Thursday, April 10, 2008

Remember this Picture?

You almost certainly do if you ever attended a Protestant Sunday School. Now go read one catechumen's realization of how and why it is heretical.

Ditto this other Protestant favorite.

And this classic one has always turned me off, ("always," meaning long before I became Orthodox) because Jesus here is so effeminate!



Cha said...

You may refer to these images "heretical" if you like, but we had a very large copy of the first print in our living room during my entire childhood.

And it left an impression upon me while I was growing up. It was the best way my parents knew to show in a visible and non-verbal sort of way to all who entered our home that we were Christians and that we loved Jesus Christ. My mother loved this picture (may her memory be eternal).

Many other people I know and love have these very images of Christ in their homes and offices and churches. Though they are not Orthodox, they are more Christ-like than I am and more Christ-like than many who call themselves lovers of Jesus Christ.

I have no desire to follow the link to see why they are heretical - or who says they are.


JTKlopcic said...

Well, it looks like we have touched off a bit of a controversy -- kinda like a Protestant iconoclasm...

A few thoughts, if I may:

First, the modern photorealistic depictions of Jesus seem to be stemming from a literalist approach to the Gospels and Christianity. Ironically, though, doing so presents Christ in the same manner that Pilate and the Sanhedrin viewed Him, not beholding His divinity. "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." (Mt 11:25) There is no revelation communicated through these images.

Secondly, there is nothing in these images that moves one to worship. In fact, there is nothing that really identifies the picture as being of Jesus. (In fact, the first one looks remarkably like a guy I knew in college.) As such, the image works more to inspire sentimentality than true worship. The best that one can discern from the picture itself is that the subject must have been a really nice guy.

Lastly, I think that some of us are a bit taken aback at how personally some have reacted to Abp Lazar's criticism of the artwork. It seems that critiquing the picture is interpreted as an attack on the personal piety of the people who display it. Maybe it's the word "heretical" -- change it to "heterodoxical (I made that up) and people would feel better?

It seems to me that on one hand, it's a serious thing to label someone or something as heretical, which seems to hover between "pagan" and "satanic" in modern Christian parlance (and often conflated with the other two). But, it is important to be able to make a distinction between an imperfect depiction of Christ and a theologically correct depiction. I am sure that the artist is a devoted Christian operating out of nothing but love for his Lord. However, that fact alone does not make his work immune from Christological flaws. Many devout people in and out of Scripture have held erroneous opinions that had to be corrected later. It's part of our fallen nature.

There are many who use images of Jesus in homes, offices, and classrooms to communicate the One they love and serve. Why not use the best available? I am sure that they would never stand for having mistranslations of the Bible hanging on their walls. Why should artwork be any different?

Cha said...

My comments on this:

Cha said...

All I am saying is who is asking anyone to venerate these images?

Nobody? No problem, then.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I have to agree that to criticize a picture is (a) not to attack its creator and (b) not to attack people who love the picture. Let us please not confuse these things. I, too, know and love people, including Orthodox people, who have one of these pictures in their homes or businesses.

As I've written here before, "heretical" and "heresy" are not words I like to use. But they're not mine in this case.

Sorry, -c, for having offended you. Please forgive me.