Danny Hyde has written an excellent little book on the second commandment. Ministers commonly take exceptions to the standards with regard to the second commandment, and this little book should give everyone pause who does so. It is a very helpful, clear, and concise laying out of the arguments why the confessions are correct to prohibit all images of Christ.
Probably the most helpful thing about this book is its conscious focus on the means of grace. Preaching and the Sacraments actually receive half of the entire book. The reason this is important is that Rev. Hyde wants to scratch where we really itch. The desire to have images comes from a desire to have grace given to us. Therefore, it is necessary to prove that the means of grace that we actually have are indeed sufficient. The timeliness of the book can hardly be greater, as many Reformed folk are asking questions about this issue. Furthermore, this is not an unimportant issue, since we are asking the question about the correct interpretation of God’s law.
Rev. Hyde notes (with Neil Postman) that our culture has gone visual (p. 41). This already makes the confessional position difficult for modern man. After expositing this aspect of culture, Rev. Hyde goes to scripture (the second commandment itself, Deuteronomy 4, Psalm 115, Isaiah 40, 46, Jeremiah 10, and, most importantly, Acts 17). The argument from Acts 17 is not only an open and shut case, but it is surprising how few people seem to make the connection. Here is the relevant passage (Acts 17:29): “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” The context of this statement is so important, and it leads me to my one minor criticism (an easily fixable thing in a second edition): Rev. Hyde has omitted one key argument against images of God. In the context of Acts 17, there is a reason why we should not make any images of God. That reason is that we are to BE the image of God. Notice the beginning of verse 29: “being His offspring.” The reason we ought to know that God cannot be imaged in stone or gold or silver is that God has already made images of Himself: us, His offspring! I was longing for Rev. Hyde to make this point in his book, and I never saw it. Nevertheless, this is a small criticism, since I agreed with everything he actually did write. He certainly connects Acts 17 with the arguments that Jeff Meyers (among others) have used in favor of making images of Christ for artistic and educational purposes. I believe that the passage quite effectively dismantles Meyers’s position.
I would also recommend his chapters on preaching and the sacraments, which are both outstanding, and show why it is that those means of grace are sufficient for us. In short, this book is well worth the read for anyone who takes the exception as a biblical, exegetical, and confessional challenge to that exception, and also for those who are examining the argument one way or the other. Tolle lege! For your information, Rev. Hyde has done a video interview about his book here.