Archive for the ‘Images of Christ (Expose)’ Category

HOLLYWOODS “THE SON OF GOD” MOVIE

April 14, 2014

The following is excerpted from T.A. McMahon, “The Bible According to Hollywood 2,” The Berean Call, April 1, 2014:

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, who is the image of the invisible God and the One in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, is not someone who should be portrayed (counterfeited would be more accurate) by a fallen, finite being–Christian or otherwise. Any such attempt will result in another Jesus, a false Christ. … Since a host of very influential evangelical leaders … have been singing the praises of The Son of God and the History Channel’s Bible series that spawned it, it raises a very serious question regarding their view of the Bible. … Evidently these leaders had no problem with the distortion of the Word in scene after scene. Did the wise men show up at the stable right after the birth of Jesus? Did Jesus entice Peter to follow him by filling his nets with fish? Did Jesus draw the fish into Peter’s net by swishing the water with his fingers? Was Mary Magdalene the lone woman among the small band of disciples (if not one of the apostles)? Did Nicodemus play the good Pharisee/bad Pharisee, even challenging Jesus about paying taxes? Was Pilate a brutal military leader who threatened to shut down the temple? Did Jesus have confrontational exchanges with Barabbas? Did Jesus tickle a little girl and playfully tell her that the temple would be utterly destroyed? At the Last Supper, did Jesus drink the wine that he had just called his own blood? Did the mother of Jesus wash his bloody body in preparation for his burial? Did Jesus unsymbolically appear to John on Patmos? The list of unbiblical and extra-biblical scenes goes on and on. … One of the amazing characteristics of visual media is the power of imagery. Scenes that appear on the screen can remain with a viewer, popping into the mind occasionally over his or her lifetime. That can be spiritually devastating. I’ve heard that some believers who watched Mel Gibson’s ‘biblical’ movie, The Passion of the Christ, had great trouble dismissing the face of James Caviezel when their thoughts turned to Jesus, even while in prayer. … as Dave Hunt and I left the theater after reviewing Mel’s movie, I remember Dave crying out to the Lord to remove the imagery of the counterfeit Christ that had just invaded his mind! The Bible doesn’t describe Jesus for us in any detail. … The incredible power of the medium of film resides in its capacity to impact emotions through imagery, acting, dialogue, and music. Tears can flow even in animated movies. People can have artificial ‘life-changing’ experiences based upon what they see on the screen, but the Word of God declares: ‘the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John 6:63). … Tragically, we are seeing in all of this the words of Peter fulfilled: ‘And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you’ (2 Peter 2:3).” (Emphasis added)

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IDOLATRY FROM THE MIND TO THE IMAGES CREATED BY IT

March 1, 2014

“The idea that God is an old man with a beard sitting in a chair is completely contrary to Scripture and is unacceptable. Idolatry does not begin with a sculptor’s hammer; it begins in the mind. When we think of God we should visualize absolutely nothing. No visual conception of Him could properly represent His eternal nature and glory. … Even statues or other images of Christ are not to be revered or worshiped. Only Christ is to be worshipe[d], not likenesses of Him. They do not represent Jesus Christ, no matter what our claims and intentions are. ‘God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). Even nonliturgical Christians should be on guard, whether in public worship or private devotions, about associating any place, picture, or pattern of worship too closely with God. It is easy for such a thing to come between us and Him, though we may think it helps draw us closer.” (Emphasis added)

– John MacArthur

“We must not hearken to those who say, Lo, here is Christ, or, Lo, he is there, for he is not here, he is not there, he is risen. In all our enquiries after Christ, we must remember that he is risen; and we must seek him as one risen. (1.) Not with any gross carnal thoughts of him. There were those that knew Christ after the flesh; but now henceforth know we him so no more, 2 Co. 5:16. It is true, he had a body; but it is now a glorified body. They that make pictures and images of Christ, forget that he is not here, he is risen; our communion with him must be spiritual, by faith in his word, Rom. 10:6-9. (2.) We must seek him with great reverence and humility, and an awful regard to his glory, for he is risen. God has highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, and therefore every knee and every soul must bow before him. (3.) We must seek him with a heavenly mind; when we are ready to make this world our home, and to say, It is good to be here, let us remember our Lord Jesus is not here, he is risen, and therefore let not our hearts be here, but let them rise too, and seek the things that are above, Col. 3:1-3; Phil. 3:20.” (Emphasis added)

–  Matthew Henry

The images or pictures of God are an abomination, and utterly unlawful, because they do debase God, and may be a cause of idolatrous worship. … It is not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, because his divine nature cannot be pictured at all; and because his body, as it is now glorified, cannot be pictured as it is; and because, if it do not stir up devotion, it is in vain—if it do stir up devotion, it is a worshipping by an image or picture, and so a palpable breach of the second commandment.” (Emphasis added)

– Thomas Vincent

“Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet, says the apostle, we know him no more. It is questioned whether Paul had seen Christ in the flesh. However, the rest of the apostles had, and so might some among those he was now writing to. However, he would not have them value themselves upon that account; for even the bodily presence of Christ is not to be desired nor doted upon by his disciples. We must live upon his spiritual presence, and the comfort it affords. Note, Those who make images of Christ, and use them in their worship, do not take the way that God has appointed for strengthening their faith and quickening their affections; for it is the will of God that we should not know Christ any more after the flesh.” (Emphasis added)

– Matthew Henry

2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

DO SUPPOSED PICTURES/IMAGES OF “CHRIST” MEET GOD’S APPROVAL?

March 1, 2014

The preceding was adapted and/or excerpted from a tract titled “Pictures of Christ,” by J. Marcellus Kik, Chapel Library, Venice, Florida 33595:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6).

In this second commandment we are forbidden to make any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. We are forbidden to bow down to them or to serve them. Now the question has been asked whether or not this commandment forbids the use of pictures of Christ. Naturally the commandment forbids the bowing down before such pictures and worshipping them. There can be no question of that.

But in many Protestant churches and in many evangelical churches pictures of Christ are used in teaching, and in the homes of Christians pictures of Christ are hung up to remind them, I suppose, of Christ. Is that Scriptural? Does it meet with the approval of God? Is it sinful? Is it another way of breaking the second commandment?

No doubt, if I state that the use of pictures of Christ is unscriptural; that it does not meet with the approval of God; that it is sinful; and that it is a breaking of the second commandment—I will be considered as a fanatic, a reactionary, and perhaps not quite normal. But before you have such unkind thoughts please hear me out. If we are Christians our service and worship will be regulated by the Word of God. The Bible is our infallible guide in faith and worship.

Now here is the surprising thing. Nowhere in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or New Testament, is there a physical description of Christ. Isn’t that strange if God wanted to use the picture of Christ in spreading the Gospel or in worship, that we are not told whether Christ was tall or short, fair or dark, light or dark hair, blue eyes or brown eyes?

With all their love for the Lord you would think that Peter or John would have given a description of him—unless, of course, they were forbidden. They wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Surely it is significant that neither they nor any other of the Scriptures gave a physical description of the Lord. Surely if God desired the use of pictures of Christ to further the cause of Christ he would have had a physical description of his Son in his Word. Why should we consider ourselves wiser than God and provide what he has deliberately left out?

The second amazing fact is that in the first four centuries of the history of the Church no picture of Christ was used. These were the years when the Church made her most astonishing growth. These were the years in which the Christians conquered pagan Rome. It is so frequently stated that we need pictures of Christ in order to teach people the Gospel. The apostle Peter did not need pictures of Christ to instruct the young or bring the Gospel to adults. The apostle John did not need pictures of Christ to convert pagans and instruct the Church. The apostle Paul did not need pictures of Christ to convert Barbarians and Greeks. The early church did not need pictures of Christ to conquer paganism. They accomplished it by preaching the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

When pictures of Christ were first introduced they were opposed. The Church historian Eusebius, who lived in the fourth century, declared himself in the strongest manner against images of Christ in a letter to the Empress Constantia who asked him for such an image. Amongst other things Eusebius wrote: “Who can therefore counterfeit by dead and insensible colors, by vain shadowing painter’s art, the bright and shining glistering of such his glory? whereas his holy disciples were not able to behold the same in the mountain; who, therefore, falling on their faces, acknowledged they were not able to behold such a sight.”

Here Eusebius touches on one of the reasons why it is impossible to have a true picture of Christ. If you want a picture of Christ do you want it as he was upon earth or as he is now in heaven? If you want a picture of him as he was upon earth you have quite a problem. There was no picture of him painted. The so-called pictures of Christ which are present today are from the imaginations of the artists. That is why there are so many different pictures. Not one of them is a true picture. So every time you say this or that is a picture of Christ you are uttering a lie. You cannot teach truth by a lie. Christ is the Truth, and surely he would not want the use of a false means to point to him. Christ abhors lies and falsehoods.

How would you like it if someone who never saw you painted a picture and told every one that it was a picture of you? Certainly you would resent it. And certainly Christ must resent all those counterfeit pictures of him.

But supposing you wanted a picture of Christ as he is now. The disciples had such a vision of him on the mount of transfiguration. We read in Matthew 17:2, “And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” This was the glorified Christ. No artist could give us a picture of Christ which would show the glowing of Christ’s face as the sun and his raiment as white as the light. They would only rob Christ of his glory by miserably falling short of a true painting of Christ in his present glory.

But someone will state that at least we can depict the humanity of Christ as he appeared upon earth. But who are we to separate his humanity from his divinity! The apostle John states in his Gospel, chapter 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Notice that the apostle states that even while Christ was in the flesh they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. In other words, they beheld his divinity as well as his humanity. This one cannot paint. So one must behold his humanity as separate from his divinity. Then one falls into the ancient error of Nestorius. He stated that Christ consisted of two persons: one human and the other divine. There was, according to Nestorius, a separation between the human and the divine persons.

That was the ground on which the Council called by Constantine V condemned paintings of Christ. You see, this question of pictures of Christ was the subject of controversy throughout the eighth century. So Constantine in 753 called a council of three hundred and thirty bishops. Their conclusion was this: “If any person shall divide the human nature, united to the Person of God the Word; and, having it only in the imagination of his mind, shall therefore attempt to paint the same in an image; let him be holden as accursed. If any person shall divide Christ, being but one, into two persons; placing on the one side the Son of God, and on the other side the son of Mary; neither doth confess the continual union that is made; and by that reason doth paint in an image the son of Mary, as subsisting by himself; let him be accursed. If any person shall paint in an image the human nature, being deified by the uniting thereof to God the Word; separating the same as it were from the Godhead assumpted and deified; let him be holden as accursed.”

This council points out the difficulty and indeed the impossibility of painting a portrait of Christ. Christ is more than man. He is God-man. It is impossible to depict by a painter’s brush the almighty power of Christ; the glorious majesty of Christ; the infinite knowledge of Christ. You cannot localize by a painter’s brush the everywhere-presence of Christ. One can only succeed in degrading Christ. When one considers the deity of Christ it is no wonder that the apostles did not attempt a physical description of their Lord and Saviour.

There is always, also, the danger of worshipping the picture of Christ and attaching power to it. Even a Protestant publishing firm stated that there is power in a picture of Christ. It stated: “When one plants deeply and firmly in his mind the picture of Christ, it has a strong and powerful influence in his life.” Thus instead of attributing this influence to Christ and the Holy Spirit they attribute it to the picture they are trying to sell! That is a breaking of the second commandment.

But can it not help in the saving of souls, it is asked. But how? Looking at a picture of Christ hanging upon the cross tells me nothing. It does not tell me that he hung there for sin. It does not tell me that he hung there for my sin. It does not tell me that he is the Son of God. Only the Word of God does that. And it is the Word of God that has been given us to tell the story of salvation through the blood of Christ. It is not through the foolishness of pictures that sinners are converted but through the foolishness of preaching.

It is amazing how slowly unscriptural practices enter the Christian Church. We must at all times go back to the Scriptures. The Bible is our infallible guide. And if our practices and doctrines do not conform with the teachings of the Scriptures, then we must eliminate them. The Bible instructs the Church not to make any likeness of Christ. The present day pictures of Christ are false and no one would make a serious claim that they resemble Christ upon earth. They separate his humanity from his deity. They do not at all give us a glimpse of his present glory. They are not condoned by the inspired apostles.

God has ordained the foolishness of preaching to evangelize the world. He has promised to attend the preaching of the Word with the power of the Holy Spirit. The so-called pictures of Christ are a hindrance and a temptation to idolatry. Let us cleanse the Temple of God from them.