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Jesus Pictures and — Idolatry?

Years ago, the forerunner of this weblog was called A Soldier for Jesus. There was a drawing of Jesus on it. Someone accused me of being an idolater because of it. Also, I joined a Christian-based humor group on Fakebook  that prohibited posting images of Jesus because some people got upset. Probably that idolatry thing again. Where do they get such ideas?

Eisegesis from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:4-6 and other places. I am going to be blunt here. People who sanctimoniously accuse others of being idolaters because they use images of Jesus (or God the Father, such as Michelangelo and William Blake) have no basis for their pride. They are showing ignorance of scriptural context. It's not a difficult theological context, either, because they are not even reading the rest of the verse.

A few Christians believe that having pictures of Jesus is a form of idolatry. That idea is from taking verses out of context, and raises other issues.
Jesus Pictures (source here) as Gallery Exhibit, PhotoFunia (cropped)
Pictures can be used as a way of praising God and giving him glory, and possibly a means of focusing in worship. I have yet to meet someone who worships the images. A suspicion of mine is that some of these folks have an emotional reaction. Roman Catholics, Easter Orthodox — they have images of many folks all over the place in their establishments. Could it be that certain Christians they want to distance themselves from those things?

Similarly, Jehovah's Witnesses and some legalistic Christians cite verses in Jeremiah to forbid the use of Christmas trees — centuries before they were used! Again, it's a matter of context. Now don't be disunderstanding me. If putting up a tree or having images of God in their homes violates certain people's personal convictions, that is their choice. Mayhaps God laid it on their hearts to do this, so the rest of us must not get all uppity and judge them. Nor should they judge us.

Not only are people neglecting to read the entire passages that they reference and take them out of context, but they make other problems for themselves. The article featured here discusses some of those, and something I like, which is taking something to its logical conclusion. Sometimes absurdity can be used to illustrate absurdity. Proper exegesis can solve many problems.

Those who argue that pictures or other art forms cannot represent Jesus in any way, to be consistent, must be against all artwork of anything in the earth, the ocean, or in the heavens. But most Christians understand that’s not the point of the second commandment. Rather, it’s about the heart behind the image. What is strictly prohibited is the making of an image with the express intent of worshipping it in place of God, who alone deserves worship. And how does this contextually play out in other Scriptures?

To read the entire article and see that paragraph in context, visit "Picturing Jesus."