WHY DO SOME OF YOUR POWERPOINTS INCLUDE PICTURES DEPICTING THE LORD? IS THAT NOT MAKING A GRAVEN IMAGE, AN IDOL? IS THAT NOT FORBIDDIN IN THE SECOND COMMANDMENT TO MAKE AN IMAGE OF ANYTHING IN HEAVEN OR ON EARTH?
Thank you very much for your letter in response to our article and PowerPoint presentation on The Fire of God.
We do appreciate critical feedback.
I understand your concern over portraying the Lord.
Church Councils and Theologians have grappled with this issue over the centuries. As Protestants, we are adamant that to use images for worship is idolatrous and completely unacceptable. (Of course the Catholics and Orthodox think differently on this, but we stand firmly as Bible-believing Protestants and oppose all idolatry in worship).
However, Protestants have always accepted the use of art for educational and Evangelistic purposes. We should note that the Second Commandment does not forbid artistry. It forbids idolatry. On the same day that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. He gave Moses detailed instructions for the building of the Tabernacle, which included numerous visual arts. Exodus 25 and 26 include details for the Tabernacle, the Curtains, the Ark of the Covenant and even for statues of Angels over the Ark of the Covenant.
There are three functions of Art. Two are acceptable and the third is forbidden by the Second Commandment. Art may be used for decoration, and as a teaching tool, but not for devotional purposes.
God is a God of beauty. He is the great Artist whose creativity and love of beauty is seen in so much of His magnificent creation: sun rises and sun sets, mountains, trees, plants, flowers, the ocean and the sky itself. God intends that we exercise the talents He entrusts us with to beautify His world further.
Art can also be used to teach and instruct and it is perfectly acceptable to produce and use pictures of Noah, the Ark and the animals, Moses parting the Red Sea, David defeating Goliath, Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the Lord walking on the water, stilling the storm and raising Lazarus from the dead, and so many other great Bible events.
What the Second Commandment forbids is the devotional use of art. God is greater than His Creation and everything in it.
We do recognise that God became a man and He walked among us. The Disciples saw and interacted with the Lord. He had real flesh and blood and a face that could be seen. Therefore it has generally been accepted by Protestants that one may artistically depict the Lord in a reverential and respectful way for educational and Evangelistic purposes. However never for worship.
Pictures of an artist’s imagination of the Lord Jesus at the front of a church could easily lead to idolatry and must be rejected.
We have regularly grappled and discussed and prayed over at much length, the matter of how to depict the Lord in a respectful and effective way in our PowerPoint presentations in film evangelism and with teaching tools.
We are continually seeking the Lord for wisdom as to the most effective ways to honour the Law. Have you seen my book: The Ten Commandments – God's Perfect Law of Liberty?
I particularly tackled the issue of this representing the Lord in art as with long hair, when the Scriptures are clear that long hair on a man is a disgrace. Nowhere does Scripture describe the Lord having long hair. Whereas it is clear that Samson had long hair, because that was unusual.
The depiction of the Lord with long hair is a Renaissance construct and more reflects the culture of that time and the imagination of the artists than any Biblical reality.
There is far too much idolatry in our world today and unbiblical depictions of the Lord.
We seek to be faithful to the Scriptures and effective in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Your prayers, encouragement and critical feedback are greatly appreciated.
Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission
Dr. Peter Hammond