The Second Commandment and Images of the GodHead, Part 3

1. What do the Magisterial Reformers Have to Say Concerning Images? (Cont.)

Francis Turretin

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. II, 11th Topic. 10th Question, Sect. II,III, V, VI, and VII

II. The question is not whether all images of whatever kind they may be are prohibited by God . Although this was the opinion of the ancients, Jews as well as Christians (as appears from many passages of Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and others who thought that all use of images should be absolutely interdicted…)

III. The question is not whether it is lawful to represent creatures and to exhibit with the pencil historical events for this no one denies. Rather the question is whether it is lawful to represent God himself and the persons of the Trinity by any image; if not by an immediate and proper similitude to set forth a perfect image of the nature of God (which the Papists acknowledge cannot be done), at least by analogy or metaphorical and mystical significations…

V. The reasons are: First, God expressly forbids this in the second commandment, where two things, both the making of images for worship and the worshiping of them…Hence the Israelites representing God by the image of a calf were sharply rebuked and heavily punished (Ex. 32). Pious kings of the Jews no less than heathen removed idols, even as God had laid both commands upon his people that they should demolish the altars of the Canaanites , break the statues and not make molten gods for themselves (ex. 34:13,17)…

VI. Second, God, being boundless (apeiros) and invisible (aoratos), can be represented by no image. Is. 40:18, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?”. Paul refers to this in Acts 17:29, “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.”…

VII. Third, that ought to be distant from sacred places which does not belong to the worship of God and is joined with danger of idolatry…For men (especially uneducated men prone by their nature to superstition) are moved to the worship of [images of God] by their very reverencefor the place, as experience shows…

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