As a biblical eschatological viewpoint, postmillennialism presents a holistic worldview. Foundational to the postmillennial hope is the victory of the gospel throughout the world so that it becomes the dominant philosophy of life among men. We believe that the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). We believe Christ really meant for us to go and make all nations his disciples (Matt 28:18-20).
As a necessary consequence of the advance of the gospel and the Christian worldview in its wake, the question arises as to the use of images of Christ. May Christian artists paint pictures of Christ? I am not speaking about images of Christ in worship. Our worship must be unadorned and without visible images of Christ. But what about the educational use of images of Christ? What about Christ as the subject of artistic expression? Are images of Christ prohibited altogether?
This is the third installment on this question. Though it is not directly related to eschatology, it has eschatological implications. This is necessary in that eschatology is a component of a whole Christian worldview which involves even artisitic expression.
I happen to be a dedicated Presbyterian. I am committed to the Westminster Standards
The Westminster Standards’ Larger Catechism answer to Question 109 states: “The sins forbidden in the second commandment are . . . 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….”
This Catechetical answer is theologically accurate, I believe. But I sense that many Reformed Christians misunderstand the theological implications of it when they deny all artistic representations of Christ.
The Catechism forbids “any representation of God.” But we must remember that according to historic, evangelical, Bible-believing orthodoxy, Christ possessed a true human body and that the divine is not co-mingled in the human. Thus, a picture of Christ is a picture of his human form, not of his hidden, inner deity. At the Transfiguration Christ allowed his inner divine nature to shine through, but otherwise it remained veiled from human eyes.
If we interpret this Catechism answer to mean that no pictures of Christ’s body may be made (which it does not say), then the Catechism would condemn the Apostles themselves. Note that the Catechism not only forbids “any representation of God” but also projecting images “inwardly in our mind.” Consequently, when the disciples would remember (in their minds) the human form of Christ, they would be guilty of breaching the Second Commandment.
Furthermore, you yourselves would be guilty of idolatry from time to time. For how can a minister preach on the cruel crucifixion of Christ and your mind not form a mental image of what he must have looked like hanging on the cross. Yet you would be doing nothing more than mentally conceiving what first century witnesses to the crucifixion actually saw with their own eyes.