Blake Howard and Craig Johnson
November 2, 2011
This also opens up another interesting question. By branding our ministries and churches have we in fact made idols out of celebrity ministers and the nonprofit corporate organizations that we call churches?
In religions the difference between an 'idol' and an 'icon' is the difference between worshiping the object itself or worshiping a higher power through the object as a focus for spiritual thought.<br><br>I suppose a company could look at wether they are being admired directly as an end - full stop! An Idol. Or wether they are a focus for some further achievement in community development of societies growth. An Icon.Â <br><br>An Icon model from Apple would be the Red iPod that supports AIDS victims in Africa or the opportunities for others to develop APPS like Raise the Villiage.
I've always been confused by inconography.Â How can we worship through an object if we are told that the ONLY WAY to God is through His son, Jesus Christ?Â Wouldn't anything else be an idol?
Keri I was trying to speak in a VERY general sense relating to world religions in general. The cross is an icon of a sort. We as Christians do not worship the cross directly but as a critical symbol at the centre of worship it helps us focus our thoughts on our invisible God. I personally think the main advantage of religious iconography is in giving the worshiper something visual to block out the rest of the secular world. Many metaphors are built around the cross placing it in a position that is not unlike the position of a religious icon, but I am not a pastor and have only now begun to think on this. Perhaps someone from the seminary could weigh in. Is the cross an icon? or a symbol?
I'm not a seminarian, but I do have a few thoughts on this discussion.<br><br>1) Christian iconography originated in a period when most christians were illiterate. Images served to invoke the important parts of a story and remind worshippers of who God is, like Bible reading does.<br><br>2) You probably don't believe that ANY object that aids in worship is necessarily an idol. We use a lot of objects to point us toward God, including the Bible, devotional books, hymnals, crosses, stained glass windows, etc. Could any of these things become an idol for us? Perhaps. But that is a matter of our hearts and our practice more than the objects themselves I think.
The icon is not itself being worshipped; rather, it is a vehicle by which one worships God, a "window into heaven." The subject of the icon is venerated (deeply respected), not worshipped.<br>Writing an icon (which is the term used by iconographers for drawing/painting the icon) is a deeply spiritual exercise, entered into with a great deal of prayer and fasting in order to ask the Holy Spirit's guidance on the icon writer.<br><br>When one prays with the aid of an icon, one's worship and prayer is thought to pass over the icon and to God; meditating on the life of the icon's subject (either Christ Himself or one of the saints) enables the worshipper to more fully understand the heart and mind of God.<br><br>It seems rather narrow-minded to me to dismiss all of that out of hand as "idol worship."
Great topic. Fascinating to me to see the icon debate emerge from it. Colossians 1:15: "who (Jesus) is the ikon of the unseen god" :)
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