Christian Iconography and the Art of Rewriting History

Iconoclasm and the Art of Rewriting History

Iconoclasm has always been an integral part of revolution. In revolution, a previous paradigm is eliminated, making way for the new. Statues are torn down, buildings and works of art are destroyed, people are slaughtered through riots and the resulting famine, and religious revival—or dissolution—is inevitable. History books reflect the triumph of the victors, while the […]

Liturgy and Icon

Liturgy and Icon

There is an important connection between our liturgical services and holy icons. In many ways, it’s difficult to imagine how our Liturgy could subsist without icons. They are an irrevocable part of the life of the Church. Ouspensky notes (Theology of the Icon, vol. 1, p. 8): It is absolutely impossible to imagine the smallest liturgical rite in the Orthodox Church without icons. […]

St. Theodore the Studite against the Iconoclasts

St. Theodore the Studite against the Iconoclasts

During the iconoclastic disputes of the ninth century, a priest-monk named Theodore was instrumental in the orthodox defense of icons. Like St. John of Damascus a century earlier, Theodore was a ‘voice in the wilderness,’ fighting against the unorthodox views of the corrupt, Imperial leadership. A leading monk at the Studious monastery in Constantinople, Theodore wrote three different […]

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part Two)

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part 2)

In Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine, Fr. John S. Romanides suggests: The schism between Eastern and Western Christianity was not between East and West Romans. In actuality, it was a split between East Romans and the conquerors of the West Romans. By the end of the seventh century, whole areas of the western part of the Roman Empire were […]

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part One)

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part 1)

It’s not surprising that iconoclasm persists in contemporary Christian culture, and especially in America. Without a proper understanding of both the Incarnation and the deeper purpose of creation—throughout which God is ‘everywhere present and filling all things’—we are left with a worldview that is distorted. With no emperor or royal family to honor, we venerate celebrities, pornographers, amoral politicians, and […]

The Triumph of Jesus Christ in the Triumph of Orthodoxy

The Triumph of Jesus Christ

The first Sunday of Great Lent is celebrated as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This is connected with the victory of the iconodules (those who supported the veneration of sacred images) over the iconoclasts (those who opposed their veneration). The heart of the victory of Orthodoxy in the restoration of iconography—as well as our veneration of […]

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

Introduction As most historians recognize, the central events related to Byzantine iconoclasm in both the eighth and ninth centuries unfolded in and around the imperial city of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the churches of the West—and especially in the city of old Rome—were intimately involved in combatting this new, imperially-sanctioned heresy. In a piece last May on […]

Is There Really a Patristic Critique of Icons?

Is There Really a Patristic Critique of Icons?

Part One Introduction Steven Wedgeworth, Assistant Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Clinton, Mississippi, has recently written a post at The Calvinist International against the Christian use of icons. In this post, he proposes to “counter-balance” the evidence in favor of icons and their veneration with evidence to the contrary. The reason, as he puts […]

An Icon Speaks a Thousand Words

An Icon Speaks a Thousand Words

Ouspensky notes that the use of iconography within the Church is not for the sake of self-expression or the enumeration of opinions, but for the preservation of the essential truths of the faith itself. This is no different, really, than the role of the various writings of Church fathers, the ecumenical councils, or the holy […]

Using Colors According to Tradition

Using Colors According to Tradition

While it has become more and more commonplace in other Christian traditions to allow ecclesiastical artwork (whether statuary or iconography, or even clerical vestments) to be done by the hands of the non-Christian, this has been largely avoided in the Orthodox tradition. I’m sure that there are a few examples out there to the contrary, […]