Monday, July 8, 2013

Early Church Fathers on Relics, Statues, and Images

The Early Church Fathers on various topics: This was a 3700 hour project which included going through 22896 pages of the 38 volume set called Ante Nicene, Nicene, Post Nicene Fathers. I compiled 255 pages of quotes showing that the Early Church was always and completely Catholic. All of these quotes can be verified and found from the source which is free online.

Marytrdom of St Ignatius of Antioch ch 6 (50-117 ad)
For only the harder portions of his holy remains were left, which were conveyed to Antioch and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable treasure left to the holy Church by the grace which was in the martyr
Polycarp Martyrdom of Polycarp Ch 18 (69-155 ad)
Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps
Tertullian Against Marcion Book 2 ch 22 (160-240 ad)
The brazen serpent and the golden cherubim were not violations of the Second Commandment. Their meaning. [+] Likewise, when forbidding the similitude to be made of all things which are in heaven, and in earth, and in the waters, He declared also the reasons, as being prohibitory of all material exhibition of a latent idolatry. For He adds: "Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them." The form, however, of the brazen serpent which the Lord afterwards commanded Moses to make, afforded no pretext for idolatry, but was meant for the cure of those who were plagued with the fiery serpents? I say nothing of what was figured by this cure. Thus, too, the golden Cherubim and Seraphim were purely an ornament in the figured fashion of the ark; adapted to ornamentation for reasons totally remote from all condition of idolatry, on account of which the making a likeness is prohibited; and they are evidently not at variance with this law of prohibition, because they are not found in that form of similitude, in reference to which the prohibition is given.
Peter of Alexandria Genuine Acts of Peter (260-311ad)
In the meanwhile a spirited body of senators of those who are engaged in the public transport service, seeing what had happened, for they were near the sea, prepared a boat, and suddenly seizing upon the sacred relics, they placed them in it, and scaling the Pharos from behind, by a quarter which has the name of Leucado, they came to the church of the most blessed mother of God, and Ever-Virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of the martyrs
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 7 (295-340ad)
They say that this statue is an image of [+] Jesus. It has remained to our day, so that we ourselves also saw it when we were staying in the city. Nor is it strange that those of the Gentiles who, of old, were benefited by our Saviour, should have done such things, since we have learned also that the likenesses of his apostles Paul and Peter, and of Christ himself, are preserved in paintings, the ancients being accustomed, as it is likely, according to a habit of the Gentiles, to pay this kind of honor indiscriminately to those regarded by them as deliverers.
Athanasius Life of St Anthony par 92 (296-373 ad)
But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Anthony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Anthony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions.
Basil Letter 49 (329-379 ad)
If I am able to find any relics of martyrs, I pray that I may take part in your earnest endeavour.
Basil Letter 155 (329-379 ad)
If you send the relics of the martyrs home you will do well; as you write that the persecution there is, even now, causing martyrs to the Lord.
Basil Letter 197 par 2 (329-379 ad)
he took up the relics with all becoming reverence, and has aided the brethren in their preservation. These relics do you receive with a joy equivalent to the distress with which their custodians have parted with them and sent them to you
Basil Letter 360 (329-379 ad)
I acknowledge also the holy apostles, prophets, and martyrs; and I invoke them to supplication to God, that through them, that is, through their mediation, the merciful God may be propitious to me, and that a ransom may be made and given me for my sins. Wherefore also I honour and kiss the features of their images, inasmuch as they have been handed down from the holy apostles, and are not forbidden, but are in all our churches.
Jerome Letter 24 par 4 (347-420 ad)
She hurried to the martyrs' shrines unnoticed. Such visits gave her pleasure, and the more so because she was never recognized.
Jerome Letter 31 par 2 (347-420 ad)
It is true that a festival such as the birthday of Saint Peter should be seasoned with more gladness than usual; still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground.
Jerome Letter 46 par 8 (347-420 ad)
Everywhere we venerate the tombs of the martyrs; we apply their holy ashes to our eyes; we even touch them, if we may, with our lips.
Jerome Letter 46 par 13 (347-420 ad)
We shall see the fountain in which the eunuch was immersed by Philip. We shall make a pilgrimage to Samaria, and side by side venerate the ashes of John the Baptist, of Elisha, and of Obadiah.
Jerome against the Vigilantius par 5 (347-420 ad)
Are we, therefore guilty of sacrilege when we enter the basilicas of the Apostles? Was the Emperor Constantius I. guilty of sacrilege when he transferred the sacred relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy to Constantinople?
Jerome Letter 109 par 1 (347-420 ad)
You tell me that Vigilantius (whose very name Wakeful is a contradiction: he ought rather to be described as Sleepy) has again opened his fetid lips and is pouring forth a torrent of filthy venom upon the relics of the holy martyrs; and that he calls us who cherish them ashmongers and idolaters who pay homage to dead men's bones. Unhappy wretch! to be wept over by all Christian men,We, it is true, refuse to worship or adore, I say not the relics of the martyrs, but even the sun and moon, the angels and archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim and "every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come." For we may not "serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Still we honour the relics of the martyrs, that we may adore Him whose martyrs they are. We honour the servants that their honour may be reflected upon their Lord
John Chrysostom Homily 10 on Ephesians ch 4:5 (347-407 ad)
And yet who is there whom this fire does not touch? Which of the statues that stand in the Church?
John Chrysostom Homily 55 on Acts ch 28:17-20 (347-407 ad)
As I keep hearing the Epistles of the blessed Paul read, and that twice every week, and often three or four times, whenever we are celebrating the memorials of the holy martyrs,
John Chrysostom Homilies 10 Ephesians [347-407 AD]
For like a conflagration indeed, or like a thunderbolt hurled from on high, have they lighted upon the roof of the Church, and yet they rouse up no one; but whilst our Father's house is burning, we are sleeping, as it were, a deep and stupid sleep. And yet who is there whom this fire does not touch? Which of the statues that stand in the Church? for the Church is nothing else than a house built of the souls of us men. Now this house is not of equal honor throughout, but of the stones which contribute to it, some are bright and shining, whilst others are smaller and more dull than they, and yet superior again to others. There we may see many who are in the place of gold also, the gold which adorns the ceiling. Others again we may see, who give the beauty and gracefulness produced by statues. Many we may see, standing like pillars. For he is accustomed to call men also also on account of their beauty, adding as they do, much grace, and having their heads overlaid with gold.
John Chrysostom Homilies 21 on the Statues par 10 [347-407 AD]
Were your Statues thrown down? You have it in your power again to set up others yet more splendid.
John Chrysostom Homily on St Ignatius par 5 (347-407 ad)
For not the bodies only, but the very sepulchres of the saints have been filled with spiritual grace. For if in the case of Elisha this happened, and a corpse when it touched the sepulchre, burst the bands of death and returned to life again, much rather now, when grace is more abundant, when the energy of the spirit is greater, is it possible that one touching a sepulchre, with faith, should win great power; thence on this account God allowed us the remains of the saints, wishing to lead by them us to the same emulation, and to afford us a kind of haven, and a secure consolation for the evils which are ever overtaking us.
Egeria Discription of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem XXXVII (348-418 ad)
Veneration of the Cross. [+] Then a chair is placed for the bishop in Golgotha [+] behind the Cross, which is now standing; the bishop [+] duly takes his seat in the chair, and a table covered [+] with a linen cloth is placed before him; the deacons [+] stand round the table, and a silver-gilt casket is [+] brought in which is the holy wood of the Cross. The [+] casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and [+] both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed [+] upon the table.
John Cassian Conference 6 ch 1 (360-435 ad)
In this district there lived for a long while monks of the most perfect life and holiness, who were suddenly destroyed by an incursion of Saracen robbers: (3) whose bodies we knew were seized upon with the greatest veneration (4) both by the Bishops of the neighbourhood and by the whole populace of Arabia, and deposited among the relics of the martyrs, so that swarms of people from two towns met, and made terrible war upon each other, and in their struggle actually came to blows for the possession of the holy spoil, while they strove among themselves with pious zeal as to which of them had the better claim to bury them and keep their relics
Augustine Letter 212 (354-430 ad)
how much stronger is their claim on you, who reside in the same country in this earth in which these ladies, for the love of Christ, renounced the distinctions of this world I also ask you to condescend to receive with the same love with which I have offered it my official salutation, and to remember me in your prayers. These ladies carry with them relics of the most blessed and glorious martyr Stephen: your Holiness knows how to give due honour to these, as we have done.
Augustine on the Holy Trinity Book 1 ch 6.13 (354-430 ad)
But that the Holy Spirit is not a creature is made quite plain by that passage above all others, where we are commanded not to serve the creature, but the Creator; not in the sense in which we are commanded to "serve" one another by love, which is in Greek douleuein, but in that in which God alone is served, which is in Greek latreuein. From whence they are called idolaters who tender that service to images which is due to God. For it is this service concerning which it is said, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." For this is found also more distinctly in the Greek Scriptures, which have latreuseis. Now if we are forbidden to serve the creature with such a service, seeing that it is written, the creature more than the Creator), then assuredly the Holy Spirit is not a creature, to whom such a service is paid by all the saints; as says the apostle, "For we are the circumcision, which serve the Spirit of God," which is in the Greek latreuontes. For even most Latin copies also have it thus,
Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichean Book 20 par 21 (354-430 ad)
What is properly divine worship, which the Greeks call latria, and for which there is no word in Latin, both in doctrine and in practice, we give only to God. To this worship belongs the offering of sacrifices; as we see in the word idolatry, which means the giving of this worship to idols. Accordingly we never offer, or require any one to offer, sacrifice to a martyr, or to a holy soul, or to any angel. Any one falling into this error is instructed by doctrine, either in the way of correction or of caution.
Augustine of Hippo City of God Book 22 ch 8 (354-430 ad)
For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by His sacraments or by the prayers or relics of His saints; but they are not so brilliant and conspicuous as to cause them to be published with such glory as accompanied the former miracles.
Sozomen Ecclesial History Book 3 Ch 14 (375-477 ad)
He (the monk Antony the great) was earnest in conduct, grave in discourse, and with a good memory and accurate attainment in Sacred Writ. He was so beloved by God, that even now many afflicted and possessed people are healed at his tomb.
Council of Ephesus Extracts from session 1 (431 ad)
Theodosius, the humble Christian, to the holy and Ecumenical Synod: I confess and I agree to (suntiqemai) and I receive and I salute and I venerate in the first place the spotless image of our Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, and the holy image of her who bore him without seed, the holy Mother of God, and her help and protection and intercessions each day and night as a sinner to my aid I call for, since she has confidence with Christ our God, as he was born of her. Likewise also I receive and venerate the images of the holy and most laudable Apostles, prophets, and martyrs and the fathers and cultivators of the desert. Not indeed as gods (God forbid!) do I ask all these with my whole heart to pray for me to God, that he may grant me through their intercessions to find mercy at his hands at the day of judgment, for in this I am but showing forth more clearly the affection and love of my soul which I have borne them from the first. Likewise also I venerate and honour and salute the reliques of the Saints as of those who fought for Christ and who have received grace from him for the healing of diseases and the curing of sicknesses and the casting out of devils, as the Christian Church has received from the holy Apostles and Fathers even down to us to-day.
Gregory the Great Letters Book 11 letter 13 (540-604 ad)
If for this instruction for which images were anciently made you wish to have them in the church, I permit them by all means both to be made and to be had. And explain to them that it was not the sight itself of the story which the picture was hanging to attest that displeased thee, but the adoration which had been improperly paid to the pictures.
Gregory the Great Letters Book 9 letter 105 (540-604 ad)
Furthermore we notify to you that it has come to our ears that your Fraternity, seeing certain adorers of images, broke and threw down these same images in Churches. And we commend you indeed for your zeal against anything made with hands being an object of adoration; but we signify to you that you ought not to have broken these images. For pictorial representation is made use of in Churches for this reason; that such as are ignorant of letters may at least read by looking at the walls what they cannot read in books. Your Fraternity therefore should have both preserved the images and prohibited the people from adoration of them, to the end that both those who are ignorant of letters might have wherewith to gather a knowledge of the history, and that the people might by no means sin by adoration of a pictorial representation
Gregory the Great Letters Book 3 letter 33 (540-604 ad)
We now send you as the benediction of the blessed apostle Peter a small cross, wherein are inserted benefits from his chains, which for a time bound his neck: but may they loose yours from sins for ever.
Gregory the Great Letters Book 4 letter 30 (540-604 ad)
The Serenity of your Piety, conspicuous for religious zeal and love of holiness, has charged me with your commands to send to you the head of Saint Paul, or some other part of his body, for the church which is being built in honour of the same Saint Paul in the palace. And, being desirous of receiving commands from you, by exhibiting the most ready obedience to which I might the more provoke your favour towards me, I am all the more distressed that I neither can nor dare do what you enjoin. For the bodies of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul glitter with so great miracles and terrors in their churches that one cannot even go to pray there without great fear. In short, when my predecessor, of blessed memory, was desirous of changing the silver which was over the most sacred body of the blessed apostle Peter, though at a distance of almost fifteen feet from the same body, a sign of no small dreadfulness appeared to him.
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
From the Life of the Abbot Daniel, on Eulogius the Quarryman. [+] Then he went away dejected, and threw himself before an image of Our Lady, and crying out, he said: "Lord, enable me to pay what I promised this man."
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
St Basil says, "Honouring the image leads to the prototype." If you raise churches to the saints of God, raise also their trophies.
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
A tradition has come down to us that Angaros, King of Edessa, was drawn vehemently to divine love by hearing of our Lord,* and that he sent envoys to ask for His likeness. If this were refused, they were ordered to have a likeness painted. Then He, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, is said to have taken a strip of cloth, and pressing it to His face, to have left His likeness upon the cloth, which it retains to this day. (shroud of turin?)
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
If you say to this that blessed Epiphanius clearly rejected our use of images, you must know that the work in question is spurious and written by some one else in the name of Epiphanius, as often happens. A father does not fight his own children. All have become participators in the one Spirit. [78] The Church is a witness of this in adorning images, until some men rose up against her and disturbed the peace of Christ's fold, putting poisoned food before the people of God.
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
Listen to what I am going to say as a proof that images are no new invention. It is an ancient practice well known to the best and foremost of the fathers. Elladios, the disciple of blessed Basil and his successor, says in his Life of Basil that the holy man was standing by the image of Our Lady, on which was painted also the likeness of Mercurius, the renowned martyr. He was standing by it asking for the removal of the impious apostate Julian, and he received this revelation from the statue. He saw the martyr vanish for a time, and then reappear, holding a bloody spear.
Venerable Bede Ecclesiastical History of England Book 4 ch 32 (672-735 ad)
The brother having long laboured under this malady, when no human means availed to save his eye, but rather, it grew daily worse, on a sudden, through the grace of the mercy of God, it came to pass that he was cured by the relics of the holy father, Cuthbert. For when the brethren found his body uncorrupted, after having been many years buried, they took some part of the hair, to give, as relics, to friends who asked for them, or to show, in testimony of the miracle.
Constantinople/Trullo/Quinisext canon 82 (692 ad)
In some pictures of the venerable icons, a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his finger, which is received as a type of grace, indicating beforehand through the Law, our true Lamb, Christ our God.
Avenging of the Saviour (700 ad)
It is the woman called Veronica who has the portrait of the Lord in her house. And immediately he ordered her to be brought before his power. And he said to her: Hast thou the portrait of the Lord in thy house? But she said, No. Then Velosianus ordered her to be put to the torture, until she should give up the portrait of the Lord. And she was forced to say: I have it in clean linen, my lord, and I daily adore it. Velosianus said: Show it to me. Then she showed the portrait of the Lord. (Veronica was the woman who suffered for 12 years with the issue of blood)
2nd Council of Nicaea During the time of Stephen II [787-788 AD]
We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all knoweth Holy Spirit indwells her), define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honourable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people. For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honorable reverence not indeed that true worship of faith which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented . . .
4th Lateran Council (Ecumenical Council #12) ch 62 [1215-1216 AD]
The Christian religion is frequently disparaged because certain people put saints' relics up for sale and display them indiscriminately. In order that it may not be disparaged in the future, we ordain by this present decree that henceforth ancient relics shall not be displayed outside a reliquary or be put up for sale. As for newly discovered relics, let no one presume to venerate them publicly unless they have previously been approved by the authority of the Roman pontiff.


yeoberry said...

Your omission of the Council of Elvira, Origin, Eusebius, and Epiphanius demonstrate your bias.

Brian said...

Hey pastor John yeoberry. You are a smart guy so you read at the top that my source of the Fathers was the AnteNicene, Nicene, and Post Nicene Fathers. You also know that the writings of Epiphanius and the council of Elvira are not in those collections of writings. I did this project 7 years ago and I couldn't find the separate writings of Epiphanius even though I wanted to because I heard that he said some nice things about the Church and Mary. I key word searched the writings of Eusebius and did not find him objecting to statues or images. I found a couple quotes in Origin:
"Let him then tell us whether it is a becoming thing for philosophers, and those who have been taught not to yield to superstition, to abandon their country's customs, so as to eat of those articles of food which are prohibited in their respective cities? or whether this proceeding of theirs is opposed to what is becoming? For if, on account of their philosophy, and the instructions which they have received against superstition, they should eat, in disregard of their native laws, what was interdicted by their fathers, why should the Christians (since the Gospel requires them not to busy themselves about statues and images, or even about any of the created works of God but to ascend on high, and present the soul to the Creator); when acting in a similar manner to the philosophers, be censured for so doing?"

In this I don't see a condemnation. It just says it is not a requirement like the pagans he was talking about.Here is another quote:

"If he had specified their names in particular, we should have felt ourselves bound to show him that he wished to give us as guides men who were blinded to the truth, and who must therefore lead us into error; or that if not wholly blinded, yet they are in error in many matters of belief. But whether Orpheus, Parmenides, Empedocles, or even Homer himself, and Hesiod, are the persons whom he means by "inspired poets," let any one show how those who follow their guidance walk in a better way, or lead a more excellent life, than those who, being taught in the school of Jesus Christ, have rejected all images and statues, and even all Jewish superstition, that they may look upward through the Word of God to the one God, who is the Father of the Word."

In this quote his reference to rejecting images could be that Christians reject the images and statues of the pagans. I try my best but it is not enough for some. Me not deleting your comment and posting this here demonstrates I am not afraid of a different view. Perhaps as a pastor you should not be so quick to judge the interior motives of which you do not know about.

David Manthei said...

Brian, this is a fabulous collection on a topic that was brought to my attention just this morning! Were you ever able to locate the supposed quotes in rejection of icons/relics which Pastor Yeoberry mentioned? (If "yeoberry" is reading this, can you perhaps direct me to a link?)
I would very much like to write a comparison.
Also, Brian, would you entertain allowing me to copy your research into my own article, as long as I give you credit for the research and link back to your page? You can review my own blog first to make sure I I would not use your work to my own credit or for a contrary purpose. Contact me and I will give you that link (lest I advertise on your own blog).
My name is David Manthei and I can be found on FaceBook. My "avatar"/profile pic is the Arabic Nun, and my profile is fairly open to the public, and I am an Admin on the "John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society" facebook page. I accept PM's from anyone.
My email address is equesgladiostricto at gmail dot com (minus the spaces, @ instead of at....).
In Christ,

Tymofiy Hawrysh said...

+David Manthei You asked about Epiphanius writings opposed to icons. From a time by a scholar closer to the supposed writings of Epiphanius we find:

John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 AD)
If you say to this that blessed Epiphanius clearly rejected our use of images, you must know that the work in question is spurious and written by some one else in the name of Epiphanius, as often happens. A father does not fight his own children. All have become participators in the one Spirit. [78] The Church is a witness of this in adorning images, until some men rose up against her and disturbed the peace of Christ's fold, putting poisoned food before the people of God.

Epiphanius writings are not included in the Ante-Nicene Fathers because the scholars who compiled the Fathers' writings found writings attributed to Epiphanius to be spurious (read lies).
Hence Brian could not find Epiphanius in the authentic sources.

If you look at how John yeoberry cites Ephphanius, (304 -310 - 410) one wonders whether Epiohanius lived that long (100 or 106 years). The creators of false quotes stretched the age of the venerable one(in this case Epiphanius) so the "discovered writings by Epiphanius" could be more believable if "found" shortly after the end of his life.

If John yeoberry (knowlingly or unknowlingly) used falsified writings by Epiphanius, he may also be using non-credible quotes by Origen. Since Brian cannot find Origen's quotes vs use of images in the authentic Ante-Nicene Fathers, logically they ought to be considered spurious/false sources.

David Manthei said...

+Tymofiy Hawrysh, YES! That's exactly the conclusion I came to, and the only reasonable one.
To fully answer to Pastor Yeoberry's assertion of bias, Brian provided Origin's writings, which in no way condemn the proper use of images, rather they explain that Christians don't worship the images we have. Eusebius says nothing at all against them. Epiphanius' writings are counted as spurious, even as early as the 7th century. That leave the Council of Elvira.

And what of the Council of Elvira? Direct quotes are hard to come by, but let's assume, for the sake of argument, that iconography/imagery was forbidden in some such way. This was a local council in Spain in the 4th century which partly addressed, among many other topics, idolatry and pagans making improper use of sacred images. If there was a prohibition against images, it was only a local one; yet there is no evidence that such was the case, especially with the mountain of evidence in support of imagery in the Church's history. More likely, according to some historians, "...the council did not pronounce as to the liceity or non-liceity of the use of images, but as an administrative measure simply forbade them, lest new and weak converts from paganism should incur thereby any danger of relapse into idolatry, or be scandalized by certain superstitious excesses in no way approved by the ecclesiastical authority" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Council of Elvira).

Brian said...

Excellent comments guys. From William Albrecht's research he said the canons of Elvira after canon 20 if I remember correctly are considered to be spurious. Those would be the canons that mentioned images. He also mentions that the Iconoclasts would have used the council's decision on images as further proof of their position if they existed which lends one to further believe that the canons of Elvira on images were later additions. These are two debates he did.

SteveD said...

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the quotes given in this video by David Bersoe - they don't agree with many of your referenced quotes.

Brian said...

Part 1 reply to SteveD: Isn’t that nice of the author to make you buy his book for the references? He probably feels most won’t and just take is word for it. So far some of the quotes I was able to find are correct but his interpretation of it is not. Very often I have seen people use quotes against images but when you look at the quotes they are saying that worshipping images is forbidden or the wording of the father is talking about how bad it is that the pagans have images. That is absolutely correct you can’t worship images and any image of a pagan god is not good however the Church father is not saying you can’t have an image. I pointed out some quotes out in a comment on this page in response to pastor John yeoberry. The first one the author mentions was from Irenaeus and the condemnation comes where the Gnostics where putting Jesus’ image on the same par as philosophers since they did not believe Jesus was almighty God but either an angel or a man. Both are heretical which would make it a false image. He mentions Clement of Alexandria from Stromata quote: “For He who prohibited the making of a graven image, would never Himself have made an image in the likeness of holy things”
I think that for some of the Fathers who were really dealing with people worshiping idols that some of them just went cold turkey and said no to the whole lot throwing the baby out with the bath water. Clement is wrong here because 5 chapters after God said no images in Ex 20 God commands Holy images to be made and then again in Numbers 9. Jesus himself made an image of himself with a trillion watts of power imprinting his image into the Shroud of Turin. The difference is no worshipping and that may have been a problem for people coming out of paganism.

He quotes Clement of Alexandria saying images cannot be sacred or divine. Here is the whole quote from Stromata: “It were indeed ridiculous, as the philosophers themselves say, for man, the plaything of God, to make God, and for God to be the plaything of art; since what is made is similar and the same to that of which it is made, as that which is made of ivory is ivory, and that which is made of gold golden. Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine.”

Notice the context is totally focused on pagan idols. I could probably find a father saying their scriptures are false and then zooming out find that he was talking about the Mohammadins and not the bible.

Brian said...

Part 2 reply to SteveD:
Here is the context of Tertullian when he mentions demons and images of the dead. The Shows ch 12: “

It remains for us to examine the "spectacle" most noted of all, and in highest favour. It is called a dutiful service (munus), from its being an office, for it bears the name of "officium" as well as offices to the dead; at a later period, with a cruelty more refined, they somewhat modified its character. For formerly, in the belief that the souls of the departed were appeased by human blood, they were in the habit of buying captives or slaves of wicked disposition, and immolating them in their funeral obsequies. Afterwards they thought good to throw the veil of pleasure over their iniquity. Those, therefore, whom they had provided for the combat, and then trained in arms as best they could, only that they might learn to die, they, on the funeral day, killed at the places of sepulture. They alleviated death by murders. Such is the origin of the "Munus." But by degrees their refinement came up to their cruelty; for these human wild beasts could not find pleasure exquisite enough, save in the spectacle of men torn to pieces by wild beasts. Offerings to propitiate the dead then were regarded as belonging to the class of funeral sacrifices; and these are idolatry: for idolatry, in fact, is a sort of homage to the departed; the one as well as the other is a service to dead men. Moreover, demons have abode in the images of the dead.”

Notice that Tertullian talks about a false practice concerning the dead but look at the page on purgatory and you see Tertullian believes in the true practice concerning the dead. This is another attempt to take a father talking about something that has nothing to do with Christian images.

I’m just jumping around on his talk at this point because it is so bad. He mentions that the Pagans use the same arguments as Catholics in Athenagorus saying that the sacrifices and worship to the statues are not to the statues themselves but to the “real” invisible god they represent. Here is the problem: Those statues do not represent anything real they represent a false God but the speaker tries to use this against Catholics.

If some fathers said no to images it does not matter that much because the same Church authority of the Catholic Church given by Christ that defined the Trinity and the hypostatic union in ecumenical councils also met in council to condemn the Iconoclast heresy at the Nicea II.

SteveD said...

Many thanks for taking the time to address some of those points.