Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vincent’s Canon Contradicts The Seventh Ecumenical Council

One of Orthodox’s tangential comments in a previous post was rather interesting. Orthodox wrote: “He didn't even bother to point to the icon-venerating saint-praying Athanasius as the first witness to the complete NT canon.” This is interesting to us because we consider such charges against Athanasius to be slander.

Indeed, far from being an icon-venerating saint-prayer, Athanasius mentioned prayers to Jesus as proof of Jesus’ divinity (“No one, for instance, would pray to receive from God and the Angels, or from any other creature, nor would any one say, ‘May God and the Angel give thee;’ but from Father and the Son, because of Their oneness and the oneness of Their giving.” “Against the Arians,” Discourse III) and recalls redirection of prayers from living saints to God (“Martinian, a military officer, came and disturbed Antony. For he had a daughter afflicted with an evil spirit. But when he continued for a long while knocking at the door, and asking him to come out and pray to God for his child, Antony, not bearing to open, looked out from above and said, ‘Man, why dost thou call on me? I also am a man even as you. But if you believe on Christ whom I serve, go, and according as you believe, pray to God, and it shall come to pass.’” “Life of Anthony”).

Likewise, Athanasius condemns the use of images in worship (“How then can they fail to be judged godless by all, who even by the divine Scripture are accused of impiety? or how can they be anything but miserable, who are thus openly convicted of worshipping dead things instead of the truth? or what kind of hope have they? or what kind of excuse could be made for them, trusting in things without sense or movement, which they reverence in place of the true God?” “Against the Heathen,” Part I) (“Hence, weighted with all fleshly desire, and distracted among the impressions of these things, she imagines that the God Whom her understanding has forgotten is to be found in bodily and sensible things, giving to things seen the name of God, and glorifying only those things which she desires and which are pleasant to her eyes.” Against the Heathen, Part I)

But in all the writings of Athanasius one cannot find reference to the daily practice of the modern “Orthodox” church of offering prayers to saints and the making and worshipping of icons purporting to be of Christ. Tertullian in his “Against Idolatry,” compares makers of religious imagery and accoutrement thereof that their skills should be applied to something else.
Religious image makers he tells must use there hands for another category of employment, while those who make accoutrement are suggested to make secular use of their gilding skills.

Fortunately, “Orthodox” may have provided us with a way to solve this enigma. “Orthodox” wrote: “Whether Francis likes my theory of tradition, or doesn't like it, at least I have it as a structure that supports why I believe what I believe.” “Orthodox” identified that structure as: “universality, antiquity, and consent.”

“Orthodox” applied that structure by stating: “The teaching of universality clearly fails because at the time of the schism, the larger part of Christendom, being the Byzantine part, rejected even the lessor papal claims of that time. It fails antiquity because we cannot find the early church teaching it. It fails consent, because it does not gain acceptance from any majority of the ancient fathers.”

So, with that rather lengthy windup, and to clear Athanasius’ good name from necromancy and idolatry, let us ask Orthodox to justify the current infamous practice in “Orthodoxy” of making images purporting to be representations of God (specifically those of Christ, the Son of God).

Specifically, please:

  • State whether Roman Catholics and Protestants are to be considered in assessing whether the practice has universal acceptance in Christianity, and if so, then whether the minority of Icon-rejecting Christians matter.
  • Document the antiquity of the practice.
  • Identify the alleged majority of ancient fathers in support of the practice.
In other words, how does making and using in worship an icon of Christ qualify as "tradition" according to Vincent?

- Turretinfan

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