Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Shortage of Reasons

How do I know the council of 754 was not ecumenical? How do I know 1 Clement is not scripture? Because the Spirit does not witness to His Church that it is so. You see, we can both talk about the witness of the Spirit, but when you talk about it, it's just your opinion. When I talk about it, it is the consensus of the people of God. What more do I need? That's 300 million times as good an authority as you have presented, which is 300 million orthodox Christians divided by one of you.

I can add other reasons, but it hardly ought be necessary:

1) There are no great iconoclastic fathers of the Church. I don't agree with your assessment that there is any lack of Fathers speaking for icons. Every Father speaking for icons, and without any objection in the Church until the 7th century, is an indication there was no controversy. Priests and bishops were reading Gregory of Nazianz, Basil, Meletius, Cyril, Chrysostom etc, and yet no controversy broke out to indicate any other opinion. Some might have suggested Origen, but he was already condemned a heretic centuries before for holding odd opinions that even protestants would find objectionable.

2) If they were right in 754 then the whole Church was in heresy from 787 until now. This is unacceptable. You may as well be a Mormon and say it was in heresy from the 1st century.

3) I say "until now", and not "until Luther", because the iconoclasts would be no friend of protestants. They were against all images. No protestant movies about Jesus. No cartoon figures in your Good News bible. No photography, no movies, no art. Nothing at all.

4) However they WERE in favour of veneration of other holy things. "The Iconoclasts venerated the Cross, and made no bones about it" (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974, p. 110). Again, no friends of protestants and the Church is STILL in heresy if they were right.

5) And they were in favour of seeking the intercession of the saints. They also anathematized all those who "shall not confess the holy ever-virgin Mary, truly and properly the Mother of God, to be higher than every creature whether visible or invisible, and does not with sincere faith seek her intercessions as one having confidence in her access to our God since she bare Him..." and they also anathematized anyone who "denies the profit of the invocation of the Saints..." (NPNF2, Vol. 14, p. 545f) If they were the true faith, where is the true church now?

6) The whole Church never accepted the council of 754. It was local to Byzantium. It did not include all the areas East which were now under Islam. Nor did it include the areas in the West and Latin areas. In fact it is instructive that the Church under the iconoclastic Islam was the staunch defender of icons.

7) Even in Byzantium, it was only an official policy, put in place by the Emperor. The common people, the monks and priests hid the icons and bided their time.

8) It was attended by no Patriarchs, who are representatives of the major jurisdictions of the Church. Not a single Patriarch, nor any of their representatives.

9) The whole iconoclast controversy in Byzantium started 3 years after Islam started an icon smashing exercise in Muslim controlled lands. It can't be a coincidence that iconoclasm in Christianity comes at the exact same time as a major heresy like Islam starts doing the same thing.

10) Everybody on both sides of the debate agrees that the council was a puppet of the Emperor. He apparently was either influenced by the Muslims or had some political motivation with regard to the Muslims.

11) The iconoclasts were heretics in other ways. They opposed monasticism, despite the fact that it had unquestionably been embraced by the Church since time immemorial. They were fond of robbing monks, taking their land, and forcing them to marry, eat meat, and attend public spectacles (and those who resisted often were the public spectacles).

12) Even Protestant historians are forced to concede that the holy men and women of the day were supporters of the veneration of Icons, and that the Iconoclasts were a rather immoral and ruthless lot.

"Much has been written, and truly written, of the superiority of the iconoclastic rulers; but when all has been said that can be, the fact still remains, that they were most of them but sorry Christians, and the justice of the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin's summing up of the matter will not be disputed by any impartial student. He says, "No one will deny that with rarest exceptions, all the religious earnestness, all which constituted the quickening power of a church, was ranged upon the other [i.e. the orthodox] side. Had the Iconoclasts triumphed, when their work showed itself at last in its true colours, it would have proved to be the triumph, not of faith in an invisible God, but of frivolous unbelief in an incarnate Saviour." (Trench. Mediaeval History, Chap. vii.) The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, trans H. R. Percival, in NPNF2, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, (repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955), XIV, p. 575, cf. 547f.

13) The iconoclasts, being opposed to all images without discernment, went against scripture's command to place images in the Temple.

14) The Quinisext council, which is understood by the Orthodox to be of the same authority as an ecumenical council, established a canon regarding what should be depicted in certain Icons, but hasn't the faintest hint of any controversy about Icons per se. Thus to give credence to the council of 754 would be to deny previous Tradition:

"In some of the paintings of the venerable Icons, a lamb is inscribed as being shown or pointed at by the Precursor's finger, which was taken to be a type of grace, suggesting beforehand through the law the true lamb to us Christ our God. Therefore, eagerly embracing the old types and shadows as symbols of the truth and preindications handed down to the Church, we prefer the grace, and accept it as the truth in fulfillment of the law. Since, therefore, that which is perfect even though it be but painted is imprinted in the faces of all, the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world Christ our God, with respect to His human character, we decree that henceforth he shall be inscribed even in the Icons instead of the ancient lamb: through Him being enabled to comprehend the reason for the humiliation of the God Logos, and in memory of His life in the flesh and of His passion and of His soterial death being led by the hand, as it were, and of the redemption of the world which thence accrues" (Canon LXXXII of the Quinisext Council).

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