Wednesday, January 16, 2013

John Brown (of Haddington) on Images of Christ

The following selection on the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4-6) is from John Brown's An essay towards and easy, plain, practical, and extensive explication of the Assembly's shorter catechism.
Q. May not we make images of mere creatures?—A. Yes; if they are not to be used for a religious use.

Q. What different kinds of images of God are forbidden in this commandment?—A. Images made by men's hands, and images made by their fancies, Deut. iv. 15.

Q. Is it idolatrous to make an image of any divine person; of the Father as an old man; of the Son as a babe; or man hanging on a cross; or of the Spirit as a dove; or to conceive any such fanciful idea of these persons?—A. Yes.

Q. Is it idolatrous, when we read of God's hands, feet, &c. to fancy him as having such members ?—A. Yes.

Q. Is it idolatrous to paint God as light, or the Trinity as a triangle, or body with three heads?—A. Yes.

Q. Why must we make no images of God with our hands or fancy ?—A. Because God hath forbidden it; and it misrepresents him as material, finite, &c. and so as no God at all, Deut. iv. 15—19, Isa. xl. 18—20.

Q. May not such images help to instruct the ignorant?— A. No; they are teachers of lies, Hab. ii. 18, Jer. x. 15.

Q. Is an image, or imaginary idea of Christ, as a suffering or glorified man, helpful to our faith?—A. No; it is very hurtful to it; for it divides the natures of Christ in our conception of him, whereas faith must still view them as united in one person, Isa. ix. 6, John i. 14.