Why Iconobaptist?

28 Jul

Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”


The theme verse for my blog reminds us that Jesus is enough.  He has always been enough.  Theologically, I could take that into the Old Testament, when the Psalms were being written, but I won’t right now.


In the Middle Ages, there were two groups in opposition, like so many times in human history.  These groups were the iconophiles, who loved pictures that illustrated the Bible (icons), and the iconoclasts, who hated such pictures and took every opportunity to tear them down in churches and break them to pieces.


The first group believed they were keeping the second commandment, about not making graven images, because they didn’t have statues in their churches like the Roman Catholics.  The second group believed that all such art broke the second commandment, whether it was statues or pictures.  Many of the second group ended up being attracted to the Muslim faith, which only allowed geometric figures in its places of worship (nothing with a face).


While we can certainly understand the confusion that reigned at the time (especially before the invention of the printing press brought the written word into the hands of the common man so he didn’t need quite so much art anymore to illustrate for him what he believed), we can also see that this created quite a division between people of faith back then. 


Ever since then, an iconoclast is someone who challenges the cherished rituals of society.


I may occasionally do something a bit along those lines in this blog, but I wish to balance that with the realization that it is usually not necessary to tear down things of beauty in my own life or anyone else’s.  The only time that may become necessary is if we realize that a created thing has become a substitute for God in our lives.  In that case, I will leave it up to you to tear down those things in your own life, as I will tear them down in mine.


Mostly I want to challenge us all to think purposefully about our faith and the things and people in our lives.     


I see several strands of our society that need to be discussed civilly.  First of all, do we have cherished rituals and traditions that we have incorporated into our Christian faith, inadvertently placing them alongside the Bible in importance without realizing they have no Biblical basis?  These may be good things, when used appropriately, but we may have given them more importance in our lives than they warrant.   


Have we, perhaps, made idols of these cherished rituals and traditions so that we can’t worship without them?  Maybe we even think they are essential to our faith, even though they are manmade rituals and traditions.


Do we perhaps think less of people who don’t hold to the same rituals and traditions as we do, even though they are only personal preferences and not Biblical commands at all?


Has all of the above led us to a place where we believe we have more control over our lives than God has actually given us?  Do we trust our rituals and traditions to regulate our lives and keep them from spinning out of control? 


Have we, perhaps, even believed our own P.R. so much that we have developed the belief that we are masters of our own universe?  Have we enthroned ourselves as gods in our own lives?


All of these things can happen to normal, God-fearing, God-loving people.  Calvin said the human heart is an idol factory.  That means that all of us make idols out of things and people around us, and maybe out of ourselves.  We want to be aware of the tendency so we can do something about it. 


In the midst of smashing the idols of our own hearts, and ridding ourselves of inner conflict, we also realize we are in churches where we worship alongside people who have different backgrounds than we do (and different idols).  That can cause conflict external to us.  One way this happens in every generation is when older people and younger people come together and use the same words to mean different things. 


This blog will try to untangle some of the communication gap between believers, too.


There is much we can do to hear the Lord Jesus Christ better.  There is much we can do to love His people better also.  Then, together, we can effectively reach a lost world. 


I want to start the dialogue because it is one that we need to have.  There are many hurt and isolated people everywhere, even in the Body of Christ.  And until we start to work through some of our issues, the hurt and isolation will remain and will perpetuate itself wherever we go.  We can’t fix this type of problem by changing churches because it is within us . . .


I look forward to dialoguing with you!



5 Responses to “Why Iconobaptist?”

  1. aragonadentistry July 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM #

    My understanding is once one is “redeemed” that includes mind, heart and soul. I don’t agree with Calvin’s assertion that the heart is an “idol factory” particularly in the redemmed status. The heart in fact an amazing engine when it is redemmed. I would not discount this.

  2. singingsoprano July 29, 2012 at 12:21 AM #

    Sal, this is just the place for such discussions. I am aware of the school of theology that says we are sinless after salvation and that anything that appears to be sin is just residual human nature, learning to walk in the perfection of God. I don’t agree with that school of theology and, in fact, believe it causes despair for those who find their lives don’t match their beliefs in that area, but I do respect your right to hold that belief or one related to it and to discuss it on this blog. That will make life interesting!

  3. singingsoprano July 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM #

    I would have to look at the passage in which Paul says that the good he would do, he does not do. I would also look at the passage in which John says those born from above do not sin. In the same book (I John), John tells us *how* to confess our sin, so I would look at that, too. It seems that we may have to explore those passages a bit more to harmonize them. And that is why I am loving this blog. We can respectfully look at such things together.

  4. Donald July 31, 2012 at 3:46 AM #

    While there is a point to consider in “traditions” that we establish, all too often I’ve dealt with people that are attempting to marginalize others who truly desire to have a personal relationship with Christ and are devoted to the gospel. While we cannot be guilty ourselves of condemnation in many instances, all too often I’ve seen vilification from the adherents of new found “liberties” that seem to be attempting to walk as closely as they can to the left side of a position. Let me give you a “semi-actual” example of what I’m referring to. In my position as a minister, there have been times I’ve observed examples of church members that you begin to detect are beginning to miss weekly church services. First they begin to miss the mid-week Bible-Study/Prayer time, then after several weeks/months they begin to miss the Sunday evening worship service; then they stop their attendance of the Sunday School program, and you begin seeing them only on Sunday morning worship services. All too often this also leads to the dropping of involvement in church outreach programs (teaching, making visits, assisting in youth group etc….). As a doctor begins to know there is a bodily infection by an elevated temperature, the pastor also begins to see a spiritual infection taking place in the life of the family. When the family is loving confronted and informed of ‘concern’ in regard to the noticing of the problems, many times you are responded to with (and sometimes there is an air of piety with this response)….”Well the Bible has nothing to say, or a command that we attend Mid-Week, Sunday Schools, or Sunday Evening Worship services.” I’ve stated all this just as a comment and/or warning that while some of our “traditions” that I’ve described while maybe not commanded of scripture, a person’s attitude in regard to those issues can represent much about a person’s spiritual standing.

    • singingsoprano July 31, 2012 at 12:14 PM #

      Donny, I totally agree with your role as a pastor to love into your people’s lives. I don’t think any pastor agrees with just letting the sheep wander away, unnoticed. Much of what I write will be more geared toward laypeople, like myself. I may qualify my writing, saying that it doesn’t apply to leaders, or I may not remember to say that qualifier, but it will be there in my mind. You guys gotta do what you gotta do!!!

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