HERESY OF THE MONTH:
Core Concept: Religious art and statues are bad.
Etymology: Greek Eikonoklasmos “image breaking”
What: In 745, the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum in Constantinople declared: “Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and color by the evil art of painters.”
When: 8th Century
Where: Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire
Influenced by: Eastern church contact with Islam.
Other Eruptions: John Calvin, 16th Century Europe; Puritans, 17th Century England.
Currently Embraced by: Fundamentalists, Quakers, some Protestants
Tactic for Attacking Catholics: “Catholics worship statues”.
Refuted at the Council of: Nicea II, 787
Catholic Hero: Saint John of Damascus, Doctor of the Church, who wrote three “Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images”
Bible Verses for Refuting: Exodus 25:18-22; Numbers 7:89; Ezekiel 41:18-19; Hebrews 9:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:15
“The complete absence of images is incompatible with faith in the Incarnation of God. God has acted in history and entered into our sensible world, so that it may become transparent to him. Images of beauty, in which the mystery of the invisible God becomes visible, are an essential part of Christian worship. There will always be ups and downs in the history of iconography, upsurge and decline, and therefore periods when images are somewhat sparse. But they can never be totally lacking. Iconoclasm is not a Christian option.”
— Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI
The Spirit of the Liturgy, 131–132
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Iconclasm
- Catholic Answers: More Ancient Heresies
- Catholic Answers: The Heretical Roots of Fundamentalism
Image courtesy of Sacred Destinations on Flickr