R. Scott Clark, Cartoon Jesus, and Evil Cows

“What does Jesus look like?”

That is the opening question of this episode of R. Scott Clark’s Heidelcast podcast.

When asked for the best defenses of the traditional Reformed view of the Second Commandment, this podcast came up. This podcast always comes up. Perhaps it is just the social circles I swim in. I know it is an older episode, but I believe it still accurately represents the view of Clark and other strict Confessionalists.

Given that R. Scott Clark is highly esteemed by many and is, according to some, an authority on this topic, he should serve as a good representative for this view. Another reason why I want to address RSC (R. Scott Clark) is because he attempts to make arguments for his view as opposed to simply asserting his view. In contrast, John Calvin and other early reformers never gave a defense for their view on the Second Commandment. The view was simply asserted as if it were obvious. When arguing against images they simply argued against idolatry, which is a plain example of begging the question. To their credit, they lived in a culture wherein all or nearly all images of Christ were used for worship. For Calvin, an absolute prohibition on images did mean a prohibition on the use of images for worship. RSC, however, attempts to build a coherent theological argument for the traditional Reformed view. He fails, but it is a good effort and I appreciate that it is more than simply asserting the position.

Here are my thoughts on R. Scott Clark’s podcast on Second Commandment violations. This isn’t as thorough as it could be, but it does highlight some of the most significant problems with the traditional view. In addition to this quick analysis of this podcast episode, I will offer additional thoughts on this topic. It would be profitable to start with the text.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved 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. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Exodus 20:4-6

For those who may not know about this in-house feud, the traditional Reformed view essentially says that any image of any person of the Trinity is necessarily a Second Commandment violation. What is clear in this view is that any and all images of any member of the Trinity is idolatrous worship. When I say “traditional” I mean the view held by most of the early Reformers and the later Confessionalists.

My own view, and a view held by many of the Reformed and evangelical, is that the Second Commandment has to do with the worshipping of images or any created thing. It is not about the making, viewing, or possession of those created things. It is about worship, and simply viewing a particular image does not necessitate worship. That last point is in essence what the traditionalists must disprove.

I focus on images of God the Son simply because the Son has a body and therefore has something to artistically represent. There’s more that can be said on the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity and how we can represent them, but for now I’m focusing on images of Jesus.

ACCURACY AS STANDARD

RSC starts off this episode of his podcast with this question,

“So, let me ask you question. What did Jesus look like?” (1:00)

RSC then goes on to ask several hypothetical questions about the appearance of Jesus in order to establish that man-made representations of Jesus aren’t accurate. I do not disagree. Of course these images aren’t accurate. No one thinks that they are. At this point he does not actually attempt to make an argument, but he does establish the inaccuracy of images as if that is an argument for his view. But in order for this train of thought to be meaningful for Clark’s thesis, he must prove that representations MUST be accurate. Moreover, he must show that an inaccuracy is necessarily idolatrous. There is a difference between teaching a lie or a heresy through an image (e.g., depicting Jesus as a woman or depicting Him sinning) and depicting Him artistically and merely getting some physical attributes wrong. All art has varying degrees of accuracy. The intent of artistic portrayals isn’t absolute accuracy and no one is claiming that these images are photographically accurate. Even if the claim being made, implicitly or explicitly, is that images of Jesus are accurate, that would be a Ninth Commandment violation and not a Second Commandment violation. Considering that he is leaning on accuracy as an indicator of morality in art, I wonder if RSC would claim that all paintings of historic persons are Ninth Commandment violations. A common theme for RSC and others is applying special rules and unique logic for images of Christ but never consistently applying the same rules and logic. Because he does not apply his logic to anything else, this is clearly special pleading.

HISTORY AS STANDARD

Clark then asks this question.

“Are there any extant first century representations of Jesus?” (2:50)

Clark states that there was little to no representations of Christ in the early church. Not to belittle the patriarchs, but nearly all of them held some sort of view that is not considered orthodox today. In addition, if you look up the patriarchs RSC appealed to, they were against images because those images were viewed as items of worship. The councils that condemned images, condemned images for the use of worship. For example, Clark cites the Council of Elvira. The two canons that most directly relate to images are Canon 36 and Canon 41.

“There shall be no pictures in churches, lest what is worshiped and adored be depicted on walls”

“The faithful are warned to forbid, as far as they can, that idols be kept in their homes. If, however, they fear violence from their slaves, they must at least keep themselves pure. If they do not do this, they are considered outside the church.”

It’s abundantly clear that the Council of Elvira was referring to idols. Not all images. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not believe they separated the two ideas, but that is because of a conflation based on the time and culture. It’s also important to understand that the Church made use of images of angels, Mary, and various saints. Not just Jesus. When they wrote against images, they were writing against idolatry, not all artistic renditions of the Apostle Paul or Justin Martyr. Furthermore, this council also included a prohibition against any sexual relations within the “clerical state”.

“Bishops, presbyters, deacons, and all other deacons having a position in the ministry are ordered to abstain completely from their wives and not to have children. Whoever, in fact, does this, shall be expelled from the dignity of the clerical state”

Even if this council was saying what Clark is saying, surely it is no standard for the Church. It is also important to understand that these early Roman Catholic Synods were by large regional and not always representative of all of Christendom. Not only are the Canons of Elvira not authoritative to me or any living Christian, they were likely not authoritative to most Christians living in the early fourth century.

Clark states that early representations were gnostic (4:30). Some were, some weren’t. Arians, for example, were radically opposed to the use of images, as were other sects. Here Scott uses the word “gnostic” fast and loose, seeing a lack of surviving artistic renditions of Christ as an indicator of a particular theological view. The question of the use of images apart from worship or an aid in worship would be entirely anachronistic in that time. Either way, it is not a good argument. No doubt RSC would be kicking and screaming if I suggested that we adopt early church practices on Ecclesiology.

Are they necessarily items of worship? That is the question, and that is the question I will continue to ask. I also wouldn’t make an image so that the Emperor’s wife could venerate it and worship it (7:15). But that’s not what RSC needs to prove. He needs to prove that images are by necessity items or worship and therefore idolatrous Second Commandment violations.

At this point, at about 8:30, is when RSC talks a bit about how his position is the real Reformed position. Not only do I not find this winsome nor persuasive, I find it exceedingly obnoxious. A “No True Scotsman” fallacy from a Presbyterian IS most amusing, but it is due time that the Reformed become open to the idea of reforming. Clark even asks the question,

“Is there a stable and objective definition of the word ‘Reformed’”

It is rather obvious that Clark does believe there is an objective definition. His. For Clark, the Reformation is over and has been over for some time.

Clark briefly repeats his accuracy argument at around 12:00. Nothing new.

IMAGINATION AS DEITY THEFT 

BUT then it gets interesting. Here is where Clark starts to build his argument. Clark states,

“There’s no objective source for these (images), so there is only a subjective source. What is that subjective source? It is the human imagination. What does scripture call the substitution of the human imagination for divine revelation?”

Clark’s argument is that in order to make or view images we must use the human imagination and in doing so we are substituting divine revelation for the human imagination. He asks the question “What does scripture call the substitution of the human imagination for divine revelation?” (13:04). This is NOT a bad question to ask. We should NEVER be substituting the truth for anything else. But there is a glaring problem with Clark’s use of this question as a proof. Are images of Christ truly substituting the imagination based image for the truth of divine revelation? Is that what is really going on? Is it the intent or the necessary unintentional outcome of a painting of Jesus the replacing of truth for a mere depiction? THAT is what RSC needs to prove, yet he merely assumes that representations are replacements. His argument seems to indicate that everytime I see a nativity scene I forget what the scriptures teach about Jesus and I at that point think that Jesus is a tiny plastic white baby. If not “replacing” in this literal way, what way is Clark talking about? The question that RSC asks is a good one, but it is one that points to the intent of the images, not the images on their own. This is another common pattern in RSC and others who hold this view. A few good and biblical points, then a massive unproven logical leap.

Once again, if RSC was being consistent and if his pleading wasn’t so special, then he would also say that having and viewing an image of his earthly father would take away from the reality of his father in some mysterious and abstract way. So much of Clark’s views rely in thinking in mystical and abstract ways. RSC can’t explain how exactly Jim Caviezel meaningfully substitutes his portrayal of Jesus with A MEMBER OF THE GODHEAD. In an admirable attempt to protect the dignity and true worship of God, Clark and those who hold the traditional view give far too much power to actors and cartoons.

NESTORIAN PROFILE PICS

RSC also states (14:15) that images of Christ deny Christ’s humanity. This is because His true humanity and our imagination of His humanity are not the same thing. I agree that they are not the same thing. No one is saying that they are the same thing. However, it is a huge logical and theological leap to say that because a portrayal of Jesus is not 100% accurate that it denies the humanity of that person. In what way exactly does it deny anything? Does a portrayal of Martin Luther in a film deny the historicity of Luther or even the humanity of Luther? Why do we make this logical leap with Christ, but never apply it elsewhere? This is more special pleading. It sounds appealing at first, but when examined, the logic falls flat. Clark and others must necessarily apply special mystical rules that are not only extra-biblical, but also patently illogical. If Clark or anyone else could explain this mysterious “denial of humanity” in any way that does not sound like mystical gobbledygook, it would be more convincing.

Clark moves on (16:00) to make the claim that images of Christ are Nestorian. Nestorianism is the belief that there were two separate persons, one human and one divine, in the incarnate Christ. The argumentation is that all images are Nestorian because all images do not show accurately the fullness of Christ’s nature. However, one must ask the question of whether or not you must make all the attributes of Christ apparent in all representations of Him? Were all of His divine attributes always apparent? Are the textual depictions of Christ in scripture all thorough and exhaustive renditions all of His qualities?

The charge of Nestorianism makes the mistake of thinking that an absence of a particular attribute is the same thing as denying that attribute itself. A representational absence of an attribute in no way denies that attribute and we would never apply that same faulty logic to anything else. Once again, Clark’s logic is fallacious. The most obvious examples are images of all of us. Humans. Your profile picture for example. The pictures of your family sitting on your desk. Jesus is not the only being with dual natures. We are both spirit and flesh. Yet your profile picture only makes your flesh known. Are you denying that you have a spirit by making an image of yourself? Are you sinfully misrepresenting your own self? Not only pictures, but also our own sense of sight is, according to Clark’s logic, denying that we have souls. Is using our eyeballs a Ninth Commandment violation? Another example is Christ Himself. All of His attributes were not apparent on earth. Not even to His disciples. Here is when it is typical of the traditionalist to assert that these counter examples prove nothing because how Jesus revealed Himself on earth was special and therefore allowed. This, however, is just more begging the question. They are appealing to their view of the Second Commandment to support evidence for their view of the Second Commandment. Nothing more.

At 18:00 Clark quotes the confessions extensively and cites Biblical texts referring to idolatry. He does this throughout at various times. Although I do not think that those texts are meant to be an argument, I’ll just simply note that images of Christ must first be proven to actually be idolatry before texts on idolatry can be applied to them. For the purposes of showing that images are idolatrous, they are irrelevant. The confessions can be a good and useful tool, but they are no standard. In the tradition of the confessions, we should be open to the idea that they erred.

SYLLOGISM AMATEURISM

At the 18:35 mark, Clark appeals to a syllogism,

  1. God may not be imaged.
  2. Jesus is God
  3. Therefore Jesus may not be imaged

He states, “that syllogism is hard to avoid”. Well no. Not very hard. The syllogism is neither valid nor sound. RSC seems to indicate that this syllogism is within the text of the Second Commandment.

“Jesus did not come to abolish the Second Commandment. The incarnation did not change the Second Commandment. God may not be imaged. Jesus is God. Therefore Jesus may not be imaged.”

Of course, this is not what the Second Commandment says. It is not even close to what it says (as we will see shortly). I am not advocating for the abolition of the Second Commandment, I am arguing for the restoration of its true meaning. Clark knows his opponents do not want to abolish the Second Commandment. This is just empty rhetoric on his part.

Let us think clearly about this “hard to avoid” syllogism. Clark brings this syllogism up in multiple formats whenever this issue is brought it. It is also a favourite syllogism of those who also hold the traditional view. Let us first assume that all premises are true. Is this syllogism valid? Validity is determined by the internal logic of the syllogism whether or not the supporting premises are true. Therefore, the supporting premises that RSC provides could be false but the argument could still be internally logical and therefore valid. For example

  1. John Reasnor has blonde hair.
  2. John Reasnor is a man.
  3. Therefore John Reasnor is blonde haired man.

This is internally logical and therefore a valid argument. However, not all of the supporting premises are true. This makes this valid argument unsound. It is valid because it makes logical sense, but it is NOT sound because not all of the premises are true. John Reasnor (myself) has red hair.

Clark’s syllogism, however, is not even internally logical and it is therefore not valid NOR sound. Why?

Clark begins by saying that you can not image God. If he means the Triune God, I would agree with the premise as long as he does not mean the Triune God in addition to any parts of the whole Triune God. If Clark means the Trinity as a whole by saying God, the first premise is certainly true because God the Father and God the Spirit do not have physical bodies to image. Now, if Clark means all of the Triune God OR any Person of the Triune God, he is using his conclusion as his first premise (big no no) and that invalidates the entire argument by his question begging. But let us suppose he knows better.

The second premise is clearly true. Jesus Christ is indeed God. And all the people say Amen.

However, does the first two premises logically add up to the conclusion? No. They do not. This is abundantly clear given God’s Triune nature. What is true of one person of the Trinity is not necessarily true of all persons of the Trinity. Likewise, what is true of the Trinity may not be necessarily true of all the members of the Trinity. Some examples,

  1. The Trinity cannot be seen.
  2. Jesus is a person of the Trinity.
  3. Therefore Jesus cannot be seen.
  1. The Son is God.
  2. The Father is God.
  3. Therefore God the Father is the Son
  1. God is a Trinity.
  2. Jesus is God.
  3. Therefore Jesus is a Trinity.
  1. Jesus is God.
  2. The Holy Spirit is God.
  3. Jesus died.
  4. Therefore the Holy Spirit died.

 

Thanks to Matt the Hammer for some of those syllogism examples. Although these examples are clearly absurd, Clark’s syllogism is equally absurd and for the same reason. He is assuming that what is true of the whole will be true of the parts. Not only is this logically invalid and unsound, it is terrible Theology. Clark should know better.

THOUGHT CRIME

Now towards the end (22:40) RSC attempts to tackle a problem that most shy away from. Clark understands that in order to say that all representations of Christ are Second Commandment violations, then mental representations of Christ must also be idolatrous. You read me correctly. Even thinking of Christ Jesus’s appearance is sinful idolatry.

“Are you allowed to commit mental adultery? Are you allowed to commit mental murder? I don’t think you want to make that argument. Well, if you can’t commit mental murder or mental adultery…. Then why isn’t representing God in you mind also sin?”

Clark even goes so far to say that the apostles did not have a mental image of Jesus in their minds. He claims that even those who saw the incarnate Jesus with their own eyes had no image of Jesus in their heads. Not kidding.

I’d like to congratulate R. Scott Clark for at least this level of consistency. Good for him for the attempting to be consistent on this point. With that said, I find his reasoning here to be by far the worst in the podcast. It is very much lacking for multiple reasons. However, I will say that his view on mental images is the consistent and necessary conclusion of his view.

Clark seems to only directly condemn mental representations based on visual images, rather than mental representations based on textual descriptions. If he is intentionally leaving out mental images based on textual descriptions, this is inconsistent with the logic of his entire position. If mental representations are Second Commandment violations (which is consistent with the traditional Second Commandment position in general), then ALL mental representations are idolatrous for the same reason that ALL visual representations are idolatrous; because they are not accurate and we must therefore use our imagination. This would clearly include mental representations based on texts. This is a problem.

Do we imagine Christ, not just his stated attributes but his physical form, when we read Scripture? Is that not a mental representation that is based on imagination? When we read the Gospels and ponder Jesus walking about with His disciples, must we only imagine a list of ideas about Jesus, or can we imagine a man walking about the countryside? When Thomas touches the wounds of Christ, are we in sin if we actually imagine Thomas touching the body of Christ?

So much focus is given to visual representations, but RSC rightly sees that his logic should also extend to mental representations. After all, we can not understand that an image represents anything until we process the information in our head. This portion of the podcast is incredibly confusing and muddled, and it is because the consistency that Clark is grasping at demands confusion and absurdity. At least he tried.

Clark began by asking “What does Jesus look like?” By the end of the podcast, we realize that if we, in our minds, answer the question that our esteemed host asked, we would be in grievous sin. Clark opens his podcast about the Second Commandment by asking us, according to his own views, to break the Second Commandment. This demonstrates the silliness of Clark’s view. Not even Clark is able to follow Clark’s reasoning.

WHAT CLARK DOES NOT DO

What does R. Scott Clark not do? He never connects the lack of accuracy and even supposed Nestorianism charges with the Second Commandment. I do not believe he even quotes the Second Commandment in his entire talk. This is common in these discussions. Those who have the most obnoxiously aggressive position on the Second Commandment (i.e. modern so-called Covenanters) very rarely talk about the actual text of the Second Commandment. Even if making or showing an inexhaustive and inaccurate representation of Christ is sinful, it is not a Second Commandment violation. He never showed that an image must be fully accurate or that it must exhaustively show all the attributes of Christ. In order to appeal to accuracy, physical or spiritual, that is exactly what he needs to show. He simply asserts the needed presuppositions. The same presuppositions he never consistently applies.

The single greatest assumption made by R. Scott Clark, and countless others, is that the making and/or viewing of Images of Christ is by necessity worship. In order to connect images of Christ to the Second Commandment, that is what needs to be proven. Instead, it is asserted and supported by all the aforementioned mental gymnastics.

Clark’s position and his arguments for his position are utterly unconvincing, inconsistent, illogical, extra-Biblical, and self-defeating.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT OF THE TEXT

Let us take a look at the text of the Second Commandment again.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved 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. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Exodus 20:4-6

This text only has two rational interpretations.

1. Do not worship anything but God. Not images of God. Not images of birds. Nothing and nobody but God. Whether it be created items depicting things in heaven, in the sky, or in the earth, do not worship anything but God.

Or,

2. Don’t make any images of anything either in heaven, in the sky, or in the earth.

Any exegetical reading of the text will only come up with these two interpretations. An eisegetical reading of the text that inserts the traditional and confessional meaning, however, will support a third meaning.

3. Do not worship anything but God. Not images of God. Not images of birds. Nothing and nobody but God. Whether it be created items depicting things in heaven, in the sky, or in the earth, do not worship anything but God. In addition, do not view or create or possess any image of any person of the Trinity for whatever purpose.

The obvious problem is that nowhere in this text is there such a prohibition on images themselves. The closest thing we have is the inclusion of “heaven above” in the list of common examples of pagan idol worship. Let us say for a moment that this does indicate an absolute prohibition. If that were the case the prohibition would not only apply to God, but also angels, heaven itself, and whatever else you may imagine to be in heaven.

Therefore, what would we be forced to do in order to apply their special third interpretation?  One would be forced to insert a special, extra-Biblical, invisible, parenthetical statement right after “heaven above” to give it extra attributes.

Something like “heaven above (meaning not only graven images, but all images. And don’t worry about everything in heaven. This just applies to God)”. Of course, this principle of making an absolute prohibition against “heaven above” will not apply to “the earth above”, or to “the water under the sea”. This, for some unknown reason, is only magically applied to one element in the list. In order to be logical and consistent, one would be left with the absurd interpretation 2; a silly prohibition of all images of all things. The third option, though less absurd on its face, is by far more illogical and does violence to the text. It is the definition of gross eisegesis.

INTENT

Something that I find to be interesting is how those who hold to the traditional Second Commandment view respond to supposed violations.

Inherent to Clark’s view is the understanding that the INTENT of the making and/or viewing of the image of Christ is irrelevant. I confirmed this via a Twitter question to Clark last year, but sadly I have been blocked by him for some time and I’m now unable to supply the confirmation of this point. Nevertheless, this is a vital element to his view and his particular argumentation.

Without disregarding intent, we are left with the accurate understanding of the Second Commandment. That is, the condemning of false and idolatrous worship of images, as opposed to condemning images no matter if worship is happening or not. If we consider intent relevant, then only images used for worship are condemned.

The intent must be ignored for the traditional view to make any sense. If I am not INTENDING on worshiping the image, the image still produces a false (and therefore idolatrous) image of Jesus. This is why it is not only the intentional worship of images, but also the viewing of images that is considered a Second Commandment violation to the traditionalists.

This inevitably leads to various problems. If by viewing an image one is committing sinful idolatry, how could ancient Israelites ever confirm by two or three witnesses the breaking of the Second Commandment? Would they likewise be guilty of this capital crime by witnessing this crime? Was Moses guilty when he caught the Israelites worshiping a golden calf? Was Daniel guilty of idolatry by merely viewing the statue of Nebuchadnezzar although he did not bow down? These seem like obvious questions, but the logic of the traditional view on the Second Commandment complicates what should be simple.

ALL TALK, NO WALK

What this necessarily means is that incidental viewing of images of Christ are also sinful. If you’re walking in the mall and accidentally glance at a nativity scene, you are automatically guilty of a capital sin. You are automatically, your intent and even your possible revulsion at the ceramic baby Jesus being entirely irrelevant, as guilty as a pagan bowing down to statues of Baal. I’m not being flippant. This is the consistent and logical conclusion. All that is needed, according to the argumentation of Clark and those who agree with him, is a false representation of Jesus, physical or mental. If we introduce the idea of intent being relevant, then we no longer have the traditional and confessional view.

This, of course, applies to FaceBook memes and cartoons. The truth is, IF images of Christ are Second Commandment violations, there is no place for Christians on social media. If there is a good chance that you will commit false, Nestorian, idolatrous, worship against a Holy and jealous Triune God, then it is not worth being able to talk to old classmates and post pictures of your cats and food.

If we understand anything at all, we must understand that Second Commandment violations are sin. Grievous sin. Sin often punished by death in the Old Testament. God WILL NOT be mocked, and if false representations of any person of the Trinity is by necessity idolatrous, I’d recommend that those who hold to that view actually ACT as if they believe what they say they believe if they are to be taken seriously. Start plucking out those eyes.

EVIL WICKED IDOLATROUS COWS

We can see the problem with disregarding intent by considering another form of idolatry.

Does God prohibit golden calves? Clearly the Israelites sinned against God by their making and worshiping of a golden calf, but could I, let’s say, order a golden calf from Amazon for decoration? Was God angry at Israel for making a golden cow? Or was God angry at idolatry?

I strongly contend that God DOES NOT hate cows.

I also strongly contend that God DOES NOT hate gold.

NOR does God hate golden calves (gasp!).

This is simple. God hates the worship of golden calves. He also hates the worship of Lego horses. Or bronze elephants. Or leather-bound books from the Seventeenth century.

Please, don’t blame bovine and the element Au for the idolatry of the Israelites.

CONCLUSION

I have a fear.

I fear that by focusing so narrowly on a potential form of idolatry (such as images of Christ), Confessionalists, modern pseudo-Covenanters, and others who hold the traditional view, have forgotten the substance of the Second Commandment. When these men speak, teach, and write on the Second Commandment, they do not preach against idolatry of the heart. They preach against cartoons, Jim Caviezel, and nativity scenes. This is a real danger. Although I know that these men would acknowledge the deeper meaning of the Second Commandment, I fear that this narrow focus on images of Christ have in various ways diminished the importance of true idolatry of the heart.

Although Reformed and evangelical Christians do not make images of men and animals to bow down to, there is real and sinful worship of created things. These Christians do not offer blood sacrifices to these created things, nor do they bow down to them. However, too often they defer to these man-made objects over and above God and His Word.

These idols are not created by pagan priests, but rather by publishing companies. They are not made of gold, but paper.

Within Reformed circles it is difficult to find a belief so clearly contrary to the plain reading of the text than the confessional view of the Second Commandment. It is glaring and obvious error, having far more in common with Islam’s obsession with the form of Muhammad than anything found within the Bible. If we are serious about the Reformed Confessions’ own teaching on its ability to err, and if we take serious the idea of semper reformanda, this is a rather easy place to make a correction. It is my fear that the only reason why some hold to the traditional view is simply because it is the traditional view. They hold to the confessional view because it is the confessional view.

This traditional view is held by a sliver of a sliver of Christendom; those that hold strictly and without exception to one of the major Reformed Confessions. It is for this reason that I question the confessions as potentially an idol. I reject the idea that one comes to the traditional view apart from being highly motivated and influenced by the confessions. This does not make the view false, but it does make it suspect. The view is made false by its utter and complete lack of Biblical evidence.

While focusing nearly exclusively on images of Christ, many are guilty of true idolatry. Don’t shrug off this possibility. Some may not be guilty of this, but many are. The evidence is plain. Scripture is hardly ever even quoted, while the confessions and the opinions of dead theologians make up the bulk, if not the whole, of the argument. I do not hate the confessions (especially the Westminster and the Belgic), but they are a help, not a standard. They can err and they have erred. Let’s have the moral and intellectual fortitude to admit that.

This is the danger of replacing the substance of idolatry with a potential form of idolatry. While focusing on cartoon Jesus, we have forgotten what the real sin is. I pray that we think and pray hard about what it means to have idols in our life. Remember that even good gifts from God can be twisted. Instead of repeating yourself ad nauseam and instead of pasting long quotes from dead Scotsmen, slow down and read Exodus 20. Ask yourself if you are reading what’s there, or what you want to be there.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “R. Scott Clark, Cartoon Jesus, and Evil Cows

  1. To your first point about accuracy: if I remember correctly, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes that their images of Jesus are ‘accurate.’ Of course, I agree with your assessment there, I just thought I’d point that out because it is an interesting part of their understanding of icons. Will try to find a source.

    Like

  2. Valuable and useful! As you noted, this post only concerns the erroneous beliefs of a tiny minority of Christians… but it should be addressed anyways, so at least it’s “on the record”.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s