As Saint John of Damascus writes: We do not honor the matter from which things are made. The seriously dangerous doctrines of Calvinist Reconstructionists such as Gary North are rationales for the imposition of Old Testament law on society; adherents would stone to death homosexuals, women who have had abortions and rebellious children in the name of Jesus. We ironically seek to have things for our own comfort, but we do not value the things we have. I began to value matter for these reasons when I became Orthodox and learned to venerate icons such as the cross and the painted images of the saints. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. This reverence leads to truly honoring all life and to seeing the real value that exists in everything: Or, on the other hand, it is evident in intoxicating movements towards rationalism, scholasticism, and discursive information systems that appeal to the certainty of propositional truth claims, that then intensely trivialize the significance of an absolute claim for truth by dividing into tens of thousands of warring ideological and theological tribes.
The use of icons is an affirmation of that relationship and responsibility to the world. We value how they make us feel, or are supposed to make us feel, and when they do not meet our expectations, we go on to something else. The most pervasive form of insobriety in American culture is consumerism. In the first place, there is a difference between veneration and worship. This reverence leads to truly honoring all life and to seeing the real value that exists in everything: Yet, iconoclasm and the rejection of icons and the denial of the veneration of saints and of matter is a strong tendency in many religious traditions. Symbols of Sobriety in a Culture of Chaos By Eric Simpson When I converted from evangelical Christianity to the Orthodox Church in the early nineties, I not only learned to venerate and honor the saints, but also to honor matter itself. We do not honor the matter from which things are made. Other movements, fads, fashions and popular cults prove the thesis as well: The elements of the material world -- the things we have and use, our bodies, and nature -- all have intrinsic value not only through creation God calls all that he has created "good" , but in the incarnation, which is the foundation and substance of all authentic iconography. Both foster self-generated certainties that are at the root of fundamentalist jihads, whether promulgated by certain fundamentalist Muslims or by demagogues such as Sarah Palin and cohorts, who sniff at intellectual nuance and at the poor, the sick, the prisoner and the hungry in the name of small-town values. The idea was that glory and worship belongs to God alone. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works my salvation. If we fail to make this distinction, then it seems rather odd for the writer of Proverbs, Paul, and others to admonish children to honor their mothers and fathers. She is also honoring the material world itself, which has intrinsic value because it is made and redeemed by God, who uses matter for the salvation of the cosmos. Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This confers a serious responsibility. This was a new idea for me. I also see the equally tragic value of the truly affluent, who often live in a continuous climax of grasping, but who, like the rest of us, are never able to hold onto anything. The alternative is a distortion that implicitly denies the incarnation of Christ. They do so because when one venerates an icon, she is not only showing reverence for the saint who is depicted there, one who has gone to great lengths to become like Christ. Or, on the other hand, it is evident in intoxicating movements towards rationalism, scholasticism, and discursive information systems that appeal to the certainty of propositional truth claims, that then intensely trivialize the significance of an absolute claim for truth by dividing into tens of thousands of warring ideological and theological tribes. We throw possessions away almost as quickly as we acquire them. Islam and a large number of Protestant communions are sometimes very zealous against using any kind of image in the context of liturgical or religious life. I venerate it, though not as God. It's this kind of honor we are talking about, the kind that is also often given to prominent religious figures such as reformers like Calvin or Luther or historical figures like Wesley or Spurgeon or Finney.
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