We have spoken before on this subject but a somewhat joking discussion about an “Action Figure Jesus” on the way to a field trip for class yesterday on how the figure was not breaking the second commandment because it was made by “injection-molding and therefore was not graven” and the discussion over at the Heidelblog prompted me to look at some of the Reformed confessions condemnation and explanations for why it is improper for Christians to make any physical representation of Jesus. (In the next post I will argue why it is also not kosher to create images that “sit-in” for the other persons of the Trinity, i.e. -Doves that shadow the Holy Spirit, burning bushes, etc…)
The Second Helvetic Confession, Article 4, says:
IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come “to abolish the law and the prophets” (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets” (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (2 Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are therefore the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16). But “what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (II Cor. 6:16)
The Heidelberg Catechism, says:
96. What does God require in the Second Commandment?
That we in no wise make any image of God,1 nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded us in His Word.2
1 Deut 4:15-19. Isa 40:18, 25. Rom 1:22-24. Acts 17:29. 2 1 Sam 15:23. Deut 12:30-32. Matt 15:9. * Deut 4:23, 24.
97. May we not make any image at all?
God may not and cannot be imaged in any way; as for creatures, though they may indeed be imaged, yet God forbids the making or keeping any likeness of them, either to worship them, or to serve God by them.
1Exod 23:24, 25. Exod 34:13,14. Deut 7:5. Deut 12:3. Deut 16:22. 2 Kgs 18:4. John 1:18.
98. But may not pictures be tolerated in churches as books for the people?
No, for we should not be wiser than God, who will not have His people taught by dumb idols,1 but by the lively preaching of His word.2
1Jer 10:8. Hab 2:18,19. 2 2 Pet 1:19. 2 Tim 3:16,17. * Rom 10:17.
Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 109 says:
Q. 109. What sins are forbidden in the Second Commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.