This is part 6 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

5) “[A consistent Calvinist must be] A gnostic iconoclast, because the Logos cannot be imaged.”

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

It is improper to make images of God (2nd Commandment), and though Jesus was a real, visible man, a picture of Jesus would only be a picture of his humanity. No image can capture Jesus’ divinity (I John 4:12). Jesus was not a phantom even after the resurrection (Luke 24:42-43). Nevertheless, we are not to make or worship idols (I John 5:21).

Not only was the Bible not an illustrated book, there are few physical descriptions of Jesus to tell us what he looked like. We know he was a Palestinian Jew, and that he “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). The beauty of Christ is in the gospel of repentance and faith that he preached, and it is that message we proclaim, not a painted, carved, or sculpted image:

Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Thus, when John describes Jesus – he calls him the “Word” – the Logos. Thus, as John explains:

John 1:14-17
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Thus, the Word was made flesh – the Creator put on the creation. And what did the Word bring? He brought grace and truth – the fulfillment and completion of the law given by Moses. Thus, Jesus’ apostles completed the book (the Bible) that Moses began.

Furthermore, Scripture (the Bible) is both formally and materially sufficient (II Timothy 3:15). What Jesus taught has been revealed openly and not kept secret (John 18:20). Thus, the Scriptures contain a sufficient and full statement of revelation for salvation (John 20:31).

b) The Accusation Disputed

There may have been gnostic iconoclasts, but they are not a major issue in church history. Iconoclasts were generally anyone opposed to the worship of God by the use of images. It’s a Scriptural position. Although Calvinists don’t like the pejorative term “iconoclast,” Moses himself was an Iconoclast, destroying the golden calf, grinding it up into powder, and making the people drink it – so being an Iconoclast cannot be all bad.

Gnostics had a variety of odd beliefs. One of the beliefs of many gnostics was the idea that Jesus was a phantom, lacking a true body. Thus, the Gnostics denied that Christ’s body and blood were sacrificed for us. They refused, therefore, to participate in the Eucharist, because it symbolized something they didn’t believe in. Another Gnostic teaching was the idea that Scripture was insufficient, and that consequently tradition (especially oral tradition) was necessary. Calvinists celebrate the Eucharist (we normally call it “the Lord’s Supper” to distinguish it from the practices of Rome) and we affirm the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture, denying the need for any external body of oral tradition.

c) The Accusation Redirected

Rome has a Eucharist, but they deny the formal and/or material sufficiency (depending who in Catholicism you ask) of Scripture. I wouldn’t blame their denial of the sufficiency of Scripture on Gnostic influences, it is simply a similarity. Instead, we tend to see Gnostic (and related) influences in terms of an excessive focus on Mary. The Gnostics were fond of focusing on minor Biblical characters, of which Mary is one. Some of the odd teachings of Gnosticism regarding Mary seem to have found their way into Catholicism’s folklore and legends, if not always into dogmatic teachings (such as the idea that Mary’s birth of Jesus was pain-free: Gnostics, imagining Jesus to be a phantom, wouldn’t expect the birth to be very painful).


Continue to Part 7

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