Sunday, November 17, 2013

William Craig Brownlee on making images of Christ

It is impossible to represent in visible materials, the invisible God. Every image of this nature, does represent the Deity infinitely different from what he is. Hence these images are designated by divine inspiration, "a Lie." For they utter the most glaring, and most pernicious Falsehood, that can possibly be conceived. Rom. i. 25. "They changed the truth of God," the true representation of the infinite and omnipresent one, "into a lie, and worshipped, and served the creature, more than the Creator."

But you insist on making, and adoring images of Christ: and you carry this into practice to such an extent, that these images, and those of the Madonna and the child, are as numerous in your chapels as the Jupiters, and Venus, with her Cupids, were in the pagan temples of old. Now, any image you can make of Christ, must exhibit an imaginary countenance, and features; no man, or church on earth, has retained his true likeness. As portraits, or statues of him, therefore, what you show off, are actually mere fictions; mere impositions; and they are, like all idols, a lie. Besides, no christian in his sound senses ever did, or ever will worship the manhood of Jesus Christ. We worship him exclusively, and only, as "The eternal Son of God," or "the Great God our Savior." And in this character, in which we do worship him, no image, no painting, no similitude, ever can be made of him. A few rude materials of straw and dust, can never represent the invisible, eternal, and omnipresent Deity! To worship an image of a man, which you are pleased, without reason, or propriety, to style a "Christ," is the grossest idolatry! And according to the above argument, it is doubly "a lie." First, as to his manhood: and second, as to his Godhead! Hence our answer to your vulgar reason, in behalf of using images,—namely, that they are "picture books,"—"the instructive books," to lead and guide the illiterate and vulgar into truth:—"and that they exhibit, at one view, what it would take volumes to express." Yes! they are the illiterate man's picture books: but they mislead, and impose on him most scandalously. They are the infamous tools of a reckless pagan priestcraft, to crush intellect, reason, knowledge, piety, and if possible, the pure christian religion! Yes!—"They are the books of the unlearned." And be it so:—but whoever saw a man in his senses, fall down, and worship, and pray to "his books," out of which he was reading!
~William Craig Brownlee