Another son of God movie

Why I’m NOT Seeing the Movie Son Of God

by Reed DePace

Yeah, expect some will disagree with this. Follow this argument with me:

  • Is Jesus God?
  • If you say “yes”, does the 2nd Commandment (Ex 20:4) apply to Jesus?
  • If you say, “yes”, nuff said – you better not go see the movie.

If you say, ‘yeah but” … A common objection to my argument is the idea that the context of the 2nd commandment is about images of God for purposes of worship. I.e., as long as the image made is not for worship (e.g., teaching), its ok. Well, let’s follow that argument:

  • What is the only proper, biblical response to God?
  • Worship (Dt 10:12; Ps 99; Mt 22:37)
  • If Jesus is God (Joh 1:1-5),
  • Then what is the only proper, the biblical response to Him?
  • Uh, worship.

Think about the response on the Mt of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1, ff.) – worship. Think about John’s response on Patmos Island (Rev 1:17) – worship. Think about the response of Doubting Thomas (Jh 20:28) – worship. Think about what Paul says is the proper response to Jesus in light of His great salvation (Rom 12:1)– worship. It is only when folks DO NOT recognize Jesus as God that they give a wrong response (Mt 4:9; 11:31; Mk 6:51; Jh 12:37) – NOT worship.

Think about the response of the 24 elders in heaven, responding to Jesus (Rev 5:8-14) – they worship the ascended, enthroned Jesus. Who are they attempting to picture in the movie Son of God? The ascended, enthroned Jesus!

Even the producers of the movie hope for a worship response to their portrayal of Jesus:

Mark Burnett: “The disciples, they don’t know they’re in the Bible. They’re following their charismatic leader. They later realize it’s the son of God. It’s God on earth. So they fall in love.” (I.e., they worship!)

Roma Downey: [In seeing the movie] “And you get an opportunity to fall in love with him [Jesus], I think. You understand who he is and what he was doing and that he came and did that for us. I think it’s very humbling.” (I.e., worship!)

(http://www.aintitcool.com/node/66327)

Respectfully, I’d ask those who allow themselves this exception, “Images of Jesus for non-worship purposes are not violations of the 2nd Commandment” to re-think their understanding of their relationship with Jesus. Do you really think that even once in the New Heavens/New Earth you will ever respond to Jesus with something less than worship? “Yo! Jesus Dude, hey Baby, how’s it, er, oops, sorry God.”

Do you think there is some exception in the Already/Not-Yet of our present relationship with Jesus? When you preach, teach or witness to people, do you want them to think of Jesus as anything less than God to whom they owe all the love of their heart-soul-mind-strength? I.e., do you want them to not worship Him?

So, no, I’m not going to see this movie. But I don’t think this is not a matter of mere private conviction. I am very concerned that I live amidst a Church in America that thinks so little of the 2nd Commandment that the argument I just made is not even worthy of consideration. “Legalism!” and with a sweeping gesture, the issue is ignored.

In recent preparation for a sermon on Jeroboam II I ran across a comment (can’t find where now) in which the person observed that the reason this king, great in many ways, was still considered evil, was because he followed his namesake in violating the 2nd Commandment (2Ki 14:24). Why is that so bad? Why is it wrong to image God? Because if you get the image of God wrong, you get your understanding of God wrong. If you don’t understand God, who He is, His nature, there is no hope. Remember, true wisdom begins in fear of the Lord. (Pro 1:7) Getting God’s image right requires submission to His own self-description. Nothing is more foundational to this than His command – don’t image God!

I.O.W., blowing the 2nd Commandment results in worshiping God according to your own understanding. Need we be reminded that left to ourselves we worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator? (Rom 1:25, read the context!)

  • So, if Jesus’ self-description is that He is God (Joh 10:58-59), and
  • The only proper response to God is worship (Ps 99; Rom 12:1), and
  • God judges getting His image wrong as an evil worthy of His highest condemnation (Rom 1:18-32),

What might we expect to see in a Church that willy-nilly ignores Jesus at this point of command?

The Church in America is already experiencing the discipline of generations of getting the gospel wrong (the essence of Jesus’ self-description). Could it be that one factor in the Church’s failure is her eagerness to support portraying Jesus on film? Since the first movie went on the reel, one estimate is that there have been over 1,000 movies made about Jesus (IMDB listing, top 30). Over a dozen actors have portrayed Jesus. If putting Jesus on film is so valuable, such a great tool for the Church, why is the Church in America so sick?

Numerous “leading” pastors are actively supporting this movie, seeing it as a great tool for the support of the Jesus they preach and teach (bit.ly/Pastors4SofGmovie). Among them is a man who denies the Trinity. Another teaches the prosperity-gospel heresy. Others are hardly stalwarts in proclaiming the Jesus imaged in the Bible.

Seriously, this is going to be another Passion of the Christ (2004). That movie was so great that a wave of remorse and repentance swept our land; abortion was ended, no fault divorce was reversed, and sexual immorality was reigned in. Oh, wait, um …

God is not mocked. We are reaping what we’ve sown. Even if this movie followed the gospel accounts word for word, it would still violate the 2nd Commandment. Yes, God can draw lines with crooked sticks. But He does that in mercy. He certainly does not use crooked sticks who celebrate their crookedness, and flaunt it as a strength to be used to achieve God’s will.

Think about what Jesus said to Thomas, who would not believe and worship until he saw with his own eyes, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet have believed.” (Joh 20:29)

Don’t put Jesus to the test on this one. Don’t go see this movie. You’ll find He more than strengthens your faith!

by Reed DePace

265 Comments

  1. February 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Are you going to see the new “Noah” movie?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    February 27, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Acts 17 has tremendous resources in combating the idea that pictures of Jesus can be used for the purposes of art. And, of course, Danny Hyde’s book _In Living Color_, the best single defense of the confessional position on this matter, argues that one of the main reasons (besides the idolatry issues) why we should not make pictures of Jesus is that it is an attack on the sufficiency of the Word. Do we really want to start saying that the Word is not sufficient for our piety, or for our information about who Jesus is?

  3. John Harutunian said,

    February 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Reed, your interpretation of Ex. 20:4 just can’t stand. Because it proves too much. It’s the _worshiping_ of images that is forbidden. Not the creation of them. Otherwise, it would be sinful for an artist to create _any_ image: a flower, a mountain, a “still life” bowl of fruit, etc. The only art which would be permitted would consist of abstract expressions.

  4. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Acts 17:29 is the death knell to any images of the Godhead.

  5. Philip Larson said,

    February 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I don’t plan to see the movie; just not interested.

    But I wonder whether the response of believing, faithful disciples in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ was perpetual worship, as happened *briefly* with John on Patmos, the 24 elders, Thomas after touching the risen Lord, etc.

    It seems that they often lived, slept, and dined together. If they were in a perpetual state of worship, as Reed seems to suggest, how could they have proceeded with the common things of life? This seems to merge the Sabbath with the rest of the week.

  6. Ron said,

    February 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    If the movie is not for worship then it’s a vain thing and, therefore, still should be avoided.

  7. John Harutunian said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Historical documentary films are not for worship. So are they to be avoided also?

    >Do we really want to start saying that the Word is not sufficient for our piety, or for our information about who Jesus is?

    So are Christians guilty of sin when they’re edified by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or Augustine’s Confessions?

  8. February 28, 2014 at 5:08 am

    good stuff, thanks!

  9. MayLo said,

    February 28, 2014 at 6:52 am

    The idea of a movie being created as a form of observation and as a compassionate tool to teach in this day and age of visual stimuli is ok with myself. For the purpose of art, it is a beautiful work. However, and a large however, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable knowing that this film is being “pimped” out at the monetary level. I mean for Christ sake, literally for all of our sake, why put a price on the priceless? Why spoil a work if art, with the degrading common equator of the almighty green dollar. It’s not like these two, Mark & his wife, don’t already make enough. It just rubs me the wrong way that this involves money at all. If it was truly about The Lord, I’f it was truly for the people, if it was truly divine, money would nevergrace it’s core. No mega churches would be buying up tickets for its church members and distributing them for free. why? Because it should be free for all to begin with. And we can very well get this message from the film itself. ” Never let the money changers ‘takers’ back into your house aka hearts. And here we are, paying greatly to see something that can not nor ever should even be put into relation with money. The least that could be done now, is all profit goes out of the hands of Hollywood and into the hearts of the starving worldwide. I think we all have ideas as to what could be a pure approach.

  10. Ron said,

    February 28, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Hi John,

    The principle applies to physical images of God that man tries to make. It does not apply to documentaries, Bunyan or Augustine. Having said that, I would hope Bunyan, etc., would lead one to adoration of God (since all things are to lead to God’s glory).

    I think the point is that such images are forbidden by the 2nd commandment. Yet even if we limit that commandment only to worship, suggesting that such movies are not going to elicit our adoration of God, then (allowing for that distinction) it can be argued that the use of such images would fall under the jurisdiction of the 3rd commandment, being a vain thing. (Thomas Vincent makes this argument in his commentary on the WSC.)

    At the very least, all things are for Him and for His glory (Romans 11:36), therefore, images are in fact to be to that end as well – to evoke praise of God. But, images are forbidden in this regard – so at best they’re used in vain (i.e. void of adoration) and consequently impermissible on other grounds.

  11. Reed Here said,

    February 28, 2014 at 7:38 am

    John, no.3: worship of God by images. You’ve truncated the 2nd C.

    John, no. 7: documentaries are images. On the books referenced, I see the connection you are making. Disagree. Spoken and written words on Scripture are within the commanded means. The issue then becomes how consistent with the Bible.

    Phillip: you’re flattening worship to one expression, albeit its highest. Rom 12:1 demonstrates that worship is first relational, then functional. The relationship of worship is the fixed norm. This relationship shows variation depending on circumstances.

  12. February 28, 2014 at 9:07 am

    […] By Reed DePace – Greenbaggins […]

  13. Reed Here said,

    February 28, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Lane, no. 2: yes, the real issue is how we get our knowledge about God. It is not that God is merely offended by poor, less than accurate, artistic images of Him. It is that there is only one source of true knowledge about Him, and only one set of approved means for receiving that knowledge.

    Anything outside them is fraught with error and deception.

    Thanks for the Acts reference Ben (Lane).

  14. February 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Re: John @ 3: Reed’s argument does not prove too much, at least by your argument. Why? Because the only proper biblical response to created things is not to worship them. Therefore, the creation of almond blossoms in the tabernacle, as well as pomegranites, and the creation of the bronze serpent are just fine: the things they represent are in no way to be worshipped. Whereas, with Jesus, what an image of Jesus represents (namely, Jesus Himself) is to be worshipped.

  15. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Reed: In wanting to join you in getting instruction on and obedience to the 2nd commandment right, what would you say to those who wonder how the commandment applied to those like the Twelve who spoke and/or wrote as eyewitnesses of Jesus? For example, what exactly did that commandment require and forbid of, e.g., Thomas (John 20) or Peter (2 Pet 1) or John (Rev 1)?

  16. michael said,

    February 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Excellent argument Reed!

    Thanks

  17. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    15 Reed: let me sharpen my question: how specifically did Peter comply with the prohibition against “making any representation of” the second Person of the Trinity “inwardly in [his] mind]” when writing about the Transfiguration as he did 2 Pet 1? Or how specifically did John comply with the same prohibition when writing about the christophany in Rev 1?

  18. Ron said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    rfwhite,

    Obviously I can’t speak for Reed, but certainly you must draw a relevant distinction between remembering what has been seen (or what has been revealed) and sculpting a physical image, don’t you?

  19. joyce said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I don’t plan on seeing the movie.. because I don’t think any qualifies playing the part of Jesus… I prefer the Jesus in the Bible…

  20. Brad said,

    February 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Covenant Nurture and commented:
    Thank you for this helpful post.

  21. February 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    The Second Commandment prohibits both making images to represent the Lord and the worship of them. The Second Commandment is grounded in the introduction of the Ten Commandments: “I am the LORD your God.” Its prohibition of making any likeness of anyting means that no created thing is to be given God’s name nor are we to make an image of anything to repersent Him. It says “You shall not make for yourself an idol” and “You shall not worship them or serve them.” There are clearly two primary prohibitions. People who say the Second Commandment forbids images to represent the Lord only for the context of worship are saying it means “don’t worship anything other than God.” But isn’t that what the First Commandment says? Shouldn’t the Second Commandment say something else, other than “we really mean it, with respect to the First Commandment”? Roman Catholics have the same interpretation about the text at issue i.e. they say it means “don’t worship images.” That’s why they combine it with the First Commandment.

    ​Also, see the connection of the last part of the commandment (20:5-6) with the first part. The two parts (complex as they are) are connected by the word “for.” The “for” gives the Lord’s explanation for the command. (1) God is jealous. It is in this context about using images that He says He is a jealous God. He is jealous of the “[made] unto thee” images, indicating that He sees them as other than Himself and competitors for His name and honor and devotion. (2) He sees the images as “iniquity.” (Making such images doesn’t “keep” His commandments.) (3) He visits this iniquity upon future generations (this is the law of inheritance: parents give their children their iniquitous concepts and images of the Lord, to be further corrupted by each succeeding generation). (4) He sees our deity images as “hate” for Himself (even if we use them as “devotional aids”). We “hate” Him as He is revealed to be, so we make Him to be what we want Him to be. (5) Finally, if we love the Lord, let’s keep His commandments and remember His promise of “showing mercy to thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

    Look at the larger context. Scripture interprets Scripture. Francis ​Turretin notes that ​Moses (Deuteronomy 4:12), the idolatry of the Israelites representing God by the image of a calf (Exodus 32) and God “the best interpreter of his own law” (Isaiah 40:18; 42:8; 48:11) prove that the Second Commandment prohibits us from making images of the Lord. ​​Also, the one who brought Israel out of Egypt is described as the Lord. See Jude verses 4-5 to see that Jesus Christ is our only Lord and that He saved a people out of the land of Egypt.

    Note concerning the Golden Calf that there are several sins listed in Exodus 32:8… They 1.) made the image to represent the Lord, hence Aaron proclaimed there would be a feast to the Lord ​(​Exodus 32:5). 2.) bowed down to the image 3.) sacrificed, and 4.) said the image was their God [Elohim cf. ​Nehemiah 9:18; ​Psalm 106:19-20] who brought them out of the land of Egypt—i.e. they gave God’s name to the image):

    “They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” (Exodus 32:8)

    The Second Commandment’s fulfillment is in the Person of Christ. Christ is the perfect, exact, sufficient and adequate image of God (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:5) and hence we need no other image. It is a great affront to the Lord when we turn from His own self-revelation in the Scriptures to images made by the art and imagination of men. Hebrews 1:3-13 also shows that Jesus’ excellent and peculiar name is Son of God—a name not even given to Angels. How absurd then is it for corruptible and sinful men to arrogate Jesus’ peculiar name? Paul says, “though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” (2 Cor. 5:16) And Peter says, “You have not seen Him and “Now we see Him not;” yet we believe in Him and rejoice (1 Peter 1:8). Jesus said, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). For now we are to “walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Someday true Christians will go to be with the Lord forever and “we shall see Him as He is;” we will see Him “face to face;” and “know as we are known” (1 Cor. 13:12, 1 John 3:2)

  22. February 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Here are several helpful quotes related to the blog post:

    Thomas Vincent:

    “Q. 6. Is it not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, he being a man as well as God?

    A. It is not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, because his divine nature cannot be pictured at all, and because his body, as it is now glorified—cannot be pictured as it is ; and because, if it do not stir up devotion, it is in vain; if it do stir up devotion, it is a worshipping by an image or picture, and so a palpable breach of the second commandment.”

    Alan Cairns also made the point:

    “Let me ask a question: Can a Christian look on any representation of His Lord, in His birth, in His death, in His resurrection, in His ascension, or in His return? Can he look at any representation of His Lord without reference to worship? Can a Christian think of Christ apart from all context of worship? Indeed, should a Christian ever be invited to think of Christ apart from any context of worship! And I would defy any man to take God’s Word… And remember what I said about will-worship? Let’s keep it in mind now. I would defy any man to take God’s Word and find me the slightest evidence from Scripture that I am ever meant to contemplate Christ apart from worshiping Him! When God brought His Son into the world He said even to the angels ‘Worship Him!’ How could we do less? When you have a picture of Jesus Christ… And I don’t care who the artist is or who the sculptor is… When you have a representation of Jesus Christ, you have an object, not only the statement of a man’s opinion, but you have an object that is deliberately intended to bring your mind into the channels of worship.”

    John Murray:

    “Pictures of Christ are in principle a violation of the second commandment. A picture of Christ, if it serves any useful purpose, must evoke some thought or feeling respecting him and, in view of what he is, this thought or feeling will be worshipful. We cannot avoid making the picture a medium of worship. But since the materials for this medium of worship are not derived from the only revelation we possess respecting Jesus, namely, Scripture, the worship is constrained by a creation of the human mind that has no revelatory warrant. This is will worship. For the principle of the second commandment is that we are to worship God only in ways prescribed and authorized by him. It is a grievous sin to have worship constrained by a human figment, and that is what a picture of the Saviour involves.”

  23. Reed Here said,

    February 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Dr. White: Peter’s images were memory, not imagination. What do you think?

  24. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    18 Ron: Hey, Ron. To your question, yes, I/we might draw a distinction between remembering what has been seen (or what has been revealed) and sculpting a physical image. But the distinction I/we might make is not really the question I had in mind. The question I’m asking pertains to explaining why on the WLC terms the memories of the Twelve are not idolatrous.

  25. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    23 Reed: I’m not sure how that distinction between memory and imagination would safeguard your point. In other words, memory is a subset of imagination, isn’t it? Memory involves mental images most often. Keep in mind that I’m not disputing your thesis; I’m trying to think this through “out loud,” especially given the WLC. Historically context of the WLC would be useful, maybe.

  26. Ron said,

    February 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Dr. White,

    I think the answer has to do with the distinction of what is purely a matter of man’s imagination(s), having “no revelational warrant,” as Murray puts it. Maybe he was anticipating your question. :)

    So, yes, even vain speculations not crafted into images would be of the same order forbidden in the commandment I would think. The imaginations to which Reed refers are purely born of men, unlike those memories Peter had. That’s probably the best I can do. :)

  27. Reed Here said,

    February 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Dr.White, yes the WLC is the sticky point here.

    I find myself resonating with Ron’s response. Does that mean we can imagine based on what Scripture says? Can I imagine Jesus walking on the water?

    The problem is every time I do he looks like Max Von Sidow.

  28. greenbaggins said,

    February 28, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Good quotations, Matthew L. Thanks for those. The Murray quotation in particular is important. How can we avoid worship, when the picture is designed to produce a certain reaction in us, of which the only appropriate one is worship, when we are talking about Jesus Himself?

    John H., I think you might benefit greatly from reading Danny Hyde’s book _In Living Color_, if you have not already done so. He makes the arguments so much better than I can. The one thing that he doesn’t talk about is the idea that we are not supposed to make any images of Christ because we are supposed to BE the images of Christ.

  29. John Harutunian said,

    February 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    To all and sundry-
    I still don’t see any commandment which forbids the use of images in the worship of the true God. I do see the commandment against worshiping, bowing down to or serving any images -whether they be Christian art or pagan idols.
    Benjamin, take a good look at Acts 17:29. Paul’s whole basis for what he is saying is that “we are God’s offspring” -in other words, we, as humans, bear the divine image. Therefore, Paul implies, there is no similarity between God and the pagan idols which the Athenians worshiped (verse 16): inanimate objects fashioned out of gold, or silver, or stone. In contradistinction to this, there _is_ a similarity between God and ourselves as men (i.e., humans) who bear God’s image. Paul then refers to Christ, the “Man” whom God has appointed to judge the world in righteousness.
    I can’t see that the point of the passage is to prohibit the use of images in Christian worship.

  30. March 1, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Acts 17:29 says that God can never be represented by an image which man can make, either with his hands or his fancy. Mohler commented that Paul was bold to correct the Athenians with a firm injunction: “We ought not to think” false thoughts about God. Indeed, God declares in Psalm 50:21, “You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you…” Thomas Adams commented it is making “god” in their own image, “as if they would in some sort requite their Maker: because God made man according to his image, therefore they, by way of recompense, will make God according to man’s image.”

    “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.” (Acts 19:26)

    “For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.” (Hosea 8:6)
    .
    “To worship God by an image is absurd and irrational; for, ‘the workman is better than the work,’ ‘He who has builded the house has more honour than the house.’ Heb 3:3. If the workman be better than the work, and none bow to the workman, how absurd, then, is it to bow to the work of his hands! Is it not an absurd thing to bow down to the king’s picture, when the king himself is present? It is more so to bow down to an image of God, when God himself is everywhere present.”~Thomas Watson

    “God hath imprinted his image in his word, it is there he presenteth himself to us, and will have us to behold him, as it were, face to face. 2 Cor. iii. and iv. Therefore it is not in vain that St. Paul giveth this title to the preaching of the word of God; namely, that it is the truth. By this means he maketh himself known to us; it is also the means of our salvation: it is our life, our riches, and the seed whereby we become the children of God: in short, it is the nourishment of our souls, by which we are quickened.”~Jean Cauvin

  31. March 1, 2014 at 12:22 am

    “Though we cannot see God, yet if we love one another, we be sure that he abideth in us, and that his love is perfect in us: that is, that we love him unfeignedly. For, to love God truly and to give him thanks, is only to love our neighbour for his sake. For upon his person thou canst bestow no benefit. And forasmuch as we never saw God, let us make no image of him, nor do him any image-service after our own imagination, but let us go to the Scripture, that hath seen him, and there wete what fashion he is of, and what service he will be served with. Blind reason saith, God is a carved post, and will be served with a candle. But Scripture saith, God is love, and will be served with love. If thou love thy neighbour, then art thou the image of God thyself, and he dwelleth in the living temple of thine heart. And thy loving of thy neighbour for his sake, is his service and worship in the spirit, and a candle that burneth before him in thine heart, and casteth out the light of good works before the world, and draweth all to God, and maketh his enemies leave their evil, and come and worship him also.” ~William Tyndale on 1 John 4:12

  32. John Harutunian said,

    March 1, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Reed, regarding #13-

    > It is that there is only one source of true knowledge about Him,

    I’d respond that there is only one _infallible_ source of knowledge about Him, the Bible. And Pilgrim’s Progress is not an exposition of the Bible.
    But (and I think most Puritans would have agreed with me here) Bunyan’s novel does, both directly and indirectly, tell us what God is like. Not infallibly in principle, but reliably in practice.

    Adrian, what you say in #14 is true. But, since I don’t condone worshiping any images, I don’t see how it disproves my position.

    Matthew, regarding #21 -I don’t see how one can read the Israelites’ proclamation about the golden calf in Exodus 32:4 -”These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” -and conclude that their intention was to worship Jehovah by means of the calf. Yes, Aaron did say “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord [verse 5].” But the chapter nowhere implies that Aaron was right in proclaiming it to be such. It only records what he said.

    To sharpen my point: in verse 8 God explicitly says “[T]hey have worshiped it [i.e., the golden calf] and sacrificed to it.” Not “[T]hey have made use of an image in worshiping me.”

    Finally, let me try to put my interpretation of Acts 17:29 more succinctly. Paul has just quoted with approval the words of a Greek philosopher, “For we too are his offspring.” He argues, in effect, “How can you be so foolish as to suppose that what you have ‘sprung off of’ is an inanimate object made of gold, or silver, or stone? Rather, it is the transcendent God, the ‘Lord of heaven and earth [who] does not live in shrines made by human hands’ [verse 24].” This seems the most natural interpretation of the passage. It does seem a stretch to interpret it as forbidding the use of images, as such, in the worship of the true God.

    Our differences notwithstanding, may the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all.

  33. Reed Here said,

    March 1, 2014 at 9:39 am

    John, your position rests on disagreeing with my proposal that worship IS the proper response of man in relationship with God. Prove some other response, totally apart from any sense of worship, is proper for man in relationship with God.

    If not, your objections do not apply.

  34. Larry Wilson said,

    March 1, 2014 at 10:54 am

    As a supplement to Reed’s post, check out and J.I. Packer’s distinction between “symbolic” and “representational.” packer writes: “…as soon as the images [of Jesus] are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger.”

  35. Larry Wilson said,

    March 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Somehow the link was deleted from my post … try again…

    http://godinthewasteland.com/2014/02/18/the-movie-son-of-god-and-the-second-commandment/

  36. Reed Here said,

    March 1, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Thanks Larry. Packer’s material on this subject in Knowing God is pithy pure gold!

  37. rfwhite said,

    March 1, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    26 Ron / 27 Reed: I’m inclined to agree, but would the Divines? Are we saying that the making of mental and more-than-mental representations of the incarnate Son is permitted provided they have revelational warrant, i.e., are based on what Scripture says?

  38. Roger said,

    March 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    How specifically did Peter comply with the prohibition against “making any representation of” the second Person of the Trinity “inwardly in [his] mind]” when writing about the Transfiguration as he did 2 Pet 1? Or how specifically did John comply with the same prohibition when writing about the christophany in Rev 1?

    Peter and John complied with this prohibition because they were picturing an image of the second Person’s glorified human nature in their minds, not the second Person’s divine nature as such.

    It’s important to remember that the incarnate second Person (i.e., Logos) possesses both a divine nature and a human nature — without any mixture or dilution of the one with the other (“without confusion, change, division, or separation” according to the Definition of Chalcedon). Thus, a picture of Christ is a picture of his humanity, for he does, in fact, possess a truly human nature. A picture of Christ is not a picture of his divine essence/nature (or even of his invisible human soul). Rather it is a picture of his external bodily form.

    Some will object that you cannot separate the human and divine, for they are forever united in one Person in Christ. It is true that you cannot separate them, but you can distinguish them. In fact, the orthodox view of Christ demands that the two natures be distinguished, for they are without mixture or dilution. Thus, a picture of Christ’s human form is a picture of his humanity, not his deity; it is a picture of “the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), not a picture of God as he exists “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16) — to which the prohibition against making and worshipping images properly refers to.

  39. March 1, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    John said, “I don’t see how one can read the Israelites’ proclamation about the golden calf in Exodus 32:4 -”These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” -and conclude that their intention was to worship Jehovah by means of the calf.”

    The literal wording in Hebrew says that the Israelites asked Aaron to make them Elohim that delivered them out of Egypt. The reference to “which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” is a reference to a very specific divinity, namely Jehovah. Again, Jude 5 says the Lord Jesus saved the people out of the land of Egypt.

    “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5)

    The obvious meaning of Exodus 32:4 is that Israel wanted an image to stand for their Elohim. It doesn’t make sense for translators to use the plural form of elohim (“gods”) for a single image. We see some of the Bible versions that use the plural form of the word “elohim” in Exodus 32:4 also translate the word as “God” in Nehemiah 9:18 which quotes Exodus 32:4! ​According to John Gill the Arabic version has it “the image of thy God”

    “Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies,” (Nehemiah 9:18)

    John said, “Yes, Aaron did say “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord [verse 5].” But the chapter nowhere implies that Aaron was right in proclaiming it to be such. It only records what he said.”

    Aaron’s proclamation shows that the Israelites did not intend to renounce the worship of Jehovah. It wasn’t the image itself that they wanted to go before them, it was the Elohim who delivered them from Egypt that they wanted (Exodus 32:1)—that’s why Aaron dedicated the image to Yahweh and “So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings.” (Exodus 32:6)

    John said, “To sharpen my point: in verse 8 God explicitly says “[T]hey have worshiped it [i.e., the golden calf] and sacrificed to it.” Not “[T]hey have made use of an image in worshiping me.””

    I’m not sure how that sharpens your point, because you totally ignored the first part of the verse. It mentions the making of the God-image as sin: “They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf.” (Exodus 32:8a) And then the verse continues to enumerate the other sins (including the blasphemy of giving God’s name to the image), “They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” (Exodus 32:8b)

    “It is not necessary for a man to formally deny God and Christ, in order to be an idolater. Far from it. Professed reverence for the God of the Bible, and actual idolatry, are perfectly compatible. They have often gone side by side, and they still do so. The children of Israel never thought of renouncing God when they persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf. “These be thy gods,” they said (thy Elohim), “which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” And the feast in honour of the calf was kept as a “feast unto the Lord” (Jehovah) (Exodus 32:4-5). Jeroboam, again, never pretended to ask the ten tribes to cast off their allegiance to the God of David and Solomon. When he set up the calves of gold in Dan and Bethel, he only said, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel (thy Elohim), which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28). In both instances, we should observe, the idol was not set up as a rival to God, but under the pretense of being a help—a steppingstone to His service. But, in both instances, a great sin was committed. The honor due to God was given to a visible representation of Him. The majesty of Jehovah was offended. The second commandment was broken. There was, in the eyes of God, a flagrant act of idolatry. Let us mark this well.”~J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion, pp. 401-02

  40. Ron said,

    March 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    >26 Ron / 27 Reed: I’m inclined to agree, but would the Divines? Are we saying that the making of mental and more-than-mental representations of the incarnate Son is permitted provided they have revelational warrant, i.e., are based on what Scripture says?

    Dr. White,

    I have no reason to believe that the Divines thought that the word pictures found in special revelation should be suppressed. For instance, certainly the Divines would have agreed that this revelation is to conjure up some mental image, yes?

    “…a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”

    … Yet certainly they would have objected to anyone making an image of that scene. Yes again?

    Maybe I’m not tracking. Do you think it’s possible that the Divines would have had us not process that familiar scene from John’s Revelation?

  41. March 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    “Our Saviour Christ saith: “l am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” If no man cometh unto the Father but by Christ, what help then images in this behalf? What make they unto the furtherance of true godliness and true religion? How move they unto devotion? Again, he saith: “No man can come unto me, except my Father draw him.” If no man can come unto Christ, except the heavenly Father draweth him by his holy Spirit, what profiteth then in this behalf the beholding of images? Are they of such inward working in the hearts of men, that they are able to convert them unto God, and to bring them unto Christ? Yea, they lead away men from Christ unto vain spectacles, from the living God unto dumb idols, from true religion unto wicked superstition; so far is it off, that they move any man unto godly devotion or devout godliness. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to bring us unto Christ, and not the part of dumb idols. The Holy Ghost is appointed of God to be our schoolmaster for to lead us into all truth, and not idle images and monstrous mawmets. To place images therefore in the temples of the Christians to this end, that they should be the books of the lewd people, or that they should move us unto devotion, is nothing else than to make the Holy Ghost, as they use to say, Jack out of office, and to place a rabblement of vile and abominable idols in the stead of God’s Spirit to be the teachers and schoolmasters of the faithful. Perish mought all those vain mawmets from the face of the earth, with all such as glory and rejoice in them, that all the honour may be given to our Lord, that living God alone, whose name be praised for ever!”~Thomas Beccon

  42. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Matthew @39 – Just a point of clarification – translations render Exod 32:4 in the plural because the Hebrew demonstrative pronoun (“These”) and verb in the relative clause (“brought”) are plural. Of course, when referring to the true God Elohim takes singular verbs and modifiers (e.g., Gen 1:1), but when referring to a plurality of false gods it takes plurals. Neh 9:18 uses a singular pronoun and verb instead of the plural, so it appears that the Levites’ recollection of the grammar was not precise. Jeroboam uses plurals as well in 1 Kgs 12.

  43. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 9:01 am

    It is also very plausible that this prohibition concerns making images of false gods for the purpose of worship, not falsely imaging the true God. Consider just a few observations:

    (1) The only possible antecedent for the plural pronouns in v. 5 (“You shall not bow down to THEM or worship THEM”) is the “other gods” of v. 3, as “idol/carved image” (v. 4) is singular.

    (2) Every other time God is described as “jealous” in the Pentateuch, as he is in v. 5, it always pertains to Him being jealous of people worshiping false gods (see Exod 34:14; Deut 4:23-24 [in context with vv. 15-19]; 6:14-15; 32:16, 21).

    (3) The description in Deut 4:15-19 provides specifics of what is seemingly intended by the prohibition of making an idol “in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Exod 20:5). Deut 4 specifies items in each of these three categories in the context of not making a carved image, and all of them are created things (sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; males/females and animals on the earth; and “fish that is in the water under the earth”).

    All of these seem to point to a prohibition of worshiping idols/false gods, and yes, this is what is prohibited in the first command. Essentially, vv. 4-5 seem to be spelling out what it means to “have no other gods” before YHWH (v. 3). I actually can’t see anything in the text that points to falsely imaging the true God. What do you all think?

  44. March 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Matt@42

    TurretinFan already has several excellent posts this one specifically looking at Exodus 32 and the use of the word “elohim” (he says it better than I could summarize it here):

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/08/did-israel-every-make-idols-of-god.html
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/09/response-to-buracker-on-israeli-idols.html

    In regard of Jeroboam using the plurals, see TurretinFan’s posts:
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/06/ahab-vs-jeroboam-1st-command-vs-2nd.html
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/06/distinguishing-baal-worship-from.html
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/07/baal-vs-golden-calves-part-3.html
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/08/roots-of-samaritan-religion.html
    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/08/worship-of-high-places.html

    Cf.

    Matthew Poole:

    These be thy gods, i.e. this is thy god, the plural number being put for the singular, as it is usual in this case. The meaning is, This is the sign, or symbol, or image of thy god; for such expressions are very frequent: thus this image of a calf is called a calf frequently, and the images of the temple of Diana are called shrines or little temples, Ac 19. So they intended to worship the true God by this image, as afterwards Jeroboam did by the same image, as we shall plainly see when we come to that place of Scripture. And it is absolutely incredible that the generality of the Israelites should be so void of all sense and reason, as to think that this new-made calf did bring them out Egypt before its own creation, and that this was the same Jehovah who had even now spoken to them from heaven with an audible voice, saying, I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.

    Cf. John Gill:

    and they said, these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt; they own they were, brought up out of that land by the divine Being; and they could not be so stupid as to believe, that this calf, which was only a mass of gold, figured and decorated, was inanimate, had no life nor breath, and was just made, after their coming out of Egypt, was what brought them from hence; but that this was a representation of God, who had done this for them;

    Cf. John Calvin:

    It was a disgraceful thing to prostrate themselves before a calf, in which there was no connection or affinity with the glory of God; and with this the Prophet expressly reproaches them, that “they changed their glory (i. e. , God, in whom alone they should have gloried) into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” (Psa_106:20.) For, if it be insulting to God to force Him into the likeness of men, with how much greater and more inexcusable ignominy is His majesty defiled, when He is compared to brute animals? Still it had no effect towards bringing them to repentance; and this is expressed with much force immediately afterwards, when they said to each other, “These be thy gods, O Israel.” Surely the hideousness of the spectacle should have struck them with horror, so as to induce them voluntarily to condemn their own madness; but, on the contrary, they mutually exhort one another to obstinacy; for there is no doubt but that Moses indicates that they were like fans to each other, and thus that their frenzy was reciprocally excited. For, as Isaiah and Micah exhort believers, that each of them should stretch out his hand to his brother, and that they should say to each other,

    “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord;” (Isa_2:3; Mic_4:2;)

    thus does perverse rivalry provoke unbelievers mutually to excite each other to progress in sin. Still they neither speak ironically nor in mockery of God, nor have any intention of falling away from Him; but they cover their sin against Him under a deceitful pretext, as if they denied that by their new and unwonted mode of worship, they desired to detract from the honor of their Redeemer; but rather that it was thus magnified because they worshipped Himself under a visible image. Thus now-a-days do the Papists boldly obtrude their fictitious rites upon God; and boast that they do more for Him by their additions and inventions than as if they merely continued within the bounds prescribed by Himself. But let us learn from this passage, that whatever colouring superstition may give to its idols, and by whatever titles it may dignify them, they remain idols still; for, however those who corrupt the pure worship of God by their inventions, may pride themselves on their good intentions, they still deny the true God, and substitute devils in His place.

  45. March 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Matt@43

    (1) The prohibition of false gods is Exodus 20:3, is the First Commandment where God establishes that He is the only true God and that He alone should be worshipped. As Calvin notes the Second Commandment explains that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His nature. The antecedent for the plural pronouns in v.5 are in v.4 “any grave image” and “any likness of any thing.” The context shows that these images of anything in the create universe are the ones used as symbols of Yahweh. Such an image would change Yahweh into a different God than he really is, and the glory of the invisible God would be changed. (Keil and Delitszch commentaries). Again, the two parts (complex as they are) are connected by the word “for.” The “for” gives the Lord’s explanation for the command.

    (2) Hence, my friend Virgil Dunbar pointed out: The word “jealous” rules out pantheism, because in pantheism everything is “God,” and God cannot be jealous of himself. Persons do not feel jealous of themselves: jealousy happens when others are seen as rivals. God is jealous of the images and the way people use the images. If God manifested himself in the image He would not be jealous of it. If the image truly represented God, He would not be jealous of it. God sees the images and likenesses as being other than himself; they are rivals put in His place.

    (3) There is a triple division in the Second Commandment concerning the material universe i.e. “of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” This shows us that we are not to make an image of any thing in the whole material universe to represent God. Images are used to confuse God with things in all three realms of the created universe.

    “This law is directed at an evil which existed everywhere, idolatry. 2. Idolatry is never uniform, but takes many forms because some think God is like the form of fish, some think He is like a bird, others that He is like a man or animal, and others that He is like the sun or some other heavenly body. 3. Wherever men turn their eyes they seize materials which they turn to error, even though the truth of God’s invisible glory shines on every side, and whatever is seen should point us to the Creator.”~John Calvin

  46. Roger said,

    March 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    It is also very plausible that this prohibition concerns making images of false gods for the purpose of worship, not falsely imaging the true God.

    But other passages clearly prohibit making an image of God precisely because He has no such form that can be represented by any material object:

    “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female…” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16)

    Thus, since God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16), we are prohibited from forming either a mental or physical image of His divine nature.

    However, as I’ve mentioned before, this doesn’t apply to Christ’s human nature, which was clearly seen by the disciples even as He manifested God’s glory – “but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Both seeing and remembering Jesus would form an “image” of Him in one’s mind. Clearly, there’s a major distinction between Christ’s human nature and divine nature when it comes to the prohibition of forming an image in one’s mind. The notion that an actor portraying Jesus in a movie violates the second commandment is ludicrous.

  47. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Matthew @44 – I read the discussion in TurretinFan, and it seems pretty clear that he doesn’t read Hebrew, or if he does, he’s ignoring the rest of the verse. He doesn’t discuss at all what I just mentioned – that the verb and modifier in Exod 32 are plural. Simply linking to his discussion and then quoting people who agree with you is not meaningful interaction. Are you able to respond meaningfully to the observation that the verb and demonstrative pronoun modifying Elohim in Exod 32:4 are plural?

  48. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Seems to me that the Ten Commandments are intended to be distinct and, therefore, truly numerically ten. Yet if the commandment not to make any graven images pertains to false gods and not the the living God, then the second commandment collapses into the first, which commands that no false gods should be in God’s presence.

    I’m not following this thread closely. I see that TF has been mentioned. Not sure if Steve over at Triablogue has been referenced. If memory serves, he blogged on this several months ago. I thought he might have taken a bottom line similar to that of Matt’s. In either case, I’m sure the post is thoughtful and not evasive.

  49. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Matthew@45 –

    (1) You wrote:

    “The antecedent for the plural pronouns in v.5 are in v.4 “any grave image” and “any likness of any thing.” The context shows that these images of anything in the create universe are the ones used as symbols of Yahweh.”

    The nouns “idol/carved image” and “likeness” are both singular, so unless you’re suggesting that these are two distinct objects that are being collectively recalled with the plural pronouns of v. 5, they can’t be the antecedent. Instead, it seems pretty clear that they’re functioning appositionally (so the second nominal phrase is further describing the first noun “idol/carved image”). In that case, you’d have to explain why plural pronouns are being used in v. 5 instead of a singular one. Simply asserting that the singular nouns in v. 4 are the antecedent doesn’t cut it.

    (2) First, I don’t know where pantheism entered the conversation. Second, your friend Virgil Dunbar apparently is not familiar with the Hebrew word qana, which can and does refer to someone having “jealousy” for themselves (so usually rendered “zealous” on those occasions, such as in Ezek 39:25, where YHWH is zealous/jealous for his own name, i.e., himself, his honor, etc.). But in any event, you seem to be arguing here that YHWH would be jealous of someone else, which is what I’m arguing for. But the specific use in the Pentateuch of this term with God as the subject, as I mentioned in my post above, concerns jealousy over false gods, not jealousy over images of himself.

    (3) Your response to this doesn’t address the data from Deut 4 that I mentioned, but simply asserts your position.

  50. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Roger@46

    I’m not suggesting that we should make images of God – I believe the case can be made pretty easily that we shouldn’t. I’m questioning the assumed interpretation of Exod 20:4-6, that it prohibits people from making representations of God. Mine is an exegetical question, not a systematic-theological one.

    If you know how to make an image of a nature, whether human or divine, you let me know. I’d like to see that :-).

  51. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Ron@48

    Everyone affirms there are ten – even Moses does, though he never calls them “Ten Commandments” but “Ten Words” (Exod 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4) (why are we so legalistic?!).

    Those who view the so-called 1st and 2nd commands as one often view the “coveting command” as actually two – so we’re still left with ten. This is supported by a closed paragraph break in the Deut 5 version between coveting your neighbor’s wife and his other stuff.

  52. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Re: 50,

    Well the Westminster Divines were of course theological lightweights.

    It is not an assumed interpretation of Exodus 20:4, it is is instead been the received understanding of the reformed churches for centuries, especially those coming from presbyterians.

    Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
    A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them, all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect,contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

    Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
    A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

    So keep it up. Such logic served your fathers well. Ever wonder why God turns people over to more and more unnatural sins? After demonstrating hatred to him in violating this commandment he ceases (after 3 to 4 generations) to visit iniquity any more and instead turns those over to unnatural affections (Rom 1).

    corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever;

    So the mainline American presbyterians having taken to corrupting the worship of God in the mid to late 18th century, were apostate in four generations, and their successor remnants didn’t depart from the sins of Isaac Watts that made the church to sin. Not satisfied with only counterfeit psalms, then were added counterfeit Lord’s days by way of man-made holy days.

    Having redefined the scope and the meaning of the second commandment with regard to corrupting the worship of God is it any wonder that people will then be bold to argue that outright pictures of God are not also a violation of the 2nd commandment?

    So should anyone wonder then when God does in history exactly what he said he was going to do?

    And finally, to suggest that imagining an image of Christ in our mind is some how the same kind of activity as any of the Apostles in recalling what Christ looked like should not require a response. They didn’t make an image in their mind, it was memory of actual sight. Some arguments are so bad they are not worthy of answer but of dismissal.

  53. Roger said,

    March 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    If you know how to make an image of a nature, whether human or divine, you let me know. I’d like to see that :-).

    Any mental picture or external painting, sculpture, or photograph of a man is an image of carnal human nature, for each individual man possesses a complete human nature, both body and soul. An image of the divine nature, on the other hand, cannot be made since it is immaterial and omnipresent rather than localized – which is most likely why God forbids it in the first place.

  54. March 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    […] this blogger isn’t seeing that […]

  55. Roger said,

    March 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    And finally, to suggest that imagining an image of Christ in our mind is some how the same kind of activity as any of the Apostles in recalling what Christ looked like should not require a response. They didn’t make an image in their mind, it was memory of actual sight. Some arguments are so bad they are not worthy of answer but of dismissal.

    I never claimed that there wasn’t any difference between the two. Obviously those who actually saw Christ were forming an “image” of how they remembered Him looking, whereas we can only speculate as to how He truly looked. But memories are notoriously inaccurate. None of the eyewitnesses would have remembered precisely how the Lord looked in every detail. Rather, they would have formed a mental “image” of Him to the best of their recollection, which would have been a violation of the second commandment if the thesis of this blog post is accurate. Thankfully, it’s not, since they were only forming a mental “image” of how they remembered His external human form looking…

  56. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Roger: so if the Apostles who actually saw Jesus’ physical form were o.k. with their mental images based on memory, we who: 1) are not apostles, 2) have seen Jesus’ physical form, 3) are o.k. making mental images from our imaginations?

    Ludicrous is the extent to which our foolish hearts will profess a wisdom we neither have nor agrees with God’s express commands:

    (Act 17:29 ESV) 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.

  57. Reed Here said,

    March 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Roger: look previously at the comment between Ron, Dr. White and myself. You are reading an inference into my post that is neither necessary or intended by me.

    The issue is vain imaginations, not the memories of those who saw Jesus.

  58. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Andrew@52

    You also did not engage at all with the arguments from the text of Scripture that I provided. I’m not saying the Westminster divines were theological lightweights, but I also don’t believe they were inspired, and therefore their views are subject to questioning based on evidence from Scripture.

    Rather than attempting to bully me for daring to question them, are you able to show where my exegesis of Exod 20 falls short?

  59. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Roger@53

    You wrote

    “An image of the divine nature, on the other hand, cannot be made since it is immaterial and omnipresent rather than localized – which is most likely why God forbids it in the first place.”

    So God forbids something that is logically impossible?

  60. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Roger,

    It seems to me that you are presupposing that the commandment has always been against making an image of an essence as opposed to God who is personal. However, each of the three persons are more than their essence lest they are indistinguishable. With respect to the 1st and 3rd persons At the very least, if the commandment encompasses the persons of the Godhead and not merely the divine essence, then your argument doesn’t work. There’s no reason to assume essence only without begging the question.

  61. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    It is also very plausible that this prohibition concerns making images of false gods for the purpose of worship, not falsely imaging the true God. Consider just a few observations:

    Matt,

    If any man made image of God is a false image (of God), then I think we can properly transfer the false image to that of a false God. Accordingly, the prohibition would cash out as forbidding the bowing down to false gods that are intended to be living God.

  62. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Roger,

    Sorry for the confused post. I began to write something about the first and third persons and deleted it because it was cluttering my main point. I neglected to delete it all. Below is what I should have written.

    It seems to me that you are presupposing that the commandment has always been against making an image of an essence as opposed to God who is personal. However, each of the three persons are more than their essence lest they are indistinguishable. At the very least, if the commandment encompasses the persons of the Godhead and not merely the divine essence, then your argument doesn’t work…

  63. Matt said,

    March 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Ron@61,

    I believe this conversation initially started from whether or not one can go and see Son of God because it depicts Jesus visually. The argument was made that the second commandment forbids this. So the question in discussion is (1) does the second command forbid simply making images of the true God, (2) does the second command forbid only bowing down to images of the true God, (3) does the second command forbid bowing down to images of false gods. If the answer is (3), we cannot conclude that (1) automatically follows. If this were the case, then one could not claim the second command as grounds for forbidding people to see a movie depicting Jesus if one were not worshiping before the image. Non-worshiped depictions of the true incarnate God are not necessarily in the same category as worshiped images of false gods.

    And so far no one has engaged with the arguments I made from the actual language of Exod 20:5-7.

  64. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    The notion that an actor portraying Jesus in a movie violates the second commandment is ludicrous.

    Roger,

    Are Christians going to the movie, at least in part, to get a glimpse only of Jesus’ humanity and not the person of Christ, which includes His nature? I would think the latter. Now with that in mind, is the portrayal of one’s nature only communicated in spoken words, or does tone and body language also present an image of a person’s nature?

  65. Ron said,

    March 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Matt,

    Allowing for the interpretation that the prohibition pertains to making images of false gods…, the prohibition of making false god’s presupposes an attempt to make an image of the true and living God. After all, who sets out to make an image of a false god? It is in that context I gave my answer, allowing for the supposition. In an attempt to make an image of God – the true and living God, man can only make a false likeness, which we may transfer to a false God. Man may not make images of false god’s, which are intended to reflect God. Such false gods are not to be made, nor bowed down to. (And if they’re not made, then they can’t be bowed down to.)

  66. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 2, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Matt, with all due respect, you’re argument is hardly one. First off, you argue as if you’re a Papist, and thus echoing the serpent in garden, so that doesn’t really command any respect … Eve gave respect to the serpent’s argument and see how well that ended up for everybody.

    Secondly, clearly the 2nd commandment

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me and shewing mercy unto thousands of them have love me and keep by commandments

    has in view a collection of of items, a graven image or any likeness of any thing so that that clearly where the plural comes in. This comes through even in the English. The commandment also shows how true it is that those who break this commandment always do so in multiple ways. Idolaters are never satisfied with just one.

    However, the basic process is that when you make unto yourself an image of God (either outwardly or inwardly in your mind) you end up worshipping the image and not God himself. So your worship becomes not of God but actually of the idol even though you were trying to make an image of God.

    The same thing happens with any kind of false worship, you’re intent of worshipping God by any way not appointed in His word has the affect of directing your worship not to God but to the creature. All worship belongs to God. God claims ownership over all worship even that which is directed towards false gods (in violation of the first commandment). If you’re worshipping a false god there is little chance that you’ll follow the commands of scripture for how to worship. So you’re breaking the 1st and 2nd commandments.

    But just because violations of the 1st and 2nd commandments tend to go together, doesn’t mean they’re not distinct commandments commanding different things.

    So any time you try to worship the Triune, One Living and True God in any way not appointed by Him, you fail in worshipping Him and instead worship something else (often yourself) Such worship is always and necessarily utterly vain (and sinful).

    So why were Nadab and Abihu burnt? Because they violated the 2nd commandment. They worshipped God in a way not appointed by God himself. They were burnt immediately. Do you think that because God doesn’t burn everyone immediately for violations of the 2nd commandment that he doesn’t care?

  67. March 3, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Matt@47

    You are forcing your interpretations on the texts.

    Nehemiah makes clear what Aaron said. It is not the case of a “poor memory.” The plural may be a plural of majesty or serve another (as yet unclear) purpose. Matthew Poole’s exegetical labors on Exodus observes that the plural is often used in place of the singular when the matter is concerning the true God (cf. Gen 1:26; 11:7):

    [Thy gods] They were worshipping the true God under the image of an ox or calf (Drusius’ Concerning the Tetragrammaton). Gods, that is, a sign or symbol of Gods, or of thy God (Piscator, Ainsworth): just as the image of the calf was previously called the calf (Ainsworth). They make use of the plural in the place of the singular (which often happens when the matter is concerning God, as in Genesis 20:131 and 35:72), for thus it is explained in Nehemiah 9:18, They said, This is thy God, etc.3 And this the following words plainly represent, who led thee out of Egypt (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:34:347).

    1 Genesis 20:13a: “And it came to pass, when God (Heb., when applied to Jehovah, formally plural but singular in sense, usually taking a singular verb) caused me to wander (Heb., plural verb) from my father’s house…”
    2 Genesis 35:7b: “…because there God (Heb.) appeared (Heb., plural) unto him…”
    3 Nehemiah 9:18b: “This (Heb., singular) is thy God (Heb., formally plural) that brought thee up out of Egypt…”

    [...]

    [Before it, Heb.] Understand, the calf (Vatablus).
    [Tomorrow] Not today, so that he might delay sacrifice, if perhaps Moses might return in the meantime (Lyra, Estius).
    [A solemnity of the Lord, Heb.] A name appropriate to God alone Aaron, now having fallen into sin, attributed to the idol (Menochius). Thus he wanted to impress upon the people that the God who led them, etc. was Jehovah (Rivet).

  68. March 3, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Matt@49

    Following what Andrew already stated:

    The plural object of the prohibition,”them,” refers to images (פּסל) and any other likeness, similitude, or form (תמוּנה כּל). Together they account for the plural form. Hence, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing” (Exodus 20:4a)

    cf.

    Isaiah 40:18-20: “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth the graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.”

  69. Roger said,

    March 3, 2014 at 4:11 am

    56. Roger: so if the Apostles who actually saw Jesus’ physical form were o.k. with their mental images based on memory, we who: 1) are not apostles, 2) have seen Jesus’ physical form, 3) are o.k. making mental images from our imaginations?

    That we aren’t Apostles is irrelevant to the argument. The fact is that everyone (whether an Apostle or not) who saw Jesus during His earthly ministry formed a mental “image” of Him in their minds (that’s what sight of a physical object entails, after all). They also formed a mental “image” of Him in their minds when they remembered how He looked (however inaccurate that memory may have been). But this in no way violated the second commandment, since they were only forming an “image” of His external human form or nature. They would have only been in violation of the second commandment if they attempted to form an “image” of His immaterial divine form or nature, which they weren’t doing.

    This same principle applies to us. We may not know what Jesus’ physical body actually looked like, but we aren’t violating the second commandment by “imagining” what He may have looked like any more than we would be by “imagining” what any other historical figure may have looked like. Jesus was a true “man” after all (His divinity wasn’t somehow co-mingled with His humanity in the Incarnation). The fact that many here aren’t able to grasp this basic distinction between Christ’s two natures is troubling indeed.

  70. Roger said,

    March 3, 2014 at 4:30 am

    57. The issue is vain imaginations, not the memories of those who saw Jesus.

    If the issue is vain imaginations, then it’s only imagining what Jesus may have looked like in relation to His divine nature that’s relevant to a violation the second commandment, not what He may have looked like in relation to His human nature. And since a theatrical portrayal of Jesus is not imagining what He may have looked like in relation to His divine nature, then it’s not a violation of the second commandment period.

  71. Roger said,

    March 3, 2014 at 4:37 am

    59. Roger@53

    You wrote

    “An image of the divine nature, on the other hand, cannot be made since it is immaterial and omnipresent rather than localized – which is most likely why God forbids it in the first place.”

    So God forbids something that is logically impossible?

    If it’s logically impossible to accurately represent the immaterial and omnipresent divine nature by a physical image, then any physical image of the divine nature is necessarily a false representation of the divine nature and therefore prohibited by God. I don’t see the problem.

  72. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Andrew@66

    If you’re not able to engage argument meaningfully and respectfully, and instead insist on relying upon insult – calling me both a Papist and a serpent – then I suppose our conversation won’t be fruitful. Good day – hope you’re proud of how you’re imaging our gracious God.

  73. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Matthew@67

    I’m certainly not trying to force anything, but I’m willing to be corrected if I am. But let me ask you this: if the Levites in Neh 9 got it right, what about Stephen in Acts 7? Your friend TurretinFan had to argue that Stephen was uninspired at this point and speaking fallibly by referring to “gods,” which is an obvious plural in Greek.

    Matthew@68

    First off, “image” is singular in Exod 20:5, not plural. Second, you have copied and pasted the Hebrew in your second parenthesis backwards, so that doesn’t bode well for your integrity attempting to use it. Third, you haven’t responded to what I said about how one must approach those two noun phrases. Are they consecutive or appositional? It’s not as easy and simple as just spotting two nouns and saying, “Hey, add these together and they make a plural! There you go!” Exegesis takes more work than that. If they are appositional, which I’m sure you would affirm, then you do not have a plural antecedent.

  74. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Ron@65

    You wrote:

    “After all, who sets out to make an image of a false god?”

    Err… most of Israel throughout most of their history (cf. Deut 31:20; Judg 2:17; 1 Sam 8:8; 1 Kgs 9:9)!!

  75. Roger said,

    March 3, 2014 at 6:43 am

    62. It seems to me that you are presupposing that the commandment has always been against making an image of an essence as opposed to God who is personal. However, each of the three persons are more than their essence lest they are indistinguishable. At the very least, if the commandment encompasses the persons of the Godhead and not merely the divine essence, then your argument doesn’t work…

    I’m not assuming “essence as opposed to God who is personal.” God is essentially tri-personal. There’s no such thing as an abstract divine essence/nature apart from the three persons of the Godhead, just as there’s no such thing as divine persons apart from the one divine essence/nature. But that doesn’t affect my argument in the slightest. Forming an “image” (either internally or externally) of any one of the persons of the Godhead in relation to their essential divine nature would be idolatry. However forming an “image” (either internally or externally) of the Son in relation to his assumed human nature is not idolatry in any way, shape, or form (pun intended). It is simply an image of his external human form, for which there is no scriptural prohibition.

  76. Roger said,

    March 3, 2014 at 7:14 am

    64. Are Christians going to the movie, at least in part, to get a glimpse only of Jesus’ humanity and not the person of Christ, which includes His nature? I would think the latter. Now with that in mind, is the portrayal of one’s nature only communicated in spoken words, or does tone and body language also present an image of a person’s nature?

    The movie only “visually” portrays Jesus’ external human form or nature, which is hardly idolatrous. As far as portraying the “tone and body language” of Jesus is concerned, I don’t see the problem. Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man – in accordance with his human nature – during his earthly ministry. How is an actor portraying that idolatrous?

  77. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Roger,

    So, Matt’s point is valid. You are saying that God forbids the impossible in the commandment. You’re assuming without warrant that God forbids making the essence only. But Jesus is the image of God and Jesus encompasses an entire person, including his physical form.

    Matt,

    That Israel made false idols doesn’t mean that they were not intending to construct for themselves God according to their fancy. Do you really think they were trying to construct non-deities in their manufacturing of false deities? That they were false deities is not germane to the question of what they hoped to be doing. Sin is that confounding.

    This whole discussion is just another “has God said.”

  78. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Roger: where does Scripture teach that the 2d C only applies to Jesus’ divine nature? Where does Scripture teach that it is allowable to separate Jesus’ humanity from His divinity for the sake of imagining His humanity?

    I’ll acknowledge that there might be some argument somwhere. But
    I’m not really interested in debating based on an unfounded presupposition.

    So show where the Bible approves what some might consider mental gnostic gymnastics.

  79. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 8:21 am

    As far as portraying the “tone and body language” of Jesus is concerned, I don’t see the problem. Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man – in accordance with his human nature – during his earthly ministry. How is an actor portraying that idolatrous?

    Roger,

    Key to your thesis is that “Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man…” What I think you must be overlooking is that Jesus’ personality is that of the Second Person and not just any human personality. The actor projects his own personality (blended with a scripted personality) and not the divine personality of the Second Person. Therefore, the actor cannot but project a wrong image of Jesus’ personality even if he stays with the script of Scripture. It’s not as though tone and body language does not proceed from personality. In fact, the reverse is true. Reactions convey ideas that are propositional.

    Maybe look at it this way. The divine nature precedes the human nature. Accordingly, the divine nature penetrates the human nature, but the reverse is not true. Although the two natures are indeed distinct (there is no transfer of properties) – the divine works of the Second Person, though they do not originate with the human nature, are performed through the human nature. Again, there is no commingling or confusion of the distinct natures for Christ is a human being because of his reasonable soul and body, but he is not a human person because he is the incarnate Word.

    So, on your view, it would seem that any human personality can portray the personality of the Second Person, but such a view implies that the personality of the Second Person is not divine or that the works and reactions of Christ-the-human-being are not according to His person. Again, the divine acts are performed through the human nature of the divine personality, which an actor cannot possibly portray.

  80. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 3, 2014 at 9:54 am

    @Matt,

    You don’t read very carefully do you? I didn’t call you a either a Papist or serpent, I said you argue as if.

    I did engage your so-called argument meaningfully. Your so-called argument is entirely without merit and thus is worthy of only condemnation. Your purpose to lure people into idolatry and should be exposed for what it is.

    If you’re not a Papist, why do you talk like one? So are you one?

    I call on you to repent of promoting idolatry.

  81. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Andrew@80

    Promoting idolatry? My purpose is to “lure people into idolatry”? I don’t even know what to say. I’m not sure why you feel the need to interact with such hostility and invective. Have a blessed day.

  82. rfwhite said,

    March 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Reed: Let’s stipulate that the Divines would affirm that the Apostles did not commit what the 2nd commandment forbids in their speaking or writing. What exactly is the distinction between mental image-making and memory that keeps the Apostles’ memories from violating the 2nd commandment?

  83. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Roger: here is a quote from Ben Witherington’s review of the movie:

    “There is no doubt in this film that Jesus is being portrayed as both divine and human.”

    Stipulating both your distinction between human/divine natures, and the accuracy of Witherington’s assessmen, do you think this movie violates the 2d C?

  84. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Dr. White: assuming the distinction holds (I admit to wanting to understand better what the Divines themselves were thinking),

    Isn’t it simply that their memories were Divinely initiated?

    I recognize that the argument could be offered that any Spirit-illuminated interaction with the Bible initiates some form of mental imaging. But even here the issue seems to hinge on the distinction between what is biblical and extra-biblical.

    Alternatively, any mental imaging of Jesus might actually be sinful, even what the Apostles might have engaged in (or any of the 500 who witnessed his moment of greatest triumph in Hi ascension). We’ve nothing to deny this. God’s mercy in Christ surely would suffice for the weaknesses of their flesh in this instance. Such weakness on their part surely cannot be used for justification for dismissiveness toward a greater weakness on the part of those who did not physically witness Jesus’ ministry. (Not saying you are being dismissive, but I think others commenting here have at least given that impression.)

    So, you’ve asked me a load of good questions in this track. My turn! ;-) What do you think about this? Are Divinely initiated, experience informed memories a violation? Why/why not? Is there any meaningful distinction between these and our dissimilar divinely initiated, non-experience informed imaginations? What’s the significance of this line of debate for this subject?

    All asked with fondness and affirmation of our love and commitment to one another.

    (And I care about you too Roger, even though I don’t know you and disagree with you on this one.)

  85. Bob B said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Its a good thing that Jesus doesn’t return to earth here today – someone might take a photo of him and sin in the process.

    That’s what God wants after all – no pictures, nothing. He must remain an elusive concept in our minds with nothing physical to be pleasing to our eyes. Casting our gaze on such physical things = instant idolatry.

    We had best start teaching our kids to draw pictures of bible stories, except those with Christ in them… cause if they do – SIN!!! Jonah and the big fish is ok, but not Christ distributing bread to the 1000′s.

    The most important lesson here to be super legalistic and arbitrary. That sets up our children for a perfect life of suberviance to stupid rules and regulations. Please don’t think critically about this one… images of Christ are bad mmmkay!

  86. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Bob B: exaggerations such as yours serve to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the 2nd Commandment and its ubiquitous nature in Scripture.

    I’ll see your legalistic/arbitrary charge with a licentious/fool back at ya. Or, maybe you could back off the unfair name calling and actually interact. (If not, raspberry’s to you. Take your legalistic judgment of me and go rain on someone else’s gospel-parade. Bah and pox on such comments.)

  87. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I got a good kick out of Bob B’s little note… I’ve tried to interact, but instead of receiving respectful responses focusing on the text, I’ve been likened to (apparently not called) a Papist and a devilish serpent who is evidently trying lure people into idolatry.

    Ron alludes to the same when he accuses me of saying “has God said.”

    Matthew hasn’t addressed whether the singular nouns in Exod 20:4 should be viewed consecutively or appositionally, which certainly affects the interpretation of the verse and their ability to function as an antecedent for the plural pronouns in the succeeding verse, nor has he or anyone else responded to the observation that God as “jealous” in the Pentateuch always pertains to jealousy over worship of false gods, not over images of himself.

    Ron doesn’t seem aware that Israel was indeed tempted to worship other gods – not simply statues of YHWH – and that they in fact did. Not sure what to do to remedy this basic idea.

    Neither has anyone addressed the observation that the three spheres mentioned in Exod 20:4 most likely refer to the created spheres and the created things within them (cf. Deut 4), which provides no hint that images of God are the issue. You claim to interpret Scripture with Scripture, but then we someone does this in way that challenges a common view, you don’t respond to the actual arguments presented.

    So what is one left to do but chuckle a little bit at the Church Lady attitude around here?

  88. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    *when* someone does this…

  89. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Ron alludes to the same when he accuses me of saying “has God said.”

    Actually Matt, I didn’t have you in mind. In fact, I had nobody in particular in mind. Separate paragraph – referencing the entire discussion, having the very idea in mind of which the discussion pertains.

    Ron doesn’t seem aware that Israel was indeed tempted to worship other gods – not simply statues of YHWH – and that they in fact did.

    Nope, that doesn’t follow from my argument. It misses the point entirely.

  90. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Ron@89

    Perhaps you’d like to clarify, then? I drew that conclusion from statements like this:

    “After all, who sets out to make an image of a false god?”

    “Do you really think they were trying to construct non-deities in their manufacturing of false deities?”

    My point in this part of the discussion is simply that they were not always trying to image YHWH – they had major temptation issues with bowing down to statues representing other deities – Baal, Molech, Chemosh – take your pick.

  91. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Matt,

    When one exchanges the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things, they are trying to make God into an image of their own making. It’s the manifestation of sin that would exchange the truth about God into a lie. Indeed, in the process they might even think that their god competes with God, but in such folly they are exchanging their God for their lie about God. Such sinful idolatry causes men to oppose themselves in their reasoning. The point is that to have an idol – any idol, is to replace God with an idol. It’s an unavoidable aspect of idolatry.

    Not sure what more I can say.

  92. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Sure, I’d affirm that. But that doesn’t address the issue raised as to whether the second command – exegetically speaking – pertains to making and bowing down to images of false gods or making and bowing down to images of the true god. These are two different actions, although not entirely unrelated. If it’s the latter, then one *might* have a case against seeing a Jesus movie and would have to tear up all their children’s Bibles. If it’s the former, then the case is harder to make that seeing Son of God is a huge atrocious sin.

    If you want to know what more you can say, respond to the exegetical observations I presented in 43 and 87. No one else has…

  93. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Sure, I’d affirm that.

    Then I’m happy to leave it there for now. Maybe we can pick up later.

  94. rfwhite said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Reed: You’re right that others have taken turns, and good ones at that, discussing this. Even though I keep restating my basic question by just re-framing it, I don’t meant to disrespect what has been said so far. If anything, I’m trying to figure out what our assumptions are (and I do mean to include my own assumptions) in discussing all this. For example, many of us here take WLC as a starting point: that’s fine as long as we give the Divines at least the benefit of the doubt that they have rightly understood the image-making that God was forbidding in the 2nd commandment. At the same time, because we have granted that God permits image-making of a sort (see our interaction about the Apostles), this line of discussion is significant: we want to know and make known what God permits and forbids. If we grant that some image-making is permitted (and so is not vain) and other image-making is forbidden (and so is vain), then it looks to me we need to draw the boundaries as bright as we can lest we create a concession wide enough to drive a Hollywood production through.

  95. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    So another non-taker… anyone care to offer response to 43 and 87? And please don’t just assert – engage the text of Scripture with care and attention. Anyone? Bueller?

  96. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Matt,

    Your exegetical point is dealt with by the point you just said you were willing to affirm.

  97. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Ah… I suppose I disagree with your statement, then. I read “make God into an image of their own making” differently than you intended it, I think. I certainly don’t think that every idol worshiper in the world is consciously attempting to refashion the Judeo-Christian deity into some form that they find more appealing.

    So, aside from attempting to systematize Rom 1 in the abstract, any takers on the actual language of Exod 20:5-7 based on my comments in 43/87? Come on… someone around here has to be able to dialogue over the actual text of the command in question…

  98. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I certainly don’t think that every idol worshiper in the world is consciously attempting to refashion the Judeo-Christian deity into some form that they find more appealing.

    Neither do I, Matt. Neither do I.

    Good luck in your search.

    Ron

  99. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I’m amazed at your refusal to engage… very telling. Things are much easier when you’re pontificating in the abstract. Are you not equipped to do Hebrew exegesis? If not, perhaps some more humility is in order.

  100. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Matt,

    Your understanding of what exegesis entails as it relates to theology limits you more than you grasp. I recognized this early on when you naively pitted theology against text.

    Secondly, that every idol worshiper in the world is not “consciously attempting to refashion the Judeo-Christian deity into some form that they find more appealing” is irrelevant to all I’ve said to you. The point you keep missing is that all idol worshipers are trying to fashion their vain speculations into the God they do know – who incidentally(!) happens to be the Christian God. What they realize is irrelevant and that God happened to be the God over the nation of Israel does not impact the point that the all idols are an attempt to unseat God – who happened to be the God of Israel. Accordingly, appealing to God as the God of Israel and to what people consciously think is not to offer an internal critique of what’s before you.

    All idol worship is an attempt to replace God – even prior to various formulations of God’s people into Israel and the Church. That point alone is sufficient to deal with your exegetical speculations about the text.

  101. Ron said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Case in point. In all your writings you don’t find this of yours problematic:

    “Ron doesn’t seem aware that Israel was indeed tempted to worship other gods – not simply statues of YHWH”

    You don’t grasp that such statues ARE other gods.

  102. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Ron@100

    First, a particular person’s theology may indeed be pitted against the text. Theology is our articulation of our understanding of the teaching of the text. If you’re unwilling to hold your theology up against the standard of the text, then you have another issue.

    Second, your response doesn’t deal with the text at all. I made no speculations – I’m not “speculating” that every other use of “jealous” pertaining to YHWH in the Pentateuch involves him being jealous of people worshiping other gods (and in the OT that’s not an abstractly systematized concept of pagan inner knowledge of the true God – it refers to other deities as conceived in antiquity). I even gave Scripture references to back this up. I’m not “speculating” that Deut 4 provides inter-Scriptural elaboration on the three spheres mentioned in the command, and does so in the context of describing carved images no less. And so, yet again, you show yourself incapable of addressing very plain exegetical observations.

    In short, if YHWH is not in view in Exod 20:4-6, then the argument that the second command prohibits one from viewing Son of God loses all of its force. So my question is: where is YHWH in Exod 20:4-6? Show me YHWH! What leads a person to conclude FROM THE SECOND COMMAND that YHWH is in view here?

    Now, that said, a person might have OTHER biblical reasons for not viewing a Jesus movie, but if they can’t show how YHWH is in view in Exod 20:4-6, they shouldn’t cite the second command as a reason for not doing it.

  103. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Ron@101

    Not in Pentateuchal nomenclature they’re not.

  104. Todd said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Matt,

    I have actually been persuaded of your view of Ex. 20:4&5 for a number of years, and appreciate your exegetical defense of it. Out of curiosity, where in the Bible do you go to find a prohibition against forming images of the true God and using those images in worship? In other words, if not the 2nd commandment, what Scripture(s) do you use to argue against the RC position on icons?

  105. Matt said,

    March 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks, Todd – I was beginning to despair of all reason.

    To me, the first indicator is the fact that there was no image/statue of YHWH in the tabernacle or temple. You have the ark (footstool) and the cherubim (courtiers), but no throne or representative statue of the deity, which other ANE temples had (e.g., 1 Sam 5:2 ff). This of course was because YHWH’s throne is in heaven (Isa 66:1), and His images are not statues of wood, stone, or metal, but human beings (Gen 1:26-27).

    Deut 4:15-19 connects YHWH’s formlessness at Sinai with an exhortation not to make an idol, here, seemingly of YHWH.

    Passages like Isa 40:18 and Acts 17:29 are useful, though I don’t think they prove as much as some believe they do. Both of those passages are comparative in nature, asserting the utter ontological distinction between God and the idols that people manufacture.

    Since God commands our worship, but never commands us to worship before any depiction of him, I see no biblical support for a position that would posit we could have images of God in worship. I’m not convinced that this means that one can’t see a movie in which Jesus is depicted visually or have an artistic rendering of Jesus in a children’s Bible.

    The heart of the second command, at least where I think I see it exegetically, is prohibiting the worship of other gods as manifested in idols of any creaturely form, not prohibiting the recounting of the life, death, and resurrection of the true Son of God.

  106. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Dr. White, no. 94, and?

  107. Reed Here said,

    March 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Matt, no.63: you said,

    “Non-worshiped depictions of the true incarnate God are not necessarily in the same category as worshiped images of false gods.”

    Am I right in understanding that you disagree with my opinion that the only biblical response to God is one of worship?

    Thanks.

    P.S., I reviewed the comments and saw a number of comments interacting with no. 43 (and thus 87), including exegetical interaction. It is hardly reasonable for you to claim no one has interacted so, even if you think your arguments are superior. Thanks.

  108. March 4, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Having the parenthesis backwards was a mistake, but Matt’s comment that it “doesn’t bode well for [my] integrity” is just childish. I think there is little benefit to continue engaging Matt in this “discussion.” Those with idols have to make excuses for them. The idols, after all, are unable to make excuses for themselves. “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hosea 4:17)

    However, there are few comments I would like to leave here:

    Stephen in Acts 7:40 simply repeats Exodus 32:1, 23. The “elohim” they wanted before them was a single image or representation of the true God (cf. Trapp and Macarthur). Acts 7:41 provides further clarity that they were determined to worship God in the image of the calf (Calvin): “they made a calf” and “offered sacrifice unto the idol.” “The idol is properly so called reproachfully, as it were a thing nothing worth, because no reason doth suffer man to make God.” (Calvin). The calf was in the view both of the people and of Aaron (Exodus 32:4-5) a visible image of the true God and was not intended to represent a false or imaginary god (Lange). θεούς] the plural, after Exodus 32:1, denotes the category, without reference to the numerical relation. That Aaron made only one idol, was the result of the universally expressed demand; and in accord with this universal demand is also the expression in Exodus 32:4 (Meyer). The plural may be used categorically: perhaps implying that there is only the worship of Jehovah, and that of idols, a multitude (Alford).

    Also, in regards to the Second Commandment, Keil and Delitzsch observe, “We find כָּל־תְּמוּנָה פֶּסֶל “likeness of any form:” so that in this passage also וְכָל־תְּמוּנָה is to be taken as in apposition to פֶּסֶל, and the וְ as vav explic.: “and indeed any form,” viz., of Jehovah, not of heathen gods. That the words should be so understood, is demanded by Deu_4:15., where Moses lays stress upon the command, not to make to themselves an image (פסל) in the form of any sculpture (סֶמֶל), and gives this as the reason: “For ye saw no form in the day when Jehovah spake to you at Horeb.” This authoritative exposition of the divine prohibition on the part of Moses himself proves undeniably, that פסל and תמונה are to be understood as referring to symbolical representations of Jehovah.

    [...]

    “Thou shalt not pray to them and serve them.” (On the form תָּֽעָבְדֵם with the o-sound under the guttural, see Ewald, §251d.). הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה signifies bending before God in prayer, and invoking His name; עָבַד, worship by means of sacrifice and religious ceremonies. The suffixes לָהֶם and -ֵ ם (to them, and them) refer to the things in heaven, etc., which are made into pesel, symbols of Jehovah, as being the principal object of the previous clause, and not to כָּל־תְּמוּנָה פֶּסֶל, although פֶּסֶל עָבַד is applied in Psalm 97:7 and 2 Kings 17:41 to a rude idolatrous worship, which identifies the image as the symbol of deity with the deity itself, Still less do they refer to אֲחֵרִים אֱלֹהִים in Exodus 20:3.

    The threat and promise, which follow in Exodus 20:5 and Exodus 20:6, relate to the first two commandments, and not to the second alone; because both of them, although forbidding two forms of idolatry, viz., idolo-latry and ikono-latry, are combined in a higher unity, by the fact, that whenever Jehovah, the God who cannot be copied because He reveals His spiritual nature in no visible form, is worshipped under some visible image, the glory of the invisible God is changed, or Jehovah changed into a different God from what He really is. Through either form of idolatry, therefore, Israel would break its covenant with Jehovah. For this reason God enforces the two commandments with the solemn declaration: “I, Jehovah thy God, am קַנָּא אֵל a jealous God;” i.e., not only ζηλωτής, a zealous avenger of sinners, but ζηλοτύπος, a jealous God, who will not transfer to another the honour that is due to Himself (Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 48:11), nor tolerate the worship of any other god (Exodus 34:14), but who directs the warmth of His anger against those who hate Him (Deuteronomy 6:15), with the same energy with which the warmth of His love (Song of Songs 8:6) embraces those who love Him, except that love in the form of grace reaches much further than wrath.”

  109. Roger said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:02 am

    77. So, Matt’s point is valid. You are saying that God forbids the impossible in the commandment.

    I’m saying that God forbids us from making any “image” that is meant to represent His divine nature, since no physical “image” can accurately represent His immaterial divine nature. There’s nothing incoherent with that. Obviously it’s not logically impossible to make a false “image” that is meant to represent God, as that has been done by many people throughout history.

    You’re assuming without warrant that God forbids making the essence only.

    No, I’m not. I’ve already made it quite clear that I’m not abstracting the divine essence/nature from the three persons of the Godhead in an earlier post (75):

    “God is essentially tri-personal. There’s no such thing as an abstract divine essence/nature apart from the three persons of the Godhead, just as there’s no such thing as divine persons apart from the one divine essence/nature.”

    What you’re assuming without warrant, however, is that making an image of Jesus’ external human form violates the second commandment. Where does the text say anything of the sort? It doesn’t plain and simple. You’re simply reading that into the text.

    Let’s be clear about something here. The “person” of the Son cannot be separated from his two natures (as if an image of the “person” can be made in the abstract). An image can be made of the Son in relation to his divine nature (which would violate the second commandment), or an image can be made of the Son in relation to his human nature (which would not violate the second commandment). Those are the only two options. The absurd notion that making an image of the Son’s external human form is idolatry is nowhere taught in Scripture (nor is it logically derived from Scripture).

  110. Roger said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:54 am

    78. Roger: where does Scripture teach that the 2d C only applies to Jesus’ divine nature?

    Reed, the real question is: Where does Scripture teach that the second commandment also applies to Jesus’ human nature? There’s not much doubt that it applies to His divine nature. So the burden of proof is on those who want to add the human nature of Christ into the prohibition against making images. Good luck with that! Simply saying that Christ is “God” doesn’t cut it, for He’s truly God and truly Man, with two distinct natures.

    Where does Scripture teach that it is allowable to separate Jesus’ humanity from His divinity for the sake of imagining His humanity?

    Again, the real question is: Where does Scripture teach that it’s allowable to collapse Jesus’ humanity into his divinity for the sake of making the second commandment apply to His human nature? Good luck with that! The two natures are genuinely distinct from one another. Imaging the Son’s divine nature would be a sin; imaging the Son’s human nature is not a sin.

  111. Roger said,

    March 4, 2014 at 6:37 am

    79. Key to your thesis is that “Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man…” What I think you must be overlooking is that Jesus’ personality is that of the Second Person and not just any human personality.

    I’m not overlooking that fact at all. My point is simply that the divine Second Person expresses Himself through a human soul and fleshly body (i.e., “as a man”) in the Incarnation, just as He experiences things through a human soul and fleshly body (i.e., “as a man”) in the Incarnation. For example, the Son cannot suffer or die in relation to His divine nature. But the Son indeed suffered and died in relation to His human nature. Therefore it’s not sufficient to merely point out that “Jesus’ personality is that of the Second Person.” What the divine Second Person experienced and expressed “as a man” in the Incarnation was unique to His human nature, and can’t merely be referred back to His divine nature.

    More to the point, I see zero scriptural support for the idea that an actor is forbidden to portray Jesus as He lived and died “as a man” while here on the earth.

    Again, there is no commingling or confusion of the distinct natures for Christ is a human being because of his reasonable soul and body, but he is not a human person because he is the incarnate Word.

    Okay, but how does that make an image of Christ’s human nature idolatry (which is the primary point in dispute here)? After all, an image of Jesus of Nazareth is not an image of His divine nature, but rather an image of His human nature. You do agree that the Son became a genuine human being in the Incarnation, don’t you?

  112. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Roger,
    You did not interact with the relevance of perichoresis as it relates to hypostatic union. You wrote earlier that “Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man…” But, what I pointed out here is that the personality of Jesus is that of the Second Person and not just any human personality.

    Again, an actor cannot but project a wrong image of Jesus’ personality even if he stays within the script of the KJV! Accordingly, the image the actor presents will not be that of the Second Person of the Trinity. Moreover, you did not interact with the premise that tone of speech and body language proceed from personality and that human reactions convey ideas that are propositional, which reflect more than one’s nature; they reflect one’s personality, in this case a divine personality. So, again, the reason perichoresis as it relates to hypostatic union is relevant is because the divine nature penetrates the human nature (yet without commingling or confusion of the distinct natures for Christ). Because you think that “Jesus was, after all, expressing himself as a man” it would seem to follow that any human personality can portray the personality of the Second Person, hence no illegitimacy in the movie. The problem is that the divine acts of Jesus were performed through his human nature; these acts were according to the Second person’s distinct personality.

  113. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Roger,

    My most previous post was put up right after you responded. I’ll take a look at it.

  114. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 6:57 am

    What the divine Second Person experienced and expressed “as a man” in the Incarnation was unique to His human nature, and can’t merely be referred back to His divine nature.

    Nobody has “referred back to His divine nature” from His human nature, whatever that might mean to you. What I’ve done is show how the divine nature penetrates the human nature, which includes a penetration that would entail Jesus’ tone and body language. May Jesus be accurately portrayed as effeminate or would his divine nature forbid such a penetration to his human nature?

    For example, the Son cannot suffer or die in relation to His divine nature. But the Son indeed suffered and died in relation to His human nature.

    That point is not germane to my points, but let me clear up a common misunderstanding. It was not a mere human nature that paid for your sins upon the cross. A person died in your stead, which is why your nature isn’t redeemed but rather your whole person. You will say, “how can God die.” Well, maybe we might have to reconsider what death entails as it relates to body and spirit. From the lesser to the greater… When we die our bodies will be put into the grave yet we will be conscious in our spirit, doing what our souls can do apart from the body. How much more the case with the Lord. In the case of our Lord, He governed the universe prior to having a body. Accordingly, after dying for sinners He continued to do in Spirit what He always could do without a body. His death did not effect his divinity, but nonetheless a the Son, a person, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, was dead and was buried.

  115. Reed Here said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Roger: how many persons are in Jesus?

  116. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Todd @104,

    Since you agree with Matt and are in the OPC and are supposed to subscribe (in some fashion) to the WLC, but obviously take exception to WLC 109, so where to you go, for a prohibition of making images of God?

  117. Roger said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:21 am

    114. It was not a mere human nature that paid for your sins upon the cross. A person died in your stead, which is why your nature isn’t redeemed but rather your whole person.

    I never claimed that “a mere human nature” paid for our sins. Even the section of my comments that you quoted makes that quite clear: “For example, the Son cannot suffer or die in relation to His divine nature. But the Son indeed suffered and died in relation to His human nature.” Who do you think “the Son” and “His” is referring to if not the Second Person of the Godhead?

    As far as your other points are concerned, how are they in any way relevant to the second commandment – which prohibits making physical “images” that represent the immaterial nature of God? Demonstrate from the text how they are relevant, because I just don’t see it.

  118. Roger said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Roger: how many persons are in Jesus?

    What kind of stupid question is that?

  119. Reed Here said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Roger: a sincere one, if you wouldn’t mind dropping the (appearance of) arrogance. I’m showing respect in asking, rather than presuming something.

    So?

  120. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Andrew,

    The entire Bible actually. I just believe the second commandment has in mind the worship of other gods, but the entire Bible presents a God who calls us to worship him without the use of images, especially culminating in the teaching throughout the Book of Hebrews of worshiping without seeing. At the same time I do not believe it is sin for a Christian to look upon the Last Supper painting if he is not using it to worship God.

  121. Reed Here said,

    March 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Todd: just checking; you disagree with my opinion that the only proper response to God is worship? Thanks.

  122. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Reed,

    I scrolled back to find where you make this point in the context of this discussion but couldn’t find it. Are you suggesting that one cannot look at the Last Supper without automatically using the picture as worship? Other than this I am not sure I am understanding your point here.

  123. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Todd,

    If one sees something it doesn’t mean they are tempted let alone sinning. However, this raises a question in my mind though, or maybe just an observation. What possibly intrigues me most in all of this is that when I watch a good movie I have no problem suspending my beliefs so that the actor may “become” for me the character. So, Pacino becomes the Don and Anthony Hopkins becomes C.S. Lewis. No sin there I trust. Do Christians do the same when watching Jesus movies? I would think not. I certainly hope not. Christians are to be on their guard because they should realize that the actor will not be faithful to the Second Person. We don’t know Jesus’ facial expressions, etc. but such expressions often speak a thousand words…. Are those words consistent with the Son of God? More to the point, are they His words? If not, then how are movies such as this not putting words in God’s mouth?

  124. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Todd, so how do the brothers in the Southwest Presbytery feel about your anti-reformed understanding of the 2nd commandment?

    So do you reject the reformed numbering of the commandments too? I’m just trying to understand if you reject WLC 107 as well as 108 and 109? And while I’m asking what about 110?

    You have made this known clearly to them, right?

  125. Bob B said,

    March 4, 2014 at 11:06 am

    @Reed 86

    I do not accept that images in themselves of anything (be it human, animal, or landscape) can be evil. It is what you do with the image that may or may not be evil.

    For example, Michelangelo ‘David’ is not an evil statue, but lusting after his manliness is a sinful response. Likewise, images of the God/Man Jesus are not evil – our response to them might be, but the image itself doesn’t (can’t) contain the quality of sinfulness.

    We are not like the Muslims that ban the images of Mohammed, nor are we like the Orthodox who ban statues but weep in front of paintings, nor are we like the Catholics who have crying statues but ban marriage to priests.

    Instead, we are called to be a people to whom all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. Do not worship the images, but do not be legalistic in your approach to images (or anything else).

    You may not like how I pointed this out in comment 85, but that is the kind of absurdity your legalism in this area leads too. Kids drawing pictures of Jonah and fish are OK, but put a loaf of bread in there as well and we have crossed a line. That’s sinful.

    “Q. 6. Is it not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, he being a man as well as God?

    A. It is not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, because his divine nature cannot be pictured at all, and because his body, as it is now glorified—cannot be pictured as it is ; and because, A1 if it do not stir up devotion, A2 it is in vain; B1 if it do stir up devotion, B2 it is a worshiping by an image or picture, and so a palpable breach of the second commandment.”

    A1-A2 is a false statement. The vanity or lack there of in an image is not determined by weather it stirs up devotion or not. We don’t say “look at this image of a landscape – you are meant to feel serene looking at it, if you don’t then the image is vain”.

    B1-B2 is also a false statement. The stirring of devotion by a picture doesn’t not mean that the picture is the object of the devotion. Surely we are all sophisticate enough to separate the thing from the thing signified.

    Furthermore, if we agree that we are meant to worship God with our whole selves, our minds, our wills, our talents – can’t our worship also include those things that we make? If I am expected to worship God with my daily life, can’t a part of that daily life be spent drawing a picture of Jesus without automatically becoming sinful? If drawing a landscape or a picture of someone else in the context of a worshipful life is OK, then why isn’t drawing a picture of Christ?

    We must not make images of the God/Man says the man made in the image of God. Camera’s are bad. They steal your soul.

  126. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Seriously, this is going to be another Passion of the Christ (2004). That movie was so great that a wave of remorse and repentance swept our land; abortion was ended, no fault divorce was reversed, and sexual immorality was reigned in. Oh, wait, um …

    I remember a member in good standing of a Reformed church saying how the Passion changed his life. He went on and on about it. Within one year I found myself confronting him over leaving his wife and family. He was eventually disciplined by his church.

  127. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

    The iconoclasm of the Puritans is well known. Of course if you don’t believe the 2nd commandment forbids the making of images of God you wouldn’t think they should be destroyed. Looking at so-called pictures of Christ is more sinful than looking at porn.

    Why does Michelangelo’s David need to be naked? If it doesn’t then it shouldn’t be. What’s next — an affirmation of the “art” of Mapplethorpe? Ever since man fell it has been a shame to be naked in public. Enough with the moral sophistry.

  128. rfwhite said,

    March 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    106 Reed: see my note offline.

  129. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Ron,

    I agree with your observations in # 123. I don’t see Jesus movies or recommend anyone see them for the reasons you gave and others. I just wouldn’t say those who watch them are necessarily involved in idolatry.

  130. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    So Todd, re:129, if you give the watchers a pass, what about the makers? Are you saying that making images of God are wrong based not on the 2nd commandment but the rest of the bible, but once they’re made its OK to view them?

    How is it OK to make use of something that is sinful to make in the first place?

  131. Matt said,

    March 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Reed@107

    It depends on what you mean by “worship.” If you mean cultic prostration, as Exod 20:4-6 does, then no, that’s not the only response.

    Matthew@108

    You misquoted your Hebrew again! Tisk tisk… :-)

  132. TurretinFan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Matt #42 – Your appeal to the use of plurals in Exodus 32:4 is puzzling to me.

    It is clear in context that the “elohim” corresponds to a singular idol, the golden calf. That’s clear from verse 4 and even more so from verse 8.

    Furthermore, in Exodus numerous times before Exodus 32, God refers to himself as being the one who brought up the people from Egypt (Exodus 3:12; 13:3, 9, 14, 16; 15:26; 16:6, 32; 17:3; 18:1; 19:4; 20:2; 29:46). The people seem continually to ascribe the Exodus to Moses and Aaron – Exodus 16:3, Exodus 17:3; Exodus 32:1, which is in a sense true (cf. Exodus 32:7).

    So, the deity referred to here is putatively YHWH, the one deity who brought them up from Egypt.

    What’s the alternative hypothesis? That Aaron is claiming the one singular calf is a plurality of pagan deities? And that this plurality of deities brought Israel out of Egypt? Those don’t seem like very viable options.

    Yes, elohim – when used to refer to YHWH – normally is accompanied by singular forms as a matter of grammatical convention. But the golden calf was not actually YHWH, it was only meant to represent him. It’s reasonable to understand the grammatical conventions employed here as a way of emphasizing that point, rather than suggesting an actual plurality of other deities, particularly when it is clear from the context that there was exactly one idol.

    -TurretinFan

  133. March 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Regarding mental images and historical context noted somewhere above. Ralph Erskine writes that the subject of mental images was not directly addressed by theologians previous to him; he brings in as many tangential sources as he could in his Treatise of Mental Images (Faith No Fancy). See below. This would make an interesting study to see if previous catechisms/works use the phrasing or concept in Larger Catechism 109. On the historical context of the Westminster Assembly’s understanding of pictures of Christ, see my very short article from the 2009 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal that was tacked onto the end of David VanDrunen’s “Pictures of Jesus and the Sovereignty of Divine Revelation: Recent Literature and a Defense of the Confessional Reformed View.” Entitled “The Intent of Westminster Larger Catechism 109 Regarding Pictures of Christ’s Humanity;” it is posted in the clear with minor changes at the Aquilla Report. Lyford’s catechism of 1642 adduced by Erskine below would be a good additional source to add to those I adduce in that article.
    http://theaquilareport.com/the-intent-of-westminster-larger-catechism-109-regarding-pictures-of-christs-humanity/
    Ralph Erskine
    Chapter VII
    I PROPOSED next to adduce the sentiments of divines in opposition to this doctrine of mental imagery, or imaginary ideas of Christ as man. Though I know none that ever directly treated on this subject, and I know not if ever any had occasion to do so til now, that such strange doctrine is introduced and, intermixed with divinity; yet there are many instances of incidental discourses (besides what I have already given), or occasional testimonies in the writings of divines, against all imagery, internal as well as external, in religion. Some of the instances suitable, I think, to the present subject, are these following; to which I may add also the sentiment of philosophers; and therefore shall divide this chapter into two sections, this matter as a point of divinity, the other as a point of philosophy.
    Sect. 1.

    Mr. Hugh Binning in his book entitled, The common principles of the Christian religion proved, &c. edit. 1660. p. 118. speaks to excellent purpose on this subject, when discoursing on the spirituality of the divine nature. His words are “Many ignorant people form in their own mind some likeness and image of God, who is invisible. You know how ye fancy to yourselves some bodily shape when you conceive of him; you think he is some reverend and majestic person, sitting on a throne in heaven. But, I beseech you, correct your mistakes of him. There is outward idolatry, and there is inward: There is idolatry in action, when men paint or engrave some similitude of God; and there is idolatry in imagination, when the fancy and apprehension runs upon some image or likeness of God. the first is among Papists; but I fear the latter be too common among us. And it is indeed all one, to form such a similitude in our mind, and to engrave or paint it without: so that the God whom many of us worship, is not the living and true God, but a painted or graven idol. When God appeared most visible to the world, as at the giving out of the law; yet no man did see any likeness at all: He did not come under the perception of the most subtile sense; he could not be perceived but by the retired understanding, going aside from all things visible, and therefore you do but fancy an idol to yourselves, instead of God, when you apprehend him under the likeness of any visible or sensible thing; and so whatever love, or fear, or reverence you have, it is all but misspent superstition, the love and fear of an Idol.”

    “Lyford’s Catechism on the Second command, p. 132, 135. [Principles of Faith and Good Conscience digested into a Catechistical Form, London: 1642). Q. Well then, here we are forbidden to worship God after our own wits and wills, What is particularly forbidden in this kind? Answer. 1. the making of any image, either of God, or of any creature, for religious use, that is, to help us in our worshipping of God. The likeness and representation of any thing whatsoever is a false help and mean of worship (Exod. 32:1, 4; Psal. 106:20; Jer. 10:8, 14, 15; Ezek. 8:10; Jer. 50:38 and 51:17–19). Q. Is it lawful to make an image of the Trinity, or of any person in the Godhead? Answer. It is utterly unlawful, and a great dishonor to figure the in corruptible God by the shape of a base and corruptible man, or bird, or other creature (Deut. 4:15–18; Rom. 1:23; Acts 17:24, 29; Isa. 40:14, 15, 18, 19; Hab. 2:18). [It abuseth our understandings. The party thinks there is some good in an image, else he would not make it; and that’s a lie: He lieth that sheweth me a toad, and says, it is the picture of an angel; so, &c]. All the pictures of Christ in the flesh, as that of Christ on the cross, and in his resurrection, are lies, false in their representations, and false in the conceit of any good by them.”

    I subjoin that all this is equally true of mental images. Confession of Faith, chap. 21. §1. “The acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will that he may [not] be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men.” Larger Catechism [Q/A 105]. Among the sins forbidden in the first command, is [“]idolatry, in having or worshipping more gods than one, or any with, or instead of the true God.” [Q/A 109] Among the sins forbidden in the second command, is, “the making any representation of God, of all, or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image, or likeness of any kind of creature whatsoever.” Consequently it forbids the making an imaginary idea of Christ as man, any part of the object of faith or worship; because Christ as man is a creature: But the true Christ is the true God in our nature. Shorter Catechism [Q/A 47]. “the first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying the true God as God. ” How can this agree with an imaginary idea of him as man? the second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images; but the foresaid idea is an image of Christ in the head.

  134. Bob B said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    @Ron 126
    I remember a member in good standing of a Reformed church saying how the Passion changed his life. He went on and on about it. Within one year I found myself confronting him over leaving his wife and family. He was eventually disciplined by his church.

    Back in 2004 I went golfing. It changed my life. I have yet to leave my family.

  135. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Todd,

    Just so we’re clear, when I say it’s not necessarily sin I could very well have something else in mind that you don’t. I think I do in fact, for my point is very specific on that front and I didn’t flesh it out in great detail. So, indulge me while I indulge you.

    Take those pictures we see of the Supper. If one were to walk into a room and see one, he does not necessarily sin. If one sees anything by accident, he does not necessarily sin. If the Jesus movie is playing in someone’s house and I so happen to walk in and see it by surprise (or if I were tied down and made to watch it) it I wouldn’t necessarily sin. Having said that, those who watch the movie for edification or entertainment I would say do sin. Not because images are presented to one’s mind but rather because of that which accompanies the very mindset of those who seek after these things. The intention to leave oneself open to be entertained or edified by images of God is sin and results in sin..

  136. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Ron @135,

    Thank you for that clarification. That is an important and necessary distinction.

  137. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    “So Todd, re:129, if you give the watchers a pass, what about the makers? Are you saying that making images of God are wrong based not on the 2nd commandment but the rest of the bible, but once they’re made its OK to view them? How is it OK to make use of something that is sinful to make in the first place?”

    Andrew, all of our denominations, as far as I know, allow freedom of conscience on this issue outside the use of images for worship. in other words, no one in the OPC or PCA, as far as I know, has ever been brought up on charges for owning and using a children’s bible with pictures of Jesus, or seeing The Gospel of John. So it is not me giving a pass, as you call it, but the practice of our denominations. And I never said it was always sinful to draw a picture of Jesus, or more accurately, a figure representing Jesus. The key is what one uses it for, or the motive for doing it.

    “Not because images are presented to one’s mind but rather because of that which accompanies the very mindset of those who seek after these things. The intention to leave oneself open to be entertained or edified by images of God is sin and results in sin..”

    Ron, now I understand your point, no, I wouldn’t go as far as you. I would not say those who gave us children’s Bibles with pictures of Jesus are all in sin for doing so, nor is anyone who studies and appreciates the Last Supper for its artistic value in sin simply for that reason. For too many reasons to explain here, I just don’t want the Word of God through movies. I want it through preaching and reading, the way I think it was meant to be communicated.

  138. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Bob,

    I’m afraid you missed the point, which by the way did serve its intended purpose.The point corroborates the original observation that the 2004 wind of revival was indeed fabricated. It had no staying power because it began by way of a false start.The emotions that the producers were able to excite in this man (and many like him) have nothing to do with God’s work of revival. Indeed, God is free to draw a straight line with a crooked stick, but I hold out little hope that He is as inclined to create true devotion in the hearts of his people through the means of idolatrous practice than He is through the less sensational and ordinary means of grace.

  139. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Andrew / Todd,

    Andrew, yes, I’m glad I made that clarification too. :)

    Todd, thanks for parsing this out with me.

    I would not say those who gave us children’s Bibles with pictures of Jesus are all in sin for doing so,

    Just so we keep things nice and tidy, the sin in view would not be idolatry in such cases but rather, if anything, a sin having to do with bad judgment.

    I appreciate your point that you want the Word to come through the normal means ascribed by that very same Word. But, what is it to bring the Word through corrupted means? Again, isn’t there some truth to the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words? What sort of biblical words – biblical words that predicate about God no less, are portrayed in these sorts of images?

  140. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    “But, what is it to bring the Word through corrupted means? Again, isn’t there some truth to the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words? What sort of biblical words – biblical words that predicate about God no less, are portrayed in these sorts of images?”

    Ron, bringing the Word through non-ordained means does not necessarily commit one to breaking the second commandment. It may simply be a lack of trust in God, or a high view of oneself and one’s talents, or just ignorance of Biblical teaching on this matter, but not necessarily idolatry.

  141. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Well, we might just have different ideas about idolatry but I’m glad to know that you don’t think that the communication of God’s word should be done in ways God disapproves of.

  142. Bob B said,

    March 4, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    @Ron 138

    I don’t know much about revival winds. What I do know is that God can and does use all sorts of events and experiences in different peoples lives in different ways to draw them to him.

    To say that this particular movie by virtue of containing depictions of Jesus categorically cannot draw people to Christ is false.

    Furthermore, you tried to draw a correlation between watching the 2004 movie to a failed marriage… that the one is somehow responsible for the other. That correlation is just as ridiculous as 2004 golfing is to the current (and continued God willing) success of my marriage. Having a moving experience while watching that 2004 or this current movie does not influence marriages in either direction. Neither does appreciating ‘the last supper’ or any other works of art that depict Christ.

    Revivals often contain an emotive element to them. To say that THESE emotions caused by THIS MOVIE are non-revival puts you in the position of God. They may or they may not. It could be that this 2004 movie is a part of a larger picture, perhaps with the upcoming movie. What I see is that the culture has had many wild swings starting around 1998, and they aren’t finished yet. This movie plays a (very small) part in that timeline. In any case, I’m sure it affected many people for the good.

    In the long run, the movie probably does have less impact than regular worship at your local church – but the point of the movie isn’t to sanctify people… its to get people to reexamine the final days of the life of Christ and experience them in a different way than sitting in a pew. In that goal, it has succeeded… even if only for a moment.

  143. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Todd,

    One of my my congregation’s chief complaints with Eerdmans regarding their publishing Catherine Vos’ The Child’s Story Bible, was their inclusion of idolatrous images. We wield our exacto knives and excise the images, and destroy them!

    Yes it is sinful to make, have, own and display images of God in any of the three persons, and we do discipline for violations there of.

    Yes the church has been very slack for the past 200 years in discipling the sin of idolatry, and we have seen God’s response in providence even in the context of this combox. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to that the elders in Israel said the same thing as you do about the continued use of the idolatrous worship at Bethel, after Jeroboam son of Nebat made Israel to sin. Israel has not disciplined anyone for having images or going to the high places or going to calf at Bethel. But God’s judgement is all the more important. Over and over again each King was summed up as and he did that which evil in the sight of the LORD departing not from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat that made Israel to sin.

    But you’re avoiding my question? Do the brothers in the Presbytery of the Southwest know how fully you repudiate the teaching of the Larger Catechism on the 2nd commandment?

  144. Todd said,

    March 4, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Andrew,

    I am avoiding the Presbytery question because it is ridiculous, and I don’t usually respond to theological bullying. That you equate going to a museum and looking at The Last Supper with worshiping the calf at Bethel, and that you equate Michelangelo’s David with porn, is simply too bizarre for me to respond to.

  145. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Furthermore, you tried to draw a correlation between watching the 2004 movie to a failed marriage… that the one is somehow responsible for the other.

    Bob B,

    I’m afraid you missed the point (again). No correlation was made between seeing the movie and what ended in infidelity to wife and God. The point made was that so many get “on fire for Jesus” when they see such dramas but in the end all the excitement that the producers are able to manufacture does not amount to anything permanent.

    In the long run, the movie probably does have less impact than regular worship at your local church

    The movie probably has less impact than the ministry of the Word? Now there’s a correlation if ever there was one. Your relatively low view of the ordinary means of grace correlates nicely to your overly high view of Jesus movies. To make the two out to be almost equal (or the worship “probably” better) is astonishing. Somebody slap me.

  146. Matt said,

    March 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    TurretinFan@132

    I’m not saying that Israel wasn’t falsely imaging YHWH in ch. 32 – I think there is certainly evidence that they saw YHWH as the deity who brought them out of Egypt, and that they were trying to say that their calf idol represented YHWH. However, I also think that their theology was completely jacked-up at this point, and therefore it doesn’t surprise me that they might have potentially viewed a multiplicity of deities residing in one figure.

    My only point in my original response to this episode – which does not determine one’s interpretation of the second command anyway – is that there is a particular reason why translators have rendered plurals in this passage. They didn’t “get it wrong,” no matter what the consensus of armchair theologians around here asserts.

  147. Matt said,

    March 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Todd@144

    Indeed… in case you missed it, apparently I have a devious plan to promote idolatry around here. I wasn’t accused of promoting pornography though, so I guess that’s a positive….

  148. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Todd, you think that repudiating the teaching of the Larger Catechism of the OPC is no big deal? What is ridiculous is that you seemingly think that worship it outside the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture.

    Where in scripture does it teach that depicting naked people is legitimate art? What does the Larger Catechism teach regarding the 7th commandment? Scripture only presents public nakedness in the context of shame. I’m beginning to wonder if you are in favor of the teaching of the Larger Catechism on any of the ten commandments?

  149. Bob B said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    @Ron 145
    I use the word ‘probably’ in this sense; For most people the ordinary means of grace have a larger impact on their sanctification than a movie. However, there are some who come to saving grace through a process that included the movie. For them the movie has a more obvious impact than the ordinary graces. Being moved to tears and examining your belief when confronted in a vibrant visual way by the cross can have much more impact than your average worship service.

    What about exclusive psalmists? Their argument is the exact same as yours – God ordained the songs (and only the songs) that he wants to be worshiped with. By singing modern tunes or non-exactly-scripture words you are deviating from what God ordained.

    Surely you value consistency. Are you going to be an exclusive psalmist now?

    Reading out loud from the word of God is OK. Singing about it is OK Acting while reading scripture is Ok so long as one of your actors doesn’t play the person of Christ.

    We can enjoy plays, pictures, dramatic readings and storybook art of everything about the Bible… Save the central character – the one the whole thing is about. This is legalism at its finest.

  150. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    @149 To antinomians, everyone else is a legalist.

  151. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Bob B,

    Premises and conclusions completely aside, we have a more fundamental problem. We have a different view of what even constitutes an argument.

  152. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    By singing modern tunes… you are deviating from what God ordained.

    That is a monstrous mischaracterization of Exclusive Psalmody. The date of composition of the tune has never been an issue. Many of the tunes of the Geneva Psalter were new at the time. Give me a break. Old 100th was not old when it was written to sing to Psalm 100, nor was Old 124th for Psalm 124.

  153. aholiab said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    #150. To legalists, everyone else is an antinomian.

    This is not useful, Andrew.

  154. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    @153, I think you missed the point, that was my point to to Bob. You did look at #149 and see what he was doing there — right? I was using the opposite to demonstrate the unhelpful nature of 149. — Sigh

    However, at some point though the Reformed do need to show the unwelcome guest to the door. (In case you’re not picking up the reference — I’m making reference to the subtitle of Mark Jones’ excellent book on Antinomianism — not to anyone specifically.

    As it turns out Bob’s use of legalism is not really valid, since I didn’t see anyone advocating obtaining the favor of God by keeping the 2nd commandment. (That would be legalsm) So then perhaps what I said in #150 is more immediately applicable, after all.

  155. Bob B said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    @Andrew 152
    Your right – that was an unfair characterization of Exclusive Psalmody types. I haven’t run into them in some 18 years… so I’m a bit rusty on that particular splinter groups exact musical preferences.

    The last I heard they were still sitting in silence in the back of the church refusing to participate in communal worship because it wasn’t a part of the 150 psalms ordained by God.

    I prefer to follow in the example of the man after God’s own heart and dance naked in the service.

    (That last sentence is a joke meant to highlight the vast difference in allowable worship before God by point out that not all things considered evil by legalists are indeed evil. Dance naked at your own peril).

  156. Ron said,

    March 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Where does Scripture teach that the second commandment also applies to Jesus’ human nature? There’s not much doubt that it applies to His divine nature. So the burden of proof is on those who want to add the human nature of Christ into the prohibition against making images.

    I don’t know but that seems a bit fallacious to me, Roger. First, it seems to beg the question:

    p1. Where does Scripture teach that the second commandment applies to x?

    p2. There’s not much doubt it applies to y

    Therefore, the burden of proof is on those who want it to include x

    I don’t know; I just don’t find that argument very persuasive. It lacks a little umph I think.

    If the commandment pertains to God, with which you must agree, then I would think it’s incumbent upon you to bring forth positive evidence that the commandment does not pertain to God (but rather to His essence). I’ll warn you up front though. Contradictions are often hard to prove.

    Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to tease out nature from person prior to the incarnation. In other words, incarnation aside the commandment would simply apply to God. However, given the incarnation we must now modify the commandment to fit our desire for images. We must make the commandment apply to God’s nature.

    “Good luck with that!”

    ditto :)

    Simply saying that Christ is “God” doesn’t cut it, for He’s truly God and truly Man, with two distinct natures.

    You seem to think that because Jesus has two natures we must pick one over the other while leaving out His distinct person. Why put God asunder this way? Answer: In order not to be forbidden from making images of Jesus. That’s really all I can infer from all of this. Your argument seems to be driven by a desired conclusion.

  157. Roger said,

    March 5, 2014 at 6:30 am

    119. Roger: a sincere one, if you wouldn’t mind dropping the (appearance of) arrogance. I’m showing respect in asking, rather than presuming something. So?

    Well, since I’ve made it quite clear from my very first post (38.) onward “how many persons” I believe are in Jesus, I hardly found the question “respectful.” Do I really need to spell it out in any more detail?

    As a matter of fact, the above linked post and the quote below sum up my position in its entirety, and there’s really nothing more that needs to be said. So, rather than being dragged down more useless rabbit trails (most of which have either ignored or completely distorted what I’ve actually said), this will be my last post on the topic.

    109. “Let’s be clear about something here. The “person” of the Son cannot be separated from his two natures (as if an image of the “person” can be made in the abstract). An image can be made of the Son in relation to his divine nature (which would violate the second commandment), or an image can be made of the Son in relation to his human nature (which would not violate the second commandment). Those are the only two options. The absurd notion that making an image of the Son’s external human form is idolatry is nowhere taught in Scripture (nor is it logically derived from Scripture).”

  158. Reed Here said,

    March 5, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Roger, see no. 156. It is an absurd notion that one can picture only one nature of two united in one person. Your’s is the position that needs positive proof from Scripture.

  159. Todd said,

    March 5, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Reed,

    I’d like to hear your point about how worship is the only proper response to God, which seems a given, as it relates to this discussion, as I work through these issues in my own mind.

    Thanks

  160. Reed Here said,

    March 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Todd: I outlined it in the main post above. Might that start?

  161. Todd said,

    March 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Reed,

    Sorry, I forgot you were the one who wrote the original post. I believe your argument only works if the second commandment forbids pictures of God of any kind for any reason, And if I understand your position, and correct me if I am wrong, if one imagines in one’s mind a scene of Jesus feeding the five thousand, then one would be worshipping falsely, according to your broad definition of worship; thus committing idolatry. Or is it only sin if one draws on a piece of paper what was already in his mind? And if the sins of the second commandment concern other gods, as I suggest, then there are many assumptions in your post that would not be valid. And the sin of Jeroboam was a full scale rejection by Israel of Yahweh as their God – clinging to the gods of the nations instead; a rejection that brought judgment on the entire nation. Do you really want to draw a moral equivalence between that and evangelicals using children’s pictorial Bibles for teaching and using Jesus movies for evangelism, however ill-advised these endeavors are?

  162. Ron said,

    March 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    <blockquoteif one imagines in one’s mind a scene of Jesus feeding the five thousand, then one would be worshipping falsely, according to your broad definition of worship; thus committing idolatry. Or is it only sin if one draws on a piece of paper what was already in his mind… Do you really want to draw a moral equivalence between that and evangelicals using children’s pictorial Bibles.

    Todd,

    How many inches above the knee can a skirt be before it constitutes immodest dress? Or does it depend upon the height of the woman?

    Seriously, why strain out the gnat this way? We’re talking about multiple hours of watching an actor try to portray the Lord not just in Word but in action. There’s really no need to be getting into pop up picture Bibles and all the rest. The original post seems pretty plain to me, but these follow-up questions I find more than a bit passing strange. Just sayin’.

  163. Ron said,

    March 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    if one imagines in one’s mind a scene of Jesus feeding the five thousand, then one would be worshipping falsely, according to your broad definition of worship; thus committing idolatry. Or is it only sin if one draws on a piece of paper what was already in his mind… Do you really want to draw a moral equivalence between that and evangelicals using children’s pictorial Bibles.

    Todd,

    How many inches above the knee can a skirt be before it constitutes immodest dress? Or does it depend upon the height of the woman?

    Seriously, why strain out the gnat this way? We’re talking about multiple hours of watching an actor try to portray the Lord not just in Word but in action. There’s really no need to be getting into pop up picture Bibles and all the rest. The original post seems pretty plain to me, but these follow-up questions I find more than a bit passing strange. Just sayin’.

  164. Todd said,

    March 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Ron,

    It is not my position that struggles with these gnats. If you are going to tell God’s people seeing this movie is participating in idolatry, then the “what about” questions naturally arise about other ways they might be involved in idolatry – like seeing a painting, drawing a picture, imagining Jesus in your mind. etc…Pastorally you have to answer these questions. Idolatry is a serious matter. I am just looking for consistency in the way your view responds to these real life scenarios.

  165. Roger said,

    March 6, 2014 at 5:06 am

    158. It is an absurd notion that one can picture only one nature of two united in one person.

    So, the disciples were picturing Jesus’ divine nature when they were looking at or remembering his external human form, and were therefore committing idolatry! This must be the case, since “it is an absurd notion that one can picture only one nature of two united in one person.” The only thing that is absurd is that you are trying to pass this off as orthodox biblical teaching!

    The union of the two natures “in one person” simply means that the Son (or Second Person) fully possesses both the divine attributes and human attributes in the Incarnation. It doesn’t mean that the two natures have somehow been merged together and are now indistinguishable – so that by looking upon the Son’s human nature one is automatically looking upon his divine nature at the same time. The divine and human natures always remain distinct and whole, without any mixture or dilution.

    Thus, a picture of the Son’s external human form is a picture of his humanity, not his deity; it is a picture of “the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), not a picture of God as he exists “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16) – to which the prohibition against making and worshipping images properly applies.

  166. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I hope Reed doesn’t mind…

    Roger,

    I will start with something you said at the end because that idea infiltrates all that precedes it, but you express it most succinctly only at the end.

    Thus, a picture of the Son’s external human form is a picture of his humanity, not his deity; it is a picture of “the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), not a picture of God as he exists “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16) – to which the prohibition against making and worshipping images properly applies.

    One’s human form is not one’s humanity. The former is material and the latter is immaterial in nature. From that faulty premise you launch into conclusions that even if correct would not be justified.

    Secondly, that a picture of Jesus is not “God as he exists in unapproachable light” has no bearing on the question of whether an image of the God-man is permissible. That it’s impossible that a picture portray God as He is begs the question of what sorts of images are permissible if any. This is where you point to Jesus’s humanity, which I’ll address below even though the quote at the top shows that you’ve confused humanity with physical substance.

    So, the disciples were picturing Jesus’ divine nature when they were looking at or remembering his external human form, and were therefore committing idolatry!

    Memory of the disciples has already been addressed.

    This must be the case, since “it is an absurd notion that one can picture only one nature of two united in one person.”

    What even is it to think of a specific person’s humanity and not the person? With respect to the Son who has two natures, what does it mean to think of His human nature apart from whom He is as a person? Everything Jesus did He did as the Son of God.To think of His works is to think of Son’s works. It’s to think of the Son. It’s to think of God. Did Jesus’ humanity heal the lame or did the Son of God as a human being?

    You’ve hitched your hope to the fact that we may distinguish the human nature from the divine nature, but that merely means we can predicate about each nature because there is no transfer of properties between the two. It doesn’t logically follow that the Person, which the image is to represent, can be thought of apart from His personhood. If you think you only see “humanity” when you look at images of Jesus, then you should be reminded no less of your neighbor’s humanity than you are of Jesus’ humanity. If you don’t abstract humanity from the person like that, then you must be imagining the Second Person, whose human nature is penetrated by the divine nature given that the divine Son became a human being. Accordingly, either you are thinking of humanity as an abstract concept (and should think of your neighbor no less than Jesus) or you are thinking of the person of Christ (who cannot be separated from His two natures). When you focus on Jesus’ human qualities, you are thinking of the human qualities in light of the Person with two natures; you are thinking of a human nature that was completely penetrated by the divine nature. Again, the works of the Second person were performed through the human nature.

    To bring this full circle. Jesus’ form is not his human nature.

  167. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

    It is not my position that struggles with these gnats. If you are going to tell God’s people seeing this movie is participating in idolatry, then the “what about” questions naturally arise about other ways they might be involved in idolatry – like seeing a painting, drawing a picture, imagining Jesus in your mind. etc…Pastorally you have to answer these questions. Idolatry is a serious matter. I am just looking for consistency in the way your view responds to these real life scenarios.

    Todd,

    I’m sure I don’t follow. You want to know how to minister to someone in accordance with a position you reject?

    My pastoral perspective is that if one cannot get someone else to see that watching a movie of Jesus is wrong, then I wouldn’t bother discussing pop up picture Bibles, etc. Analogously, if one won’t admit that physical adultery is sin, then it would be a waste of time to discuss what might constitute immodest attire.Therefore, I am inclined to take my own advice and not discuss pop up picture Bibles with you until you can agree on the weightier matters.

  168. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Ron,

    I think you are missing the point of my question. Physical adultery and immodest dress, as you call it, are two different sins. Making images of Jesus is one particular sin, the breaking of the second commandment according to you, and those who look upon these things purposefully are participating in idolatry according to your argument. So the difference between seeing a ninety minute Jesus movie and spending ten minutes looking at the Last Supper is really a distinction without a difference. What is your standard for deciding which one is the more serious idolatry? The amount of time watching? That is the question I am asking.

    The other issue I have with this post is the tendency of conservative reformed people to assume the worst of their evangelical brothers who do not share all their convictions on the application of the law in the new covenant. There are millions of godly Christians all over the world who sing man-made hymns, do not see a sabbath command continuing in the new covenant, send their children to public school, (fill in your reformed living conviction here), and do not see the bible forbidding us from seeing The Book of John, and they actually do care about obeying God and interpreting the Bible correctly. Instead of assuming they are in disobedience, maybe they do not see these things because the Bible is not as clear on these matters as you think.

    I’m not in the PCA, but you confessionalists in the PCA are surely not going to persuade your broad evangelical brothers of your position by assuming they are antinomians and suggesting that they are experiencing God’s judgment, or discipline, because they do not share your views. There is a harshness in Reed’s original post that I think is unhealthy and unwarranted, all the while not denying the crass marketing motives behind many of these Jesus movies, as well as the sadness of the exaggerated claims of their benefit. (It was D. James Kennedy who wrote concerning the Passion of the Christ, “I cannot recall a movie in my lifetime that has precipitated greater anticipation or created more of a stir than this film. Unlike some, I find listening to the discussions and debate surrounding it exciting, because I believe `The Passion of the Christ’ has the potential to stir a mighty rebirth of spirituality that I pray will sweep over our nation and the world!’” At the time I couldn’t believe how naive and ridiculous that statement was.)

  169. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Todd: I’ll let Ron continue with parts of the discussion to which you’ve already begun to respond. Let me interact with just a couple of thoughts for your response to me, only in the hopes of friendly interaction.

    “I believe your argument only works if the second commandment forbids pictures of God of any kind for any reason,”

    I think you are reading my point backwards. On the face of it the most natural reading is that any images are forbidden. It is only upon a closer reading that the issue of the use of such images comes to the fore. I’m not saying this closer reading is wrong. Indeed I see the emphasis:

    Ex 20:4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

    … is the prohibition against any images.

    Ex 20:5a You shall not bow down to them or serve them, …

    … is the context for the use of such images.

    The questions then to be answered are:

    > Is this an comprehensive list of forbidden uses of images of God? I.e., is God ONLY images in worship, but not images made for other uses (e.g., in our circles, the “acceptable” use is for educational purposes).

    OR

    > Is this an exemplary list of forbidden uses of images of God? (? There may be a more technically accurate term than “exemplary”; help anyone?) If so, then in forbidding this exemplary use, God is ALSO forbidding any other use.

    As with all such questions, the question can only be answered by looking at the rest of Scripture. When I do that (and I admit I could be wrong), I only see two characteristic responses to God: rebellion or worship.

    Let me be a bit clearer. By the two options I am saying that each an every response to God either modeled or taught in Scripture looks like the boldest, clearest example of these. I am not saying that every rebellion response to God is like Satan shaking his fist in God’s face. Nor is every worship response to God like Isaiah falling in woe before God. What I am saying is that the Bible itself characterizes a person’s response as either rebellion or worship, depending on the nature of their relationship with Him.

    This is nothing more than the Biblical paradigm of roots and fruits in application. If one is rooted in relationship with God via Christ than His fruits, be it however small, are in essence worship, an expression of man’s true purpose (i.e., WSC Q/A 1).

    Contrary, if one is not rooted in relationship with God, but instead is rooted in relationship with Satan as spiritual head (Eph 2:1-2; Jh 8:44), be it however pleasant in appearance, all one’s responses to God grow out of a rebellious heart.

    Thus, if we deny that the exclusion of images is exemplary, and instead say it is comprehensive, we still end up at the same point:

    > No images of God,
    > For worship purposes only,
    > Worship is the only acceptable response to God,

    Therefore no images of God at all.

    It sounds to me that you’ve assumed my argument applies only in the case of the exemplary usage answer. I disagree. My argument may not be sound, but I am seeking to make it on the basis of the assumption that there are other viable responses to God.

    My argument is that these, as varied as they may be, are ultimately expressions of a heart in relationship with God and therefore are in essence worship. If so, there is no such thing as an image completely disconnected from the 2nd C.

    Thanks. Hope this is a bit clearer.

    (P.S., I feel the sting of the kinds of circumstances you mention, what you are discussing with Ron. With no disrespect intended, we are to expect such stings in the Christian life, right? If God says it, and it conflicts with what we’re used to, sad, but that makes no allowance for an exception.

    For me then, bringing up such examples, be they children’s Bibles or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, are nothing more than appeals to pragmatism. Like you, my interest is in what does God want of me as His child, rejoicing in the life of worship He has graced me to live in?)

  170. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I think you are missing the point of my question. Physical adultery and immodest dress, as you call it, are two different sins.

    Todd,

    The secondary standards to which I adhere (because I find them biblical) catalog these sins under the singularity of the seventh commandment. If immodest dress,wanton looks , etc., don’t fall under the seventh commandment, then where would you place them? That they are “different” sins can, also, be said about watching talking movies that portray Jesus and gazing at paintings that are to depict Jesus. To draw these distinctions as you do is to, again, strain out the gnat.

  171. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Nicely done, Reed.

  172. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Ron,

    Surely you deal differently with a girl in your church who in your opinion wears too much makeup or wears too tight of clothing vs. a wife committing adultery against her husband. You draw distinctions here with biblical support. Putting aside whether the authors of the Larger Catechism were correct in labeling immodest clothing a violation of the adultery commandment, you draw distinctions between the two, as you should. What I am asking of you is to support your statement above, “That they are different sins can, also, be said about watching talking movies that portray Jesus and gazing at paintings that are to depict Jesus.” I am asking you how they are different. Hope this is clear.

    Reed,

    What you wrote # 169 is helpful – will think on it and get back to you.

  173. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Todd,

    They can only be different in degree, not in kind, which brings me full circle. If you don’t accept what I believe to be more flagrant violations of the commandment, what hope do I have in convincing you on what you must think would be the more subtle violation, which I don’t find that subtle by the way? We’re at an impasse from the start.

  174. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Todd: the other thing I wanted to touch on in your comment, you said:

    “And the sin of Jeroboam was a full scale rejection by Israel of Yahweh as their God – clinging to the gods of the nations instead; a rejection that brought judgment on the entire nation.”

    Beginning with a strong acknowledgment that you may understand the Scriptures better than me, I need to simply observe that I believe you are flat out wrong here.

    I am currently about 2/3 through a preaching series on the Minor Kings, from Rehoboam/Jeroboam, all the way down to the last kings in each nation at captivity. As I began this study one of the questions I needed to answer pretty quickly was exactly this: who was Jeroboam telling Israel to worship, Yahweh or pagan Gods?

    Clearly Ex 32 and Aaron’s golden calf have a strong influence on one’s answer here. And if you begin with the premise (which I think Matt demonstrated and you said you agree with) that in Ex 32 Aaron’s use of Elohim was not a reference to Yahweh per se but a reference to pagan gods (plural), then yes, I would agree that this strongly preferences us to understand Jeroboam to be offering his golden calf (one in two different locations) not as a symbol of Yahweh, but as a symbol of pagan gods.

    But there are other Scriptures that need to inform our thinking. A general interpretive rule I think we would agree on is that the closer the context the more influential the Scripture is on another Scripture. If so, then I would say that while Aaron’s usage is significant, even more significant is the usage of the golden calf in the history of the Northern Kingdom. That, after all, IS the immediate context for what Jeroboam did.

    Looking at that context I do not see an immediate abandonment of Yahweh. It is not until we get to Ahab, and only under him and his sons, that we see an explicit abandonment of Yahweh as Israel’s God. And even this is hotly contested in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. Even in the midst of this greatest point of abandonment of Yahweh as Israel’s God, the question is still being challenged: is Yahweh or is Baal Israel’s God?

    So what was the sin of Jerobaom? I believe it is the abandonment of worship of Yahweh as He commanded, not the abandonment of Him as Israel’s God.

    Probably the strongest proof of this is seen in the kingships of Jehu and his four descendants. Numerous explicit references are made to their approval from Yahweh, and yet their condemnation for maintaining the sins of Jeroboam. Especially with Jehu, we are told of the zeal of Jehu for Yahweh! (2Ki 10:16)

    The same pattern is seen in his descendants: some acknowledgment of Yahweh as Israel’s God and maintaining of the sins of Jeroboam:

    Jehu:
    2Ki 10:16, ff. – And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.”
    2Ki 10:29-31 – 29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin– that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. 30 And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” 31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.

    Jehoahaz:
    2Ki 13:2-6 – 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them.
    3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael. 4 Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them.
    5 (Therefore the LORD gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians, and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly. 6 Nevertheless, they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria.)

    J(eh)oash:
    2Ki 13:11 – He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them.
    2Ki 13:14, ff., Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”

    Jeroboam II:
    2Ki 14:24-27 – 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.
    26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. 27 But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

    Zechariah: 2Ki 15:9-12 – 9 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
    10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place.
    11 Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 12 (This was the promise of the LORD that he gave to Jehu, “Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” And so it came to pass.)

    Other evidences can be observed or deduced from the reigns of the rest of the kings of Israel after Jeroboam I. All these serve to demonstrate that Jeroboam’s sin was NOT to abandon Yahweh as the God of Israel, but the abandonment of obedience to Yahweh’s law, particularly it’s cultic-worship components. (This is not a minor thing, as it led the way to the ultimate abandonment of Yahweh in every way but name only).

    Jeroboam offered the golden calf as an image of Yahweh. Ex 32:5 gives strong support that he was following Aaron’s example.

    With you, I think these examples are exceptionally relevant to the question of what, if any, image making of God is allowable. Jeroboam made a image intended to represent Yahweh. While this was NOT an abandonment of Yahweh as Israel’s god, it led to that. The Israel who went into the Assyrian captivity worshiped Yahweh, but they did so under a form that was so corrupted as to corrupt their understanding of Yahweh to to point of fatal futility. They worshiped Him in name only.

    (I.e., the archaeological records are strongest from this period of Israel’s history, and they overwhelming support this conclusion. Not that this “proves” my interpretation. But it does support it.)

    The example of Jeroboam serves only further to demonstrate the danger of images – they can never fully comprehend the nature of God, and so serve to only corrupt our understanding of Him.

    Again, Todd, not so much for our sakes as I think we trust in the best in each other (add Ron to the circle), but for others reading along, I’m not trying to put you down in disagreeing with you. Instead I am seeking for clarity of our Lord with a brother. Thanks for your patience where ever my words come short of that goal.

  175. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Ron,

    I will try one last time, then give up. I do not think I am asking too difficult of a question. I get that you see a difference in degree, not in kind, between the movie and the painting. My question is; in your mind what makes the difference in degree between the two? What makes the movie a more flagrant violation of the second commandment than the painting, or a children’s Bible? This is not a trick or leading question, I really do not understand why the movie is worse in your thinking.

  176. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Indeed, Reed. It’s an oversimplification to index infidelity to a false god that has nothing to do with the God of Israel. Reason being, Yahweh is God over all. To chase after other gods is to substitute them for the one true and living God, who happened to be Yahweh. That God is Yahweh is incidental to thread of the argument regarding making false images of God. It’s not as though the commandment does not apply to those who never heard of the God of Israel.

  177. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Ron: I get you. You’re saying that in principle, since there is always ONLY one true God, any image making is a representation of Him. Accuracy is not the issue. From blatant paganly informed image to biblically informed image, the issue is the application of the 2nd C.

  178. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    My question is; in your mind what makes the difference in degree between the two? What makes the movie a more flagrant violation of the second commandment than the painting, or a children’s Bible?

    Todd,

    At base, there must be degrees given that they’re different manifestations of the same sin. Which sin is more flagrant would in a very strict sense depend upon the person and his approach to the sin. For our purposes, however, I have been granting for argument’s sake that most people don’t stand in line outside to buy a ticket in order to get a glimpse of a pop up Bible book. With that said, the seriousness of this sin is that people are looking either to be entertained or edified by images, etc., of Jesus. That is typically not the case with picture Bibles. However, if people were taking pilgrimages to Nelson Publishing because of some extraordinary first viewing of a pop up Bible book, then I’d say that would be on par if not a more flagrant than those who crave spiritual nourishment from such movies. As I said above, I don’t find the picture Bibles such a subtle mystery or difficult to discern. It’s all rubbish.

  179. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Yes, Reed. That was the point I was trying to make to Matt earlier, albeit not as clearly as I might have hoped.

  180. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Todd,

    Please let me echo Reed’s sentiment in his last paragraph to you. Having said that, I do think this has run its course; at least in my mind it has.

  181. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    The other issue I have with this post is the tendency of conservative reformed people to assume the worst of their evangelical brothers who do not share all their convictions on the application of the law in the new covenant.

    Todd,

    Many evangelical couples have an unbiblical view of what sort of physical contact is permissible before marriage. These sorts of things speak to “application of the law” (which, incidentally, transcends those things peculiar to a “new covenant” theology). Are all our convictions subject to this sort of paralyses because evangelicals disagree on heavy petting for instance?

    Instead of assuming they are in disobedience, maybe they do not see these things because the Bible is not as clear on these matters as you think.

    Differences over 2nd commandment aside, guilt and disobedience is not just a matter of degree. There is a binary aspect to it. Any lack of perspicuity does not diminish that one is culpable for want of conformity to God’s law. Surely you must agree. It only can pertain to severity of culpability.

    I don’t see how the original post implies the things that you suggest it implies.

  182. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Reed,

    Not trying to put you down either – great respect for you – I do think we see Jeroboam differently. It is not mutually exclusive to suggest that Jeroboam led a full scale rejection of Yahweh by erecting the calves at the two cities, while at the same time recognizing he was telling the northern kingdom they could worship Yahweh at these two high places. Jeroboam did not really believe in the Lord, he was only doing what was politically expedient for himself, which was to use the name Yahweh in the new religion he was crafting. To capture the hearts of the Northerners and remain in power he needed to keep them from going to Jerusalem and being drawn to the house of David and God’s promises to David’s dynasty. Jeroboam exalted himself above the God of Israel, thus in a sense he created his own religion, for later he appointed his own priests, and even his own feasts; drawing the people away from the true God.

    So at times in the OT the sin of Jeroboam is contrasted with the more blatant practice of naming other gods instead of Yahweh, but at other times the sin of Jeroboam is directly connected to the sin of worshipping other gods, such as:

    (I Chron. 13:8-10) “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service.”

    (II Kings 17:15-23) “They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal…. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only…And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight. When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin. The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.”

    In both of these passages above, the sin of Jeroboam is connected to worshipping other gods, which was the reason Israel was exiled. Yes, it was a process that took time from calling the calves “images of Yahweh” to simply “Baal and Asherah,” but Jeroboam’s motivation was satanic all the same, to draw the people’s heart away from God to worship other gods (i.e., actually himself), even though he used God’s name in the beginning.

    So I do not believe it is appropriate to draw a correlation between Jeroboam and Christians today who paint a picture of Jesus for artistic or educational purposes. Motive matters in all this. This is not to excuse the Mark Burnetts of the world for using religion to cash in, but it is to say I don’t think one can draw a direct line from Jeroboam to Michelangelo simply because both crafted an image.

  183. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    “These sorts of things speak to “application of the law” (which, incidentally, transcends those things peculiar to a “new covenant” theology).”

    Actually, no, while some applications transcend both covenants, biblical law is very much conditioned upon which covenant administration one is under – probably for a different discussion

    “Differences over 2nd commandment aside, guilt and disobedience is not just a matter of degree. There is a binary aspect to it. Any lack of perspicuity does not diminish that one is culpable for want of conformity to God’s law. Surely you must agree. It only can pertain to severity of culpability.”

    Right, as long as one recognizes that in this fallen world one can make an intellectual mistake with good motives; WCF II:7 applies to biblical laws also – not everything is plain in themselves

  184. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    sorry, that’s WCF I:7

  185. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Todd: your original point about the sin of Jeroboam was that it was a “full scale rejection of Yahweh”. That is not the case.

    The evidence you adduce confirms this. From Jeroboam’s perspective, he was offering the Israelites the worship of their traditional God, under a different image. (This, at it’s fullest, was a different system of worship; think about the intentional connection here, inferential issues to the regulative principle).

    From God’s perspective, Jeroboam was offering them BOTH different worship and different gods. (This is the opposite and corollary to Ron’s point about the exclusiveness of God no matter how we image Him).

    The application you were making is that Jeroboam was not offering an image of Yahweh, but of different gods. This is not the case. He was offering an image of Yahweh. This is extremely relevant to Christians who do not see the connection between one’s worship, one’s understanding God, and one’s subsequent walk of faith.

    And even here, I’m not sure how this actually impinges on the points I am making in this post. Whether Jeroboam was offering Yahweh or Ball in the golden calf, are not both covered even in the strictest understanding of the 2nd C? He was offering an image for the purposes of worship .

    (Almost typed “porpoises of worship.” Of course then somebody would think I was connecting the 2nd C to one of the coverings of the tabernacle. ;-) )

  186. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Todd: motive, goal AND action matter in all this. The motive and goal can be perfectly great behind the imaging of Jesus in a movie. If there is a command against such imaging then all the perfect motives in China won’t remove the sinful nature of the action.

    I for one find great corollary between the Minor kings’ period and the modern American Church. There was a strong depth of sincere devotion to Yahweh in both kingdoms, just like in America. This devotion was horribly misinformed, just like in America.

    Great motives in both settings. Horrible results for the OT Church. Great results for us if we have the same motives and similar actions?

  187. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    “Todd: your original point about the sin of Jeroboam was that it was a “full scale rejection of Yahweh”. That is not the case.”

    I Kings 17 And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin.

    I Chron 13 because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods.

    Crafting gods to drive Israel from following the Lord is a full scale rejection of Yahweh, no matter what name he gave to the calves at the time.

    “From Jeroboam’s perspective, he was offering the Israelites the worship of their traditional God, under a different image.”

    Jeroboam did not want them to worship the God of the Bible who revealed himself as the one behind David’s dynasty. He created his own gods and called them Yahweh to deceive the people.

    “Todd: motive, goal AND action matter in all this. The motive and goal can be perfectly great behind the imaging of Jesus in a movie. If there is a command against such imaging then all the perfect motives in China won’t remove the sinful nature of the action.”

    Right, but if motive matters, it mean those with good motives who may paint a picture, who have no desire to draw people away from the Lord, are not necessarily guilty of the sin of Jeroboam; so we should not speak of God’s judgment against them.

    “I for one find great corollary between the Minor kings’ period and the modern American Church. There was a strong depth of sincere devotion to Yahweh in both kingdoms, just like in America. This devotion was horribly misinformed, just like in America. Great motives in both settings.”

    What were the great motives of Jeroboam? Where is the sincere devotion mentioned concerning those kings who sinned in the likeness of Jeroboam?

    I would suggest that idolatry, biblically speaking, cannot be committed by the redeemed, who sincerely love and follow the Lord. (I am avoiding the modern tendency to define idolatry as any sin because every sin exalts a desire, person, etc. over God. In that sense we commit idolatry every day. I am speaking of the sin that caused God to judge and condemn the Israelites spoken by the prophets; a rejection of the true God for false gods)

  188. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    What were the great motives of Jeroboam? Where is the sincere devotion mentioned concerning those kings who sinned in the likeness of Jeroboam?

    Jehu

    2 Kings 10:30,31

    And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

    But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

  189. hashavyahu said,

    March 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    The reason behind the OT’s aniconism is that they considered it an affront to depict the creator as a creature. Jesus in his human nature is, of course, a creature. So how can there be anything wrong per se with artistic depictions of his human nature? Claiming otherwise is a misunderstanding and mis-application of the OT injunctions against iconic representation of Yahweh.

  190. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Andrew,

    It is difficult to determine sincere devotion from OT descriptions like this.
    The OT texts like this do not usually reveal levels of sincerity. One could surmise from the second sentence “(he) took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart” a lack of sincere devotion to follow God, but that is unwarranted also. We do not even know many of the OT kings who followed certain commands of God were even regenerate. The works of the kings are usually given in comparison to David, the ideal king. Thus it would be a stretch to liken Jeroboam or even Jehu to new covenant believers with new hearts who desire to follow God, but see a movie about Jesus, not believing it is sinful to do so.

  191. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Jesus in his human nature is, of course, a creature.

    Whew, please don’t say things like that. Jesus was begotten, not made. “Jesus in his human nature” is God incarnate, one in being with the Father.

  192. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Todd: think we’re both looking at the same characteristic, but interpreting it via our differing presuppositions on the 2nd C.

    The passages you reference do not express to me a total rejection of Yahweh. They express God’s response to their compromise.

    Again, the contrast with Ahab and his followers is crucial to observe. Those were folks who totally rejected Yahweh, knowingly so.

    ———-

    If doing the same as Jeroboam is a violation of f the 2nd C, how does different motives change the ballgame?

    ———–

    “What were the great motives of Jeroboam? Where is the sincere devotion mentioned concerning those kings who sinned in the likeness of Jeroboam?”

    Again, reading the same texts, and missing what the other sees. I You are reading texts expressing what God judges of their actions and imputing this to their motives. That flattens the test in a manner that cannot account for examples where God praises a king and condemns him at the same time. Again, the passages referencing Jehu and descendants are very illustrative here.

    ———–

    “I would suggest that idolatry, biblically speaking, cannot be committed by the redeemed, who sincerely love and follow the Lord. (I am avoiding the modern tendency to define idolatry as any sin because every sin exalts a desire, person, etc. over God. In that sense we commit idolatry every day. I am speaking of the sin that caused God to judge and condemn the Israelites spoken by the prophets; a rejection of the true God for false gods).”

    And in doing so you are not arguing against position I am taking. I am expressly referring to that which you are avoiding.

    It sounds a bit that one of your sticking points in this interaction Todd is the seriousness of the matter involved. I get that and readily admit that if I’m wrong on the reach of the 2nd C than I’ve not made a strong argument for not seeing this movie.

    If I’m right however, doesn’t making an image of God constitute a serious sin, no matter the motive?

    Don’t over-read what I’m saying. I’ve not said anyone who sees this movie is by definition an unbeliever. Nor have I flattened out the issue of degrees of sinfulness (which rightly taken into consideration the complex of motive-goal-action in judging the relative weight of a sin).

    We live in a period where such things as this movie are offered as a positive good to the Church and Her mission. I am arguing that the exact opposite is true, on the basis of my understanding of the reach of the 2nd C.

    If I am wrong on the reach of the 2nd C., then considerations such as Burnett-Downey’s:

    > background (new-agers?),
    > motive (to present the Christ they believe in),
    > goal (to win others to the Christ they believe in), and
    > action (how accurately do they portrary the Christ of the Bible),

    are still valid considerations. But I’ve haven’t gone there on purpose.

    If I’m right on the reach of the 2nd C, they are still valid, but take a second place in terms of significance. You would agree that clear and overt violation of one of the 10 C’s is among the most heinous of sins, yes? (Again, not saying you agree with my assessment of the 2nd C’s reach.)

    Think we’re beginning to talk around and maybe past each other at this point. No one to blame, just observing. I’m gonna slow down and just listen for a while. Thanks for the interaction.

  193. hashavyahu said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    He’s got a body made of creature-stuff, no?

  194. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    No. 189: Jesus is one person. Where does Scripture give us positive warrant to believe we can display Jesus’ humanness without displaying His divinity? All His words and actions are the words and actions of the God-Man, God Incarnate.

  195. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Also, please forgive hashavyahu, but have you complied with the blog rules and identified yourself to one of the moderators yet? Sorry if I’m forgetting but this is important to us here. Thanks for responding positively.

  196. hashavyahu said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    If he’s got a creature-body, which he does, then the OT principle of aniconism is incorrectly applied to him. Now, you may have other good reasons not to depict Jesus. Asking for a “positive warrant” implies a regulative principle, or whatever you call it, which, for all I know, is a valid principle. I just don’t think you can base this on OT aniconism. A baby in a manger or a man walking around Palestine can be depicted. The creator, according to the OT principle, simply cannot.

  197. aholiab said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    As far as I know, most people in the NT, including the disciples, saw Jesus without immediately making the connection to his deity. Peter eventually saw him as the Son of God, but did he do this by looking at the physique of Jesus? I doubt it. Peter, James, and John saw the Transfiguration, and obviously there was something more to this Jesus than humanity. Peter, and later Thomas, made the connection to the deity of Jesus; but was this not by the eyes of faith rather than their physical eyes?

    Perhaps most who saw Jesus, including faithful disciples, saw a man. Only by faith did they see that this was the God-man.

  198. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Todd,

    You know Todd, it is hard for you, but not for everyone. Seriously, this is your argument?

    The text is pretty clear. So why does it have to be sincere devotion? Why do you get to raise the stakes that way?

    God himself characterizes Jehu’s actions as being after God’s own heart. Devotion is as devotion does. So you are going to stand in judgement without warrant from scripture and accuse Jehu of following after other gods when scripture doesn’t support such a charge? — Nice!
    He destroyed Baal worship out of Israel, so which gods where they? Can you be specific. If you’re going to charge someone even after 2800 years, you should be able to come up with specifications.

    It is so striking that you miss the exact comparisons to David with respect to God’ use of the phase “all that was in my heart”, but he then fails in total because he continued in the sins of Jeroboam. Then notice the tie into the reason annexed to the 2nd commandment, but that’s probably what makes you think that false gods are really in view because you don’t think that the 2nd commandment is distinct from the first, do you? So round about the circle we go.

    A prophet of Jehovah not Baal anointed Jeroboam, a prophet of Jehovah not Baal, anointed Jehu. Seriously, do you think they had no conception of the true God being the source of their office as king?

    Todd wrote:

    I would suggest that idolatry, biblically speaking, cannot be committed by the redeemed, who sincerely love and follow the Lord.

    Well that’s a bit a ridiculous statement, since sin entails not following the LORD, nor loving him, since Jesus said, if ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15) It therefore necessarily follows that breaking Jesus’ commandments is not loving him, sincerely or insincerely.

    But I don’t get the impression that you meant it that way. I took you to mean that it really is impossible for sincere Christians to break the 2nd commandment. Did you really mean that?

    Any other sins you think the redeemed are incapable of committing?

  199. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    By positive warrant I’m simply asking on what basis do we believe we can validly depict human nature and NOT divine nature? Such a distinction is a philosophically rooted argument, not a Biblical one.

    That the disciples did not recognize Jesus’ deity immediately is not presented as a non-issue, but rather the opposite, a problem to be resolved.

    It is interesting to note that the very ones who could have provided authoritative images of Jesus did so ONLY through preaching. That is the faithfulness they demonstrated once they recognized Jesus for who He is.

    Again, I understand the “human nature” only argument, and it might be a sound one – if we could depict one nature apart from the other.

    I think the early Church Councils would have freaked out if such a bifurcation was suggested to be even possible. But they could be wrong. So, where do we find in Scripture an argument in support of the depiction of Jesus’ human nature, apart from His divine nature?

    Frankly, I don’t think such an argument from Scripture can be made. I’m not satisfied with mere inferential argumentation. Its gotta be a good argument (rooted in Scripture) and necessary (called for by Scripture). Again, the disciples’ failure to recognize both natures up front is not support, but actually an argument against this position.

    Thanks for making me think. Hope this helps, even where you disagree.

  200. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    resent

  201. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Todd,

    I’m guessing you will reply that Jehu is guilty of worshipping false gods vis-a-vis Jeroboam’s calves, which he didn’t destroy So even though Jeroboam and Jehu both knew who Jehovah was and Jeroboam referred to the calves as representing Jehovah, not miscellaneous foreign gods, he was worshipping gods other than Jehovah, and lying about it, and Jehu by extension?

    So do you also conclude (since it’s impossible for the redeemed to commit idolatry) that both Jeroboam and Jehu are reprobate?

    Is that about right?

  202. hashavyahu said,

    March 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I’m actually not trying to present a positive argument for depicting Jesus, but rather to quibble with the legitimacy of the argument against it. If I were to make a positive argument, maybe I could ground the idea that Jesus’ human nature is portrayable in something like Isa 53:2. The point is that there is nothing *special* about the way he looks, nothing divine about his outward appearance. This implies he is theoretically depictable, and that the OT aniconism principle does not apply. This does not imply that it is desirable to depict him, and I don’t want to make that argument.

  203. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Andrew, if you took the time to actually read anything I wrote you would not make such silly accusations. They are not worthy of a response.

  204. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    hashavyahu: well, that would certainly be an inference of Isa 53:2. Don’t think it is enough to support a theoretical position.

    Regarding OT aniconism, even if so that still leaves NT aniconism. ;-)

    Appreciate your final point. From my side I certainly do not want to be read as making a simplistic argument that does not deal with the reality of the complexity of this issue. It is easy to focus on one medium (film). I recognize the position I’m taking has further applications, and potentially some that I wouldn’t find very comfortable.

    My desire in this discussion is for greater devotion of faith, fueled by the Spirit’s work of growing Christ in me, yielding increased fullness of joy in and glory for God.

  205. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Andrew, are you maybe reading inferences in what you read in Todd’s responses? If so, maybe it would be helpful to surface those first?

  206. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Reed,

    I think your last post does get at the heart of our differences, and why your original post bothered me. I think in practice we are probably very close. I am strongly against using icons or images to somehow connect to God, bring God closer to us, etc…I don’t even have a cross in my church. So I am as simple, plain worship as they come. And I don’t like Jesus or Bible movies, not always for the same reason as you. I have no plans to see Noah either. I don’t see movies to learn the Bible, I see them to be entertained. The difference in practice may be that my conscience is not offended by looking at the Sistine Chapel or Last Supper, while yours may be.

    “We live in a period where such things as this movie are offered as a positive good to the Church and Her mission. I am arguing that the exact opposite is true, on the basis of my understanding of the reach of the 2nd C.”

    I would argue the same, using somewhat different reasoning.

    “You would agree that clear and overt violation of one of the 10 C’s is among the most heinous of sins, yes?”

    Yes

    Reed, here is where I was bothered by your post. Not that you hold the conviction you do, but the assumption you made about how you think God considers those who disagree with your view without making a distinction concerning motives, and using, IMO, the sin of Jeroboam illegitimately.

    As an analogy, I have three teenage boys in the home. When one of them does not follow my instructions completely in a matter, if he was not rebelling against my authority purposefully, but either misunderstood or simply forgot, I am not really angry with him. All things considered, given teenagers, I am still pleased with him and usually chalk it up to weakness. But if my son is purposefully rebelling and refusing to respect my authority and rules, I become angry with him and I discipline him.

    I know God does not have to conform to my fatherly ways, but I think this sentiment is biblical. To suggest God is angry with those who sincerely love him but do not understand one command or misunderstand how it applies is to suggest a harshness in God that I do not see in the Bible as he relates to his redeemed children.

    This is why I find the ardent exclusive psalmody position so repugnant. (I say ardent because I have an elder who leans that way but sings the hymns and does not judge those of us who disagree with his position.) But when the ardent EP guys suggest that singing man-made hymns to God is as Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire, which provoked the Lord’s anger to kill them, it suggests that of all the millions of people around the world who profess the true faith, God is angry with their worship, even when they sing out of love for Jesus, because they do not practice EP, and only a tiny remnant who are exclusive psalmists God is pleased with in their gatherings.

    In the same way, I just know and have known too many believers from different parts of the world who do not see the Bible forbidding seeing this kind of movie. I cannot say God is angry with them or plans to discipline them, and I surely cannot assume they are guilty of the sin of Jeroboam. Guys like Andrew may be comfortable with believing the majority of the modern church (I’m speaking of bible-belieivng evangelicals) are not pleasing God but a tiny few, but my theology does not allow me to go there, nor do I think yours would either.

    There is certainly a category of people out there who name the name of Christ but do not care to obey his Word or consider what the Scriptures say about how he is to be worshipped. But I would like to see you acknowledge a category of Christians that walk with God, seek to obey his commands, but do not see things in the Bible like a new covenant 24 hour Sabbath or a prohibition of all art that pictures Jesus, and that God may be pleased with them as much as he is with you. If you would simply acknowledge this I think our differences are miniscule.

  207. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 6, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Reed,

    If I understand what you’re asking, (which I’m guessing is mostly focused on 201, where I’m restating what I think Todd has been saying), I’m basing that on Todd’s 182 where he wrote:

    Jeroboam did not really believe in the Lord, he was only doing what was politically expedient for himself, which was to use the name Yahweh in the new religion he was crafting.

    A new religion needs a god or gods does it not? So I think it is safe to infer that Todd’s position entails Jeroboam’s worshipping false gods (he did offer on the altar at Bethel (an act of worship)) even if it is insincerely for political expediency — or even if that false god is Jeroboam himself. (as Todd suggests) Additionally, using the name “Yahweh” in a new religion would have to entail lying — don’t you think?

    We all stipulate that Jeroboam’s political expediency as a motivation for his sin, and we all stipulate that Jeroboam was not trusting the Lord or his promises regarding his kingship.

    I Chron. 13:8-10 & II Kings 17:15-23 is a list of all things things for which God rejected Israel. We all stipulate that people often slip between violations of the 1st and 2nd commandments, but that doesn’t mean there is an identity between violations of the 1st and 2nd commandment. Even from nearly the start there was worship of false gods at the Temple in Jerusalem does that mean that all worship at the Temple at Jerusalem was worship of foreign gods?

    So that’s where I was going in my 201. I’m also supported in my remark about implication of Todd’s position on the reprobation of Jeroboam (and Jehu) by extension. Todd as much says that in 182. See in the quote I have where Todd says “Jeroboam did not really believe in the Lord”. How many elect people are there that don’t believe in the Lord?

    However I was talking about Jehu not Jeroboam. see below

    Then there’s the logical implication: Todd said “I would suggest that idolatry, biblically speaking, cannot be committed by the redeemed, who sincerely love and follow the Lord”. N.B. “idolatry cannot be committed” by certain class of people he refers to as redeemed?

    If one is redeemed one is not reprobate. If the redeemed cannot commit idolatry, then those who commit idolatry are not redeemed. For historical figures that commit and are generally known by their idolatry and where is no mention of repentance, one would assume them to be reprobate, since we know based on Todd’s assertion that the redeemed cannot commit idolatry? The repentance of Manasseh son of Hezekiah is prominently featured, but not mention of that for Jeroboam. Back to Manasseh (post repentance), it says that the people of Judah sacrificed at the high places (contra the requirements of God) but to the LORD their god only. So we know from 2 Chron 33:15-17. So we know that their is a class of idolatry that is worshipping God falsely.

    I would be more inclined to take Todd in a different way if he didn’t say in 187 “(I am avoiding the modern tendency to define idolatry as any sin because every sin exalts a desire, person, etc. over God. In that sense we commit idolatry every day” So in 182 he says Jeroboam’s idolatry is rooted in placing himself in the place of God, but then in 187 he says that’s not the kind of idolatry he’s talking about because “we all do that” So how Todd defines idolatry in 187 is completely at odds with how he defines it with respect to Jeroboam in 182.

    So in the midst of all this Todd is shifting the definition of idolatry.

    If it is impossible for the redeemed to commit idolatry why is is not appropriate to ask if he thinks there are other sins the redeemed cannot commit?

    Unless Todd is trying to put a wedge between those who love and follow the Lord and the redeemed in his remark about how it is impossible for the the redeemed to commit idolatry, his remark is either ridiculous (as I think I covered well enough in a comment above) or he needs to more fully explain how idolatry can not be committed (his words) by the redeemed?

    In 188 I answered Todd’s question “Where is the sincere devotion mentioned concerning those kings who sinned in the likeness of Jeroboam?” Answer Jehu. I supported it with scripture with God’s own assessment of Jehu in carrying out all that was in God’s heart with respect to Ahab. It is not unreasonable to take that as a characterization of sincere devotion. God’s choice of words “all that was in my heart” is pretty compelling to me.

  208. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Todd: for the sake of unity I’ll leave off our differences (e.g., Jeroboam). Looking at just the last paragraph, may be this will help.

    I don’t propose God is more pleased with me or any other believer on the basis of whose conviction is better. I like you believe that is on the basis of Jesus’ sufficiency alone that any of us are acceptable to God. Thus, God is completely pleased with ALL His children in Jesus.

    My concern in the original post is not, “agree with me or be consigned to the nether regions of the camp of the truly-truly-truly- those who-GET-it! (I’m trying to be cute, so laugh. ;-))

    Instead my concern grows out of Galatians 6:7-8. I admit I am connecting dots in a manner that others do not. If my assessment is wrong, then I am suggesting a binding of consciences that God is displeased with. I have and will continue to take that seriously.

    If my assessment it right, then ignorance, even “innocent” ignorance, does not mitigate the seriousness of the issue. E.g., would you consider Uzzah’s an informed reaching out? (2Sa 6:6-7; FWIW, I think the text is saying he acted in ignorance). Hard of God, yes? Harsh? I refrain from using that word even though I recognize that others might so conclude.

    Evangelical obedience (as defined by our standards, the only kind I have in view) is something to lament over when absent, and rejoice in when it grows. Given that the majority of the Evangelical Church positively affirms movies such as this one is yet another sadness to me, and I take it to you as well. We just differ on exactly how we get there.

    But no, I do not offer this with any inference that God is more pleased with me because I get something better than others. I strive never to preach/teach that way. To whatever degree my words even infer that, please forgive me brother. I hesitated to write this for a few weeks, in part because I knew (as I said at the beginning of the piece) some would find my strong words a bit to deal with.

    I maintain a joyful sadness in the presence of the reality of what strong differences in conviction mean. E.g.,some of my closest ministry brothers in town are Baptists. I am not offended that they don’t back off believing it is heinous to baptize babies, and I remain grateful that they don’t write me off because I think it is heinous to not baptize babies (of believers).

    I’ve not intentionally said anything that I wish to be construed that I judge those who disagree with me as less Christian, or in some manner less right before God on the basis of that disagreement. I wrote only in hopes of honoring God and leaving to Him the application of my faith in blessing on others.

    What I know of my own sinfulness gives me more than enough reason to both lament and rejoice, lament my sinfulness and rejoice in His sufficiency.

  209. Reed Here said,

    March 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks Andrew.

  210. Todd said,

    March 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks, I think that closes the circle on our discussion.

    Andrew, I wish you would have responded to me as calmly and reasonably as you did to Reed. But let me respond briefly to your questions:

    “The text is pretty clear. So why does it have to be sincere devotion? Why do you get to raise the stakes that way?”

    If you look at #186 it was Reed who suggested the sincere devotion, not me. I was quoting him and asking for evidence.

    “So you are going to stand in judgement without warrant from scripture and accuse Jehu of following after other gods when scripture doesn’t support such a charge?”

    I never accused Jehu, I only said that the OT Scriptures, in describing the acts of the kings, do not always reveal inward motives. I fail to see how this is an accusation.

    “So I think it is safe to infer that Todd’s position entails Jeroboam’s worshipping false gods (he did offer on the altar at Bethel (an act of worship)) even if it is insincerely for political expediency — or even if that false god is Jeroboam himself. (as Todd suggests) Additionally, using the name “Yahweh” in a new religion would have to entail lying — don’t you think?”

    Yes, I think I made that clear – Jeroboam did not believe in or desire to worship the true God who reveled himself as the God of David, and he certainly did not desire israel to worship the true God. He crafted gods, quoting I Chron 13 – “have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods.” He crafted false gods and for political expediency called their worship the worship of Yahweh. Saying the false god is Jeroboam is just a way of saying what he believed him and what drove him was political power, not religion.

    “Even from nearly the start there was worship of false gods at the Temple in Jerusalem does that mean that all worship at the Temple at Jerusalem was worship of foreign gods?”

    I’m not sure your point here.

    “I’m also supported in my remark about implication of Todd’s position on the reprobation of Jeroboam (and Jehu) by extension.”

    This makes no sense. We are told of Jeroboam desires – to lead people away from God. We are not always told why certain kings only obeyed some of God’s instructions. There is no connection here between Jeroboam and Jehu. I don’t know your age, and I don’t want to come across as lecturing, but blog posts are not sermons or exegetical papers, they are off the cuff conversations. It would behoove you before leveling accusations to ask questions for clarification.

    “If one is redeemed one is not reprobate. If the redeemed cannot commit idolatry, then those who commit idolatry are not redeemed. For historical figures that commit and are generally known by their idolatry and where is no mention of repentance, one would assume them to be reprobate, since we know based on Todd’s assertion that the redeemed cannot commit idolatry? The repentance of Manasseh son of Hezekiah is prominently featured, but not mention of that for Jeroboam. Back to Manasseh (post repentance), it says that the people of Judah sacrificed at the high places (contra the requirements of God) but to the LORD their god only. So we know from 2 Chron 33:15-17. So we know that their is a class of idolatry that is worshipping God falsely.”

    That passage does not state that worshiping at the high places was idolatry. Certainly it was against the Lord’s command, but you have not yet proven from Scripture that idolatry is defined as worshipping the true God but in a manner not prescribed. You assume the connection but I would like to see this in the bible.

    “I would be more inclined to take Todd in a different way if he didn’t say in 187 “(I am avoiding the modern tendency to define idolatry as any sin because every sin exalts a desire, person, etc. over God. In that sense we commit idolatry every day” So in 182 he says Jeroboam’s idolatry is rooted in placing himself in the place of God, but then in 187 he says that’s not the kind of idolatry he’s talking about because “we all do that” So how Todd defines idolatry in 187 is completely at odds with how he defines it with respect to Jeroboam in 182.”

    Again if you read the paragraph, I was not agreeing that idolatry is something we do every day, I was saying that if you agree with the way some are defining idolatry broadly, then sure, in that sense we do, but that was not how I defined it.

    “If it is impossible for the redeemed to commit idolatry why is is not appropriate to ask if he thinks there are other sins the redeemed cannot commit?”

    If idolatry is defined as the turning away from the living God to worship idols, then no, the true believer will never do that. If it is defined as any certain moment exalting something or someone over God, then yes, we all do that even as believers. The greater point was that the idolatry that caused God to destroy Jerusalem was not the latter but the former, and that definition of idolatry which brings God’s wrath and judgment is not committed by genuine Christians, which I believe Reed was insinuating by using the sin of Jeroboam as a warning to those Christians who see the Jesus movie.

    “Answer Jehu. I supported it with scripture with God’s own assessment of Jehu in carrying out all that was in God’s heart with respect to Ahab. It is not unreasonable to take that as a characterization of sincere devotion. God’s choice of words “all that was in my heart” is pretty compelling to me.”

    It’s a minor point, but this passage only reveals that what God desired and reveled as to how Ahab’s house was to be treated, Jehu obeyed. We do not know why he obeyed. Maybe out of a renewed heart, maybe political expediency, like Saul in his early years when he obeyed the Lord. The next verse tells us there were important commands he refused to obey. We do not exactly know why he didn’t obey either. We may see Jehu in glory, we may not – there is not enough revealed to know for sure.

    But either way, that passage is not enough to prove your point – that beside worshipping false gods, worshiping the true God in a way he has not commanded, especially worship from a redeemed person, is also called idolatry. If you can demonstrate this from Scripture it would be very helpful.

  211. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I have three teenage boys in the home. When one of them does not follow my instructions completely in a matter, if he was not rebelling against my authority purposefully, but either misunderstood or simply forgot, I am not really angry with him.

    Todd,

    I have three girls. They agree with me, now having been taught, that when they simply forget an instruction it’s most likely because they were not heeding the instruction at the time as they ought. Accordingly, although we might not want to call the later neglect to obey willful disobedience, parents do well to appreciate that the main reason their children do not obey in such cases is due to a willful neglect to “make conscience” of instruction when it is given.

    I’ve brought this to the attention of high schoolers I’ve taught in SS as well as parents and more times than not they had never considered the idea, but all ages seem to agree once they hear. I’m sure you’ve thought of this too, but I thought I’d mention it just the same.

  212. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I don’t propose God is more pleased with me or any other believer on the basis of whose conviction is better. I like you believe that is on the basis of Jesus’ sufficiency alone that any of us are acceptable to God. Thus, God is completely pleased with ALL His children in Jesus.

    Reed,

    So that you’re not misunderstood, you of course affirm that although our acceptance before God is in Christ alone, the pleasure He takes in each person varies in proportion to the measure in which he causes one man it differ from another per His good pleasure. IOW, I can please God more one day than another and you can please God every day more than I, though His love toward us would be the same in Christ.

  213. Ron said,

    March 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I should add, I know exactly what you mean and I agree. There’s a definite context to what you said. My qualifier is because I am equally sure that Reformed theology is often misunderstood and some think that God cannot take pleasure or find displeasure in what he decrees for the elect.

  214. Matthew said,

    March 7, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Matthew Poole on 2 Chronicles 13:8:

    “For gods, or for God, as that plural word is most commonly used, i.e. instead of God, to give them the name of God, as Exodus 32:4, and that worship which is peculiar to him.”

  215. Reed Here said,

    March 7, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Ron, 212, thanks, yes.

    This post is never about measuring myself against others. It is about making a case and an appeal for what I believe is increasingly something that displeases God. I understand others disagree.

  216. Todd said,

    March 7, 2014 at 9:45 am

    “My qualifier is because I am equally sure that Reformed theology is often misunderstood and some think that God cannot take pleasure or find displeasure in what he decrees for the elect.”

    Yes, I think the popular “grace” teaching out there now misses this – God can love us and still be temporarily displeased with us for something we do.

  217. Matt said,

    March 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

    John Henry Sampson on Exod 32:4:

    “He that claimeth the deity here be an image of the Almighty hath commiteth a most grievous error and be worthy of a most stern rebuke. For who dareth to change the divine word which says ‘These’ to ‘This’? Better for him would be the fiery coals of Sheol than to add unto the Holy Word of God.”

    So there. :-)

  218. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Todd,

    You said we may see Jehu in glory or maybe not, but by your definition he committed idolatry, worshipping false gods. You also said that is something that it is impossible for the redeemed to do. Therefore according to your two requirements Jehu was not redeemed. Jehu not only committed but also departed not from the sins of Jeroboam (no repentance). Since a necessary aspect of repentance is turning away from sin (departing from it) and the Scriptures day Jehu didn’t depart from the sins of Jeroboam, he (Jehu) according to your definition of idolatry was not redeemed (and also unrepentant per scripture) so according to your reasoning Jehu must be reprobate. So why the backtracking?

    In answer to scriptural support for calling the worship of God by any means not appointed in his word idolatry, I will point you WLC 109, and the proof texts thereof.

    http://opc.org/documents/LCLayout1.pdf pages 247-250.

    While I’ve been using the term idolatry, I really have been talking about the breaking of the 2nd commandment. While I know you have different definitions of idolatry (182 vs 187) depending.

    So by either of your definitions, idolatry is only breaking the 1st commandment right?

    idol: “an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship”

    I don’t take the use of the word “gods” in some of the passages to always mean actual deities per se, but the statues and images. An idol is simply a picture or statue that represents or depicts a god (or in the case of the 2nd commandment God).

    idolatry is using an idol in worship. By the standard definitions the golden calf was an idol of Jehovah.(Aaron’s identifying it with the God that brought them out of the land of Egypt (see TF’s and Chris Coldwell above)). Same with Jeroboam’s. Therefore it is legitimate to use the term idolatry to describe the worshipping of God (not just false gods) by images. The images or statues were called gods, even though they were just statues or images. Accordingly the use of gods in II Kings 17:15-23 can refer to the images and statues of both Jehovah and false deities, not only false deities. Your system precludes that by definition, since you say images are only of false gods — right?

  219. Roger said,

    March 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    166. One’s human form is not one’s humanity. The former is material and the latter is immaterial in nature. From that faulty premise you launch into conclusions that even if correct would not be justified.

    One’s material “human form” is indeed a central aspect of one’s “humanity” or “human nature” (“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground” – Genesis 2:7), and is in fact what is “pictured” in any image that we make of a man. That’s not denying that men have souls or abstracting the soul from human nature; it’s simply emphasizing the fact that the immaterial soul is not “pictured” when we make an image of a man’s material human form. The same holds true for Jesus. When we form an image of Jesus (either mentally or externally) we are not forming an image of his immaterial human soul (and certainly not of his invisible divine person and nature), but only of his material human form. And there’s absolutely nothing idolatrous about that, period.

    Secondly, that a picture of Jesus is not “God as he exists in unapproachable light” has no bearing on the question of whether an image of the God-man is permissible.

    Of course it has bearing on the question. For the term “God-man” refers to the two natures of the Son in the Incarnation. “God” refers to the Son’s divine nature and “man” refers to the Son’s human nature. And since the two natures always remain distinct in their union with the “person” of the Son (without any mixture or confusion), it necessarily follows that we can only make an image of the Son in relation to one or the other of his two natures. Unless we heretically merge the two natures into some sort of amalgam, there are no other options.

    Therefore, the scriptural injunction against making any images of God only prohibits us from making an image of the Son in relation to his divine nature, because as God he exists “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” But Scripture does not prohibit us from making an image of the Son in relation to his human nature, because as a man he indeed exists in a material human form that can be seen and pictured by a physical “image.”

    Memory of the disciples has already been addressed.

    The issue of memory may have been superficially addressed, but it certainly wasn’t adequately answered. Nevertheless, the point I made is quite simple to grasp: If what Reed says is true (that “it is an absurd notion that one can picture only one nature of two united in one person”), then when the disciples remembered Jesus’ material human nature they were committing idolatry. For both seeing and remembering any material object entails forming an “image” of it one’s mind.

    If you don’t abstract humanity from the person like that, then you must be imagining the Second Person, whose human nature is penetrated by the divine nature given that the divine Son became a human being.

    This statement gets to the crux of the problem with your view. The only way the “human nature” of Jesus could be “completely penetrated by the divine nature” in the Incarnation is if the two natures were indeed co-mingled. But that’s not the case at all. The attributes of both natures remain totally distinct from one another in the hypostatic union. For example, the “person” of the Son cannot suffer and die in relation to his divine nature; but the “person” of the Son indeed suffered and died in relation to his human nature. And the “person” of the Son knows all truths in relation to his divine nature; but the “person” of the Son is ignorant of some truths in relation to his human nature. Therefore the human nature of the Son was not in any way “penetrated” by the divine nature.

    Moreover, you keep harping on the fact that the “person” of the Son is divine. Yet the “person” of the Son is only divine in relation to his divine nature; he isn’t divine in the abstract. He is divine because he possesses the full complement of the divine attributes. But in the Incarnation he also took up and possesses the full complement of human attributes, and in that sense he is indeed truly human. “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren…yet without sin” (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15). Therefore, since the attributes of the divine and human natures remain totally distinct from one another in the hypostatic union, an image of the Son in relation to his human nature is in no sense idolatry. It is merely an image of his external material human form.

  220. Ron said,

    March 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Roger,

    Pinning conclusions to orthodox statements is not the same thing as arguing for those conclusions. I’d prefer to leave it there rather than spend more time pointing out fallacies that will most likely get side stepped as in this last post of yours.

  221. Todd said,

    March 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    “You said we may see Jehu in glory or maybe not, but by your definition he committed idolatry, worshipping false gods. You also said that is something that it is impossible for the redeemed to do. Therefore according to your two requirements Jehu was not redeemed.”

    I see your point now. The way I look at it – when the OT uses the phrase, “the sin of Jeroboam” to sum up the reason God’s judgment came upon the nation – it refers in summary to turning away from the Lord and worshipping other gods.

    I Kings 17 “And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel…And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, `You shall not do this…’ The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets.”

    Now, when speaking of the works of specific OT kings, “committing the sin of Jeroboam” often only refers to not tearing down the two calves, not necessarily to all the sins listed in I Kings 17

    II Kings 10 “Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”

    Thus we should not read into the Jehu account that he was guilty of the sins of Jeroboam which included the entire summary of sins in I Kings 17. We cannot assume, for example, that Jehu’s purpose in leaving up the two altars was to to draw the people away from the true God, as we are told concerning Jeroboam. I find it doubtful that the Lord would praise Jehu for obedience in tearing down Baal altars if he was guilty in the same way the israelites were of following the sins of Jeroboam listed in I Kings 17.

    So my answer is that “the sins of Jeroboam” is defined by context, and it does not always refer to the exact same sins.

    “So why the backtracking?”

    I was hoping you could get through an entire post without an accusation.

    “In answer to scriptural support for calling the worship of God by any means not appointed in his word idolatry, I will point you WLC 109, and the proof texts thereof.”

    That is not going to cut it. The LC quotes many verses on idolatry and connects then to the second commandment. I’m asking you to prove the connection they are trying to make. Where does the Bible itself connect the term idolatry to worshipping the true God, but wrongly? I will argue below the golden calf is an illegitimate example.

    “So by either of your definitions, idolatry is only breaking the 1st commandment right?”

    And the second. While there are passages throughout the Bible that teach us about how to worship the true God, the first two in the Ten, IMO, are dealing with not worshiping other gods beside Yahweh.

    Andrew, reading your other posts – you believe Christians who sing man-made hymns in worship are guilty of idolatry, correct? If so, I would say this is an illegitimate use of the word idolatry

    “Idolatry is using an idol in worship. By the standard definitions the golden calf was an idol of Jehovah.”

    This is where I think your view gets too caught up in titles and ignores motive. Because Aaron or Jeroboam called the calf Yahweh, you want to make a connection to Christians today who worship in a way you think is not appointed in the Word, whether using hymns, choirs, special music, or whatever else you believe inappropriate, or to seeing a Jesus movie. Even if you say the plural “Elohim” should be translated “a god” instead of “gods” in Ex. 32:1, it was not the true God they wanted to worship at all, it is a god in their own making some called Yahweh. It is clear from the passage that they had no interest in worshipping or serving the true God. Idolatry is a rejection of the true God to serve other gods. That is how the golden calf incident is summarized throughout the Bible.

    Thus it is inappropriate to suggest Christians today who see a Jesus movie or use choirs, musical instruments, special music, or whatever you deem unbiblical; who actually do want to worship the true God through Christ alone, are guilty of the sin of the golden calf. Now there are some things inappropriate for Christian worship, but there would be more applicable biblical truths to address Christians with who may do this than saying it is a matter of idolatry versus acceptable worship.

  222. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Todd: in the original golden calf incident, how do you understand Ex 32:5? Thx.

  223. Todd said,

    March 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Reed,

    Aaron may have called the calf Yahweh, but the Scriptures in summarizing the incident see it as the children of Israel refusing to serve Yahweh to serve other gods;

    Acts 7:39: “Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us.”

  224. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Todd, I think you’re pitting two things against one another that don’t need to be. I.e., I think your position and mine are actually in view at the same time.

    Try this string of inferential considerations hypothetically vocalized (no sacrilegious-ness intended):

    The people’s opinion: We’re worshiping Yahweh!
    Moses: No you’re not.
    People: Yes we are. See, here is his image, this calf.
    Moses: that’s not him, but something from your imagination.
    People: so what’s wrong with that? At least we’re calling it you.
    Moses: you can’t image Him correctly, because you’re in slavery to Satan-sin-death.
    People: well, at least we’re trying.
    Moses: But you’re getting Him wrong.
    People: and why is that a problem?
    Him: because you’re actually worshiping things that are not God, even worse, you’re offering worship to things behind which demons stand.

    They professed to be worshiping God. They were really worshiping demons. These are both true and do not conflict.

    If so, then the issue of falsely worshiping God, aka the 2nd C, has a lot of insight to offer into what is going on in such situations.

  225. Todd said,

    March 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I’m following your thought, but I think the problem is your assessment that the children of israel were believing they were worshipping the true God, as in your first quotation. I would say from the Acts 7 passage and others that they were rejecting God, not only in the sense that they were creating a new way of worshiping him not ordained, but even more, they were refusing to serve him because they thought Moses’ God was a liar. In other words, they crafted a calf because they had decided they did not want to serve the God revealed by Moses. So I would not grant your very first assessment, that the people were worshiping Yahweh in their own minds. As the Acts 7 passage indicates, the calf revealed that they were thrusting Yahweh aside for other gods.

    So, for a modern day example, on my days off I have worshipped at the local Lutheran Missouri Synod. They do many things in worship that I do not think are appropriate or warranted from Scripture, the genuflecting and such. So from a reformed perspective we would say the Lutherans are not following the regulative principle and introducing elements in worship not ordained by God.

    But I would certainly not say because of this they are idol worshipping, nor that I am participating in idolatry for worshipping with them. They are still worshiping the true God through Christ alone, thus I cannot accuse them of the golden calf sin or the sin of Jeroboam. The same would apply to evangelicals in their use of special music, testimonies, etc., in worshipping in ways that I do not think are appropriate or biblical. The same applies to Christians who may see the Jesus movie.

  226. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Todd: thanks and I do appreciate your perspective. I just think you’re opting for an exclusivity option, two polar opposites that do not in any way connect.

    I think the Scripture does not deny that these are opposites, but presents them as two ends of a spectrum, that are in essential relationship (i.e.,the sincere worship by man of God, as they perceive him to be). Apply it to Lutherans, Hindus, and us (with full acknowledgement that I could be wrong and one of them right, even though I believe the Spirit teaches me otherwise). Consider this diagram:

    <increasing practice consistency————-|—false worship
    Our worship—-Lutheran (MS) worship——|—Hindu worship
    <increasing understanding consistency—–|—–false god

    > All mankind worships God (Rom 1:18 ff.) – this creates the spectrum reflecting characteristics shared by regenerate and unregenerate.
    > Some of mankind worship a false god, in a false manner (i.e., more or less 100% imperfectly) – this is ALL non-Christian religions, and belief systems.
    > The Church worships the true God, but more or less perfectly – this accounts for the increasing understanding/practice factors.
    > Imperfections in worship practice yield imperfections in understanding, yielding imperfections in practice, yielding …
    > Even though all His children WILL be saved, at which point only will 100% understanding match 100% practice perfection.

    The big point I’m trying to make is a simple one: God does not ignore His displeasures with His children. Rather, He loves on ‘em more.

    Imperfections in understanding and practice ARE NOT immaterial to God in this era of already/not. As with any remnants of sin in us, they displease Him. He makes His displeasure known in discipline. Given the wheat/tares condition of the Church in this era, this displeasure at the community level is exemplified by His discipline of His Old Covenant Church.

    They regularly offered worship to Yahweh, more or less imperfect in both understanding AND practice. Only in such eras as Ahab’s did they knowingly (with apparent intentional forethought), reject Yahweh for another altogether different god.

    E.g., the Scripture does not present Jehu’s and His descendants calling on Yahweh as mere political expedience. I agree that surely some of that was in their hearts,but that is not what we’re told. And yes, their understanding and practice was in the end no better than the false worship of a false god. But that is not how the histories present the scenario. God acknowledges their acknowledging Him (hence some of his blessings and mercy) AND He disciplines them for the imperfections in their acknowledgment.

    This provides the big aha for us. If they could increasingly, as the history of the minor kings progressed, more or less unknowingly call on Yahweh in name only (i.e., measured for example by how well they listened to the prophets), then what about us?

    They, like us, are on the spectrum. God still takes violations of the 2nd C seriously. He does take into consideration motive, goal, etc.. But He doesn’t say, “well, Lutherans, Baptists, and Presbyterians all sincerely are seeking to worship me in Jesus’ name, so I’ll suspend my displeasure with their imperfections.” No, He loves on us more, c.f., Heb 12:4, ff..

    Again, I admit that making of images of Jesus could be perfectly fine with God and I am displeasing Him in telling folks otherwise. At this point the only thing that seems persuasive to me is the possibility of bifurcating Jesus divine nature from His human, and displaying only the latter. The arguments presented here in these comments (from others; I recognize you haven’t offered that) leave me more than unpersuaded.

    I feel I’m a bit unfocused in my response Todd. But, as I’ve got other things I need to get to today, please bear with me. Do the best you can to understand my muddledness, and ask questions, push back.

    While you’re at it (and any other readers), please pray for me this afternoon, around 3-4 CST. I will be witnessing again with a young man from a Buddhist background. I am very hopeful God is calling Him to new birth in Christ.

  227. Todd said,

    March 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Reed,

    Yes, good point, I’m not suggesting there is no connection between the two – lust can lead to adultery, but while lust and adultery are both sinful, they are distinct sins. The danger is to lump idolatry and worshiping the true Lord inappropriately all together as one, and then think that motives play no part in the Lord’s assessment of these sins.

    Thanks for the discussion

  228. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Todd, sorry, I posted partially to try and get the diagram correct. Please see the rest of my comment.

    I think maybe the difference between us is better understood by examining the necessity or lack thereof, of the relationship connections I am making.

    E.g.,, lust and adultery are both examples of 7th C sins. One is more heinous than the other.

    E.g., Ahab and Jehu both worshiped Yahweh incorrectly (Ahab did offer some acknowledgement of Yahweh). One’s violations of the 2nd C are more heinous than the other.

  229. Todd said,

    March 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Reed,

    The Westminster Divines used as an organizing principle for all sins the Ten Commandments. All sins fall under the Ten. While we would agree with their list of sins, I am not convinced that the all sins can be subsumed under the Ten. So for example, I don’t see immodest dress as a violation of the 7th commandment, nor would any israelite hearing the 7th commandment. The 7th commandment is enforcing against adultery. There are other verses dealing with immodesty.

    So I don’t see the second commandment enforcing against every type of sin possible regarding worship, but more specifically, forbidding idolatry. There are other passages that address how the true God is to be approached; especially in the Book of Hebrews.

    Maybe that is where our differences lie.

  230. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Todd: yeah, I think so. Given this interpretive distinction you are working from, then I can see how you’d limit the 2nd C, to its explicit parameters in Ex and Dt.

    So you would be reading the 10 C’s as more or less supreme exemplars? How does this apply to James’ one law broken, all laws broken? What other considerations lead you to this conclusion? Thanks.

  231. Ron said,

    March 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    So for example, I don’t see immodest dress as a violation of the 7th commandment, nor would any israelite hearing the 7th commandment.

    Todd,

    Well, that could very well be attributed to their legalism, which was driven by a desire to get out from under the true meaning of the law. In any case, what an Israelite understood regarding the application of the God’s law is hardly a good measuring stick for those who would exalt and not crucify the Lord of Glory.

  232. March 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Test. I don’t see my latest comment.

  233. March 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    “And indeed it was plainly the error of the Israelites; they would not worship the calf, for they did not think it to be God, but by the calf they would worship God, the calf being used as a representation of God.”~Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), King James Version translator

  234. March 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Bishop Simon Patrick (1626-1707) on Exodus 32:1-4:

    Make us Gods.] Or rather, make us a God: for so Nehemiah expresses it in the Singular Number, 9 18. and so Elohim is often translated, 20 Gen. 13. 35. 7, &c. For their meaning was, Make us a sacred Symbol or Sign, as other Nations have, that may represent God in a visible manner to us. So the Jews expound it in Pirke Elieser, c. 45. They said to Aaron, the Egyptians extol their Gods, they sing and chant before them; for they behold them with their eyes. Make us such Gods as theirs are, that we may see them before us. And so R. Jehudah in the Book Cosri, P. I. Sect. 97. They desired a sensible Object of Divine Worship to be set before them; not with an intention to deny God, who brought them out of Egypt: but that something in the place of God might stand befroe them, when they declared his wonderful Works. Such, no doubt, was their meaning; for they could not be so senseless as to imagine the true God could be made by a Man; or that an Image could go before them (as it here follows) which may have feet, but cannot walk, as the Psalmists speaks. And therefore Eben-Ezra judiciously interprets it, Some Corporeal Image in which God may reside.

    [...]

    Hankering after that way of Worship by Images, which they had learnt there, they took this opportunity to desire a visible Representation of God among them, as the Egyptians had. And so St. Stephen looks upon this as a turning back in their hearts unto Egypt, 7 Acts 39, &c.

    [...]

    Ver. 4 And he received them at their hands.] They seem to have presented them as an Offering, towards the making of a Representation of God; wherein every one of them might have an Interest: and accordingly Aaron accepted them.

    [...]

    These be thy Gods, O Israel.] Or, as Nehemiah expresses it, IX.18. This is thy God, &c. the Image or Symbol of the Divine Majesty: or as Abulensis interprets it, His Divine Vertue resideth in this golden Body. The Plural Number is commonly used for the Singular, especially when God is spoken of, as I observed before, 20 Gen. 13. 35. 7. 2 Sam. 7. 23.

    Which brought thee up out of the Land of Egypt.] This shows they lookt upon this Ox, only as a Representation of the Almighty LORD their God; for it being but newly made, they could not imagine they were brought by it from the Egyptian Slavery, but by his Power, which perhaps they fancied now resided in it.

    [...]

    And said, to morrow is a Feast.] Which was a part of Worship ordained by his Authority.

    To the LORD.] Not to this Ox, but to the Creator of the World, whom they worshipped in this Image. Notwithstanding which, this was no better than an Idol , 7 Act: 41. and they gross Idolaters, 106 Psalm. 19, 20. I Cor. 10. 7. Some think indeed, that Moses being gone, and, as they imagined , either burnt up or famished, they desired this Representation of God to go before them and direct them, as a kind of Teraphim: but God allowed no such visible sign to be made of his Presence with them, which he knew would in a short time have their Adoration.

  235. March 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    “Such was the Israelites’ golden calf; their worship was not terminated on the image, but they worshipped the true God under that representation; they could not be so brutish as to call a calf their deliverer, and give him so great a title (‘These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,’ Exod. 32. 4): or that which they knew belonged to the true God, ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ They knew the calf to be formed of their ear-rings, but they had consecrated it to God as a representation of him; though they chose the form of the Egyptian idol, yet they knew that Apis, Osiris, and Isis, the gods of the Egyptians adored in that figure, had not wrought their redemption from bondage, but would have used their force, had they been possessed of any, to have kept them under the yoke, rather than have freed them from it: the feast also which they celebrated before that image, is called by Aaron the feast of the Lord (Exod. 32. 5); a feast to Jehovah, the incommunicable name of the creator of the world: it is therefore evident, that both the priest and the people pretended to serve the true God, not any false divinity of Egypt; that God who had rescued them from Egypt, with a mighty hand, divided the Red Sea before them, destroyed their enemies, conducted them, fed them by miracle, spoken to them from mount Sinai, and amazed them by his thunderings and lightnings when he instructed them by his law; a God whom they could not so soon forget . And with this representing God by that image, they are charged by the Psalmist (Psalm 106. 19, 20), ‘they made a calf in Horeb, and changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass:’ they changed their glory, that is, God the glory of Israel; so that they took this figure for the image of the true God of Israel, their own God; not the God of any other nation in the world. Jeroboam intended no other by his calves, but symbols of the presence of the true God; instead of the ark and the propitiatory which remained among the Jews. We see the inclination of our natures in the practice of the Israelites; a people chosen out of the whole world to bear up God’s name, and preserve his glory: and in that the images of God were so soon set up in the christian church.”~Stephen Charnock, Puritan divine

    “A memorial is that by which a thing is called to mind or remembrance; God’s saying that his glorious name, Jehovah, was his only memorial, may suggest to us that men were apt to pretend to make to themselves other memorials of him, such as they might think serviceable to themselves for putting them in mind of him, and that having them before their eyes, their thoughts might thereby be directed to him, and which might keep them from forgetting him. Such probably were formerly in Jacob’s family, those strange Gods which were in their hand, and those ear-rings which they had in their ears: and so did probably the Israelites now pretend to be those golden Calves which they set up to themselves, that in them set before their eyes they might have God represented to their minds and thoughts. But what he here saith, that only his proper peculiar name by which he is distinguished from all other called Gods, and that which puts them in mind of what he, and he alone, is, is his memorial, sheweth that all such things, however pretended for honour to him, are things that he will not be remembered by. They indeed necessarily lead men’s minds from him, not to him, and cause them to forget him, or to think wrong and mean things of him, not to conceive a-right of him, who cannot by any such low things be represented either to the eyes or mind. And therefore Jacob, that he might keep entire and unpolluted this sacred memorial of God, caused his family to put away all those false memorials that were among them; and so ought they too their golden Calves, that were not a true memorial of God to them, but led them to lies and errors, and caused them indeed to forget him, and to think false things of him, and to pollute his holy name.”~Edward Pococke, English Orientalist and biblical scholar

  236. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Todd:

    I must confess that I’ve not read all this thread, but simply note here that I am quite surprised, as a matter of principle, by what you, as an OP pastor especially, say in 230 above.

    The Westminster Divines are hardly alone in subsuming all the law under the 10 words. The historical and confessional practice with respect to this is legion. And it all stems from our Lord Himself summarizing all the law by citing the Ten Commandments, via the two great commandments. Paul deals in summary fashion with the law in the same way (cf. Romans 13: 8-10).

    The Divines are just recognizing what the Word clearly teaches and has been understood throughout the history of the church: the ten words serve as a summary of all the law and so it makes sense that all of it is, customarily in more than one place, subsumed under it.

    Take your example of immodest dress: our Lord said that one violates the Seventh Commandment by looking lustfully upon a woman. Such lustful looking may or may not be connected with immodest dress–it certainly need not be. But to not see that as related seems simply odd and not at all corresponding with the biblical notion of such things.

    Perhaps I’ve missed something here, brother, but I find that comment inexplicable, not to mention what seems to be out of keeping with our Standards (WLC 91-153).

  237. Ron said,

    March 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Truly providential… I almost added to my last post three elaborations. The summary of the commandments is found under two commandments – love God and love neighbor. Secondly, the Lord made it clear that the spirit of adultery is found in lustful looks, which allows for this very principle that the commandments are not to be taken in a restrictive wooden sort of way but rather to be interpreted in the spirit we find in the Sermon on the Mount, which was my third appeal as a rule of interpretation. Thanks for pointing those things out, Alan.

  238. Todd said,

    March 8, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Alan,

    Thanks for the question. As for what makes one out of accord, I would remind you of Charles Hodge’s words on Presbyterian subscription:

    “There are many propositions contained in the Westminster Confession which do not belong to the integrity of the Augustinian, or Reformed system. A man may be a true Augustinian or Calvinist, and not believe that the Pope is the Antichrist predicted by St. Paul; or that the 18th chapter of Leviticus is still binding. Such a rule of interpretation can never be practically carried out, without dividing the Church into innumerable fragments. It is impossible that a body of several thousand ministers and elders should think alike on all the topics embraced in such an extended and minute formula of belief. Such has never been the rule adopted in our Church. Individuals have held it, but the Church as a body never has. No prosecution for doctrinal error has ever been attempted or sanctioned, except for errors which were regarded as involving the rejection, not of explanations of doctrines, but of the doctrines themselves.”

    I am not disagreeing with what the divines labeled in the LC as sinful, but we don’t always have to agree with how the divines explained the doctrines, nor do we have to agree that each proof-text they used actually explains that particular point. I don’t ever think I’ve seen an ordination exam without the candidate expressing disagreement with how the LC explains the Sabbath is to be kept for example.

    Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
    A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.

    One is not required to agree with every explanation of a doctrine in the LC to be in keeping with our standards, as long as he holds to the doctrine itself.

    Given that, while the sins organized under the second commandment in the LC are sins we should preach against, candidates do not have to agree that every description of sin listed under the 2nd fits under that particular commandment it is organized under.

    Now to your statements:

    “And it all stems from our Lord Himself summarizing all the law by citing the Ten Commandments, via the two great commandments.”

    I understand organizing the Ten this way as the catechism does, the first four as all duties to God and the last six duties to man, which is fine. All I am suggesting is that the divines had to read the rest of the Bible back into the law to do this; there is nothing in the 7th commandment itself, for example, that requires “modesty in apparel.” Of course, sins that are not specifically mentioned in the Ten are still listed elsewhere, and on the conscience, as God’s moral law is written on the heart leaving men without excuse, but you will have to show me in Scripture how an Israelite hearing “Though shalt not commit adultery” would conclude from that that God is also forbidding immodest apparel, unless one wants to argue that immodest apparel is worn for the purpose of committing adultery.

    “Take your example of immodest dress: our Lord said that one violates the Seventh Commandment by looking lustfully upon a woman. Such lustful looking may or may not be connected with immodest dress–it certainly need not be. But to not see that as related seems simply odd and not at all corresponding with the biblical notion of such things.”

    Well, if you take the (common) position that what the Lord is doing in the six antitheses in the Sermon on the Mount is simply offering the true meaning of the OT Law that the Phariisees had twisted, I can see where you might think that. I do not think that is what the Lord is doing there. So instead of “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you (here is the true meaning of the 7th commandment) everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart….”

    My take is a more redemptive-historical perspective, not uncommon among good biblical scholars, but a minority view. Thus – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you (now that Jesus has come to inaugurate his kingdom of heaven through the new covenant) everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In other words, the standards in Christ’s kingdom have heightened even from the OT Law. The court of Israel only enforced against adultery according to the Law, there was no penalty in the Law against lust, but in heaven’s court even lust is worthy of punishment for it is adultery in the heart. So even of you have not broken the Law concerning adultery as it was written and enforced under the Mosaic Law, your lust makes you just as guilty as the condemned adulterer before the court of heaven.

    Some quotes that express my view:

    Donald Hagner – Matthew Commentary

    “Jesus expects…a newer and higher kind of righteousness that rests upon the presence of the eschatological kingdom he brings…”

    Frank Thielman, The Law and The New Testament

    “In each case Jesus replaces a mosaic command with instructions that expresses the ethical goal toward which the mosaic law points. In cases where the Mosaic law in question is a pragmatic attempt to legislate a less than ideal situation, Jesus nullifies the command altogether by demanding a change in the situation itself so radical, that if it takes place, the legislation becomes unnecessary….Because the scribes and Pharisees refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ approach to the Mosaic Law, they are mired in conformity to a penultimate ethic. Jesus has moved beyond them to an eschatological ethic that expresses the law’s ultimate concerns. His disciples, he says, must do the same. ”

    George Ladd – NT Eschatology

    “The ethics of Jesus, then, are Kingdom ethics, the ethics of the reign of God. It is impossible to detach them from the total context of Jesus’ message and mission. They are relevant only for those who have experienced the reign of God…The unique element in Jesus’ teaching is that in his person the Kingdom of God has invaded human history, and people are not only placed under the ethical demand of the reign of God, but by virtue of this very experience of God’s reign are also enabled to realize a new measure of righteousness. (The Sermon on the Mount) portrays the ideal of the person in whose life the reign of God is absolutely realized. This righteousness…can be perfectly experienced only in the eschatological Kingdom of God. It can nevertheless to a real degree be attained in the present age; insofar as the reign of God is actually experienced…Even as the Kingdom has invaded the evil age to bring to people in advance a partial but real experience of the blessings of the eschatological Kingdom, so is the righteousness of the Kingdom attainable, in part if not in perfection, in the present order. Ethics, like the Kingdom itself, stands in the tension between present realization and future eschatological perfection.”

    (I just wrote my dissertation on the Sermon on the Mount but I will leave it there for now.)

    So again, while agreeing that the specific sins and duties in the LC (minus some on the Sabbath which I also communicated to my Presbytery I disagreed with at my ordination exam), are sins and duties we should teach, whether the Ten were ever meant to summarize or communicate all these duties, or they were summarized and communicated by not only the Ten, but the rest of the OT, the NT, and the law on the heart, is an open question. I obviously prefer the latter understanding, even though the reformed tradition subsumes all sins and duties under the Ten alone.

    I didn’t mean for this to become so long, but I’d be curious what you think is at stake if one prefers the latter explanation over the former. I am not seeing where it makes a difference.

  239. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 9, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Todd:

    Thanks for your reply. That helps me to see more fully whence you are coming.

    I was not raising a subscription question, though you chose to answer in those terms, which I gather to be a way of saying, “I realize that I do not agree with the Standards here but am within the bounds in my disagreement.” I am quite familiar with all those subscription matters (my dissertation was on Hodge, but I am always happy to see anyone quote him!).

    I am not as convinced, however, that your expressed disagreement is as minimal as someone disagreeing on the particulars of the fourth commandment. Your position, and the scholars that you quote in defense of it, seems potentially to have more global implications than a minor divergence with the WLC, but I am satisfied that I see sufficiently whence you are coming to understand why you argued as you did. Thanks and blessings, brother!

  240. Todd said,

    March 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Alan,

    Thanks for the response. One of the reasons I refrain from debating or discussing these things on reformed blogs very often is that it usually doesn’t take long before it degenerates into a pissing contest as to who is really confessional and who is not. Your response is encouraging.

  241. Bob S said,

    March 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    OK, we’re a slow learner, but just where does immodest dress go, if not under the 7th (and that with the understanding that all sins are a violation of the 1st)?

    Two, maybe we missed it above, but Ursinus distinguished between idolatry, gross and subtle or idolatry and superstition in his exposition of Q&A 96 in the Heidelberg

    Q.What does God require in the second commandment?
    A. That we in nowise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

    All those things, therefore, which are opposed to the true worship of God are contrary to this second commandment; such as

    1. Idolatry, which consists in a false or superstitious worship of God. There are, as we have already remarked, two principal kinds of idolatry. The one is more gross and palpable, as when worship is paid to a false God, which is the case, when, instead of or beside the true God, such worship as that which is due to him alone, is given to some thing or object, whether imaginary or real. This form of idolatry is particularly forbidden in the first commandment, and also in the third. The other species of idolatry is more subtle and refined, as when the true God is supposed to be worshipped, whilst the kind of worship which is paid unto him is false, which is the case when any one imagines that he is worshipping or honoring God by the performance of any work not prescribed by the divine law. This species of idolatry is more properly condemned in the second commandment, and is termed superstition, because it adds to the commandments of God the inventions of men. Those are called superstitious who corrupt the worship of God by their own inventions. This will-worship or superstition is condemned in every part of the word of God. . . . (Matt. 15:8,9. Col. 2:16, 22, 23.)

    We may now easily return an answer to the following objection: Idolatry is forbidden in the first commandment. In the second also. Therefore, they constitute only one commandment. Ans. The first commandment forbids one form of idolatry, as when another God is worshipped; the second forbids another species of idolatry, as when the true God is worshipped differently from what he ought to be. Reply. But still there is always idolatry, and another God is worshipped. Ans. There is, indeed, always an idol; but not always in the intention and profession of men. Hence, those who sin against the second commandment, sin also against the first; because, those who worship God otherwise than he will be worshipped, imagine another God, one differently affected from what the true God is; and in this way they do not worship God, but a figment of their own brain, which they persuade themselves is affected in this manner.

    IOW a violation of the Second is also a violation of the First, even if that is not the intention of the perpetrators, i.e Aaron and the Israelites.

  242. John Harutunian said,

    March 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Andrew-
    In #52 you imply that hymns, when sung in worship, are counterfeit Psalms. I’d invite you to read the one verse in the entire Bible which refers to the Psalms as a body, i.e., a corporate whole:

    “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” (Psalm 72 :20)

    The verse is critical since it marks the conclusion of Book II of the original five books of Psalms. And the inference is plain. God gave Israel the book of Psalms not _primarily_ as a hymn book, but primarily as a Prayer Book. (You can substitute lower case for caps if you prefer.)

    Therefore, the counterfeit Psalms in Evangelical worship are the prayers, right? Shouldn’t they be eliminated -unless they’re canonical Psalms?

    And to all and sundry: Where do we see New Testament examples of believers kneeling in corporate Lord’s day worship? Or bowing their heads? Or closing their eyes?

    Are these practices sinful also?

  243. Ron said,

    March 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    My take is a more redemptive-historical perspective, not uncommon among good biblical scholars, but a minority view. Thus – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you (now that Jesus has come to inaugurate his kingdom of heaven through the new covenant) everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In other words, the standards in Christ’s kingdom have heightened even from the OT Law. The court of Israel only enforced against adultery according to the Law, there was no penalty in the Law against lust, but in heaven’s court even lust is worthy of punishment for it is adultery in the heart. So even of you have not broken the Law concerning adultery as it was written and enforced under the Mosaic Law, your lust makes you just as guilty as the condemned adulterer before the court of heaven.

    Todd,

    I wish you wouldn’t index your interpretation of the passage as a redemptive-historical approach, as if redemptive-historical exegesis requires your interpretation of the passage.

    Theologically you are no less mistaken than you are misleading.

    You are mistaken because the standard for Christ’s kingdom was not “heightened” as you say. It was always sin to look with a lustful look and it was always hypocrisy to think that such intentions of the heart were permissible if they didn’t result in unlawful action. Jesus blistered the Pharisees for thinking otherwise on these sorts of things. Jesus was in harmony with the Law and the Prophets but in disharmony with those teachers who didn’t understand these things.

    You are misleading because you argument presupposes a faulty comparison between Moses and Christ. You say there was no penalty under the law against lust, but in heaven’s courts it’s sin.You act as though there was no court in heaven under Moses and that the heavenly perspective was inaugurated with Christ. Earthly ecclesiastical courts, whether under Moses or Christ, never impose sanctions for private sins of the heart; yet in the new dispensation as in the old it is always sin to lust by heaven’s standards.

    In sum, you act as though Christ’s teachings would not have been relevant or been required practice had they been considered by the teachers of the law.

  244. Todd said,

    March 10, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Ron,

    All labels have their limits. Even saying “the Puritan view” of anything has potential for misunderstanding and needs qualifications. To call it purposefully misleading is another character accusation of someone you don’t even know and not worth my time in responding. If you have a specific question I will answer it. Save your accusations for someone who is impressed by them.

  245. Todd said,

    March 10, 2014 at 3:31 am

    I will end here and thank those who respectfully engaged with me in this discussion. I don’t have the time to keep this up though. Remember, there is a way to ask questions and express concerns with someone’s view in a Christian manner without calling them an idolater, anti-nomian, liar, etc…

    As far as the different views of the six antitheses in the Sermon on the Mount, I did not make up the moniker “redemptive-historical view” to describe my view. Others have done so before me, for example: http://www.westminsterreformedchurch.org/PDF.files/Mat.5-7.HistRedReading.pdf, though there are always nuances among adherents of each particular view

    Again, labels are often weak, but simply for discussion and comparison they are necessary…so using generalities, the common reformed view of the six antitheses in the Sermon is that Christ is explaining and confirming the true meaning of the Mosaic Law, while the RH view would see Christ explaining how the ethics of the new covenant fulfilled what the OT law typified. In this sense the ethics of the new covenant are a heightening of what was expected and required in the Mosaic Law.

    R.T. France, in his Matthew commentary, expresses this view well:

    “This passage does not therefore state that every OT regulation is eternally valid. This view is not found anywhere in the NT, which consistently sees Jesus as introducing a new situation, for which the law prepared (Gal 3:24), but which now transcends it…Jesus’ radical ethic takes its starting point from the Old Testament law, but does not so much either confirm or abrogate it as transcends it.” (pg. 117, 119)

    The question is not what God always required from an eternal perspective, which of course included inward dispositions as well as outward actions, and of course every individual in both kingdoms was saved through faith in the Savior. The question is what in the theocracy (that typified the kingdom of heaven) was required to remain in good standing in that kingdom. In OT Israel, one could inwardly hate his brother and yet not kill him, and avoid any punishment from God’s theocratic authorities. As well, one could be a person dominated by lust and yet refrain from adultery, and there was no provision in the Mosaic code to cast that man dominated by lust out of the kingdom unless that lust was revealed in the committing of a specific Mosaic crime.

    This will not work now that Christ has come and inaugurated the kingdom of heaven. Members of the true and final kingdom must not be dominated by inward lust or hatred, if so they are not legitimate members of this kingdom, as well they must inwardly love their brothers in Christ to be legitimate members. Of course the heart that produces this inward righteousness is a free gift (Matt 5:6), but that is the heightened expectations in the kingdom where God’s Spirit is now poured out on those who place their faith in Christ for salvation, poured out in a way beyond what the OT saints experienced.

    Both views of course end up with the same standards in the new covenant, at least with reformed theology as a lens in understanding the whole Bible, but each view gets there slightly differently, one with a more straight line of continuity from the OT moral Law, the other as a line of type/antitype between the Law as it was enforced in Israel versus the law of Christ, the law in the Sermon only befitting members of the eschatological kingdom which the ethics for OT Israel prefigured. No doubt there is moral continuity, for the two great commandments always apply, but the comparisons in Matt 5 between the OT Law and the ethics of the kingdom Jesus was inaugurating are comparisons of type and antitype, promise and fulfillment, more than a confirming of Mosaic standards.

    That in a nutshell is the view of the Sermon I call RH, or type-antitype, or whatever you want to call it, and I do not wish to debate it here, just offer an explanation.

    P.S. New Covenant Theology goes in some strange and IMO dangerous directions as they deal with the redemptive history of the Sermon on the Mount, though they have some good insights, for example, Fred Zaspel: http://www.biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/expostudy/nctlaw.htm

  246. Ron said,

    March 10, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Todd,

    Excessively long posts and endless quotes are often times a good indicator that one is not staying on message. In your case, I think that observation runs true to form. In any case, I can appreciate and certainly do respect one’s inability to put much time into these things. On that front we can agree.

  247. Ron said,

    March 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

    To call it purposefully misleading is another character accusation of someone you don’t even know and not worth my time in responding.

    Todd,

    I don’t believe I said you were purposefully misleading. I said you are mistaken and misleading.Certainly you don’t think that all, even most, misleading statements are intentional. So, why render that interpretation to what I wrote?

    I don’t expect you to retract this “character accusation” of me though, but feel free to do so (preferably without caveat) if your conscience requires it. No, when someone is mistaken and misleading I believe the problem usually lies elsewhere.

  248. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 10, 2014 at 9:26 am

    John @243,

    You err, don’t you know the Scriptures?
    Have you not read James 5:13?

    Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

    NB sing.

    or

    Eph 5:17-19?

    Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

    NB singing. The mode of speaking is singing for the Psalms. Lest you think psalms or especially hymns and spiritual songs can refer to man made songs, I ask you what Spirit is apostle telling us to be filled with? If you want that to be God the Holy Spirit, then we need to use the songs written by Christ (in his office of Prophet) and inspired by His Holy Spirit. Those are the songs that can fill you with God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Songs not inspired by God the Holy Spirit cannot fill you with the Spirit of Christ.

    or Col 3:16

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    NB “singing” How would you expect the word of Christ to dwell in you if you substitute the words of man for the word of Christ? All the scriptures are the Word of Christ. Christ as the mediator of the covenant of Grace in his office of prophet reveals the will of God for our salvation (in full). WIth regard to the scriptures, he does that through the agency of his Holy Spirit in working in the heart and minds of the human authors of those scriptures, but the true, and first author is none other than Christ himself. Only the songs found in scripture can be those to which the apostle is referring.

    Mere human words cannot do what Christ by way of his apostle commands us to do, to have Christ’s word dwell richly in us. (or to be filled with His Spirit) So when we sing in worship it must be His words, only then will His word dwell richly in us and we will be filled with His Spirit. Mere human songs can’t do that. Christ wrote those 150 songs, and you lay them aside for songs of mere human origin?

  249. Reed Here said,

    March 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Todd: I think adding purposefully is a mis-characterization of what Ron said, in effecting accusing him of calling you a liar. Not quite fair brother. It may be you’re just tired or wired by the conversation, and so read what he wrote differently than he stated it.

  250. Ron said,

    March 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Thanks, Reed.

    We’re all a little tired and I don’t take my brother’s remark personally. I’m probably a bit obtuse here, but I only took the misleading comment as directed at me but in any case, I’m good with Todd no matter what he was saying. Maybe it’s time to give this one a rest.

    Again, thank you.

  251. Ron said,

    March 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Also, I sincerely hope nobody called him an idolater or antinomian.

  252. Todd said,

    March 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Ron,

    I took the “you are misleading” in the active sense of trying to mislead people, not that the RH label or explanations might end up misleading people.

    Ron, I apologize for assuming this and accept your explanation.

    My rebuke for others using anti-nomian or idolater was not directed at you, but a common accusation I receive from some when I actually disagree with their view of the second commandment.

    Moving on, as to your suggestion that I am not staying on message, the thread had veered into the Sermon on the Mount, and my post was attempting a response to your statement “You say there was no penalty under the law against lust, but in heaven’s courts it’s sin.You act as though there was no court in heaven under Moses and that the heavenly perspective was inaugurated with Christ.”

    As for the length of that post that you brought up, this view of the six antitheses in the Sermon is unfamiliar to some in the reformed camp, so I took more time to explain it. It is a bit unfair to suggest my view is potentially misleading, and then criticize the length of the post in response when I take the time to try to explain so it is not misleading.

    As far as my “endless quotes” demonstrating something, in this three or four day conversation I only offered quotes in two posts, in last night’s post I only quoted one source to help explain the view.

    It is clear on a theological level we have many disagreements as to how to understand the OT law. If you are the Ron I have read elsewhere I think you lean toward theonomy, which maybe would explain many of our differences, if not, I may have you mixed up with another Ron. I think if you and I could respectfully stick to our differences on the OT law we might have some good conversation, for I do appreciate your correction of others on Green Baggins – when it’s not aimed at me of course.

    Will be out of pocket until Wednesday.

    Cheers

  253. John Harutunian said,

    March 10, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Todd-

    >The mode of speaking is singing for the Psalms.

    But it’s fundamental to the Exclusive Psalmody position that speaking and singing are two different things. That is, they’re two different elements of worship, which must be regulated differently. (You can check Bushell on this.) So, how can singing be a way (“mode”) of speaking?

  254. Ron said,

    March 10, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Todd,

    Apology accepted.

  255. Reed Here said,

    March 10, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Todd, Ron, thanks. Blessings.

  256. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

    John, @254, I think you misaddressed your reply, nevertheless, the mode is speaking is singing for the Psalms as speaking is used in Eph 5:17-19. The context of that is clear. Speaking to yourselves in singing. Come on.

    You don’t come across as really understanding what is fundamental to the doctrine of Exclusive Psalmody.

  257. B said,

    March 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I confess, I have not read all of the 257 preceeding comments, but scrolling through I did not see any immediate discussion of two key passages to the question:

    1) Isaiah 40 – Not even discussing worship explicitly – the people are questioned rhetorically, “who then will ye liken me to…? This is not just done once, but is done twice in vs. 18 & vs. 25. God is so great, so far above man, creation, all nations, princes, tribes, etc… that there is nothing created that can be made to look like Him. Imagining the creator of the universe and savior of the elect in an image, person, wood, etc… is the very essense of foolishness.

    2) Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    When folks go to see these movies that lie about the true and living God they have “become fools” and they are exchanging the glory of God revealed in His Word into an image made like to corruptible man. This is blasphemy.

    One further point – for ordained officers in the PCA & OPC, this image question is not a question at all as it has been settled in the standards and agreed with through ordination vows.

    Great blog post Reed!

  258. Reed Here said,

    March 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks B, no. 258.As per blog rules, please identify yourself. If for some reason you prefer using a pseudonym, please email the blog owner, Lane, or one of his moderators, identifying yourself and explaining your reason for wanting to use a pseudonym. For convenience sake, you can email me and I’ll forward to Lane: reed here at Google’s email service (gmail and then com).

  259. John Harutunian said,

    March 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Andrew, you were right about my misdirecting my reply. Sorry, Tod, about post #254.

    But: the New Revised Standard Version doesn’t have the word “speaking” in Ephesians 5:17. The reason for the discrepancy in translations is that the kind of singing that was done was chanting (Bushell himself concedes this). “Singing” as we think of it today involves meter -a regular pattern of strong and weak beats- which first came about in the 11th century. (Check any history of church music.) Chanting does not. So the distinction between ordinary everyday speech, and song was more fluid when Paul was writing than it is today.
    Which why Exclusive Psalmodists shouldn’t categorize praying and singing as two separate elements of worship. Prayers were chanted.

    Apart from this, Psalm 72:20, unlike Ephesians 5:17, puts the Psalms into a category -the category of prayer. It’s the Exclusive Psalmodists who changed this to a category of “sung praise”. (And remember, the title “Book of Praises” as applied to the Psalms isn’t canonical Scripture.)

    If one holds to a strict view of the Regulative Principle, the issue then becomes: What New Testament warrant do we have for offering up non-canonical prayers in the mode of ordinary, everyday speech?

  260. John Harutunian said,

    March 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    This should give everyone an idea of the difference between “singing” as it’s done today and “chanting”. If you were to visit a church where they sing hymns, and the organist/music director were to lead “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in the same style as “Onward Christian Soldiers”
    he’d soon find himself out of a job.

  261. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

    John, nonsense. You can’t ignore Eph 5 and Col 3 and James 5. What you say above doesn’t nullify Eph 5 or Col 3. There is positive command to sing the Psalms.

    The psalms can be and are often do function as prayers (and some are labeled as such), so what? That doesn’t change the commands in Eph 5 etc.

    Prayer as commanded in the New Testament is different.Than the singing of the Psalms Again you seemingly are unfamiliar with scripture.

    Phil 1:3,4 & Eph 1:15,16

    Paul says he makes mention of these people in his prayers, so he must be praying using his own words.

    or
    Luke 18:13.
    1 Tim 2:1,2

    So there you have the to answer your question of where are we commanded to pray non-canoncial prayers.

    I think you need to read the Bible. You don’t seem to be very familiar with it

    Your hard divide between singing and chanting, is a nice construct to bolster your position, but you undo your own argument when you liken that difference to the difference in musical styles between the two songs you mention. (I’m only familiar with the 2nd one by way of Little House on the Prairie TV show, but I had to Google the first) Same spectrum just different places on it. You don’t seem to be really serious in your argument.

    I recommend you spend more time reading the word of God and get better familiar with it. Start with Matthew and read the entire New Testament, then read the OT staring in Genesis to the end, and then continue back into the New.

  262. Reed Here said,

    March 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Andrew and John: um, a bit of leeway, but y’all are definitely off topic. ;-) How about one more comment from each summing up your EP differences AND a comment about how this is relevant to the subject of this post.

    Thanks guys.

  263. John Harutunian said,

    March 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Reed -OK, we are indeed off topic. I do think there’s some relevance to the subject of this post insofar as the Regulative Principle is involved: the teaching that we are forbidden to worship God in ways not commanded in Scripture. But here goes my final post:

    Andrew-

    >There is positive command to sing the Psalms.

    I agree. What we disagree about is whether we’re forbidden to sing anything else.

    >Paul says [in Phil 1:3,4 & Eph 1:15,16} he makes mention of these people in his prayers, so he must be praying using his own words.

    Agreed.

    >Luke 18:13.
    1 Tim 2:1,2

    >So there you have the to answer your question of where are we commanded to pray non-canoncial prayers.

    Agreed again. What started me off was your claim (post #52) that the hymns of Isaac Watts were counterfeit Psalms. Naturally, I don’t see them that way. But I do know that the Exclusive Psalmody position relates only to the formal Sunday worship of the church. An adherent of Exclusive Psalmody -at least in my experience- would have no problem singing a hymn (by Watts or anyone else) as a means of personal edification as he was going about his tasks during the week.

    It looks like I should have been more explicit in post 260, last paragraph. I should have written:

    “If one holds to a strict view of the Regulative Principle, the issue then becomes: What New Testament warrant do we have for offering up -in Lord’s Day worship- non-canonical prayers in the mode of ordinary, everyday speech?”

    This would have made things clearer, wouldn’t it?

    Anyway, thanks for the dialogue -and blessings.

  264. Perry Samuels said,

    March 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Great thread


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