19 May, 2010

The Second Commandment And Draw Mohamed Day

The second commandment prohibits making any images of God in any of his Trinitarian nature. This means that pictures of God the Father are prohibited. Pictures of God the Holy Spirit are prohibited. Pictures of God the Son are prohibited.

The Westminster Larger Catechism asks in Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, 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 worshiping 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 pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.

With all that said, Christians have placed too low a value on the image of Jesus Christ. We (we being the Church of Christ as a whole) have everything from stained glass images to pictures in our dining rooms to kids' books filled with cartoon Jesus pictures. This does not honor God and it is not the way in which he wants to be represented.

Considering the low value that Christians have on the second commandment and the image of Christ, there is something commendable about the fact that Islam is so protective of the image of their (false) prophet. But at the same time, the extremism leads to stupidity and violence- not to peace with God as the Scriptures point us.

The 20th of May is being called 'Draw Mohamed Day'. I will not be participating, of course, but I do wonder if the Christian Church took Jesus Christ more seriously if we would have a bigger influence on our world. For the good of course; not for Jihad.

Do you value the image of Christ enough to not portray it in any medium including the medium of your mind?


Chris said...

I don't think I've ever thought about the 2nd commandment quite like that before. I grew up Presbyterian and so have been in churches that was limited even in depictions of the Cross. Btw, here are my thoughts on the Draw Muhammad day: http://god-at-the-center.blogspot.com/2010/04/may-20-pray-for-muslims-day.html

Ben said...

Edgar linked this, and I just had to say...some of this doesn't seem very well-thought-out to me. So I can't draw a picture of any of the persons of the Godhead. Right. So I'm reading in the gospels and I see that God the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the outward form of a dove. Now, I imagine a dove in my mind. Have I sinned? Intuitively, I haven't. Did the people looking at the dove-like image sin? Intuitively, no. But when I want to draw a picture of the dove I cross the line? Show me the morally relevant difference, and I'll start taking this interpretation of the second commandment seriously. But without a plausible difference I think this misunderstands the point of the commandment.

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

Ben, I realize that there are some grey areas in the 2nd command- but we need to keep the spirit of the law, and not just push the envelope as far as we can.

Here's two more examples that may be gray areas:
1. Burning bush: this is a very common Presbyterian symbol which represents the persevering nature of God toward the Church. Is it a violation? I don't know.
2. The image of God in Jesus Christ- Jesus was (is) a man. If I know what he looked like, then I could imagine him. There would have been a number in the first century that would have literally known the image of Jesus- was it sin for them to imagine him as he was? Of course not.
But we do need to be careful as to where to draw the line. The command is clear as the Westminster Larger points out- and we should not push the envelope even though there are grey areas. If someone had a necklace or something with a dove image- I wouldn't even make an issue of it- but that's me.

N. Cognito, Phd., Thd., MD, DD, etc. said...

Is it at all possible to read the narrative of the life of Christ and not have a mental image of Jesus the man? All words are meant to engender some sort of mental image or representation of the thing or person spoken or written about. Words cannot inhabit the mind without some form to which we can relate to things that we have known or experienced. Thus mental images must accompany the words or else they are meaningless.

The issue must be images used in worship, or else any painting, statue, sketch, or finger painting must be deemed violative of the 2nd commandment.