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.