Commandment #2 – Breaking into Imagery – 200th Post

I have thought about this (image of God thing) and now I propose something new to us all – do we want an image of God we can make in our image (ie: God as a human)? That’s the part I am looking at now – and I think the human race has always wanted this…but the fact remains – we serve a God that doesn’t. 

God’s 2nd commandment in Exodus 20 is about this very thing – not making images/idols to serve…does God include Himself in that idea? I mean, if we actually saw God – would He want statues erected in His honor? Or maybe a painting? Now you can see the human vices on this subject…we want an image (even a photo will do – or maybe a potato chip shaped just right). 

Jesus – if he is divine – does that very thing for Christians. We have a ‘human God’. Now we can draw pictures, statues, paintings, coloring books, etc. I do not think God would break commandment number 2 – as with number 1 – if Jesus is divine at all? 

Christians are human also – we want an image of the ‘invisible God’ (I quote Paul here). That’s Jesus! But wait, there is a problem here…now Jesus becomes all things once we know the image. Jesus is a biker for bikers. Jesus is skater for the skaters. By God being ‘imaged’ – we can also play with that image and make it into ‘anything humanly possible’. Just go and see how Jesus is used and held up in many Christian circles – made to represent whatever the church so much as chooses. You give God an image – you also have the rights to that ‘image’.

Is this a breaking of the 2nd commandment now?

You shall not make for yourself an idol/graven image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4)

Is God not into images about God? Can we break this commandment for the ‘One true God’? Jesus as a human God – well – isn’t that the imagery Christianity is using to make God into a whole whack of things? Why can’t we just admit we are looking at commandment #2 here in the 10 Christians use and see – ‘you know what…we have made an image of God…and it’s Jesus’. I do believe these are Jesus quotes also ‘No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:eighteen) and “Not that anyone has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

I am getting to the point of ‘why even have commandments if all we are doing is breaking them’?

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13 thoughts on “Commandment #2 – Breaking into Imagery – 200th Post

  1. I think the 2nd Commandment applies to images of Jesus as well. Look at the controversy stirred up – is He black? Is He white? I think one thing is certain – Jesus was born a middle eastern Jew, but it misses the point. We are to look at the Gospel at how He lived – not be so concerned about His physical attributes.

    I’ve known people who litterally made an image of “Christ” an idol. For instance thinking of say El Greco’s depictions of Christ while praying – a person says, “it helps me to think of that painting when I pray.” Who is being prayed to? Jesus or the depiction of Jesus?

  2. “Who is being prayed to? Jesus or the depiction of Jesus?” (Shane)

    There is some small debate about this subject that I have run into – whether pictures and stuff of that nature are worth having. One person I blogged with rather liked the idea of more iconic stuff – can’t say I disagree all that much…then again we ae talking humans here and not God (and anyone can draw that which they can see – or even take a photo of it).

    The Jesus thing becomes an issue when someone see’s the pic as the idol – or the cross around their neck – or even the altar call as the ‘place to go’. These things serve their purpose for moments of time – and are not to be one’s trust (being things and places and all). God is everywhere – and no cross symbol, picture, or certain ground can hold Him (now that’s a box!).

    For me, the debate goes even further – into the human wants a God they can ‘see’ …humans want a human God. This is where the debate with Jesus gets very interesting – was he God? If so, he was a ‘human God’ – the ‘God that was seen’. Now we have an image of God indelibly burnt into our minds – of God as a human person…there is no escaping that fact.

    I contend but the messianic person God ‘sent’ – now again in God’s court. We have not ‘seen God’ as it were – but met with someone that has.

  3. Jason— Now we have an image of God indelibly burnt into our minds of God as a human person…there is no escaping that fact.

    Yes, taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness.

    I think you’re confusing icon with idol. Icons can help as reminders of Christ’s sacrifice during worship (ask a Catholic). Idols ARE worshipped. Regards.

  4. “I think you’re confusing icon with idol” (Jim)

    Actually – not really – Shane brought that point up about ‘icons’ and ‘idols’…I did add to it mind you.

    “Yes, taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness” (Jim)

    So you think God is a human? I mean, that’s the thng I am looking at – humans developing a human God – for their own sake (mainly for identification). But in the regards also, we now can define God in human terms also and make God like ‘us’.

    However, I know the counter arguement to this – what if this was God’s choice to do (to make Himself human)? Then God breaks His own commandment in my opinion – because He becomes a human (an image – defineable).

    The problem theologically is even worse to be honest – we lose the mystery of God – and He becomes overly defineable. We develop an image of God (usually in our minds) about who, what, and how God is. We can be fairly astute in our claims because – well…God is now a human (we can truly identify with that).

    But that’s where I struggle with the concept of Jesus being God – it’s too much like ‘God created in our image’ and not the Adamic verse of ‘created in God’s image’. A human God is human in concept…we don’t know how God looks – and thus we can only rely on the idea ‘we are created in God’s image”…and ask ‘how’? There is an element of mystery to be figured out there – cause with certainty comes problems.

    I see in most Christian circles this certainty about God and everything that can be imagined about Him – you would think Christians have it all figured out with the manner and rule in which they discuss God. That’s too damn certain! That’s where we start seeing people speak ‘in God’s name’ and authorizing ideas which can be anti-biblical in nature because ‘they have cornered the market on God’.

    And that all starts with a human ‘image’ placed on the Divine. .

  5. I see in most Christian circles this certainty about God and everything that can be imagined about Him

    Are you sure you’re not producing your own stereotype. There is much that we cannot say for sure as Christians.

    Now Jesus is the Son. He is not the Father. The Father is Spirit and the reason we shouldn’t make graven images of Him is that He doesn’t “look like” anything we could carve. And invariably when we produce a thing that supposedly represents or resembles Him, we are thrusting our projection on Him. God is the great “I AM” (Ex. 3:14). He’s the motherboard so to speak, not some provincial god that idolatry makes Him out to be.

    Idolatry is a problem of the heart most of all. You seem to be trying to make it out as something legalistic contradictiont and applying it to the humanity of Jesus. Christ came to draw people to the Father and billions have followed. Perhaps you should focus on why people believe in Him before throwing Him under the bus.;-)
    I did a redemptive history quick-study for my class the other day here. You’d need to look up the verses, they are only loosely described. Take care.

  6. **If so, he was a ‘human God’ – the ‘God that was seen’. Now we have an image of God indelibly burnt into our minds – of God as a human person…there is no escaping that fact. **

    I think this can even go one step further — and I’m thinking “out loud” here, so please bear with me. Romans 1 also ties into this idea, of the splendor of God is exchanged for an image shaped like a mortal man, or animals, and that the people revere and worship created things, rather than the Creator.

    That might be one of the concerns I have with any sort of image of Jesus, if we go the route that Jesus is also God. The image of Jesus involves a mortal man. It involves the flesh element, the human element. It also involves a created element, because the Word became flesh at a certain point at time. That flesh aspect had to be created by God. Does that fall under the created vs. Creator aspect, in terms of things to not revere and worship? Because isn’t part of the reverence/worship involving a mortal man?

    So any image we have of Jesus has to involve some sort of physical aspect, which then gets into the created aspect.

  7. “Are you sure you’re not producing your own stereotype” (Jim)

    Stereotype – maybe – generalization – likely. But this is fairly common in Christian circles – this idea of having ‘it all figured out’ (from salvation plan to atonement to second coming). I find there is an ‘air of absolute certainty’ in the theologies even bantered about on the Net (namely in the reform and orthodox camps). And that’s alright, in a way, but let’s at least admit we ‘figured God out”.

    “Now Jesus is the Son. He is not the Father” (Jim)

    The ‘son of God’ is not the One God then? Listen to your words there Jim – speak them aloud even – you will see you are seperating God into 2 seperate personages (son and Father). This is common gospel speak also – I could of very well lifted your sentence from Paul or John (very similar to John’s stuff). But you are putting a difference between the Father and the Son also – you cannot believe that God is ‘One’ anymore; Jesus makes it at least ‘2’. Unless the ‘son of God’ is not God.

    “The Father is Spirit and the reason we shouldn’t make graven images of Him is that He doesn’t “look like” anything we could carve” (Jim)

    But He does look like something we can ‘birth’…if Jesus is God and ‘human’ (that would be us). ‘Now no man has seen the Father’ – true – but the fact it’s Jesus saying this – he is testifying to not being God (God is someone he has seen and represents). Jesus makes a clear distinction from himself and God (Our/His Father).

    “Christ came to draw people to the Father and billions have followed. Perhaps you should focus on why people believe in Him before throwing Him under the bus” (Jim)

    Agreed – many are in the process of ‘following’. Billions have also ‘trod the path’. I am one of those people also – I am not ‘throwing Jesus under the bus’…but mainstream doctrinal codes – yes they are already under there.

    But Yael showed me something from Torah that fits right here “‘that a large number is no argument in a matter of religion, and my Torah also tells me ‘You shall not go after the multitude to do evil,’” (Leviticus Rabbah).

    This was used in regards to Monotheism and keeping that belief – when asked by someone from another faith to become like him (his views). Just because a multitude believe something to be true does not make it so – not in true faith circles (those who proclaim they are seeking the truth).

    Jesus is called the ‘son of God’ and is most assuredly seperate from ‘God the Father’ – even the gospels and writings attest to this time in and time out – and is also attested in one sentence I quoted from you. How can 2 seperate personages be Mono-theism (One God)? One of the beings is subject to other also within the God-head – and this is also perplexing. Jesus is ‘sent’ – ‘given authority’ – ‘prays’ – ‘does nothing on his own’, etc.

    I claim Jesus is part of the inner circle of the Court of God – as messiah and ‘son of God’ – but he cannot be God – this is a break away from Monotheism (commandment 1) and imagery for humanity (#2).

    Now I don’t care what the multitudes say – I would like to know your personal answer on some of this?

    ***I admit I could be going a little far with the 2nd commandment and imagery – maybe so – but it is rather convenient to have a ‘human God’ – and helps us develop a God in ‘our image’ (in many ways).

  8. “That flesh aspect had to be created by God. Does that fall under the created vs. Creator aspect, in terms of things to not revere and worship? Because isn’t part of the reverence/worship involving a mortal man?” (OSS)

    Interesting – but then we have to avow that God raises Jesus to a high position in that court of God – Paul calls him a ‘mediator’ – and the most often symbology used is ‘at the right hand of the Father’ (has God’s ear; judgement position). So even if Jesus is created by God He is raised to some special authority at God’s personal request.

    For me, this solves the problem of a created being being revered on some level – for he is ‘worthy of that acclamation’ (due to his actions and God’s stamp of approval on what he has done). But it’s not something Jesus grants himself – but is granted by God the Father – and this legitimizes the process. Just like how we are praised for years of service for a business – we earn that honor – and we may not like praise/worship/adoration (these words are similar) about us – but others see fit to acknowledge what we have done.

    To be honest, worship and Jesus appear very little together in the scriptures (just thought I’d note that here) – the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is quite interesting “Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘ YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'” (Luke 4:eight). Jesus must be referring to God here and not himself as God at all.

    I would ask we check into the terms of what ‘worship’ means in the greek – namely in the gospels – I have an inkling it can be translated a few ways and ‘worship’ encapsulates the majority of what is being said in Greek – but we see it ‘worship’ as something like ‘bowing to…or praising’…maybe the meaning can be fleshed out more.

  9. i love it! agree with you 100%. ppl try to reconstruct jesus.. but we have NO idea what a first century palestinian would look like. that area was a cross roads.. we have red-headed persians, blond babylonians, and black assyrians. how then are we to guess at a composite image of jesus?

    as for icons… icons are supposed to be looked ‘through’ in the eastern tradition as opposed to looked ‘at’ in the roman catholic tradition. i side with the easterns here, if i must pick an orthodoxy. these are not images to be worship but something to think through into the divine, they are portals, window frames.

    we chrsitians are guilty of idolatry. we are worshipping the messenger and not the message. i don’t know if jesus was divine or not, but the message sure was. that’s what i’ll follow, as not even the gospels agree on his divinity.

  10. Good question (breaking the 2nd commandment) … and again, does that give us another reason to question Jesus’ divinity? Although we don’t really have an “image” — just an artist rendition, right? But you raise good questions … if God is the “unseen,” why would Jesus be sent to give us a “seen” God? Did that “change the rules?” And if it did, what about when Jesus himself said he came not to change one “jot or tiddle” of the law? Wow SVS … you raise a lot more questions (again).

  11. Society,

    **So even if Jesus is created by God He is raised to some special authority at God’s personal request. **

    This may be going into the different ideas of revere — I was going more along the lines of revering Jesus as God. But reverence can be towards many sorts of people, depending on their position. Jesus can be revered as a great teacher, or the Messiah, or the Son of God, but it’s a different type of reverence.

    **I would ask we check into the terms of what ‘worship’ means in the greek – namely in the gospels – I have an inkling it can be translated a few ways and ‘worship’ encapsulates the majority of what is being said in Greek**

    I forgot what post it was, but I did get into a discussion on this with Pam in one of your prior posts, about how the Greek word for worship literally meant to bow down, and it was used against people who were not God. One also “worshipped” those in a higher authority. The word itself did not signify a worship meant only for God. The type of worship was determined by the one receiving it. To me, simply because the Greek word for worship/bow down is used on Jesus does not mean that Jesus is God. What it does mean is that Jesus is in a position of very high authority.

  12. shane— Matt and Mark: christ means annointed one. Son of God is still human. in the roman empire Julius Ceasar himself was called the annointed son of God savior of the empire. yet we forget this context and look through John and automatically assume divinity. The Gospel of Matthew does not use this language, John does. Jesus here is speaking out against the institution of the Temple and uses roman language to answer back.

    Son of Man, Son of God is not a divine statement. It is a human chosen by God. Only John takes it to the next level to say that jesus is infact God.

    lord and savior does not infer divinity. only john takes that last step. messiah in jewish tradition is a man… a holy man, but a man whom God ordains, commisions, and empowers.

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