St. John of Damascus - Apologia against those who decry Holy Images

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Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Dec 4 2013 5:48 AM

Today is St. John Damascene day - at least by the LCMS's calendar, and so I wanted to read some of his work.  Of course, The Orthodox Faith is in the ECF collection, but I wanted something not as long and heavy.  At http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/johndamascus-images.asp I found an early work of his - his defense of Holy Images.  It is three related works written over a few years in a popular style against an emperor who wanted to take the images away.

The resulting document is a relatively easy to read introduction to what icons are and are NOT, and how they are a part of the faith.  We "Protestants" should read something like this in order to understand our Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters, IMHO.

The translation is over a hundred years old, and so is free to use.  The transcription that I used, however, is not.  Please see the copyright notice at the end for exact details, but since it allows free personal use in both print and electronic form for personal use, so I think that it is legal, but I am not a lawyer. 

This is a bit of a quick and dirty paste job.  I took the web page, converted the page numbers in brackets to what the pb compiler can understand, took out links, inserted footnotes, and converted greek over to unicode.  But the other formatting is from the original.

SDG

Ken McGuire

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2013 9:08 AM

Ken McGuire:
We "Protestants" should read something like this in order to understand our Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters, IMHO.

I agree with you.

Looks very interesting. Thanks Ken.

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Ergatees | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2013 10:56 AM

Many thanks, Ken. I saved this and will look at it as soon as I get off line. I had told my wife I wouldn't need to buy any more books and I just bought one at Amazon and she reminded me of what I said, so I replied, "not this year". Of course, I just broke that word. Now I get one free so she will be a little more happy!

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2013 4:04 PM

Thanks, Ken.

Ken McGuire:
We "Protestants" should read something like this in order to understand our Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters

We Protestants? Do American Lutherans have problems with images? I thought that was a Reformed thing.

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Gabe Martini (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2013 4:16 PM

On Holy Images is also available in this bundle.

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Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2013 6:51 PM

fgh:
We Protestants? Do American Lutherans have problems with images? I thought that was a Reformed thing.

American churches are weird.  Many Reformed and even Baptists have stained glass windows and candles on altars... We certainly do not have a problem with images in that way...  But our piety has been reshaped by the dominant American culture, which has often been rabidly anti-Catholic - as sometimes pops up in this forum.  And we Lutherans have been relatively minor players on the national stage - separated by language and culture for a long time.  Much of our "Americanization" was to show our neighbors that we are good protestant Christians in a very anti-Catholic 19th century USA.  And so the Crucifixes were left in the back of the closet - sometimes literally.

Much of this is in the past - my congregation has tabernacles that were left over from a Roman church in our sanctuary - even if no one knows were the key is to open them to actually use them for anything other than decoration....  We have kneelers.  But our kneejerk anti-catholic history is still influencing us as well.  Within this week I was a bible study from my congregation where any distinction between the worship which is due to God alone and the prayer through the saints was looked at as just stupid language that has no real basis in reality.  And John Damascene's work here clarifies this distinction.

As for the word "Protestant" - I have huge problems with much of what most Americans assume by that word.  Yet, I have to admit that we Lutherans were the original "Protestants" who protested the decisions of a Diet in the 1520's to the Holy Roman Emperor.  The sad thing, as far as I am concerned, is that sociologists of Religion find no real difference between the ELCA and other moderate mainline bodies, and the LCMS and other Evangelical ones.  As much as I want to insist that we are different, and have something interesting to say, it seems that we usually do not say it....

SDG

Ken McGuire

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

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