Monday, December 7, 2015

Dedicating Churches and Images to Humans

In the Old Testament we observe that no Temple (Church) or Image is dedicated to any human being. This would be considered blasphemous, since this would infer worship to false gods or truths. This, however, is not the tradition followed in the post-Pentecost period, whereby we have thousands, and maybe millions, of churches dedicated to saints, i.e. humans, and even more icons of saints, who are considered Christ’s friends. What changed? DO we not believe in the Old Testament? We need to understand this as an evolutionary process, whereby the New Testament surpasses the Old. We do not currently live in the age of the law, but in the age of Jesus. He points out the faith, by completing the law. St John of Damascus gives an interesting and brief explanation of why the practice has altered:

‘. . . And of old, Israel neither set up temples in the name of human beings nor celebrated their memorial – for human nature was still under the curse and death was condemnation, therefore they were enjoined that one who even touched the body of someone dead was to be reckoned unclean – but now, since the divinity has been united without confusion to our nature, as a kind of lifegiving and saving medicine, our nature has been truly glorified and its very elements changed into incorruption. Therefore temples are raised for them and images engraved.’[1]

[1] St John of Damascus, Treatise III on the Divine Images, 9. 

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