What I Wish I Had Said

H&S: Images of Christ was a great night. But it was a rough night. In addition to the stress of going up against my “idol,” I was uncomfortable with the conflicting desires of honoring DVD because of how much I respect his genius, and the strategic need within the forum of Hoagies & Stogies to discredit him and his arguments. Because of this I felt discombobulated the entire evening, and was not able to think on my feet quickly enough to decide how to use all of my time, which is why I left time on the clock in all three segments.

After listening to the .mp3, there are a few elements of DVD’s arguments that I wish I had had the presence of mind to address with the extra time that I gave away.

First, I was surprised that DVD came so strong with an explicit single/unified interpretation of the second commandment (since that was also a cornerstone of my argument). DVD explained that, in the Bible’s view, it was inconceivable that someone would make an image without then worshipping it. I should have pointed out that the implication of such an analysis is that all images are forbidden, a position he surely would not want to defend.

Second, he insisted that worship and teaching are inseparable. I strongly disagree with this, and feel that it is more characteristic of the “All of life is worship” view that neither of us affirm. If worship and teaching are inseparable, then the regulative principle governs teaching. I can think of many problems with this implication, but the most relevant is certainly that images would be forbidden in teaching. Not just images of Christ, but (the same as in worship) all images whatsoever. I wouldn’t be surprised if DVD would be comfortable with an image-free sunday school curriculum, but I would be surprised if he felt the church could bindingly enforce an image-free sunday-school curriculum.

Speaking of enforcing, I also missed a major opportunity in the Q&A period, when we were discussing The Passion of the Christ. DVD was unwilling to outright forbid Christians to view the movie, saying he had to affirm some degree of “Christian liberty.” I should have jumped all over that, because it’s a damning admission, that basically concedes my fundamental argument. If DVD is right, and images of Christ are forbidden, always, how could there be liberty in the question of viewing 30 images per second, for more than two hours?

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17 Responses

  1. I believe the type of film they used in production captures 24 frames/second. That’s 6 less images, or sins, a second. It makes a big difference. Just sayin…

  2. I am in full agreement with your belated statements on images. I also agree with Dr Meyers, having read Vere Homo. All images would have to be eliminated with the hard line approach to the 2nd Commandment. Why are some legalistic ideas so hard to give up, while others are not? Worshiping anything or anyone, other than our risen Savior is a sin. It does not have to be in the form of a picture or a graven image.

  3. Please feel free to post the pdf of Vere Homo. I’m glad it helped!

  4. Rube, your wishI’dsaids really hit some of the stuff that left me wondering during the debate. Wish there’d been a discussion of how the image deals with the idea of a thing rather than the actuality. Symbols rather than reality. Maybe even drawing a line that points to types and shadows in the OT. Images lead one to an intended perception of the real.
    Granted, it’s not something you’ll find clearly delineated in the Scriptures, but it’s real.

  5. drawing a line

    I didn’t want to risk causing offense…

  6. Lines are fun. When you make images.

    Should have done the debate over the internet! Like one guy by the kegs and the other one over on the porch and just text it. Then it wouldn’t have been so hard to draw a line.

  7. […] What I Wish I Had Said […]

  8. Rube, re the viewing of certain image-filled films: I’m thinking this has some relation to the question about adultery. I think of the scenario of a husband having a close yet non-physical relationship with a woman other than his wife. To my mind, this is not sinful but unwise. It shows bad judgment. Similarly, we might say that to view an image-filled film is not necessarily sinful but unwise.

    There has to be a category for wisdom and discernment in these considerations, I think. Otherwise we end up saying that something is only either righteous or evil. Those who don’t make this distinction end up telling our husband friend that he is adulterous when he hasn’t really committed adultery but really only exercised bad judgment. So there is liberty to be dumb, but no liberty to be unrighteous.

    • I can see how wisdom might fit into my scheme, but if you really hold to WLC109, then viewing the image-filled film is necessarily sinful; in a different category than the grey area between friendship and adultery.

      Maybe you could make an argument about how to handle ubiquitous advertising, museums, etc; you don’t shut yourself into an empty room for fear that you might fall into an image ambush. But certainly you don’t go and pay money to see The Passion of the Christ, which would be to quite intentionally view images of Jesus.

      • And if you really hold to WCF 20, as well as live in the real world, you have to do some balancing. But I’m not sure partaking in an image-fest, which is unwise, is necessarily the same as image-worship, which is sinful; when does the former turn into the latter? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s like porn, I know it when I see it.

      • DVD and the strict no-images crowd don’t admit there is such a line separating mere images from image-worship. In fact, DVD compared someone who makes an image and claims it is not for worship, to someone who makes pornography and claims it is not for lust. Which is why I don’t see how he can suddenly say there is some Christian liberty involved, without giving away the farm on his whole argument.

      • Maybe. Or maybe he’s from the iconoclast-of-the-non-legalististic variety? Sort of like the sabbatarian-of-the-non-legalistic variety. Both affirm the second and fourth commandments without straining too much over the minutae of hypotheticals, since doing so tends to breed legalism and drives logicians nuts, which is icing.

      • Maybe his point is, one the one hand there’s sin, and on the other hand, not ever sin can be disciplined with the sword of church discipline? Certainly discipline never entered the discussion.

      • Maybe. But my point is that there has to be a category for wisdom and discernment, because that is actually the space we live in most of our lives. Not everything is either sin or righteousness.

      • Which puts you on my side of the debate. DVD was there to argue that “Images of Jesus are not permissible, ever”

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