Monday, May 31, 2010

Immorality involved in taking a Photo of Jesus? (Part 9)

The fourth objection to the abrogation of images of Jesus position is that if cameras existed at the time in which Jesus became incarnate then we would take photographs of Jesus and this would not be immoral, therefore, pictures from cameras are not wrong1. If this is true, so the argument goes, then it follows that any image of Jesus are not wrong because there is something that is not fully captured when you take a picture or video tape something. This is evident by the fact that meeting someone is a fundamentally different experience than seeing a video or a picture of them. So if it is morally permissible to have video recordings and pictures of Jesus which do not fully and accurately represent him then it logically follows that it will also be morally permissible to have other images of Jesus. However, if my five arguments that I have given carry sufficient epistemic weight then this argument begs the question because it simply assumes that it is not wrong to take a photo of Jesus from a camera. After all, unless there is a sufficient reason to doubt my arguments then it follows that if we had cameras at the time of Jesus then we ought not to take pictures of Jesus.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Abrogating Jesus Pictures Leads to Docetism? (Part 8)

The third argument against my position is that if we abrogate images of Jesus then this will lead to or promote docetism . Docetism is the heresy that says that Jesus never assumed a physical human nature but rather he only appeared to . It is hard to see how having or not having pictures of Jesus will promote docetism. After all, the docetic heresy proponent could affirm pictures of Jesus and they could claim that the pictures of Jesus are as he appeared to everyone, but it was only an illusion. So since a docetic and an orthodox theologian could both affirm pictures of Jesus it is hard to see how having or not having pictures of Jesus could lead to either position exclusively. Moreover, I do not see how a position can lead to docetism when there is nothing about that position which entails such a belief especially when a position clearly rejects a docetic perspective. Furthermore, if this argument were valid and sound then it would prove too much because it would entail that the incarnation and scripture jointly are not sufficient to guard against heresy . This argument implicitly attacks the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture which is clearly taught in the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Hence, we have good reason to doubt that the abrogation of images of Jesus position will lead to docetism.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Disciples had Images of Jesus (Part 7)

The second argument against the abrogation of Jesus images position is that the disciples saw Jesus which entails that there were images of Jesus on their retinas and their minds, therefore, pictures of Jesus are legitimate . This objection relies on a mischaracterization of my position. My position has never been that seeing and having mental images of Jesus after having a direct encounter with the incarnate Christ when he was on this earth is wrong. Rather my position is that it is only wrong to have mental pictures of Christ in this post apostolic era when Jesus is no longer on this earth visibly in his human nature. The Bible teaches that all the disciples saw the incarnate Christ and they dwelled on their past experiences with him, but the manner in which they communicated the incarnation to those who did not see Jesus was through verbal and written communication. Hence, this argument is ineffective against my position because it attacks a premise which my position does not hold, namely, that it was wrong for the Apostles to see and have mental images of Jesus.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bible and Mental Images of Jesus (Part 6)

One argument advanced by Professor John Frame is that when most people read certain parts of the Bible it is “psychologically impossible” not to form mental images of Jesus . Frame offers no evidence that it is “psychologically impossible” not to form mental images of Jesus when reading about him . Because Frame offers no evidence for this assertion then this cannot act as defeater against my position on the abrogation of images of Jesus. In fact there is some reason to doubt that it is “psychologically impossible” not to form mental images, namely, the existence of people who have been entirely blind all their lives . But even if we were to suppose that Frame were right in saying that it is “psychologically impossible” not to form mental images of Jesus when reading the Bible this still is not a reason to doubt the abrogation of Jesus pictures position. It is impossible in our present sinful state to follow the law of God perfectly (Rom. 3:10-20) but that does not negate the fact that I am morally obligated to follow the Law of God perfectly (Matt. 5:48). I would go so far as to say that most people do form mental images of Jesus when reading the text, but just because a person is inclined (perhaps inevitably) to do x does not mean that a person is not morally obligated to refrain from doing x. Furthermore, this is not surprising that this is the case because as John Calvin taught that fallen mankind is a perpetual factory of idols (Rom. 1:22-25) . There is no theological problem then with attributing the disposition to form mental images when reading about Jesus as a product of our sinful fallen condition . Hence, it is hard to see how Frame’s assertion that it is “psychologically impossible” to form pictures of Jesus when reading the Bible is to be thought of as a defeater against the abrogation of Jesus images position.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Incarnation by Proclaimation and Scripture (Part 5)

The last argument in favor of the abrogation of images of Jesus position is that the word of God teaches that the way we are to communicate the doctrine of the incarnation is by verbal and written communication. John 1:1-3 teaches that the way the Apostles, who had a first hand experience of the incarnate Christ, communicate this truth to subsequent believers was by proclamation and writing . Peter says that we have something more sure than his own experience of the incarnation namely the prophetic word which teaches us about the incarnation (2 Peter 1:17-20) . According to Paul, who had seen the risen Christ, the primary way we are to communicate Christ and the Gospel message is not by pictures but rather by preaching (Rom. 10:14-18) . The Apostles, who had seen Jesus and who were inspired by God, proclaimed and wrote about the incarnation to the church. If that was true at that time in redemptive history then it should be all the more evident to us who have not even seen the incarnate Christ. Therefore, the way God ordained us to communicate the incarnation at this time in redemptive history is not through pictures, but through reading, writing, and preaching the word of God.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pictures of Jesus Can Cause Spiritual Harm (Part 4)

The fourth argument against pictures of Jesus is that there is an inclination after seeing any image of Jesus to associate them with God during worship, prayer, and reading scripture in our personal devotion time. This is an inclination in our visually oriented culture and in the fact that we are all sinners have tendencies toward idolatry. The obvious problem is that if we associate a mental image of Jesus with God we are in direct violation of the second commandment. In my own personal experience this has been a problem, so for myself I know pictures of Jesus are wrong because I tend toward idolatry when I pray to God after seeing them. There are many others who I have met who have also struggled with this same issue. Even if someone does not struggle with this issue personally, this argument by itself is still sufficient in showing that a person ought not to make, have, and endorse pictures of Jesus. After all if you make or have a picture there is a good chance a visually oriented person will see it and thus struggle with associating that picture of Jesus with the invisible God. If someone endorses a picture of Jesus then he or she is giving positive acknowledgment to an object that might cause many people to stumble. Because images of Jesus lead people to breaking the second commandment we ought not to make, have, or endorse them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Images of Jesus are in Violation of Sola Scriptura (Part 3)

The third argument is that images of Jesus are a clear violation of the biblical teaching of sola scriptura . Sola Scriptura is the Protestant doctrine that scripture alone is the only infallible authority for faith and practice . This principle is taught in 1 Corinthians 4:6 when Paul says “that you may learn by us the saying not to go beyond what is written”. The Greek word for “written” here is gegraptai and every time gegraptai is used in the Pauline epistles it always means the Old Testament scripture . Hence, this verse establishes the principle that whatever scripture we have we are not to go beyond it with respect to faith and practice. Clearly then things involving images of Jesus Christ is something concerning faith and practice. The problem is that there is nothing in scripture that suggests that we ought to believe that it is morally permissible to make pictures of Jesus. The burden of proof is on those who believe it is morally permissible to make, have, or endorse images of Jesus because they have to show where it teaches in scripture that people ought to believe such a practice is morally permissible. After all, if we allow pictures of Jesus into our faith and practice then how is this any different from allowing such theological belief’s as Mary Ascending into heaven before she died. It is hard to see how a belief about Mary Ascending into heaven is anymore warranted than a belief that pictures of Jesus are permissible to make, have, or endorse. Hence, if one wants to have a more consistently biblical Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura then they ought not to believe that it is morally permissible to hold to the pictures of Jesus position.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Misrepresentation And Pictures Of Jesus (Part 2)

The second argument in favor of the abrogation of images of Jesus is that pictures of Jesus misrepresent and distort Jesus’ unique divine Revelation and glory . The reason why pictures of Jesus ought to be accurate is because Jesus in his human nature is the unique glory and revelation of the divine invisible God (John 1:14, 18; 14:9; Col. 2:9). Furthermore, it is sinful if a person makes a picture of Jesus that is not intended to be accurate because this person is purposely distorting the unique manifestation of glory and revelation of the incarnate son of God. For this reason we cannot accurately represent his unique revelation and glory in images. If someone were to make a picture of Abraham Lincoln in an inaccurate way for the sake of artistic beauty then that seems morally permissible for the sake of artistic beauty. Abraham Lincoln, however, is not the unique revelation of God manifested in human flesh. Therefore, it is morally permissible to misrepresent Abraham Lincoln for the sake of artistic beauty, but it is sinful to purposely misrepresent the unique revelation and glory of the son of God for the sake of artistic beauty. This point has to be made because some advocates for allowing pictures of Jesus modify their position to only allow unclear or less accurate non-portraits of Jesus . However, given our place in redemptive history there is no present way in which we could accurately depict Jesus through visual images. The way Jesus acted in every respect displayed the unique glory and revelation of God through the instrument of a fully human nature (Matt. 7:29). Furthermore, Jesus was morally perfect in every action, thought, and non-verbal expression that he did (Heb. 4:15). In short, Jesus’ full human nature was a revelation of the invisible divine nature (Col. 2:9). But no image can with sufficient accuracy depict Jesus’ actual expressions and the way he came off as God’s unique revelation and glory. All we can do with pictures is guess what an average Jewish male would look like and depict it to the best of our ability. Hence, because we do not know the precise way in which Jesus expressed himself and came off to others then when we make images of Jesus we are distorting the unique revelation and glory of the Son of God.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is It Unethical To Have Pictures Of Jesus? (Part 1)

This is part one of a ten-part series in which I shall argue for the position that, in our present position in redemptive history, we ought not to make, have, or endorse any picture or image of Jesus Christ (I will refer to this position as “The abrogation of images of Jesus" position). When I qualify this position with “in our present position in redemptive history” I am not suggesting that it was morally permissible to make, have, or endorse pictures of Jesus during his earthly ministry. Rather I make this precise qualification in order to reject the notion that it was wrong for those who had first hand experience of Jesus to form mental images of him.

I will begin by giving five arguments in favor of the position, followed by 5 arguments against my position with some possible responses. Only on the last post will I provide full bibliographical details. Here is the first argument in favor of thinking that it is unethical to have pictures of Jesus:

Argument 1: Ethical dilemma of Pictures of Jesus

The first argument for thinking that the abrogation of images of Jesus position is true is the immoral ethical dilemma that the person is put in when he encounters an image of Jesus. If someone were trying to create an image of Jesus with the intention of making it an accurate depiction of what Jesus actually looked like then when a person is confronted with that picture he has two options: 1) he can either bow down, and worship it, or 2) he can treat it as any other image that lacks religious significance . 1 is clearly unacceptable because it is a violation of the second commandment (Exo. 20:5) . However, 2 is also unacceptable because it treats the image, which is intended to accurately portray Jesus, as a common object. It is wrong to treat a representation with the intention of accuracy of the person of Christ as common because the person of Christ was not common, but rather he was the unique human expression and revelation of God (John 1:14, 18; Col. 2:9). We would treat the propositions conveyed by God as having more unique value than those propositions that are merely conveyed by man, if this is true of propositions it would also be true with respect to visual imagery and expressions. Hence, we ought not to have pictures of Jesus because we are forced to treat the unique revelation of God through human flesh as any other common picture.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More on Why no Rational Person Should Believe in Fairytales...

For my staunch atheistic naturalist friends, especially the couple who responded to my previous article on science and theism, here are some sad facts for you of the current day mentality towards evolution that show the opposite of atheistic claims of the popularity of evolution today. It should be properly basic and thus intuitive that when an individual has to lie to defend an ideology, that ideology has either not withstood the test of truth or that person hasn't fully apprehended the depth of his worldview.
Furthermore, for anyone interested, the facts, many of which I only referenced in my previous article, are dealt with more fully and further information about the secrets evolutionists do not want the public to know are shown and cited.