It’s Official!

Well gather ’round and bathe in my glory. Remember my latest recommendation?  I sent in an email demanding the title of Official Calvinist Blogger of Table Talk Radio, and in their latest show, the Iron-mixed-with-clay Preacher and Giggles the Radio Clown read it on “air” and rubber-stamped my shiny new title!

If you download the .mp3 you can skip ahead to about 9 minutes in, to hear my 7 minutes of fame — but of course you should really listen to the whole show! The intro has a soundbite that gives some insight into the Lutheran perspective on this question.

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9 Responses to It’s Official!

  1. John Harutunian says:

    Did he really say that we’re breaking the Second Commandment if we _don’t_ have images of Jesus? That’s a lot farther than I’d take it!
    On the other hand, there’s some food for thought here. Jesus Christ, who was fully God, walked the earth as a man. And that’s not just a piece of theological information -something that can be fed into a computer. Men have bodies -which include a face. OK, the Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus looked like. So are we free to imagine what He looked like? This is clearly a case for Christian liberty: we’re under no Biblical constraint to, but we’re free to.
    More to the point: Is there any Calvinist out there who can conceptualize a faceless man? Sorry, but nobody is _that_ spiritual. There has to be _something_ there in the “face space”. I suspect that all of us tend to fill it in, in one way or another -whether or not we make use of actual physical images.

  2. RubeRad says:

    Did he really say that we’re breaking the Second Commandment if we _don’t_ have images of Jesus?

    Yup, that’s what he done said!

    So are we free to imagine what He looked like?

    If by “we” you mean Presbyterians, then the answer is no: LC109 ” The sins forbidden in the second commandment are… 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…” (Note that the proof texts (Deut4:15-19,Acts17:29,Rom1:21-25) don’t come close to addressing the incarnated Christ)

    I agree with you though, that there is no reasonable way to de-face your mental image of Christ without ending up with something spooky or creepy, like that faceless monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. The only sense in which I can affirm the “inwardly in our mind” clause of LC109 is that we should not vainly speculate about what he looked like, or use an imagined image as a means of worship.

    All we know about Christ’s earthly appearance is that, just like Zaphod Beeblebrox, “He’s just this guy, you know?” Is 53: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Judas had to point him out with a signal.

    Actually last week my pastor preached on that passage of Luke, and he had a great line. “Doesn’t it seem strange that Judas had to go up and kiss him? Why couldn’t he just hide behind a tree and say ‘That’s him over there, with the fair hair, long nose, and blue eyes. You can’t miss him, he’s standing in the middle of a bunch of middle-eastern-looking guys’!”

  3. John Harutunian says:

    Great quote; it shows how we’re all tempted to “image” Christ according to the racial/ethnic categories we happen to feel comfortable with.
    At the same time, here’s more food for thought. The framers of LC109, insofar as they forbade mental images of Christ, would seem to have a moral/spiritual problem with visiting an art museum. Presumably, it wouldn’t be the nudes, but the Christian art which would constitute occasions for sin.
    UNLESS -they kept reminding themselves, “All of this has nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ, the Bible, etc. I _will_ not let myself get caught up in any devotional feelings. If I do, I’m guilty of idolatry.”
    Comments, anyone?

  4. RubeRad says:

    That’s a good point; I don’t see any mention of museums in the standards (perhaps the explicitly did not address the question?), and I am not aware of any historical record of Reformers being iconoclasts (going around destroying art). In fact, Rembrandt painted Jesus plenty of times, and although his Dutch Reformed church was serious enough about the third mark of the church to discipline him for adultery, I don’t know that he ever got any guff for his images of Christ.

  5. RubeRad says:

    OK, maybe that’s not true. Wikipedia sez Rembrandt was not a member of the Reformed church, but his mistress was disciplined because she “committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter”.

  6. RubeRad says:

    Then again, this site that seems to want to show that Rembrandt was a Mennonite, admits

    Officially Rembrandt was a member of the Re­formed Church, and as yet there has been no evidence that he severed this connection in spite of serious conflicts with the church council, such as the exclusion of Hendrickje Stoffels from com­munion in 1653, who lived with him after his wife’s death.

    (Hendrickje Stoffels is that mistress in question)

  7. John Harutunian says:

    Thanks for the art history lesson! I think it shows that there’s nearly as much of a divide between a)Calvinism as funneled through the Dutch Reformed and b)Calvinism funneled through the Puritans (English or American) as there is between Calvinism and Lutheranism. At least with regard to the arts.
    As a Christian involved with the arts, I have a rough time with the Puritans. It’s almost as if the doctrine “Christ was incarnated as a human being” was meaningful for them primarily because they had looked up “human being” in a dictionary. Rather than by interacting with human beings, hearing their voices, seeing their faces, feeling their touch. etc. It all seems totally left-brained to me.

  8. Lily says:

    Re: Did he really say that we’re breaking the Second Commandment if we don’t have images of Jesus?

    It’s helpful to know that Lutherans number the 10 commandments differently than the Calvinists. The 2nd command is: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain. 🙂

  9. RubeRad says:

    Yup, and thanks for dropping by. The implications of the Lutheran=Catholic division of the commandments is discussed overlong in the previous post

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