Monday, December 3, 2012

"No Graven Images" A Sermon By Dr. Alan Cairns

Download and listen to "No Graven Images" (a sermon by Alan Cairns) here. Also, here is a my transcription of part of the sermon:
Rome's idolatry is in every hand. Her crucifixes are breaches of the Second Commandment. Her 'holy pictures' are breaches of the Second Commandment. Her images of saints and of Mary and, most blasphemous of all, even of the blessed Son of God Himself are breaches of the Second Commandment. Though She denies it, there is no escape.

But even Protestants are far from guiltless. What shall we say of all those crosses? Look around you. As long as I'm the minister here, you'll see no popish cross. Look around you coming up to this Easter time, and look at your Baptist churches, and your Presbyterian churches, and various other supposedly Protestant churches. The Good Friday they have a cross, with a black veil, and on Easter Sunday a cross with a white veil. What are these crosses? What are these 'holy pictures'? Of Jesus... of angels... Most ludicrous man! The Devil must be laughing! Most ludicrous when the mighty angels of God are painted as nude little babies, with dimpled cheeks and fat buttocks. An insult to God! What are these things? What are the manger scenes? Sheer rank, rampant idolatry.

Now, I'm a Puritan. I suppose if I had lived in ancient times I would have been an iconoclast. It's a big word for those who believed you go in and you destroy out of your churches all of the remnants of popish idolatry. I do believe that 'religious art' has the freedom to represent many scenes from Scripture. As I pointed out, this is not a prohibition of all sculpture, all painting, all art. It is no such prohibition. Were I an artist, I would see no grave, or indeed no real difficulty at all in my representing Moses leading the children of Israel, or Elijah on Mount Carmel, or some such thing. Though I think it would be better kept out of Church, given the propensity of man to turn anything artistic into more than it ever should be allowed to become. So then, let's grant, let's grant, that 'religious art' may represent many scenes from Biblical history.

Let me ask a question: Can a Christian look on any representation of His Lord, in His birth, in His death, in His resurrection, in His ascension, or in His return? Can he look at any representation of His Lord without reference to worship? Can a Christian think of Christ apart from all context of worship? Indeed, should a Christian ever be invited to think of Christ apart from any context of worship! And I would defy any man to take God's Word... And remember what I said about will-worship? Let's keep it in mind now. I would defy any man to take God's Word and find me the slightest evidence from Scripture that I am ever meant to contemplate Christ apart from worshiping Him! When God brought His Son into the world He said even to the angels 'Worship Him!' How could we do less? When you have a picture of Jesus Christ... And I don't care who the artist is or who the sculptor is... When you have a representation of Jesus Christ, you have an object, not only the statement of a man's opinion, but you have an object that is deliberately intended to bring your mind into the channels of worship. And, in this connection, God has said, no matter what the logic of man says, no matter what the value of the artwork may be, God says 'Thou shalt not make unto thee any image, male or female, in heaven, earth, or under earth.' Any image! No images, pictures, or icons, of any place in the public or private worship of the people of God.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers against idols

Once, on a first day of the week, the friars came, and commanded them to kneel down with them to prayer. They signified they could not pray but as they were moved by the Lord. Then the friars commanded them the second time, and kneeled down by their bed-side, and prayed after this manner; which being done they said to the women, 'We have tried your spirits; now we know what spirit ye are of.' But they told them they could not know that, unless their minds were turned to the light of Christ in their consciences. The English friar then growing angry, showed them his crucifix, and bade them look on it. But they told him the Lord saith, "Thou shalt not make to thyself the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth ; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them ; but I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." The friar seeing Sarah speak so boldly to him, called for the irons to chain her. She then bowed her head, and said to him, 'Not only my hands and feet, but my neck also for the testimony of Jesus.' The friar seeming appeased, said he would do them any good he could; for he saw what they did was not in malice. And the friars came often, and said to them, 'If ye would but do a little ye should be set at liberty; but you will do nothing at all, but are against every thing.' To which they returned, that they would do any thing that might tend to God's glory.
She [Catharine] then asking what kind of charity this was, since he kept her in prison; the friar said, it was for the good of their souls he kept them in prison; farther adding, 'If you had not been going to preach, ye might have gone where ye would.' She returned; 'Our souls are out of the inquisitor's reach. Why should your love extend more to us than to your own family: for they commit all manner of sin, which you cannot charge us with. Why do not ye put them into the inquisition, and bid them turn?' He then said, 'You have not the true faith;' and showing her his crucifix, asked her, if she thought he did worship that: and she asked him, what then did he with it: to which he answered, it was a representation. And she replied, it did not represent Christ, for he was the express image of his Father's glory, which is light and life. 'But,' continued she, 'if thou canst put any life in any of thy images, then bring them to me. What representation had Daniel in the lion's den, or Jonah in the whale's belly? They cried unto the Lord, and he delivered them.' The friar, who could not abide to hear her speak so much against idols, said she talked like a mad woman, adding, 'I will give you to the devil.' She not fearing this, said, 'Give thy own, I am the Lord's.' He then stood up, and said, 'I will do to you as the apostles did to Ananias and Sapphira.' She then standing up also, said, 'I deny thee in the name of the Lord the living God, thou hast no power over me.'
They [Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers] were assaulted both from abroad, and within doors from the friars, who fiercely threatened them for their bold testimony against idolatry. Once when they showed Sarah the Virgin Mary and her babe pictured against a wall, and would have her look upon it, she, to show her zeal against idol-worship, stamped with her foot, and said, 'Cursed are all images, and image makers, and those that fall down to worship them.'

—William Sewel, The history of the rise, increase, and progress of the Christian people, called Quakers [The whole story about Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers starts on p. 495]

"Jesus grew up. He is no longer in a manger. And He will not return to a manger."

Many people like the image of Baby Jesus the best.

From that perspective Jesus in a manger is safe. Jesus as a baby is harmless. He is simply a cuddly infant to gawk over. He will not arise from the manger and ask for our devotion or life. He is simply a cute baby.

But this is not the image of Jesus presented in the Gospels. Even when Jesus was a baby, the magi (wise men) did not come to play. They came to worship (Matt. 2:11). They did not come to gawk. They came to fall facedown before God.

Jesus grew up. He is no longer in a manger. And He will not return to a manger. He is God. He is not merely a cute baby we pick up and play with. He is to be worshiped and feared.

—Eric Geiger, Identity: Who You Are in Christ

Dr. Alan Cairns Rejects Every Portrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ

Christians tend to be gullible. They are so used to Hollywood and the other major media forces openly attacking them that when someone comes along with a film that treats a religious subject sympathetically they jump on the bandwagon. Thus many Christians were delighted with the film The Nativity Story. I am not going to say very much on the fundamental problem of all such artistic efforts but I will repeat a point I have made before in these commentaries: I reject (and I believe that all Christians should reject) every portrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether as a baby or as a man, by any actor or artist. My reasoning is simple. Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh. This is the most fundamental doctrine of Christianity, as 1 Timothy 3:16 makes clear. Now the Bible is adamant that we are to make no physical representation of God. God Himself has banned it. Holy pictures, icons, statues, and images are outlawed by divine command. And the same goes for any stage portrayal of Christ. In fact this last could be the worst breach of God’s law on the matter of them all, for in it a depraved creature assumes that he can with some honesty and reality portray the actions and attitudes of the sinless Son of God. The thought of a drunken, swearing, licentious actor portraying the Holy One of Israel is terrible indeed. And yet many Christians condone it and flock to see their productions. Enough said.

Now to return to The Nativity Story. The part of the Virgin Mary is played by a 16 year-old up-and-coming Australian actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes. But producers ran into a problem. Castle-Hughes was pregnant out of wedlock as she played the part of the Virgin Mary. Evidently the father of her child is her boyfriend of three years (remember she is now only sixteen—perhaps police should be investigating him as a possible child molester). At once Hollywood’s spin doctors went to work. They were afraid that usually gullible Christians would be disgusted at the thought of a pregnant fornicator playing the part of the Virgin Mary and not go to see the movie. They were already counting their lost revenue. So they had to do something about it. Castle-Hughes was, according to them, to be admired because she put the life of her baby above her own blossoming career. She did not have an abortion. So while Christians may be disappointed in her pregnancy they should not be so judgmental as to boycott the movie.

Now let’s be clear. Castle-Hughes is to be commended for not going the abortion route. To add the murder of an unborn infant to her immorality would have made matters so much worse. And let it be clear that her sin is not the unpardonable sin. There is grace for her as there is for every sinner. The girl needs to be saved and the best thing Christians can do for her is to cry to God to have mercy on her. Christians cannot put the clock back for unwed mothers and therefore should extend to them the kindness and grace that the Lord has extended to them.

But can you imagine a bigger slap in the face to the memory of the Virgin Mary than to cast a pregnant teen to play her? Yet, many Christians were determined to be gullible or “not too judgmental.” Quite simply, they wanted to go to the movie. Sorry, Mary! This is, after all, what media critic Bernie Goldberg called “The United States of Entertainment” where Hollywood profits trump holy purity any day.

—Dr. Alan Cairns, Teen Fornicator Acts the Virgin Mary in The Nativity Story

Also see "No Graven Images" A Sermon By Dr. Alan Cairns