Are Images of Christ Biblical?

Paul in Colossians 1:19 says that “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Is it possible for a picture of Christ to show the glory and fullness of an almighty, perfectly holy, and infinite God dwelling in him?

The following is a 10-page paper I wrote in May 2004 for the Doctrine of the Church class at Westminster Seminary in California.

Download this paper (PDF)


Mel Gibson’s popular movie, The Passion of the Christ, has rekindled the debate concerning the use of images of Christ. This debate has raged in the Christian community as early as Irenaeus’ polemical writings against the Gnostics in the second century.

According to the endorsements of various evangelical leaders and pastors such as Billy Graham, James Dobson, Lee Strobel, and Rick Warren, The Passion of the Christ is “perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years!”1 But others are questioning if there is Biblical warrant for using images of Christ for worship or educational purposes. In this paper, I submit that the use of images of Christ for worship or teaching is unbiblical in view of the Second Commandment, the two natures of Christ, the sufficiency of Scriptures, and the eschatological hope.2

This paper will not deal with images of the two other Persons of the Trinity, namely, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Controversy regarding the images of the First and Third Persons has been scant, since images depicting them (e.g., God the Father in the creation painting in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Spirit as dove, etc.) have been relatively few compared with those of the Second Person. Although Mary and other saints also figured prominently in the debates, the incarnate Christ was the focus of most disagreements over the use of images.3

Images of Christ in Church History

As early as the second century, the use of pictures of Jesus emerged among the Gnostics. According to Irenaeus, the Gnostics had possession of “a likeness of Christ [which] was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them.”4 However, most Christian historians agree that the use of images came into the church around the fourth century.5 The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches, however, believe that Jesus himself instituted iconography. Their tradition tells of Jesus wiping his face on a cloth given to him by a woman, named Veronica in the West and Berenice in the East, on his way to the cross, and imprinting an image of his face on the linen. Thus, they claim that Jesus Christ himself instituted the use of his own image in the church.6

Both iconophiles (“icon-lovers” who approved of images) and iconophobes (“icon-fearers” who condemned images, also called iconoclasts or “icon-smashers”) claimed the tradition of the early church fathers in their debates. But Jaroslav Pelikan concedes that when one considers the writings of the early church fathers pertaining to images of Christ, “the sheer mass of the explicit evidence from the early centuries of Christian thought and teaching clearly appeared to be weighted on the side of the Iconoclasts.” 7 Indeed, many of the early church fathers, beginning with Irenaeus, opposed the use of pictures of Jesus based on the spiritual nature of worship, the Second Commandment, and extreme disagreement against pagan worship practices. However, there is plenty of early Christian art in the “elaborately-painted catacombs and the sculptured sarcophagi of the patristic age”8 depicting Christ during his life on earth. Granted that there might be some people who walked on earth with Christ who could have portrayed him in art, the Christian world will never know for certain since no original icon from their own hands has survived to be discovered later.9 The validity of such claims is another highly contested issue.10

Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (c. 367-403) and one of the earliest iconoclasts, relates that he tore down a curtain with an image of Christ (or one of the saints), hanging on a church in Jerusalem, “because to see a picture of a man hanging in the Church of Christ was contrary to the authority of Scripture.”11 In 327, the Christian historian Eusebius sharply reprimanded the sister of Emperor Constantine for requesting a picture of Christ.12 Other early church fathers known to have opposed images of Christ were Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Origen (c. 185-254) and Lactantius (c. 250-325).13 They were the early iconophobes.

But by the beginning of the fifth century, the tide began to turn in favor of the use of images, although there was still strong opposition to such images. Eventually, the Council of Constantinople in 691 officially approved the use of images in the churches. However, opposition still persisted, and the dispute reached a violent climax in 725 when Emperor Leo III ordered the destruction of all icons and pictures in the churches that even led to the persecution and death of iconophiles. This “Iconoclastic Controversy” may have been influenced by Emperor Leo’s desire to stem the rapid expansion of Islam in many Christian areas, since Islam is a religion that is resolutely opposed to the use of images and pictures.14

In 753, Emperor Constantine V, son of Leo III, called the Synod of Constantinople, which formally condemned the practice of using icons, saying:

Whoever, then, makes an image of Christ, either depicts the Godhead, which cannot be depicted, and mingles it with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians.15

Iconophiles argued that Christ was fully human in his incarnation, and therefore, can be depicted in images—an argument that is still used frequently today. In rejecting pictures of Christ, this Synod pointed out that using pictures inevitably leads, paradoxically, to the twin heresies of Monophysitism and Nestorianism.16 The Synod concluded that “the only admissible figure of Christ’s humanity” is the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, an assertion made by Augustine in the early fifth century, and again affirmed by the sixteenth century Protestant Reformers.17

But in 787, the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicea reversed this decision, and put an end to the iconoclastic period, declaring:

For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them”¦. For the honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented. 18

This medieval assembly affirmed two lines of argument which iconophiles have used all the way to the present in the debates on images: (1) images are helpful for worship; and (2) the person represented by the image is worshipped, not the image itself.

After this council, scattered opposition persisted, such as in the Carolingian Church and in the Synod of Frankfurt in 794, but the issue was finally put to rest in the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 869, which silenced the last remnants of opposition to images and pictures.19 For eight centuries, an abundance of icons and other images of Christ, Mary, and other saints characterized the medieval church. But in the sixteenth century, the Reformers once again revived the struggle against images in the church. However, Martin Luther differed from the rest of the Reformers when he agreed with the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches on the educational use of images. This regrettable difference continues on into the present, in which time even most Reformed and Presbyterian churches have switched camps regarding the use images and pictures of Christ in evangelism and in Christian education. Indeed, iconophobes are a vanishing breed.

Why Images of Christ Are Unbiblical

Christians are typically divided into three views concerning the use of images of Christ: (1) for worship and teaching; (2) for teaching only, but not for worship; and (3) not for worship and not for teaching. The Roman and the Orthodox churches have always approved the first category, while most evangelical churches today accept the second view. The sixteenth century Calvinistic, non-Lutheran Reformers unswervingly affirmed the third view, and vehemently opposed the Roman church in the use of images and symbols in both worship and in teaching, while Lutherans agreed that they are profitable at least in teaching. However, many Reformed and Presbyterian churches, whether in ignorance or in defiance of Reformed confessions that vigorously opposed the use of images, now agree with Lutherans in their use of images and symbols in evangelism and teaching.

The most frequently used arguments that Christians use today for accepting images of Christ in worship and education are not new: they can be traced all the way back to the arguments offered since the early church. Thus, they can be countered using the same bases used by iconoclasts throughout the history of the Christian church, namely, that they are: (1) a violation of the Second Commandment; (2) a watering down of the Chalcedonian doctrine of the two natures of Christ; and (3) a diminishing of the sufficiency of Scriptures. I shall consider each of the above arguments, and in the course of these discussions, I shall bring in the most common positions relevant to the particular argument being considered. Additionally, I will briefly review VanDrunen’s recent paper in which he proposes an eschatological case into the debate as additional support to the traditional Second Commandment argument.

The Second Commandment

In current discussions about images of Christ, the main focus is usually on its evangelistic or educational use, but its relationship to God’s Second Commandment is rarely considered. Perhaps this is because many Christians today believe that the Ten Commandments are not applicable to the New Testament Christian, a conviction that is largely due to the influence of dispensationalism’s disjointed view of Scriptures.

The Reformers always maintained that the Law of God is still relevant and applicable to the New Testament Church. Without the Law, we cannot see our sinfulness and our need for a Savior; thus, the Law drives us to Christ (Gal. 3:23-25). It is our guide for obedient life as Christians (Matt. 5:17-18). Thus, Christians are still bound by the Second Commandment’s prohibition against making any image of God.

The Reformers have typically used four lines of argument of varying degrees of persuasiveness and effectivity against the use of images of Christ. First, they maintain that because of man’s propensity to sin, making images of the deity unavoidably leads to idolatrous worship. They have always contended that human nature has much to do with God’s prohibitions against making and worshipping of images. It is impossible not to have thoughts and feelings of worship when one meditates or just simply gazes on an image of Jesus Christ, since he is God incarnate. John Calvin comments that “man’s nature is a perpetual factory of idols,”20 “any use of images leads to idolatry, and that “adoration promptly follows upon this sort of fancy: for when men thought they gazed upon God in images, they also worshipped him in them.”21

When contending against those who assert that the Second Commandment only prohibits making images for the purpose of worshipping them, and not solely the making of images, the Reformers pointed out that the Second Commandment consists of two prohibitions: first, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything”; and second, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them.” The context of the first prohibition is in the second. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything” is clearly a prohibition against making an image of anything representing God for any purpose, not just for worship. Question 109 of the Westminster Larger Catechism states that the Second Commandment not only forbids unauthorized worship and worship of other gods, but also prohibits “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” (Deut. 4:15-19; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:21-23, 25). The two parts of the Second Commandment cannot be separated, for the worship of false gods takes root in the sinful mind, then sprouts as the fashioning of that mental image into a tangible image, and finally matures into worship of that corporeal image.

This leads into the Reformers’ second line of argument: It is extremely difficult, if not utterly unattainable to separate the worship of God from the worship of the idol representing God. Against iconophiles who insist that they worship the person represented by the image and not the image itself, Calvin says that God subjoined the prohibition of worshipping other gods to the Second Commandment, because “just as soon as a visible form has been fashioned for God, his power is also bound to it”¦. and hence they cannot but adore. And there is no difference whether they simply worship an idol, or God in the idol.”22 John Murray observes that “pictures are powerful media of communication,” and “it is futile, therefore, to deny the influence exerted upon mind and heart by a picture of Christ. And if such is legitimate, the influence exerted should be one constraining to worship and adoration.”23

The Two Natures of Christ

The Synod of Constantinople in 753 argued from the definition set forth by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 to reject pictures of Christ, saying that using pictures leads to two ancient heresies: Nestorianism and Monophysitism. Nestorianism rejected the unity of the two natures of Christ into a single Person by separating the two natures, in opposition to the Chalcedonian definition of the “inseparability” and “indivisibility” of the two natures. The Synod rightly maintained that the human nature of Christ cannot be separated and represented apart from His divine nature, as affirmed by those who objected to images. Those in favor of using pictures of Christ, who say that these pictures only portray his humanity, are in effect supporting Nestorianism.

Monophysitism, on the other hand, maintains that the two natures of Christ are co-mingled into a new one, thereby rendering Christ neither fully God nor fully human, thus also opposing the Chalcedonian definition of the “inconfusibility” of the two natures. Because Christ has both divine and human natures, a picture of Christ must show both natures. However, the divine nature cannot be depicted in a picture since God is Spirit. Thus, a picture of Christ is virtually an intermingling of the two natures into a picture of a person who is not fully God or fully human.

The Reformers’ third line of argument goes back to this medieval debate: The full humanity of Christ is not a warrant to make images of him without violating the Second Commandment.It is obvious from the Synod’s argument that it is impossible not to separate, divide, change, or confuse the two natures in portraying Christ in a picture. What picture can depict Christ’s glory, majesty, and almighty power as God the Son? The apostle John says in John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John is saying here that even in his humanity, Jesus has the glory of the Father, a glory that they have seen. Paul in Colossians 1:19 says that “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Is it possible for a picture of Christ to show the glory and fullness of an almighty, perfectly holy, and infinite God dwelling in him? Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the deity of Christ is the primary reason, and not just because of the Jewish prohibition on making images, that there is no surviving authentic picture of Jesus made by the apostles and disciples who saw Christ while he walked on earth.

Moreover, since the Scriptures nowhere describe the physical appearance of Jesus, the manner in which he is portrayed in images is left completely on the impulse and agenda of the artist. How often do visual representations distort what we think the Bible says! Images have influenced our image of Jesus as a tall, handsome, white man with long hair. How did people come about thinking that Adam and Eve ate an apple in the Garden of Eden? Where did people get the idea that the shepherds and the wise men were all together on the night of Jesus’ birth? Did Jesus not get immersed in the Jordan River in his baptism? Because of the absence of any physical description or any authentic image of Jesus, all visual representations of Jesus in images are unavoidably false, and therefore our mental images of him are also false.

The Sufficiency of Scriptures, Preaching, and the Sacraments

A fourth rationale against images of Christ appeals to the doctrines of the sufficiency of Scriptures in worship and education, of preaching Christ crucified, and of the sacraments as the “visible Word.” Since the early church, iconophiles have always maintained that images, particularly of Christ, assist believers in worship and in teaching. To this the Reformers answer that God, by disclosing the Second Commandment, does not want to be worshipped through images. Moreover, the written and preached word, and the Lord’s Supper as a visual manifestation of Christ’s sacrifice, are sufficient means for believers’ nurture and worship. Question 98 of the Heidelberg Catechism warns that pictures should not be tolerated in churches as “books for the laity,” (a term used by the Roman church as the educational function of images) because God “will not have his people taught by dumb idols, but by the lively preaching of the Word.” And just as the Word and the God-ordained, visible signs such as circumcision and Passover were sufficient in the Old Testament, so also are the Word and the signs of baptism and the Lord’s Supper sufficient for the New Testament Church. Instead of relying on visual icons, the Reformers emphasized the singing, reading, teaching, and preaching of Scriptures.

Calvin uses Galatians 3:1 to point out that it was through the preaching of Paul that Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified before the eyes of the Galatians, since it was impossible for them to have seen Christ’s crucifixion in Jerusalem.24 Calvin also cites Habakkuk 2:18 in refuting the usefulness of images for teaching: “when Habakkuk teaches that ”˜a molten image is a teacher of falsehood,’ from such statements we must surely infer this general doctrine, that whatever men learn of God from images is futile, indeed false.”25

Another supporting argument used by iconophiles is grounded on God’s own directives to use some artwork in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, and in his revelation of himself in a cloud, fire, burning bush, and in theophanies (appearances as a man). If God himself used these images of creation to reveal himself, then couldn’t believers depict Christ in images, since he is the revealed, human incarnation of God? In answering this objection, the Reformers and their heirs went back to the regulative principle, affirmed that all things pertaining to worship must be prescribed in the Scriptures, and rejected the use of images:

But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture. (emphasis added) 26

When God chose to reveal himself in various forms, he did not intend to allow man to worship him in any way that man so desires, knowing that he is a corrupted creature. With the knowledge within him of a Creator, but without the special revelation of Scriptures, he will devise his own ways of worshipping God, sinking into idolatry (Rom. 1:19-23; 2:14-15). That fallen man is inherently idolatrous is consistently shown in the history of his chosen people. Armed with the mighty acts of an invisible God who hid himself in a pillar of cloud and in a pillar of fire in their Exodus from Egypt, the people of God insisted on worshipping him through an image, a golden calf (Exod. 32). The bronze serpent that God made for them for their protection against the deadly fiery serpents in the wilderness had to be destroyed by King Hezekiah because it had become an object of idolatry (Num. 21:4-9; 2 Kgs. 18:4).

Moreover, that God revealed himself in various forms and theophanies in the Old Testament does not mean he is giving us warrant to make visible representations of God. That would be in violation of his own Second Commandment. Calvin writes that

even direct signs of the divine Presence give no justification for images”¦. For the fact that God from time to time appeared in the form of a man was the prelude to his future revelation in Christ. Therefore the Jews were absolutely forbidden so to abuse this pretext as to set up for themselves a symbol of deity in human form.”27

The Eschatological Hope

In the Council of Nicea in 787, while the iconoclasts accused the iconophiles of the heresies of Monophysitism and Nestorianism, the iconophiles countered by charging the iconoclasts with the heresies of Apollinarianism, Monophysitism, and Monotheletism.28 The iconophiles accused their opponents of denying the true humanity of Christ and the goodness of the material world, and of using Greek philosophy in their anti-representational stance.29 The iconoclasts answered that the reality of the incarnation disallows fashioning an authentic image of Christ.

Moreover, the iconophiles argued that because Christ’s human flesh was seen on earth in the incarnation, “what was actually being iconized was not the human nature alone”¦. but the total divine-human person of Christ.”30 The iconophiles denied that a picture of Christ is identical in nature or essence to what it represents, namely Jesus Christ, thereby avoiding the problem of Monophysitism-Nestorianism.31 While this last argument, that of the distinction between the essence of an image and the thing that it represents has some merit, the argument that an artist can iconize the divine nature of Christ is highly debatable and unpersuasive, as I pointed out earlier.

Nevertheless, the victory of the iconophiles in Nicea in 787 silenced the iconoclasts for eight centuries until the Protestant Reformation. With this historical background, many theologians tend to dismiss the Reformers’ zealous revival of the opposition to images as idiosyncratic and non-traditional. VanDrunen points out the weakness of the Reformers’ position “has been buttressed by some arguments that are unjustly oblivious to the concerns of most of the Christian world and have been less than compelling, even to many of its own theologians.”32

He offers a new line of reasoning for the believer’s abstention from making and using images of Christ at the present time based on historical and eschatological reasons. Iconophiles agree with the iconophobes that no images of God were permitted in the Old Testament because God has not revealed himself in Christ at that time. But iconophiles argue that in the New Testament age, God has revealed himself in the incarnate Christ, thereby validating their making images of Christ. The question that follows this conclusion is: Should the believer then even desire to make an image of Christ? VanDrunen believes that the Christian should not have this desire, although his longing to see Christ is legitimate.

This present age is an age of not seeing Jesus; the eschatological age to come is the age in which the Christian will see Jesus. For now, the believer possesses only the eschatological hope of the “beatific vision” ”“ seeing the glorified Jesus in the age to come. This present age is an age of Christ’s invisible presence in the Spirit, to be followed by an age of his visible presence which will commence when he reappears in glory (John 16:16). Furthermore, this present age is an age of walking by faith and not by sight (Rom. 8:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:8).33 VanDrunen then concludes:

We do not attempt to make Christ seen in the present because the present is not the time for seeing Christ. That time indeed is coming, but, for now, Reformed Christians enjoy the measure of the participation in Christ that has been granted: the indwelling of the Spirit, life in the church, and word and sacraments.34

He therefore proposes that even if Christians have warrant for making images of Christ, they are prohibited eschatologically from doing so because this present age is a temporary age of Word-centered spirituality of hope and faith. Christians have to wait patiently for the eternal age to come, an age when they will finally have visual and audible fellowship with Christ.


The Christian world has passionately, and at times violently, debated whether there is Scriptural warrant for making and using images of Christ since the second century. The debate concerning the legitimate making and using images of Christ in worship and in teaching will undoubtedly rage until the eschatological hope of Christ’s reappearing arrives. Nonetheless, this paper has presented the case against the unwarranted use of images of Christ for worship or teaching in view of the Second Commandment, the two natures of Christ, the sufficiency of Scriptures, and the recently proposed eschatological hope view.

Both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are unwavering in their conviction of the validity and usefulness of images of Christ. On the other side of the issue, Protestant churches, especially mainstream evangelicals, have regrettably softened their stand against the evangelistic and educational use of images of Christ. In the current culture of pluralism, compromise, tolerance, and anti-doctrinalism, it seems inevitable that majority of Protestants will acquiesce to the practice of Roman and Orthodox churches on the more important issue of using images of Christ in worship. Thus, Reformed Christians are by default responsible for maintaining the distinctive put forth by their Reformed forefathers on the illegitimacy of making and using images of Christ for any purpose.


Begbie, Jeremy. Beholding the Glory, Incarnation Through the Arts. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Calvin John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. John T. McNeill, ed. Trans. by Ford Lewis Battles. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960.

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. London: Penguin, 1967, rev. ed., 1993.

Farrar, Frederic W. The Life of Christ as Represented in Art. London: MacMillan and Co., 1895.

Forest, Jim. “Through Icons.” Beholding the Glory, Incarnation Through the Arts, Jeremy Begbie, ed. Baker: Grand Rapids, 2000.

Giakalis, Ambrosios. Images of the Divine, The Theology of Icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1994.

Godfrey, W. Robert. “The Passion of Mel Gibson.” Evangelium 2:3 (May/June 2004), 2-4.

Gutmann, Joseph. “The ”˜Second Commandment’ and the Image in Judaism.” Hebrew Union College Annual 32.1 (1961), 161-174.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.25.6.

Leith, John H. Creeds of the Churches, A Reader in Christian Doctrine from the Bible to the Present. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1963.

McLaren, Brian. “Passionate, But Not for Mel’s Movie.” ChristianityToday.Com, March 9, 2004. Accessed May 7, 2004.


Pelikan, Jaroslav. Imago Dei, The Byzantine Apologia for Icons. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

VanDrunen, David. “Iconoclasm, Incarnation and Eschatology: Toward a Catholic Understanding of the Reformed Doctrine of the ‘Second’ Commandment.” International Journal of Systematic Theology 6:2 (April 2004), 130-47.

1 Quote from Daniel R. Hyde, In Living Color: Images of Christ and the Means of Grace (Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, 2009), 18.

2 The eschatological hope view is a recent proposal by David VanDrunen, an Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in California, in his paper, “Iconoclasm, Incarnation and Eschatology: Toward a Catholic Understanding of the Reformed Doctrine of the ”˜Second’ Commandment,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 6:2 (April 2004), 130-147. “Eschatological hope” as used in this paper refers to the end of the present age when Jesus Christ comes again and inaugurates the “age to come” (Eph. 1:21).

3 Ambrosios Giakalis, Images of the Divine, The Theology of Icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1994), 93.

4 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.25.6.

5 Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (London: Penguin, 1967, rev. ed., 1993), 280-81.

6 Jim Forest, “Through Icons,” Beholding the Glory, Incarnation Through the Arts, Jeremy Begbie, ed. (Baker: Grand Rapids, 2000), 83-85.

7 Jaroslav Pelikan, Imago Dei, The Byzantine Apologia for Icons (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), 68-69.

8 Joseph Gutmann, “The ”˜Second Commandment’ and the Image in Judaism,” Hebrew Union College Annual 32.1 (1961). 174.

9 Jeremy Begbie, Beholding the Glory, Incarnation Through the Arts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 86-7.

10 The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches claim, for example, that Luke the evangelist is credited with painting three icons of Jesus and Mary (Begbie, Beholding the Glory, 85).

11 Epiphanius of Cyprus, quoted in the Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 4.

12 Chadwick, The Early Church, 280.

13 Frederic W. Farrar, The Life of Christ as Represented in Art (London: MacMillan and Co., 1895), 60. Dr. Farrar was Chaplain to the Queen and to the House of Commons and Archdeacon and Canon of Westminster.

14 Begbie, Beholding the Glory, 88.

15 John H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches, A Reader in Christian Doctrine from the Bible to the Present (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1963), 55.

16 Monophysitism is the heretical teaching that in the incarnate Christ there is only one nature, not two (divine and human). This doctrine was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Nestorianism is another heretical teaching that there were two separate Persons in the incarnate Christ, one divine and the other human, as opposed to the Biblical teaching that there is a single Person in the incarnate Christ, at once God and man. It is disputed whether Nestorius, fourth century patriarch of Constantinople, really taught this doctrine, which was condemned by a council in Rome in 430.

17 John Calvin quotes Augustine in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John T. McNeill, ed., trans. by Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 4.14.1, 1277, in saying that the Lord’s Supper is “a visible sign of the sacred thing” and “a visible form of an invisible grace.”

18 Leith, Creeds, 55-6.

19 Leith, Creeds, 53.

20 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8, 108.

21 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.9, 109.

22 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.9, 109.

23 John Murray, “Pictures of Christ,” Reformed Herald, 16:9 (February 1961).

24 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.7, 107.

25 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.5, 105.

26 Westminster Confession of Faith, 21:1.

27 Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.3.

28 Apollinarianism is the heresy named after Apollinarius, fourth century bishop of Laodicea. He denied the completeness of Christ’s manhood, in that Christ did not have a human mind or soul. His teaching was condemned by the Council of Constantinople in 381. Monotheletism is a seventh century heresy which taught that Christ had only one will, instead of two (divine and human). This teaching was condemned by the Third Council of Constantinople in 681.

29 Giakalis, Images, 27-8.

30 Pelikan, Imago Dei, 79.

31 VanDrunen, “Iconoclasm,” 130.

32 VanDrunen, “Iconoclasm,” 131.

33 Robert Godfrey, President of Westminster Seminary in California, in “The Passion of Mel Gibson,” Evangelium 2/3 (May/June 2004), 2-4, says that it is notable that Heb. 2:9 states (in the present tense), “We see Jesus,” when Jesus was already ascended to heaven long before the writing of this book. Godfrey then lists three ways in which believers see Jesus. First, they see him in the preached Word of God (Gal. 3:1-2). Second, they see him in the visible signs and seals, the sacraments, as Augustine and the Reformers taught. Third, they see him with the eyes of faith (2 Cor. 4:18; 5:7).

34 VanDrunen, “Iconoclasm,” 145.



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