by name), but most of us evangelicals worship the person the image represents. We don't have him in a shrine on our mantle or on the wall. I realize this issue has been debated for thousands of years, but to say that this is true for all Christians is inaccurate. Worship is a matter of the heart.

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Frank Keefe

December 21, 2013  3:23am

Looks legalistic to me

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Sheila Warner

December 21, 2013  1:25am

My comment ended up garbled after I hit the post comment button. I don't know why.

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Sheila Warner

December 21, 2013  1:22am

"To gaze at Jesus is to gaze at the Trinitarian God in all His fullness—something no painting of an infant, no matter how beautiful—can possibly attempt." Jesus chose to be incarnate from the moment of conception. That means at every stage of his life, from infancy to adulthood, people saw Jesus--and, therefore, God. Each state of the fully human Jesus is a snapshot that we can contemplate and admire. He became like us in all things, except sin. He had to learn to eat solid food, walk, talk, be educated, learn a trade; all the things people do. How amazing that at each stage of His life the Father was in full view. It is this amazing incarnation that allows us to look for the Christ in everyone. And don't forget, Jesus specifically warned against preventing little children from coming to Him. I think the author's angst over images of Christ are both overblown, and legalistic. Do we follow the OT anymore, anyway?

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Worthey Brisco

December 21, 2013  12:28am

The origins of such rubbish ... http://www.genevaninstitute.org/articles/images-of-god/

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Ken Anderson

December 20, 2013  8:03pm

Iconoclasm run amock. You don't even recognize idolatry when it's right in front of you. We are not Jews! Jesus said a lot more against mammonism which is our current sin. Santeria and white magic idolizes just about everything in church - by the beholder. Just don't bury a statue of Joseph upside down on some property you are trying to sell and command "him" to sell it or ""he" won't get dug back up again.

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Charles Hill

December 20, 2013  7:45pm

Last night my wife and I completed a study " A Thrill of Hope" based on an examination of the art work of John August Swanson. I am so glad that Mr. Swanson had not been influenced by Ms. Hill's theology as we would have lost such important and insightful visual portrayals of our Lord.

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Pat Bailey

December 20, 2013  7:04pm

Todd K -- Thanks very much for the explanation! In my "threescore and ten" (by actual count!), I've learned a very little bit about a great many languages. As they say, "The Greeks had a word for it." Yep, they did.

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Robert Herron

December 20, 2013  6:31pm

So u send your kids to a Christian school but don't want then looking at pictures of Jesus. First if you were led by the Holy Spirit of God and taught your children the truth and difference between secular society and Christian values your children will grow up to be normal but the way you are going they will only be confused by you don't know what you believe probably you are an over educated liberal. Just saying.

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Hannah N.

December 20, 2013  3:28pm

Wow, the comments on this article are a fantastic debate. Though I totally disagree with Megan, I love how this article sparked so many responses that help me see how different Christians think about the challenge of visually representing Christ. It's a topic that deserves SO much more discussion! Pat's comment, "You want to avoid pictures of Jesus? Send the kids to public school." was hilarious.

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Keith Archuleta

December 20, 2013  4:59am

Mrs Hill with a broad stroke of reformed theology does bind us with her convictions which are not biblical. You do exegete the second commandment incorrectly as other brethren on here conclude. However, I would not with my liberty cause you to fall. If this offends you so be it ... I have a nativity but if you were to come over and fellowship I would remove it for the time being. God bless you - Remember Sis ... In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

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Pat Bailey

December 19, 2013  4:32pm

Benita - My limited experience with icons/ikons does include a footnote that iconographers do not "draw" the icons, even though they are, quite clearly, pictures. Icons, I've been told, are "written". I'm not sure whether this is absolutely true these days, but at first it seemed to be a bit of hocus-pocus to get around the artistic representation and make it sound more scholarly. For the article, I'd suggest that if the author didn't bow to the pictures her kids drew and colored, nor worship them, things would be just fine. You want to avoid pictures of Jesus? Send the kids to public school.

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Tim SUMRALL

December 18, 2013  10:50pm

I get Hill's concept and true we don't know what Jesus looked liked nor St. Peter, or St. John or my favorite St. Timothy. I think we sometime rely on images to get us through days. Knowing there is God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, we don't know what they look like but inevitably our mind strives to put a face to what we grasp for. I personally don't have painting of God or the saints in my house or on my car but it does not stop my mind from thinking of him always and putting a face on that thought.

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Gabe Wetmore

December 18, 2013  2:36pm

On top of what I’ve already said, the argument that we can’t make a picture of Jesus because no one knows exactly what he looked like, and it’s bound to be inaccurate, proves far too much, and is a case of special pleading. The author, for example, thinks its ok to have a manger scene as long as as there is no baby Jesus in the manger. Well... Do you know what Mary looked like, or Joseph, etc. etc.? Is it ok to paint a picture of King David, even though it may not be exactly what he looked like? Of course it is. The point of art isn’t to reproduce a photographic likeness of something. If that were the case, then anything short of a photograph would be wrong, because it would somehow be lying about the person or object being depicted. Again, this line of reasoning is not being applied consistently.

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Gabe Wetmore

December 18, 2013  2:26pm

What is really behind this objection is the idea that it is sinful to draw a picture of God. This is fine, to a certain extent (as long as we are talking about depicted the divine being/essence). We can't depict that which cannot be seen. We can depict manifestations of God, but everybody knows that's not the being of God. So drawing a picture of Moses before the burning bush, or the symbol of a dove for the Spirit, doesn't usually upset people. Now if someone tried to draw a picture of the Eternal Son's divine being, that would be problematic. But Jesus assumed, to himself, true humanity, and people are drawable. Since the 2nd Person of the Trinity is not only fully God, but also fully man, he can be depicted according to his humanity.

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Gabe Wetmore

December 18, 2013  2:26pm

The second commandment doesn't forbid making pictures of Jesus. It does forbid making pictures of any sort and bowing down to them and/or worshiping/serving them (or through them). If it condemns the mere act of drawing an artistic representation of Jesus it also forbids drawing an artistic representation of a flower, or any other image of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. This is obviously not what the second commandment is about, because God himself commands various things from heaven above and the earth beneath to be artistically portrayed in the tabernacle.

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Wendy Willmore

December 18, 2013  1:42pm

If God did not in the end want us to make pictures of what He is like to help us understand him more fully, he would not have sent His Son in the first place. The first century Jews knew what God looked like because He chose to show himself. He would not have given us the creative gifts in the first place, if not to glorify Him, even in their imperfection. If we should stop colouring pictures of God, we may as well stop doing theology too, as we are doomed in some fashion to misunderstand God through our minds corrupted by sin. We may as well stop trying to commune with God at all, as all our attempts to hear Him with sinful ears, must needs distort what He is saying. Maybe I should stop trying to act like Jesus too, as I inevitably get it wrong somehow. As long as we come to our attempts to picture God with with humility knowing that the reality is different and far greater than we could ever imagine, I think there is grace enough to cover our inadequacies.

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Benita Bylicki-Marzion

December 18, 2013  1:25pm

Without getting into a theological debate here. I am a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, raised a Roman Catholic, and spent the next almost 30 years looking for Christ in every protestant, evangelical, non denominational church to be found, including the Amish/Mennonite. When I found the Eastern Orthodox Church, I found God. Let me ask you a question? Do you have pictures of family members in your home? Do you worship them? Of course not! It is the same with the pictures known as Icons. The purpose of the Nativity, both in picture or in a display is not to worship the images, they serve as a reminder to all, that this time of the year we REMEMBER, that God sent his Son, to be the Savior of the whole world. You know what, that is what the truth is here, THE WORLD wants to erase that from memory. They want to erase Christ from everything, and that's why they don't want Nativity's, they don't want images of Christ, they want to erase him from ever being known. Sorry but that is TRUTH

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editor UNITYINCHRIST.COM

December 18, 2013  11:53am

Ponder this about the early Christian Church, before 325AD, many of the congregations were observing the Sabbath and Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23, because the Church in Asia Minor and Judea was essentially Judeo-Christian, both ethnically and in practice (Rodney Stark, Oskar Skarsaune). So Christmas was a Constantinian/Catholic thing, borrowing from pagan backgrounds, where Jesus himself kept Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost (Shevuot), Trumpets, Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Messianic Jewish authorities also pretty accurately calculate his birth as being in the fall, probably during the fall Holy Days. What did Jude tell us? Wasn't it to strive for the faith once delivered to the saints? I'm not trying to be a ba-humbug, but really folks, what has modern Christianity become? We honour Jesus with pagan trappings, on his supposed birthday, which is really the day of Saturnalia and think he's happy with that? Talk about idolatry, and not making images of God...

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Hannah N.

December 18, 2013  10:25am

This is the perspective I grew up with - that images of Christ were "idols" and "too Catholic." What a relief for me to grow older and discover traditions of Christian image-making that were serious, respectful, and illuminating. While I remain a Protestant, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way Catholic and Orthodox image-makers have enriched my faith. All of our images fall short of Christ, and yet by the grace of God, prayerful artistic creation really can give us a glimpse of Christ. (Unless it's by Thomas Kinkade. Because gross.)

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Katheryn Magill

December 17, 2013  10:43pm

While I do not necessarily agree with the necessity of the extent of this family's practices, I really appreciate this perspective as a helpful corrective to our culture's generally casual depictions of Christ. I disagree with the commenter who suggested that this is an example of the boring attitude toward Jesus in Timothy Hall's article. Hill's perspective preserves mystery and a sense of awe- a heightening of expectation for when we will in fact see Jesus face to face...that's exciting stuff!!

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Darryl Seip

December 17, 2013  10:33pm

Wow! Online this article was placed right next to one about people who would take a colourful Jesus and grey Him out. And Megan is taking the colourful Jesus and removing him altogether. Must be a laugh a year at that place. Calvinists really know how to put the fun in fundamental.

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JOHN TURNER

December 17, 2013  8:40pm

Megan Hill has some valuable sensitivities, but perhaps takes them too far for the benefit of her children. In my early life, someone must have told me that, when I saw a representation of Jesus, I was looking at an artist's idea of Jesus, not at a photographic-type likeness of Jesus. A bit later, someone must have sensitized me to the over-Europeanization of Jesus in Western art; I strongly prefer more historically probable images, but even bad art testified that Jesus really was born in a human body, lived and ministered in a human body, died on the cross in a human body, and was raised with a spiritual body that still maintained some connection to his previous human body. My spiritual life has been enhanced more than it has been harmed by the fact that Jesus has been represented as real. Art itself is not idolatrous. When art is misused in rebellion against God's sovereignty, then that is idolatry.

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Philip Whitney

December 17, 2013  8:03pm

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 2.18): the law "teaches wisdom by abstinence from sensible images." Tertullian (On Idolatry 5) urges his readers to "make not any likeness in opposition to the law." Minucius Felix (Octavius 10): "Why have they [Christians] ... no acknowledged images?" Lactantius (Divine Institutes 2.19): "Wherefore it is undoubted that there is no religion wherever there is an image." Origen: "For neither painter nor image-maker existed in their state, the law expelling all such from it; that there might be no pretext for the construction of images, an art which attracts the attention of foolish men, and which drags down the eyes of the soul from God to earth." Origen: "And they too are not less insane who think that images, fashioned by men of worthless and sometimes most wicked character, confer any honour upon genuine divinities." Council of Elvira (canon 36): "Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration."

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Mike Mercer

December 17, 2013  5:56pm

1. The incarnation changes everything with regard to this issue. 2. Words are also symbols that represent another reality. Do you forbid talking about God or Jesus too? Or do you just allow quoting Scripture? Obviously I don't agree with your position. And those of us who think differently have pretty much the entire history of Christianity and Christendom backing us up on this -- with only a few exceptions. Do you seriously believe the first four centuries support your position? Ever heard of the catacombs or early Christian mosaics? Iconography?

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Vic Christian

December 17, 2013  4:28pm

Disagree - your third paragraph that we "worship according to our mental or physical pictures." If that is really how some worship then their worship is close to idolatry. We should worship Christ as outlined in scripture, not some picture of some man's idea, whether close or not to the original Jesus. Please people, get off of the race or color thing.

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Craig Higgins

December 17, 2013  4:17pm

This view is well represented in the Reformed tradition (my own), but even there has been largely rejected. Are we not, after all, replaying, yet again, the iconoclastic controversy? Maybe we all need to read St. John of Damascus again!

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editor UNITYINCHRIST.COM

December 17, 2013  2:51pm

Technically, you are absolutely correct Megan, as Jesus was Yahweh-shua, Yahweh of the Old Testament, so the first two commandments of the Ten Commandments do apply. Yet, historically, this woman who was healed did build that statue of Yeshua (whether she did this before becoming an active believer is not known). The statue was a memorial. At the same time, we are supposed to build a true New Testament image of Jesus, ie his character, and seek to have him build that into us daily, by far the most important image of Jesus. A true image of Jesus would be hard for us to imagine, as Revelation says that the Lamb of God bears the marks of his slaughter, which he bore for us and all of mankind. Whether he will continue to bear that appearance as spoken of in Revelation for all eternity is not known. Something to ponder.

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David Klinedinst

December 17, 2013  1:59pm

The Father and Spirit cannot reasonably be represented in plastic or paper mache. No, this humiliation can only be given to the incarnate Son, who in joining with our humanity subjected his own divinity to the most crass representations. Hallelujah what a Savior! (Philippians 2:8)

Stephen Bilynskyj

December 17, 2013  1:43pm

Protestant Gnosticism is evidently alive and well. It's massively ironic, or perhaps intentionally controversial, that Hill's article appears online through CT at the same time as Timothy Hall's "Christ in Color," which takes us well in the other direction, away from a bland, colorless, all in your head faith toward a celebration of our Lord who was pleased to wear a body, to be seen and even touched. God bless Hill for her desire to be biblical, but may the Spirit help her reread Scripture and learn to enjoy this world more, along with the artistic gifts the church has been given through the ages.

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K C

December 17, 2013  1:11pm

This point of view is rigid, unnatural, and unreasonable. In no way do I agree. What of the "Icon Not Made by Human Hands?"

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Robert Burke

December 17, 2013  12:33pm

But let us learn from Abraham Lincoln who said, “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right…” Let God be God, and let Him prove us wrong often enough to beat down our pride in ourselves. So many Bible answer man/Christian Cop programs are run by folk who do a very good job impersonating Luke 18:9 (Amplified) “people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men.” Often Christian broadcasting hosts of rigid-righteous programs have a spirit that is really out of whack, while they drone on in lifeless high-handed monotone, only partially getting God’s truth! Holy flexibility always trumps rigid-righteousness! To ban images of the Christ-Child at Christmas? This author is "processing" thru rigid-righteousness... and hopefully will break thru and up unto holy flexibility. May that be her Christmas gift! To lose rigidity-in-God! WOW!

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Tab Miller

December 17, 2013  11:54am

Hmmm...So, how do you keep from this unspeakable sin when reading the text. If it mentions Jesus, what do you imagine in your mind's eye? To sum up this article: "You have heard it said, "Create no images of your Lord, but I say unto you, if you imagine an image of Him in your heart, you have already committed sin."

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Daniel Palomino

December 17, 2013  11:53am

"My objection to visually representing the second person of the Trinity is not a new position. Until the late 4th century, the Christian church universally condemned images of Christ. And, in the 16th century, many of the Protestant Reformers revived this practice. " Uhm, has not the author read Eusebius' History? Images of Christ were widespread in the early Church. His Church History, Book 6: Chapter 18, he even speaks of the the woman Christ healed of internal bleeding and her house - "Opposite [ the woman] this is another upright image of a man, made of the same material, clothed decently in a double cloak, and extending his hand toward the woman. At his feet, beside the statue itself, is a certain strange plant, which climbs up to the hem of the brazen cloak, and is a remedy for all kinds of diseases. They say that this statue is an image of Jesus. It has remained to our day, so that we ourselves also saw it when we were staying in the city." Iconoclast & poor reading of history.

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Mel Evans

December 17, 2013  11:39am

Wow. Well, good for you for following through with your convictions. I couldn't disagree more but this has made me stop and think. I will say that when I see images of Jesus they are strong (needed) reminders of His humanity. Jesus was fully human as well as fully God. Without images it would be easy for me to look past His humanity. Jesus would be God alone (Spirit) and not the person who was born, grew up, got sick, attended dinners and parties, felt hunger, became tired after a long day, needed sleep, felt physical danger, was tortured, and (extremely importantly) suffered physical death before His full resurrection. He walked the road I travel. I have never become confused and thought that He looks like the paintings or statues that I see. But when you have TV commentators starting fights over the color of His skin I can see how that would reinforce your dislike of images of Jesus.

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Abigail Johnson

December 17, 2013  11:30am

Do you also avoid images of doves or fire? These are, after all, the physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Scripture.

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Joshua Toepper

December 17, 2013  11:21am

my question, Fr. Stephen. Makes me wonder how ecumenical CT is.... at least run a contra piece to this dribble.

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FrStephen Lourie

December 17, 2013  11:19am

Why does this even get published? Try looking a little deeper. Apparently God broke His own commandment.

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Joshua Toepper

December 17, 2013  11:16am

Didn't we (the church) settle this in the 8th century? Just a bit from our defender of Icons, John of Damascus: "If you dishonor and reject images because they are produced by matter...how can we not record in images the saving pains and miracles of Christ our Lord, so that when my child asks me, “What is this?” I may say, “That God the Word became man, and that for His sake not Israel alone passed through the Jordan, but the whole human race regained their original happiness. Through him human nature rose from the lowest depths of the earth higher than the skies, and in his Person sat down on the throne his Father had prepared for him."

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Paul McCain

December 17, 2013  11:10am

Oh, brother.....Calvinism rears its ugly head.

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