1

I am orthodox christian and on my walls I have icons of Jesus and Saints. But theese days I thought of the stature Christ the Redeemer from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and I remembered some words from a book about prophet Elijah. Those aren't the words of Elijah from the Bible, but they refer to the ministry of Elijah: "They(Phoenicians and Corrupted Israelits) take a stone and chisel it in the form of a god, but at the end of the day it is just a rock. It has a mouth, but doesn't speak, it has eyes, but can't see. Those are the idols they prefer over the invisible allmightly God". This is not the exact quote from that book, because I read it in my language and I tried to translate the quote.

Now I accept answers from both traditional and reformed christians who accept/deny icons and statues. My question is if you think that Christ the Reedemer is an idol, a stone with face as described by Elijah(in the book I read, not in the Bible) what are your arguments, or if you believe statues and icons aren't idols and are an accepted form of worshipping God and what are your arguments.

2
  • 3
    Jesus is the expressed image of the invisible God. That image was expressed within humanity but not necessarily by physicality. Since we don't know what Jesus actually looked like apart from his humanity, statues and paintings are rather pointless. Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 11:59
  • The question is too broad. Scope it toward a particular group then ask a separate question for the opposite pov
    – 007
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 13:03

1 Answer 1

3

I couldn't find in the Bible the words of Elijah that were paraphrased in that book about him. Someone else may find them and quote them from the Bible. However, the prophet Isaiah wrote many warnings to God's chosen people in his day, warning of God's utter condemnation of idols, and idolaters, e.g.:

"Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; ...Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made; and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself [bows down]: therefore forgive them not. Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty... And the idols he shall utterly abolish... In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." Isaiah 2:7-21 A.V.

Now, that warning is not restricted to Old Testament times, for it links in to the future prophecies in the book of the Revelation. Read ch. 6 vss. 15-19. That is yet to happen, so the principle applies at all times, to all peoples. Isaiah gives God's warnings many time, also here:

"They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: and they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble." Isaiah 46:1-7

Nor does it matter what material is used to make such idols. Concrete was not known to the Old Testament peoples. But elsewhere wood is ridiculed by Isaiah as another material, for part of the wood is used to make a fire, and the rest is carved into an idol, a god, a graven image to whom the person prays, expecting deliverance for so doing (Isaiah 44:13-17). Stone is also a material that idolaters use to make images of that in which they trust to be saved. The prophet Ezekiel also warned of setting up an idol in one's heart - see Ezekiel 14:3-8. In case anyone objects that these are not images of God (who forbids any attempt at making a likeness of himself), they are God to their worshippers; they put those idols before (or, in place of, or equal to) the one, true God.

So comes the point about making any likeness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is God incarnate in mainstream Christianity. No photographs could be taken of him while he was on Earth, so all paintings and images and icons are but artistic impressions. Significantly, the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah says that there was nothing about Messiah's appearance that would attract people to him:

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." Isaiah 53:2 A.V.

That, in itself, shows up the folly of artistic impressions of Jesus Christ. As for monuments made, to be looked up to as representing Christ, that invites idolatry, for one can hold that image in one's heart as something to be appealed to, to deliver or comfort. That would be idolatry. Nor is it sufficient to try to distinguish between idolatry as worship, and a secondary kind of 'respect' that is not worship. Going by what the Bible says, worshippers of the only true God would want to keep as far away from risking idolatry, rather than see how close they can get to it without actually 'crossing the line'. I am one from the Reformed tradition, who considers all icons and images to be unacceptable to God.

3
  • You will not find the words of Elijah which I quoted in the Bible because it is from a Book called "The Life and Acatist of Prophet Elijah". There are facts and quotes from prophet Elijah that are not found in the Bible in this form. Since the Bible is the ultimate evidence of the life of Elijah, the quotes I found in this book aren't 100% biblical accurate because they've added quotes and facts not found in the Bible. However they kept the idea and the message of the biblical Elijah. It is just another formulation of the words of Elijah in the Bible.
    – MikeyJY
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 12:58
  • 2
    @Bogdan - Got that. Nice to know, however, that whatever Elijah said about idols would agree totally with what all the other prophets of God had written down in the Bible.
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 13:00
  • 2
    Regarding the answer, let me congratulate you for your answer. Even if I tend to disagree with you I requested answers on both sides. I wanted arguments both pros and cons for icons and statues. I might not share your opinion about that, but your answer is clear and well-structured
    – MikeyJY
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 13:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .