Iconoclasm, the Eucharist and the Resurrection of the Flesh

Those who reject the veneration of icons usually proffer reasons claiming that the veneration of icons is contrary to biblical commands. I think a serious reading of the iconoclast controversy and resurrgence of iconoclasm among the Reformers who used much the same line of argumentation reveals a different reason for the rejection of the veneration of icons. Here are some useful selections that I think support that claim from Ambrosios Giakalis’ Images of the Divine: The Theology of Icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council. I think it is possible to see a parallel line of thinking from the Iconoclast rejection of matter as being capable of being deified and their resulting eucharistic doctrine, to the Protestant rejection icons and of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. There are significant lines to draw between the conception of matter and form posed by the iconoclasts and the later conception of matter per Galileo in the Renaissance as intrinsically extensional. Other lines can be drawn from the iconoclast theology regarding symbolic though impersonal representation of God and Gnostic and contemporary Feminist cries for inclusive language. You can see some of these issues in the background of this Reformed/Lutheran argument. This entry is a good bit of reading, but I think you will find it profitable. Emphases are my own as are any typographical errors.

“…it appears from the iconoclasts’ acceptance of the ‘deification’ (theosis) of the bread of the Eucharist ‘as through a certain sanctification by grace’ that, unlike their opponents, they do not admit any real distinction between divine essence and divine energy.  At the same time they regard matter as generally ‘ignoble’ (adoxon) ‘common and ‘worthless‘ (koinen kai atimon) and, moreover the hands of the painter as ‘profane’ (deilous) and, by extension, his work similarly so to such a degree that it is impossible either for the material or for the work of ar produced from it to be sanctified by ‘sacred prayer.’

Therein lies the following paradox: Although they accept the ‘deification’ of matter in the unique case of the sanctified bread of the Eucharist, they appear to reject any other possibility of the sanctification of reality…Clearly this hostility of the iconoclasts to matter springs directly from the possibilities for iconoic representation inherent in it, which they immediately associate with the pagan manufacture of idols…Thus the iconoclasts’ conception of reality, in spite of its external reliance of the Jewish aniconic tradition, does not differ very much, on their own admission, from the diametrically oppossed Greek tradition. With regard to their arguments concerning the eucharistic bread as alone having the exclusive power to represent Christ, we can clearly discern a totally Greek distinction between ‘matter’ and ‘shape’, or ‘form’, as Aristotle would have said:

“Just as that which Christ received from us is the matter alone of human substance perfect in every respect, which does not characterize an individually subsisting persons, lest and additional person be admitted into the Godhead, so also the image is offered of special matter, namely, the substance of the bread, which does not represent the shape of a man, lest idolatry be introduced.”

Idolatry, then, does not arise primarily from the use of matter in itself, but chiefly the human ‘shape.’ Such is their aversion to any representation of ‘shape’ that they accept the bread of the Eucharist as a representation of Christ precisely because it excludes any ‘shape’, being ‘shapeless’ or ‘formless.’

To be exact, they do not mean that through the eucharistic bread, at least, Christ himself is represented as a real presence, but that only the fact of his incarnation is represented. The sanctified bread is “the only true image of the economy of the incarnation of Christ” not of Christ himself.

By interpreting the bread as the unique form or type (typos) with the power to represent his incarnation, but without the power to represent the actual humanity of his person, the iconoclasts believe that they have found a satisfactory solution to the problem of idolatry, since in their view the problem consists precisely in the worship of ‘forms’, whereas the bread is ‘formless’ (amorphos)…The following questions, however still remain:

1. How do they conceive of created relaity in general, since ‘shapelessness’ and ‘formlessness’ do not prevail in the material world?

2. Why in their opinion ois matter ‘worthless’, ‘common’ and ‘ignoble’, and not ‘very good’ as it is described in the Bible?

“…There is apparent here an idealism which detests the sensible world of matter and regards the giving of form to the invisible and ‘unattainable’ as profanity. An understaking of this kind constitutes an invention, a ‘ contrivance’ which is utterly ‘senseless.’

For the iconoclasts it is inconceivable that one should transfer ‘intelligibles,’ or intelligible reality to the sensible world and thus make them accessible to the unitiated and profane. In Origen’s eschatology is found the conception that bodies will become ‘intellects’ once again, restored to the primeval state from which they fell to the sensible wortld and received specific shape and ‘form’.  This is also true a fortiori of the body of Christ after the Resurrection.

This perhaps explains both (a) the unwillingness of the inconoclasts to reject icons entirely (since they accept the eucharistic bread as an image of the incarnation of the Logos, and the virtues of the saints ‘as certain animated images’ which can be painted inwardly in each believer), and also (b) their attack on lifeless and dumb matter and material colours, since they regarded representation by material and sensible means as a product of idolatrous Hellenism ‘which became the pioneer and inventor of this abominable workmanship. For not having the hope of resurrection, it contemplated a trifle worthy of it, in order to make that which is not present, present by illusion’

The persistent reference to the resurrection as an argument against icons is strong evidence of clear influence of an Origenistic eschatology on the iconoclasts: ‘for it is not lawful for Christians who have acquired hope in the resurrection to adopt the customs of the gentile demon-worshippers and to insult the saints,- who are destined to shine in such glory, with ignoble and dead matter.’

The matter that they keep repeating is lifeless, dead and ignoble reflects their conviction that matter has no place in the resurrection, and will not be glorified in the life to come at the end of the ages. Most probably this is their deepest reason for calling images ‘false and spurious’ (pseudonymoous kai kakonymous). Since neither Christ nor the saints are to have material bodies in the life to come, it follows that the material likenesses of the iconophiles are false and spuriously called icons of Christ or the saints…

The bodies of Christ and the saints are described by the iconoclastss as ‘not present’ (me paronta).  this may very well have the eschatological meaning that the time of the parousia has not yet arrived, when all bodies will appear immaterial and ‘intellectual’- they will no longer have ‘bodies’.  In this sense one may well look forward to the resurrection of the dead without implying the necessity a resurrection of their bodies….

The important thing for them [the iconoclasts] is that every attempt to ‘raise up’ the material bodies of the saints as icons is blasphemous since such bodies will not exist in the final resurrection. Besides, sanctity is regarded as a ‘dignity’ (axioma) and it is clear that this dignity does not refer to an actual participation in the deifying energy of God, but simply to an attainment of a contemplative prelapsarian state of perfection. Yet saints are considered to be ‘honourable before God in soul and in body’. Whether these already honoured bodies are to be understood as material or immaterial is a question never answered by them.

One understand in consequence why the iconoclasts place Christianity between Judaism and Hellenism, with the result that they can borrow elements from both in an eclectic way without, howeever, aligning themselves with either. They know, then, that they are not as hostile to images as in traditional Judaism, since they accept certain images of a spiritual, symbolic and intellectual nature, nor are they as idealistic as the Greeks, since they accept the resurrection, spiritualization and restoration of the material world, rather than a perpetual cycle as the Greeks did.  We are in fact dealing here with a distinctive combination of eschatological elements which are strongly Origenistic, the iconoclast like Origen understanding ‘real’ and existing in a proper sense that which is spiritualized or returns to a certain primeval ‘intellectuality’, and as non-existent and evil-almost ‘non-being’- in a proper sense that which still remains sensible and material with certain important contradictions, as we have seen. The sanctification of the material world is essentially incompatible with such conceptions, for in a sense that which is sanctified cease to be material any longer. Sanctification and dematerialisation are parallel processes and it is almost impossible for the iconoclasts to distingish between them.” pp. 68-74

“The iconoclasts seem to rely on the early Alexandrian terminology, which, as in the West, rather than distinguish between nature and hypostases tended to identify them. The Iconophiles, by constrast, took as their starting point the difference between nature and hypostasis so as to arrive at a clear distinction between prototype and image…” pp. 83-84.

“Two important observations may be made on the iconoclasts’ understanding of the sanctified bread and wine of the Eucharist as a faithful icon of Christ: first as we have already noted, it strengthens their radical difference from the iconophiles on the meaing of the icon, and secondly-a natural consequence of this difference- it underlines their readiness to accept as an icon an impersonal reality.  More specifically, the fundamental criterion of the iconoclast theology and christology is found precisely in this: first in the distance they place between icon and person, secondly in their adamant refusal to accept any kind of hypostatic pictoral representation, and thirdly in their final inability to reconcile ‘pictorial representation’ (eikonizesthai) with ‘hypostatization’ or real existence (hyphestanai).  This explains their whole position. They do not object to the icon as such.  They do not reject every icon of Christ in itself without exception, but only that which manifests his hypostasis or person. Since the bread and wine of the Eucharist do not manifest anything of this kind, being far removed from every accepted personal pictorial representation, they become acceptable as an icon of Christ precisely because they are impersonal…From a purely christological point of view the impersonal icon of the Eucharistic species is equally satisfactory: it includes both natures of Christ on account of the sanctification of the gifts. The iconoclasts thus succeed in attaining an absolutely ‘pragmatic representation’ of Christ which in reality consitutes a nullification of every iconic possibility because it does not actually represent anything pictorial and thus fulfils tghe conditions which make it acceptable: the bread and wine are impersonal and at the same time the body and blood of Christ.” pp. 98-99

“The conferment of honour, however, upon ‘very good’ creatures does not necessarily signify the veneration of all creatures in general, but only of those which participate in the purifying, illuminating or deifying energies of the Holy Trinity.   That is to say, in the last analysis the veneration of creatures presupposes distinctions between the uncreated natural energies of the Holy Trinity which act upon them by grace.  The inability to make such distinctions leads to the rejection of veneration.  This is the position not only of the iconoclasts, who were unable to differentiate between icon and archetype-bearewr of the divine energies and identified these with regard to substance, but also of the Frankish theologians of the Carolingian period who met at Frankfurt (794) and reject the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

The way the Orthodox distinguish between different uncreated energies may be summarised as follows: the result of the energy which creates and maintains constitutes the natures of substances of beings. Consequently, beings are creatures  and creatures are not venerated.  Beings which are creeatures, however, participate in the purifying, the illuminating and above all the deifying divine energies, and are venerated precisely because of the abiding indwelling of uncreated energy which is supplied to them by grace.  The uncreated energy which deifies is supplied by grace from the Triadic God solely to the angels and the saints; the energy which purifies, illuminates and sanctifies is supplied to the icons, and holy Cross, the sacred vessels, holy water, holy oils, etc., and is communicated from these and the Church’s sacraments to those who are worthy, not to all in the same way and in the same degree, but in proportion to their spiritual state.  Thus, for example, tyhe body and blood of Christ in the divine Eucharist communicated under the sanctified forms of bread and wine operate i the purifying way in those of the faithful who are being cleansed, in an illuminating way in those who are being enlightened, and in a deifying way in those who are being deified. But in those who do not find themselves in anty of the above categories it operates for their judgment or condemantion on account of their unworthiness.” p. 125

“The iconoclasts, for example, instead of making conceptual (kat’epinoian) distinctions often made either sharp divisions or else conflating identifications.  The iconophiles, on the other hand, made real distinctions between prototype and imitative icon and between adoration and veneration which the iconoclasts found difficult to accept.

Fundamental to the iconoclast position was a real distinction between the two natures of Christ, human and indivine in contrast with the merely conceptual (kat’epinoian) distinction made by their opponents and the Eastern Fathers in general.  As a result the iconic representation of Christ implied either a divission between the two natures, which is Nestorian, or a confusion of natures, which is Monophysite. (Both these points were stressed in opposition to the icnophiles and not independently of the depiction of Christ.)

Further distinctions and separations were made between material and spiritual beings, beyween creatures and the uncreated God and between the iconic representations of Christ and his Incarnation.  The separation between creatures and the uncreated God was absolute due to the implicit rejection of the Holy trinity’s uncreated energies, a rejection which lies at the very core of the iconoclast theology.

The argument concerning the absolute separation between the iconic representation (‘circumscription’) of Christ and his incarnation was absurd, but was maintained against the iconophiles on the strength of a spiritualizing theory which saw the Logos as ‘uncircumscribable’ even after the Incarnation, obviously with Origenistic-or even docetic criteria…The identifications made by the iconoclasts were numerous.  First, all true images are taken to be ‘natural’ or consubstantial with their archetypes. From this derives the utter impossibility of distinguishing between ‘natural’ and ‘imitative’ icons. By further consequence, image and archetype or prototype are identified. Consequently, Christ and an icon of Christ must be identified in their essence, that is to say, icon and person represented (prototype) must always be consubstantial. Every icon not identical with the prototype in essence is an idol.

Because the above definition of consubstantiality between prototype and image is never fulfilled in the case of the imitative icon, every non-natural icon must of necessity be an idol.  The venerationof such an icon is therefore the veneration of an idol. Every honour rendered to material icons of Christ and his saints signifies veneration of the pictorial representations themselves and not of the prototype.

Since only natural icons exist and ‘icon’ in general is identified with ‘archetype’, every attempt at iconic representation of Christ treats his two natures as identical. There is [for the iconoclasts] only one ‘natural’ icon of Christ: the sanctified Bread of the divine Eucharist (which is evidentaly acceptable because it avoids the human form, and not simply because it renders his two natures.)  Here it is clearly apparent that the problem for the iconoclasts lies not in the iconic representation of matter itself but of the form…

The hesitation, however, of the iconoclasts to accept the existence of uncreated energies leads them to confuse the sanctification of the bread with ‘deification’.  In this way they appear as forerunners of the scholastic teaching on transubstantiation through their wording: ‘deification of the essence of the Bread by grace.’ So they obviously suggest that such a deification unavoidably entails the ‘dematerialization’ or spiritualization of the Bread.

For the iconoclasts reality was not to be found in the visible world. The real is identified with the spiritual. Only those beings which exist eternally and immutably are true existents.  The hypostasis of the divine Logos, however, is identified with ‘the visible character’ of his human nature.  This thesis was produced by the need to refute iconophile arguments and was expressed primarily through the axiom that Christ remains ‘uncircumscribable’ even after his Incarnation. Consequently it is not acceptable that Christ-at least after his crucifixion-should any longer have at his disposal a ‘visible character’.  The same must hold true for the saints (and for human beings in general) after their death and obviously it is not expected that such a visible character will be acquired again.  It is debatable whether the iconoclasts believed in the resurrection of the flesh either of Christ or of men generally, although their council at Hiereia (754) proclaimed its belief in the resurrection of the dead.

The Iconoclasts are unable to discern the presence of the uncreated energies of the Holy Trinity in creation apart from the unclear case of the sanctification of the bread of the Eucharist, which is deified ‘by grace as through a certain sanctification’. The use of ‘as’ (hos) shows the difficulty experienced by the iconoclasts in accpeting the real presence of uncreated grace in creation.  This doubt, however concerning the possibility of communication of uncreated energies to creatures poses from the begining the question of how the iconoclasts conceived of the divine economy of the Incarnation, and lends a strongly christological character to the whole  iconoclast controversy. Ultimately the unity of the theandric person of Jesus Christ is not seriously taken into account by the iconoclasts.  The incarnate Logos appears rather as a Christ who seems to be an almost impersonal sum of two natures.” pp. 131-133

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25 Responses to Iconoclasm, the Eucharist and the Resurrection of the Flesh

  1. Andrew says:

    Perry,

    ‘I think it is possible to see a parallel line of thinking from the Iconoclast rejection of matter as being capable of being deified and their resulting eucharistic doctrine, to the Protestant rejection icons and of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.’

    To be fair, this isn’t really a Protestant issue, but a Reformed issue. Lutherans were and are not iconoclasts proper, and neither do they reject the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; in fact, they vociferously affirm it, and see it (rightfully so) as integral to the very life of the Church.

    Lumping Protestants together as a monolithic whole just won’t do.

  2. acolyte says:

    Andrew,
    So can you point me to the dogmatic Lutheran teaching that is in agreement with 2nd Nicea on the veneration of Icons? or historically have Lutherans sided with the council of Frankfurt against Rome?
    I am aware of the fact that Lutherans teach some form of presence of Christ in the elements. What we mean by “real” and such is going to be where the question lies. I remain unconvinced that the Lutherans preserve whole and inviolate the patristic and biblical teaching on the Eucharist, which is just to say that I am not Lutheran. Lumping my lumping about protestants into some standard mistake simply won’t do. 🙂

  3. Don Bradley says:

    In both cases, the Reformers and the Iconoclasts, there also existed the very real threat of Saracen invasion. The Muslims aren’t real big fans of icons either. Is there any relation between the presence of a Muslim army nearby in both the 8th and 16th centuries and iconoclasm inside Byzantium and non-Latin Europe, or is this coincidental?

  4. AH says:

    Andrew,

    Id be curious to see what continuities and discontinuities you see between the Lutheran understanding of the eucharist and the historic position of say the Orthodox church?

    ah

  5. acolyte says:

    Arin,

    Won’t an articulation of the Lutheran view of Icons tell us what the other is? Btw, i have a present for you. 😛

  6. AH says:

    My curiosity is significantly stoked…

  7. I love how unified and consistent the Orthodox faith is. Essence and Energies, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, Icons, the Resurrection, Veneration of Saints and their Relics all address the same issue. And if material bodies aren’t resurrected, why do they think Jesus’ tomb was empty? And where did Enoch’s, Elijah’s and possibly Moses’ body go?

    The deification of matter is such a new concept to this convert to Orthodoxy that I still struggle to understand it. My previous impression was one of a separate vessel housing God, and now I’m trying to learn a new habit of understanding. Would “permeation” or “saturation” maintain the right “distinct, undivided, and without confusion” reality?

    the energy which purifies, illuminates and sanctifies is supplied to the icons, and holy Cross, the sacred vessels, holy water, holy oils, etc., and is communicated from these and the Church’s sacraments to those who are worthy, not to all in the same way and in the same degree, but in proportion to their spiritual state. Thus, for example, tyhe body and blood of Christ in the divine Eucharist communicated under the sanctified forms of bread and wine operate i the purifying way in those of the faithful who are being cleansed, in an illuminating way in those who are being enlightened, and in a deifying way in those who are being deified. But in those who do not find themselves in anty of the above categories it operates for their judgment or condemantion on account of their unworthiness.” p. 125

    The Eucharist is not mentioned in that list. I don’t think I’ve heard energies in conjuction with the Eucharist before. The Incarnation isn’t spoken of in that way either. Jesus is God in essence, and so He isn’t deified, He’s deity. The Eucharist isn’t deity, but it doesn’t seem deified in the same way as Saints, icons, oil, or water is. And using “communicated under the sanctified forms” seems a more western way to put it.

    And saying purifies, illumines, and sanctifies seems less about permeation with something else than cleansing something that already has a nature to shine. I’m getting confused.

  8. Andrew says:

    It’s true that you won’t exactly see Lutherans kissing or prostrating themselves before icons. But then again, I’ve never seen Roman Catholics do that either, and I don’t think anyone here would call them iconoclasts (although I could be wrong). Given that Lutherans are western Christians, statuary is a lot more common than icons, and yes, you’ll occasionally see statues with candles burning before them:

    Sure, I can’t point you to a dogmatic text that shows that Lutherans are on board Nicea II (although there is the 16th century Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue between the Tübingen theologians and Patriarch Jeremias II where the Lutherans stated they held to all seven ecumenical councils). But, hey, lex orandi lex credendi: the statue of the Theotokos with the candles burning before it speaks volumes.

    As to the Lutheran position of the Eucharist in relation to the historic position of the Orthodox Church, I’m convinced that they’re the same.

    A quick aside: Please don’t launch into a tirade saying that this is impossible because Lutherans don’t correctly distinguish between essence and energies. The possibility exists that Lutherans live in felicitous inconsistency, you know.

    ‘The humanity of Christ is the point of connection between us and God Himself, as Cyril says… Therefore, in order that we might be able to lay hold on Christ more intimately and retain Him more firmly, not only did He Himself assume our nature but He also restored it again for us by distributing His body and blood to us in the Supper, so that by this connection with His humanity, which has been assumed from us and is again communicated back to us, He might draw us into communion and union with the deity itself. And from this it is possible to understand what is involved when by disputations the substance of Christ’s flesh is carried from the Lord’s Supper out of the world.’ Chemnitz, The Lord’s Supper

    Meaning, of course, that if there’s no communion with the flesh of Christ – or to say it stronger, no oral reception of the flesh of Christ – that is penetrated by the divine energies, there’s no ‘communion and union with the deity itself’.

    Contra the Reformed (and all other Protestants), Lutherans (with the Orthodox), affirm that the body and blood of Christ are received orally in the Eucharist, and that such oral reception is intimately connected to the glorification and resurrection of our own bodies on the last day.

  9. George says:

    I agree there are significant lines to be drawn between the iconoclasts and Reform protestant thought, but I think the line is a road that they both travel on in the same direction. Their shared conception of matter as ignoble leads them both to inevitable conclusions, and I think the primary difference is that the Reformists took one more step toward logical conclusion than the iconoclasts dared take.

    If one wishes to view matter as superfluous, as an obstacle or impediment, or ignoble and worthless, then the Eucharist represents a crisis. The iconoclasts, maybe because they were closer to the Fathers in time, maybe because the environment they were raised in, were able to articulate their problem with icons resulting from their view of matter but could not go so far with the Eucharist, and instead use language that to me sounds contrived: ‘as through a certain sanctification by grace’, acceptable because there is no form, etc. It’s like they wanted to get rid of it, but couldn’t find a way and still be … Christian.

    Protestants, however (Lutherans excepting), start from the same premise but have sufficient additional brazenness to reject the Fathers outright, reinterpret scripture (this is my body) to their liking, and pave the way to logical conclusion – symbol is transcendant, and Eucharist is only symbol. Voila, no more problem, and the only cost incurred for this intellectual consistency is discarding of the historical church and a twist on scripture here and there, it’s all symbol anyway. Though the iconoclasts travelled the same road, they just couldn’t make themselves go to the next exit, as it were.

    To Andrea Elizabeth’s comment about the empty tomb, I think they deal with that by imagining some mechanism that transforms the material body into some spiritualized thing, making it acceptable. I’ve heard this “proven” by pointing to Christ’s resurrected body being able to appear in a room without having gone through the door like material bodies have to. So they think the body was resurrected (tomb is empty), but isn’t material anymore.

    The sure way to safeguard against idolatry is to be gnostic (as though formless things cannot be idols).

  10. Don Cointin says:

    Andrew,

    I agree with your post completely. As a former Lutheran for 23 years and Theology major at Concordia University, River Forest, my belief regarding the Eucharist was nearly the same as that of the Orthodox. I must point out though that the pastor of Zion in Detroit, Fr. Fenton, is now Orthodox 😀

  11. Andrea Elizabeth said: “Jesus is God in essence, and so He isn’t deified. He’s deity.”

    The person of the Word is most certainly divine from all eternity, but as St. John Damascene said in connection with the assumption of human nature by the eternal Logos: “. . . the Word Himself became flesh, having been in truth conceived of the Virgin, but coming forth as God with the assumed nature which, as soon as He was brought forth into being, was deified by Him, so that these three things took place simultaneously, the assumption of our nature, the coming into being, and the deification of the assumed nature by the Word” [St. John Damascene, “De Fide Orthodoxa,” 3:12]. Thus, in connection with the assumption of human nature, Christ can be described as “deified.”

  12. Andrew,

    I have often seen Catholics venerating images (among other things like statues which are generally not permitted by 2nd Nicea). They do it on a fairly regular basis. Lutherans on the other hand I have never seen. Of course that is purely anecdotal.

    As for the Eucharist, I don’t doubt that the Lutherans hold to some notion of a real presence, but of course, everthing hinges on the meaning of the word “real.” What is the nature of the union and presence proffered by their belief? Moreover, Chemnitz is fairly clear, as I pointed out the last time he was brought forward on the essence/energies was that he takes the distinction to be notional or epistemic given simplicity, which is not the Orthodox or Patristic view. That of itself is a show stopper when it comes to the energies relative to iconic veneration.

    As for the essence/energies distinction, I can only take them at their word. I deal with what is on paper, what is defined and professed. What is in the mind and heart, I leave to God. Who knows his own heart? On paper though, Lutherans seem to favor the type of iconoclasm of Frankfurt which permitted icons for pedagogical reasons but not for veneration.

    Chemnitz for one example states fairly clearly his disapproval of 2nd Nicea.

    “Furthermore, the Seventh Council, Nicea II, which condemned the image breakers, did not itself deal correctly with the doctrine of images, but was guilty of many errors.” Theologica Loci, vol. 2, p. 376

    Chemnitz’ discussion is fairly long and you’d be hard pressed to find any positive statement concerning the veneration of icons in it. In fact he not only seemingly defends the Iconoclast Emperor Constantinus, but generally follows the argumentation of the Iconoclasts, both in the East and at Frankfurt.

    Much the same can be said for the Defence of the Augsburg Confession, which stated, “From invocation the next step was to images; these also were worshiped, and a virtue was supposed to exist in these, just as magicians imagine that a virtue exists in images of the heavenly bodies carved at a particular time.” Acticle 21, sec. 34. Granted that its negative statements cocerning images are brief, but they are quite negative. I also grant that Rome deformed the Nicene tradition in permitting statues generally and other objects, which the Orthodox do not have. But Chemnitz attacks the Fathers directly and not just the Scholastics.

    I also grant that the Lutherans are no puritans either and so they stand on the more concerving end of the Deformation. But these points are not exculpatory in the face of this evidence. It seems to me then, if Lutherans are consistent, how they can adhere to the Orthodox teaching on the Eucharist AND maintain a kind of Frankfurtian Iconoclasm. Of course, if you wish to argue for inconsistency on the part of the Lutherans I am all to happy to acquiesce. Their course will then be to bring their teaching into conformity with either the Fathers or their iconoclasm.

  13. Andrew says:

    ‘On paper though, Lutherans seem to favor the type of iconoclasm of Frankfurt which permitted icons for pedagogical reasons but not for veneration.’

    Right, which is why I originally said they weren’t iconoclasts proper — meaning they weren’t exactly smashing statues in their parishes, unlike Karlstadt, Zwingli, and Calvin. If you want to call the use of icons for pedagogical reasons iconoclasm, fine. But I was under the impression that true iconoclasm does not even allow an image to be used or made. As to Frankfurt, forgive me, but I don’t have a clue as to what that is. ‘Frankfurtian Iconoclasm’; I’ll have to look that up.

    Yes, Lutherans are inconsistent. I think a good case can be made that Chemnitz, in his Two Natures, is in fact trying to posit an essence/energies distinction, but in being bound to western scholastic language, he ends up getting tied up. In saying that the attributes of God are truly communicated to the human nature of Christ, while EMPHATICALLY denying that in such communication the essence of God is communicated to the human nature, he lends himself to some confusion. But one has only to see how heavily he draws on Eastern Fathers to understand that he’s truly trying to be faithful to the patristic tradition. If only he’d been able to throw off the shackles of ADS.

  14. Andrew says:

    ‘I also grant that Rome deformed the Nicene tradition in permitting statues generally and other objects, which the Orthodox do not have.’

    My apologies for the double post.

    There is a Western Rite Orthodox parish here in Whittier, CA, where I live, and yes, they do have statues. What’s up with that?

  15. acolyte says:

    Andrew,

    Your reading of Chemnitz fits my own. The apologetic point would be to Lutherans that they like others have not preserved the faith in its fullness as Orthodoxy has.

    As for the parish in Whittier, small world since I am familiar with it. It was an Episcopal parish and i suspect Fr. Trig just brought it over “as is.” Be that as it may, statues are still not permitted generally. There are a few exceptions like on the epitaphia which is the tomb of Christ/ark of the Covenant.

    As for Frankfurt, I was referrring to the Iconoclast council of Frankfurt in the 8th century. It permitted images for educational purposes but not for veneration. This became even in the East the settled position of the iconoclasts.

  16. Steven Todd Kaster said: “The person of the Word is most certainly divine from all eternity, but as St. John Damascene said in connection with the assumption of human nature by the eternal Logos: “. . . the Word Himself became flesh, having been in truth conceived of the Virgin, but coming forth as God with the assumed nature which, as soon as He was brought forth into being, was deified by Him, so that these three things took place simultaneously, the assumption of our nature, the coming into being, and the deification of the assumed nature by the Word” [St. John Damascene, “De Fide Orthodoxa,” 3:12]. Thus, in connection with the assumption of human nature, Christ can be described as “deified.””

    Isn’t deification accomplished by God’s energies? A creative act? So Christ
    deified his own assumed, and by extension our, human nature.

    I’m still having trouble with seeing the energies as less than God, though through listening to you all, I’m starting to see them as one with God in intent and presence, but power? Doesn’t He hold back in creating? I guess I don’t see them as God. Was Christ’s human nature God in essence, realized in His Person? Which brings me to the Eucharist. It is His flesh, emphasis on His humanity, right?, but His deified humanity, which is energized into becoming God. And how close does the Eucharist come to being God? Is it deified to His level?

    From Father Hopko’s “The Orthodox Faith” on the Presanctified Liturgy – song of entrance: “’For behold the King of Glory enters.’

    Our Father is sung and the faithful receive Holy Communion to the chanting of the verse from Psalm 34: “0 taste and see how good is the Lord. Alleluia.“”

    There are a lot over verses in the Bible that say things similar to ‘in as much as you do this to the least of my brethren, you’ve done it unto Me’ implying an “as” similarity, or maybe more. “Is” is a little scarier term. However, Saint Athanasius wasn’t afraid of it.

  17. Andrew said: “In saying that the attributes of God are truly communicated to the human nature of Christ, while EMPHATICALLY denying that in such communication the essence of God is communicated to the human nature, he lends himself to some confusion. But one has only to see how heavily he draws on Eastern Fathers to understand that he’s truly trying to be faithful to the patristic tradition. If only he’d been able to throw off the shackles of ADS.”

    I’m feeling similarly beshackled.

    aren’t attributes not essences but energies? So how can you say he shouldn’t deny that the essence is communicated?

  18. oh, maybe you’re saying he was right about that but tried to maintain his ADS at the same time.

  19. Greg DeLassus says:

    Re: statues which are generally not permitted by 2nd Nicea…

    Forgive me if this is a distraction from the main point of this entry, but I have seen this claim made elsewhere on the internet and am somewhat puzzled by the claim. I am unaware of any precise condemnation of statues is in the canons of Nicea II. Is this in some disputed portion of the canons not found on the Fordham Univ medieval sourcebook, or some such? In other words, whence does the claim that Nicea II forbids statues arise? I would be obliged for any info which anyone might be able to furnish.

  20. […] July 3rd, 2007 in Essence and Energies, creativity, Christianity Over at Energetic Procession and in this place, I have been struggling to grasp the Essence (the One), and the Energies (the […]

  21. Greg,

    I’ll dig up some references after July 4th.

  22. Greg DeLassus says:

    Fair enough. No rush. I would be obliged for the info whenever you get around to it.

  23. When I did my thesis at Duke on the theology of icons, the issues seemed to me not to concern energies, per se. The issue was making an image of the divine essence, which even the iconodules agreed cannot be done. St. Theodore the Studite maintained in an Orthodox manner that icons are Hypostatic Representations.They do not transform the matter involved at all and this is the Orthodox faith. It is supersition to treat the matter of the icon in a manner similar to the Eucharist, though some supersititious priests have done so.

    But for icons Theodore the Studite is an easy and necessary read. Very little interest in energies at the time… Thanks.

  24. Jonathan says:

    As one seriously looking into the Orthodox Faith, I would be grateful if anyone could provide any helpful historical perspectives or insights on the reasons someone like Irenaeus, writing as early as the middle second century, could just chalk up thehonor of images as a Gnostic contrivance, which he does in “Against Heresies”, Book I, Chapter XXIV, sec. 6. When I read it I wasn’t sure how to understand the apparent contradiction between Irenaeus’ claim, and the opinion of Basil and the Seventh Council, which teaches that relics, images, and veneration had been passed down to the Church from the first century.

    I would be grateful for any insights anyone can provide here. Thanks.

  25. acolyte says:

    Jonathan,

    I checked the reference and there is nothing there about icons. I think you mean bk 1, ch 25, sec. 6. Ireneaus doesn’t say much there with respect to images per se. He does seem to have a problem with ranking them with pagan philosophers. The problem is the gnostic syncretism mixing paganism with Christianity as the previous sections complain about this kind of practice mixing prayer with invocation to demons, astrology and such.

    Interestingly enough, Hippolytus of Rome produces the same passage in his Refutation of All Heresies, bk 7, ch 20, which reads somewhat differently. “And they male **counterfeit** images of Christ, alleging that these were in existence at the time during which our Lord was on earth, and that they were fashioned by Pilate.”

    Some scholars, though not all, such as Finney, translate Ireneaus in such a way that the offense was the not the image per se, but that the gnostics justified their practice on the supposed fashioning of an icon of Christ by Pilate. See his “Gnosticism and the Origings of Early Christian Art” in in Atti del IX congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Cristiana I (Sept 21-27, 1975, pp. 396-398.

    It should be kept in mind that Gnosticism was quite diverse and some Gnostics mocked the Church for having images because it implied that there was a kind of union between dead matter and ultimate relaity. So in the Gnostic Acts of John written around 150 or so we read “…in brief, when a full set and mixture of such colors [virtues] has come together in your soul, it will present it to our Lord Jesus Christ undismayed and undaunted and rounded in form. But what you have now done is childish and imperfect; you have drawn a dead likeness of what is dead.” New Testament Apochrypha II, p. 221. And there is plenty of evidence from Duros Europas and the Catacombs of images in Churches (not to mention Jewish synagoges.)

    Also, there have been discoveries of images with texts explicitly indicating veneration “the image I adored” of the Theotokos for example, dicovered under the Orthodox chapel of the Annunciation in Nazareth which go back further than the Constantinian period.

    I hope that helps.

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