Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Intentional icons


Piggybacking on the recent post on images... some thoughts on God directing how He shall be worshiped follow.

I don't think I'll be able to do much in this combox, but maybe God will be merciful to my schedule.
Our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends defend the blatant violations of Old Testament directions for YHWH's worship by appealing to their intentions.


Leviticus 10:1-3

1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.

2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

3Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying,
'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.'"
So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
God's instructions were clear as to how He should be worshiped, when, by whose hand, etc. These men violated those instructions. This is not pagan worship or the intrusion of a different religion into Judaism; this is disobedience to how they were to worship. Intention played no part.



Exodus 25:10-15

10"They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.

11"You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.

12"You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.

13"You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

14"You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.

15"The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.
Here God gives instruction for how the Ark of the Covenant shall be transported. And the consequence of disobeying with good intention:


2 Samuel 6:2-7

2And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.

3They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart.

4So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark.

5Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.

6But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it.

7And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

Uzzah's intentions were good, as the text says - to stop the ark from falling over. Indeed - what a terrible thing to have the ark fall over! But God destroyed him b/c Uzzah did not treat God's worship and instructions on worship as foremost and holy.
The Lord struck out in anger and wrath over the breaking of His instruction, despite the good intentions of David, Uzzah himself, no doubt the guys who lent the oxen and cart, the people in the procession, etc.

...


Acts 10:24-26
24On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

25When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.

26But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man."

Revelation 22:8-9

8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

9But he said to me, "Do not do that I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."

There is a way to bow down to mere humans and honor them in righteousness, as attested to by Scripture, without it being a sin. But not in a context of worship, which is the heart of the matter and the objection we have to RC and EO-dox practice.

Deuteronomy 4:15-18

15"So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,
16so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky,
18the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.

What's the definition of a graven image here? "The form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth."
Presumably, something like this.
Let's leave aside the question of making an image of Christ here and focus on v. 16 - no image of form male or female. How is making an image of a dead person (ie, a saint) for worship not a violation of this command?




36 comments:

Theo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo said...

How is making an image of a dead person (ie, a saint) for worship not a violation of this command?"

We do not worship the image or the saint. How is making an image of a dead snake used as a means for the conveying of a special grace (healing) a violation of His command, when He Himself commanded it? How is the making of images of Angels of Heaven atop the Arc of the covenant to aid in the veneration of Almighty God a violation of His command when He Himself commanded it?

When you attempt to enforce upon others your personal take on a command of the old covenant in direct opposition to the teaching and practice of not only the Church but the very example provided us by God Himself while Israel remained under that same old covenant, you fall victim to the same spirit as did the Judaizers, serving the law and not Him who is its author. May your eyes be opened to the great grace and truth which is the law of love and liberty in Jesus Christ that allows even the rocks and stones proclaim, "He is Lord."

Humbly, I pray, as your servant in Christ,
--Theo

dtking said...

"We do not worship the image or the saint."

Augustine noted that the more educated pagans make the same claim...

Augustine (354-430): Why have I said this? Please consider carefully the chief point I’m making. We had started to deal with the apparently better educated pagans—because the less educated are the ones who do the things about which these do not wish to be taken to task—so with the better educated ones, since they say to us, “You people also have your adorers of columns, and sometimes even of pictures.” And would to God that we didn’t have them, and may the Lord grant that we don’t go on having them! But all the same, this is not what the Church teaches you. I mean, which priest of theirs ever climbed into a pulpit and from there commanded the people not to adore idols, in the way that we, in Christ, publicly preach against the adoration of columns or of the stones of buildings in holy places, or even of pictures? On the contrary indeed, it was their very priests who used to turn to the idols and offer them victims for their congregations, and would still like to do so now
“We,” they say, “don’t adore images, but what is signified by the image.” I ask what images signify, I ask what the image of the sun signifies; nothing else but the sun, surely? For yes, perhaps the explanation of other images convey deeper, more hidden meanings. For the time being let’s leave these, and put them on one side to come back to shortly. The image of the sun, certainly, can only signify the sun, and that of the moon the moon, and that of Tellus the earth. So if they don’t adore what they see in the image, but what the image signifies, why, when they have the things signified by these images so familiarly before their very eyes, do they offer adoration to their images in stead of directly to them? John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 198.16-17 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), p. 193.

DTK

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Carrie,

I am puzzled.

If you feel inclined to engage in idol-worship, then you are well advised to stay well away from anything that might present that temptation.

But isn't it an issue of Christian liberty for those who don't feel that temptation and use icons in the manner recognized as consistent with Christian belief by the universal church in the 7th Ecumenical Council?

Dtking,

Your post also puzzles me.

Is it your belief that St. Augustine did not accept the use of symbols and images of God and Christ in his ordinary worship?

If so, is it your view that St. Augustine departed from the universal church's teaching of the time that the Eucharist - an object subject the senses - was not to be worshipped as divine?

Also, is it possible that what St. Augustine was objecting to in the passage that you quote was the idolatry of worshipping false and non-existent gods, like the Sun and the Moon? It seems to me that that this a far cry from worshipping the true God who was and remains in the form of a man.

Finally, can you provide a link to your citation.

Thanks.

dtking said...

"Your post also puzzles me. Is it your belief that St. Augustine did not accept the use of symbols and images of God and Christ in his ordinary worship?"

It doesn't matter what I believe about Augustine. I think his own words speak for themselves. I think you need to interact with his words, not my views.

And I hasten to assure you that I do not share your assumption regarding "the universal church's teaching of the time" with respect to the "Eucharist." I see no need to respond this kind of petitio principii claim.

As for a link, I didn't get it off the internet. I gave you the precise bibliographical reference from a book out of my own library. I don't know how I can be more precise.

DTK

Theo said...

DTKing:

I humbly suggest that prior to going out on a limb by suggesting that a Doctor of the Catholic Church condemned Catholic practice (whether it is the intercession of "dead" saints and the roles of monuments, images and relics in the Church, the sacrifice of the Eucharist or whatever) you ought to consider:

1) Does the context of your quote actually support your inference in using the quote? As James Swan would likely say, "Context, context, context." Augustine was fond of pointing out that the pagans claimed the same things the Christian claims.

2) Whether the great body of work written by the man show he believed what who you imagine? In his case, the answer is a simple, emphatic, "No."

To cast Augustine as a proto-Protestant is even more absurd than casting Martin Luther as a deathbed revert to Catholicism. The facts simply aren't there.

For example, regarding shrines and altars dedicated to “dead” saints, their active intercession, the use of their relics / images and the even sacrifice of the Eucharist at shrines, Augustine had these things to say in "The City of God" (See http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120122.htm):

...to our martyrs we build, not temples as if they were gods, but monuments as to dead men whose spirits live with God. Neither do we erect altars at these monuments that we may sacrifice to the martyrs, but to the one God of the martyrs and of ourselves; and in this sacrifice they are named in their own place and rank as men of God who conquered the world by confessing Him, but they are not invoked by the sacrificing priest. For it is to God, not to them, he sacrifices, though he sacrifices at their monument; for he is God's priest, not theirs. The sacrifice itself, too, is the body of Christ, which is not offered to them, because they themselves are this body."

and

"Here perhaps our adversaries will say that their gods also have done some wonderful things, if now they begin to compare their gods to our dead men. Or will they also say that they have gods taken from among dead men, such as Hercules, Romulus, and many others whom they fancy to have been received into the number of the gods? But our martyrs are not our gods; for we know that the martyrs and we have both but one God, and that the same. Nor yet are the miracles which they maintain to have been done by means of their temples at all comparable to those which are done by the tombs of our martyrs.

...

"When the bishop Projectus was bringing the relics of the most glorious martyr Stephen to the waters of Tibilis, a great concourse of people came to meet him at the shrine. There a blind woman entreated that she might be led to the bishop who was carrying the relics. He gave her the flowers he was carrying. She took them, applied them to her eyes, and forthwith saw. Those who were present were astounded, while she, with every expression of joy, preceded them, pursuing her way without further need of a guide.

Lucillus bishop of Sinita, in the neighborhood of the colonial town of Hippo, was carrying in procession some relics of the same martyr, which had been deposited in the castle of Sinita. A fistula under which he had long labored, and which his private physician was watching an opportunity to cut, was suddenly cured by the mere carrying of that sacred fardel,—at least, afterwards there was no trace of it in his body."


I do not wish to be tedious. Had I the time and believed it would benefit, I could produce literally thousands more lines of St. Augustine's writings that demonstrate he not only did not deem as sinful the asking of intercession from the saints, veneration of the saints, and the use of their images and relics in direct unity with the sacred worship of God Almighty, he utterly endorsed it.

By grace I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

Mateo said...

Can someone give a clear Scriptural text which supports the idea that Exodus 20 bans graven images ONLY in the context of worship? In the passages quoted, I did not see any evidence of that. From my reading, the passage seems to condemn graven images tout court. And this would not be far-fetched. After all, this is the Muslim view of these passages. This is why Muslim art is dominated by tile-making, calligraphy, tapestries, etc.

Let me know. And, incidentally, I'm not looking for "contextual" evidence like the fact that God commands the Israelites to put seraphim on the Ark of the Covenant or anything like that...

Saint and Sinner said...

"To cast Augustine as a proto-Protestant is even more absurd than casting Martin Luther as a deathbed revert to Catholicism. The facts simply aren't there."

Apart from a few in the past, I don't believe that anyone has claimed that Augustine was a 'proto-Protestant'. However, we do claim that some of what he taught and believed contradicts modern RC theology. So, just because the RCC claims him as a 'Doctor of the Church', doesn't mean that he actually believed and taught modern Roman dogma.

For instance, when ALL of his writings are taken together, I believe that a strong case can be made that his position on the eucharistic presence was somewhere between Calvin's and Luther's.

Saint and Sinner said...

While we're on the topic, it's also worthy to note that the earliest Christians didn't believe in image veneration:

“Owing to the influence of the Old Testament prohibition of images, Christian veneration of images developed only after the victory of the Church over paganism. The Synod of Elvira (about 306) still prohibited figurative representations in the houses of God (Can. 36).”
-Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1974), p. 320.

“…as Moses ages before enacted expressly, that neither a graven, nor molten, nor moulded, nor painted likeness should be made; so that we may not cleave to things of sense, but pass to intellectual objects: for familiarity with the sight disparages the reverence of what is divine; and to worship that which is immaterial by matter, is to dishonour it by sense.”
-Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 5.5
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-02/anf02-65.htm#P7345_2222379

“Why have they no altars, no temples, no acknowledged images?”
-Caecilius, as found in Minucius Felix’s The Octavius of Minucius Felix 10

Rhology said...

Carrie didn't write this post, I did. It should be obvious from the lack of eloquence and foresight.

And fine, fine you don't WORSHIP the image. How is bowing down to, kissing, praying inaudibly to, lighting candles in front of, burning candles to, etc an icon not an act condemned here?

dtking said...

Theo,

To be perfectly honest with you, I have no desire to respond to such propaganda comments as "proto-protestant" or Roman assumptions about the early church that are petitio principii in nature.

I never even hinted at some "proto-protestant" posture in Augustine. But I can assure you of this, based upon my own studies, he was no Roman papist; and frankly I don't care what you think he was.

The reason it is utterly uninteresting to discuss anything with you non-protestants today is that you can't have any kind of early church discussion without assuming erroneously what the Protestant is saying whom you try to engage, or you assume as though it's some commonly established truth that the ancient church was what Rome claims it was. Try removing your Roman lens regarding the church fathers. They weren't Protestants, nor were they Romanists.

No interest in exchange here,

DTK

Theo said...

"...incidentally, I'm not looking for "contextual" evidence like the fact that God commands the Israelites to put seraphim on the Ark of the Covenant or anything like that"

My brother, I fail to understand how one discounts as evidence the explicit commands of God that are contrary of someone's interpretation of a verse of scripture. God is not subject to our private interpretations of His own revelation about Himself.

Why should these questions be unworthy of addressing:
--How is making an image of a dead snake used as a means for the conveying of a special grace (healing) a violation of His command, when He Himself commanded it?
and
--How is the making of images of Angels of Heaven atop the Arc of the covenant to aid in the veneration of Almighty God a violation of His command when He Himself commanded it?

May God bless you with all good gifts for His kingdom's sake and His glory.

--Theo

Mateo said...

Let me clarify:

I wasn't making a hidden polemical point. I was just curious if there was any specific Biblical evidence that clarified "no graven images" in the ways being assumed here, that's all.

I do think that the fact that Israelites made images and used them in worship (unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by that term) is an interesting point to discuss, though. My question, however, was directed to a different issue.

Machaira said...

And fine, fine you don't WORSHIP the image. How is bowing down to, kissing, praying inaudibly to, lighting candles in front of, burning candles to, etc an icon not an act condemned here?


Good point. I would like an answer to this as well. Twenty years ago when I got married, my wife insisted we get married in the RC church of which she was a parishioner. Yeah, I was young and stupid. I, being a protestant, was instructed by the "priest" not to approach the statue of Mary during the ceremony taking place in front of it. There was kneeling, prayer, the lighting of candles and a rose presented . . . but hey, they're not really worshipping it. :0

kevin82 said...

And fine, fine you don't WORSHIP the image. How is bowing down to, kissing, praying inaudibly to, lighting candles in front of, burning candles to, etc an icon not an act condemned here?


Do you really believe that these pious acts indicate that the person believes the icon or statue in-itself to be the object of worship and not what it represents?

And, damn, I wish Luke himself wouldn't substantiate such Christo-pagan shenanigans:

"And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them." (Acts 19:11-12)

A clear case of relic-worship, and Luke had the audacity to attribute it to God.

Machaira said...

theo,

I think you've missed the point. All of the things you mention that were fasioned for worship by Israel were things that were commanded by God. This is also the very same God who commands that He be worshipped according to His own appointments and not according to the whims of those who worship. I'm afraid you are failing to take the whole counsel of the Scriptures into account.

Machaira said...

Do you really believe that these pious acts indicate that the person believes the icon or statue in-itself to be the object of worship and not what it represents?


Worshipping what the statues etc. represent is exactly the point and the problem Kevin. No one is talking about relics here. That's a different problem altogether.

Mateo said...

We need to be careful about the use of the word "worship" here, I think. It is interesting to think about the history of this word. In the Anglican liturgy, for instance, one said, "With my body, I thee [one's spouse] worship." Obviously, the Anglican church was not talking about worship that is owed only to God but a profound honor, even veneration of the wife's body. In English, it was the word "adoration" which was a more or less accurate translation of the Latin word "latria" which denotes the worship owed only to God. It seems to me that these words have switched today. I don't think most Christians would be opposed to saying to their spouse: "I adore you." We use the word adorable in reference to teddy bears and babies, for crying out loud. On the other hand, the word "worship" is generally exclusively religious in nature. Just something to highlight.

So I will use the Latin terms just for the sake of clarity (dulia for honor/venerate, latria for adoration owed only to God.) Or we could adopt the old adore vs. worship. Or...whatever...let's just be clear. And please don't simply reject the distinction (though you could certainly reject how the line is drawn between the two terms by Catholic theologians, of course). We show honor to our mothers, political leaders, etc., and that is not idolatry, well, unless you are an eighteenth-century Quaker.

So...is giving a rose to a woman an act of latria?...obviously not! So it wouldn't be wrong to give Mary a rose if she were in the flesh. So it seems that Protestants believe certain acts to be wrong, just because they are being "offered" to a statue, not a person. Cool. On the other hand, there are other acts (like prayers) which Protestants say should only be directed to God. Even if Mary were alive, we shouldn't (in the Protestant construal) direct "prayers" to her (of course, this is more complicated since, again, "pray" can simply mean to fervently request something.)

Anyway, this post getting pretty long. My major point, I guess, is that we are clear with our language. Also, I think the Protestants should be clear why they believe particular acts to be bad (it seems that the reasons differ).

Before I depart, consider some lines from Thomas Aquinas (much of this will not be new, but I might as well bring it into the discussion):

1) Since "latria" is due to God alone, it is not due to a creature.

2) The worship of "latria" is not due to any mere rational creature for its own sake. [I think the "for its own sake" is an attempt to explain why Christ as a "rational creature" (though also fully God) can be worshiped with latria]

3) Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of "latria" is not due to her, but only that of "dulia": but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of "dulia" is due to her, but "hyperdulia."

4) The honor given to the Mother reflects on her Son, because the Mother is to be honored for her Son's sake.

5) [T]he image itself, considered as a thing, is not to be venerated in any way at all.

And as a modern, (I hope) orthodox Catholic I would agree with all of this. What is interesting is that a thing (statue, relic, etc.) is not to be venerated in any way at all. Thomas says elsewhere that things are only honored insofar as they are symbols of the thing that is really worthy of honor.

Protestants may reject these analogies (which are ONLY analogies), but I thought I'd at least make some suggestions. If I broke a statue of George Washington or burned a flag, these acts are not merely the destruction of stone and cloth. These acts symbolize one's dishonor of the United States, etc.

Similarly, if I kiss a photograph of my wife, I am not kissing a piece of special paper (that would be sick), I am symbolically kissing my wife. Burning it would have the opposite meaning. But if I actually fell in love with the paper itself, then there would be some SERIOUS perversion!

Similarly, if Catholics actually start to treat statues as such as if they are real people, then there is a serious problem (which, by the way, the bishops assembled at Vatican II identified as such).

OK...I already have gone on too long. I'm not really finished with this discussion, but we'll see where this goes (if anywhere). All I ask is that our disagreements are genuine disagreements, not misunderstanding based on terminology. Those are really lame.

Carrie said...

It should be obvious from the lack of eloquence and foresight.

I'm afraid that won't distinguish you from me.

Mateo said...

"I think you've missed the point. All of the things you mention that were fasioned for worship by Israel were things that were commanded by God. This is also the very same God who commands that He be worshipped according to His own appointments and not according to the whims of those who worship."

THIS is really interesting. If I am understanding you correctly, the fact that you believe Christians shouldn't use icons is, well, because God said so, no more and no less. I totally respect that. I'm not sure I agree with your "voluntarist" picture of God, but it is certainly a plausible position, as far as I'm concerned. It's also weird that God can command the Israelites not to do something in general but tell them to do it in specific instances. But this would work under a very voluntaristic picture of the divine will. So...that's cool.

However, this perspective (if I have understood it correctly) really changes the discussion. Most Catholic arguments are meant to deal with certain REASONS which are given for WHY God forbade images. One reason that Moses actually gives for banning graven images is that God has not revealed Himself in these ways, etc., etc., so you shouldn't picture him in these ways (animals, etc.) But in Christ, God did reveal Himself in a certain way (which can be "imaged", that is, as a man!), and so some of the reasons against graven images no longer apply. Does that make any sense? I still think that making an image of God as a golden calf would be idolatry. I also have serious objections to "imaging" the Father or the HOly Spirit (except as a dove, which is the way He was revealed in Scripture!)

The other reason given against images is the one quoted above from Clement of ALexandria:

“…as Moses ages before enacted expressly, that neither a graven, nor molten, nor moulded, nor painted likeness should be made; so that we may not cleave to things of sense, but pass to intellectual objects: for familiarity with the sight disparages the reverence of what is divine; and to worship that which is immaterial by matter, is to dishonour it by sense.”
-Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 5.5

I don't accept these reasons because of their seriously Docetic implications. God revealed Himself as a VISIBLE man. There is no longer anything to GET BEYOND. We are RESURRECTION people (the body is not inherently wicked). We aren't Platonists! So I think Clement's argument fails to really grasp the implications of the Incarnation. Again, I hope that makes sense. I would love to clarify anything that doesn't.

But these reasons (and their responses) don't apply to the reason YOU gave above. (And I am not trying to caricature your position, just highlight its essential features, as I understood them.) Based on your reading of Scripture, you say "God said no graven images." An opponent objects: "What about seraphim on the Ark or the serpent?" You say, "Well, those are exceptions that are OK because God said so." Again, I'm not sure I agree with your view of the divine will, but you gotta respect this position.

Am I getting it right?

Carrie said...

Similarly, if Catholics actually start to treat statues as such as if they are real people, then there is a serious problem (which, by the way, the bishops assembled at Vatican II identified as such).

I am not interested in discussing the nuances of latria vs dulia. But I think you are missing a point in how many people behave in these matters.

A co-worker recently told a story of how her grandmother had turned her Mary statue towards a picture of her grandson (who is wayward) so that Mary would intervene with him. In that case, she is attributing some "power" to her act in turning the statue to the picture, not that the statue itself has power, but it is a conduit for effecting a result.

Likewise, why would anyone ever pray before or place flowers on a statue? Would not most people performing that act believe that the act itself is accomplishing something? It is at a minimum a crutch, and more often an idol not in the sense of worship but in the sense of trust.

Anyway, I don't want to veer too far off course, but I think you all are blind if you don't see the issues. I think the question to ask yourself is what exactly was God prohibiting? For a religion that requires following the commandments as "necessary to salvation", I would expect more caution would be heeded. It is unfortunate that Christ did not expand on that commandment as he did with those concerning adultery and murder.

Machaira said...

Again Mateo, I believe my point is perfectly clear and so is Scripture on this. There is absolutely nothing difficult to understand. God commands Israel not to worship according to their own whims and desires, but rather according to His own appointments. Again, the same God who commanded Israel not to fasion their own "images" according to their own concept of Him gave very specific details on how to construct the Tabernacle and all of its trappings.

Mateo said...

"Again Mateo, I believe my point is perfectly clear and so is Scripture on this."

Good, Machaira, I'm glad I understood you properly.

"I am not interested in discussing the nuances of latria vs dulia. But I think you are missing a point in how many people behave in these matters."

Well, if you would rather talk about popular practice rather than the true theological perspective of informed Catholics, then that's fine. But I wasn't "missing" anything; I'm just not really interested in that conversation.

Pax.

Marco said...

Pardon me: Shaman's (spelling).

Lvka said...

When will YOU *stop* putting YOUR good, "idolatrofobic" intentions before those of the Bible, and *start* worshiping God the way that HE Himself intended ?

And I'm not defending myself anymore: I'm way past that. Now it's THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Carrie said...

Well, if you would rather talk about popular practice rather than the true theological perspective of informed Catholics, then that's fine.

So you do not condone praying before a statue? How about placing a flowers on a statue?

My one story may be "popular practice" but I have never heard a Catholic condemn the praying, flowers, etc.

kevin82 said...

Machaira,

Indeed, you're right. I meant what mateo has been delineating, but I should have been more careful.

Carrie said...

Mateo,

The types of things mentioned below by an Archbishop of the Church are what I was referring to and cannot be cast aside as “popular practice”:


“We, in the Church, dedicate the month of May to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In our families, we give special attention to the praying of the rosary and to making a May Altar. In our parishes, Catholic schools and other Catholic institutions, it is also the month for the celebration of public devotions to the Mother of God, including the May Crowning, the crowning of the statue of the Blessed Mother with beautiful flowers as a sign of her honor and our devoted love.

…In my home, the May Altar was placed in a prominent place. A special table was designated and covered with a beautiful cloth. The statue of the Blessed Mother was placed on the table. A candle and vase with fresh flowers was placed near the statue. We children took care to gather the fresh flowers, lilacs and other flowers which bloomed in May for our heavenly Mother. Daily prayers venerating our Blessed Mother and asking her intercession were offered before her enthroned image. The family rosary gave special joy and inspiration during May… Public praying of the rosary in the parish and Catholic school, processions in honor of the Mother of God and the crowning of her statue all helped me to become a more loving and obedient son of Mary.

…Cardinal John Joseph Carberry, the sixth bishop and fifth archbishop of St. Louis, proposed an excellent plan for the observance of Mary’s month…He wrote: "For the month of May we would ask you to do the following: think of Mary; pray to Mary; speak of Mary; and read about Mary. It is hardly asking too much, for everyone, young and old, if they will, (to) have the name of Mary in their minds. They can whisper it in daily prayer, they can pronounce it in conversations with their companions, and lastly they can constantly read the beautiful praises that are written to the honor and glory of Mary" (p. 27).

…Daily, we should simply repeat the name of Mary, thinking of all that she meant to our Lord and all that she means to us, then we will grow in our devotion to the Mother of God and experience her powerful help in our daily living.

…Our closeness to our Blessed Mother makes us want to speak with others about her. It is especially important that parents speak with their children about their relationship with Mary and the help which they have received in asking her intercession. Our witness to the place of Mary in our lives will help others to discover or grow in their relationship with Mary.”

http://www.stlouisreview.com/abpcolumn.php?abpid=8401

Note in the bolded paragraph. Devotion to Mary results in powerful help in daily life. That was my point earlier. Of course, having a relationship with Mary and telling others about her is problematic also (last paragraph).

Mateo said...

Did I ever say that I don't condone praying BEFORE an icon or even putting flowers by an icon? I don't think I did. In fact, one could construe my words about the latter practice as a defense....By the way, have you ever put flowers by the gravestone of a deceased relative?

While the archbishop WAS describing his devotional practices as a child in a Catholic family ("popular practice"?), I want to make it clear that I wasn't necessarily dismissing all of these popular pratices in my comment, though I could understand why it was construed as such (I juxtaposed "popular practice" to a TRUE, informed theological perspective). What I meant was that I was interested in a conversation that tried to understand how Catholic theology really interprets and justifies these acts (at least some of them), based in the catechism, papal encyclicals, and the great theologians. A conversation about which particular acts are abuses and all the ways that iconodulia turns into idolatry, etc., is one I am not really all that interested in having. It ends up being almost entirely anecdotal, etc., (though, incidentally, your evidence from an archbishop is probably the best way of having such a conversation...)

But, let me repeat, I wasn't condemning the conversation as such or ALL the practices (though I would condemn some of them). I was just stating the kind of conversation I am interested in... Does that make sense?

Basically, calling something a "popular practice" is not, to my mind, tantamount to condemning it. Though I would condemn any practice which confuses the image itself with the human being worthy of that honor, let alone any practice which confuses an image of Christ with the adoration due to Him, I am an iconodule, not an iconoclast. But I would say with Thomas: "[T]he image itself, considered as a thing, is not to be venerated in any way at all." Though I've never actually seen it, I will trust you and the countless other stories I've heard that many Catholics do otherwise.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Dtking,

Your response hasn’t clarified my confusion.

You write:

It doesn't matter what I believe about Augustine. I think his own words speak for themselves. I think you need to interact with his words, not my views.

But you had a reason for posting the long Augustine quote. I take it that the reason is to show that (a) arguments used by Catholics for venerating icons is similar to the arguments used by pagans for venerating idols and (b) the pagan’s argument was criticized by the authoritative wisdom of St. Augustine.

That may be a fair use of the quote, except as my questions allude, Theo has demonstrated and you silence concedes, this use of Augustine is a “petitio principi” claim. You are "begging the question" by equating the two kinds of activities because icons of Jesus and God actually represent the True God and idols represent false gods.

In fact, in Augustine’s Sermon on New Years Day –which I can’t find on-line – it seems that Augustine made the point that venerating an image of the sun as a god amounts to worshipping an idol because the Sun is a creature.

Hence, my questions were designed to have you address that pertinent issue.

And I hasten to assure you that I do not share your assumption regarding "the universal church's teaching of the time" with respect to the "Eucharist." I see no need to respond this kind of petitio principii claim.

Your claim that I’m begging the question by assuming that there was a universal church teaching that the Eucharist – an object of the senses – was to be worshipped as divine struck me as worth looking into. Having read many works by Augustine, I figured he would support my claim and here it is one indication in the City of God 20:10

And hence that true Mediator, in so far as, by assuming the form of a servant, He became the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, though in the form of God He received sacrifice together with the Father, with whom He is one God, yet in the form of a servant He chose rather to be than to receive a sacrifice, that not even by this instance any one might have occasion to suppose that sacrifice should be rendered to any creature. Thus He is both the Priest who offers and the Sacrifice offered. And He designed that there should be a daily sign of this in the sacrifice of the Church, which, being His body, learns to offer herself through Him. Of this true Sacrifice the ancient sacrifices of the saints were the various and numerous signs; and it was thus variously figured, just as one thing is signified by a variety of words, that there may be less weariness when we speak of it much. To this supreme and true sacrifice all false sacrifices have given place.

So, Augustine accepted what I described as the universal teaching of the Church that the Eucharist – an object of the senses – is Christ. Since Christ is divine and the divine is worshipped, if I have to dig further I'm sure I will find supporting documentation from Augustine.

Perhaps, you think that Augustine held an idiosyncratic position on this point?

Captain Kangaroo said...

Is time to trot out thousands of Protestant references to the benefits of devotion to study or the example of (fill in the blank) and then equate that with worship of the same? Bible worshipers who bow down before a book before opening it in services? King worshipers who put honor to human kings and bowed down before them, calling them "your majesty" and what? Preacher worshipers who hang on the words of storefront shool "doctors" and quote them as if from scripture? Nawww--I figure, what the heck, let it go.

As it is written, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be placed in his company." Or is that, "Do answer a fool according to his folly, lest he seem right in his own eyes?" What? BOTH? No really? Imagine that: scripture allowing for more than one correct behavior in the service of God! :-)

Captain Kangaroo said...

"Perhaps, you think that Augustine held an idiosyncratic position on this point?"

According to Saint and sinner, if you consider ALL of his writings, he held a position somewhere "between Calvin and Luther." There's a news flash for you, eh?

According to Captain Kangaroo, S&S simply made that up and thinks because he said so, you should believe him--after all HE believes himself, you know? And he thinks "what more do I need to be "correct" about what the early Church taught and how it was formed other than my own personal desire for it to be that way?" I wonder how S&S appreciates the integrety I have by telling everyone what HE thinks when I really don't know and just made it up? What? "Not much" you think? There's another news flash for you, eh?

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

I thought that this was part of Carrie's continuing series.

My questions still remain.

Why isn't the choice to represent or not represent Christ in sacred artwork not a part of "Christian liberty"?

If it causes you to stumble, then by all means avoid it.

On the other hand, if it doesn't cause me to stumble - which it does not - then why am I not free to enjoy icons and use them as a vehicle for reflecting on God's goodness manifested in His creation?

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Captain,

After reading post after post of self-assured writers heaping scorn and contempt on what they view as the stupidity, cupidity, naivety and bad faith of Catholic beliefs to find that that those same beliefs were held by intelligent and holy authors revered by Catholic and Protestants alike.

For example, I have read so many contemptuous and/or horrified comments by many Protestants to the idea that the Eucharist involves in some way a re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice and, yet, there is St. Augustine writing exactly that as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Rhology now has a post on the "ad hoc and imaginary difference" between latrie and dulia as if it was something concocted recently to befuddle Protestants. Yet, when I get around to it, I will post from St. Augustine's City of God, where Augustine explains the difference between latrie and dulia.

My point will be that I don't think that St. Augustine was engaging in ad hoc and imaginary reasoning. He may have been wrong, but I think we ought to recognize that the distinction can be held in good faith.

Rhology said...

Hi PSB,

I wouldn't argue that images of Christ are inherently bad, so there you go. :-)
Of course, I would object to using such images in worship, but that's sthg else.

I'm talking about using images of dead people to pray to them and rendering worshipful actions to those images of dead people.

And just b/c Augustine helped define the distinction doesn't mean it's scriptural or not ad hoc and imaginary. But I imagine we'll talk about it over there.
I'm just hoping CaptKang will stop cluttering the comboxes like he is. I guess you get all kinds...

Peace,
Rhology

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Rhology,

I agree that people who knowingly and wilfully violate the 10 Commandments are in danger of mortal sin. However, is exactly the "question begging" that DTking doesn't like. The issue is, is that what is going on?

I will also agree that St. Augustine could be wrong, but then he could also be right.

The one thing I don't think it is fair to say about St. Augustine - or anyone who makes an argument based upon Augustine or that is consistent with Augustine - is that he is making an "ad hoc and imaginary argument."

In any event, I am hit or miss today. One of the cases I was working on was on Foxnews this morning.