Friday, October 24, 2008

Mental Images of Jesus

The answer to Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 109 says in part that the second commandment forbids "the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind . . ." If you are not in a denomination with the Westminster Standards as its doctrinal foundation, or if you are in the the PCA and the OPC but have been living in a fog, you don;t know that many, if not most, men now coming for licensure and/or ordination in these denominations take exception to this statement. Their rationale is usually along the lines that it goes beyond Scripture, or how can we avoid making an image of Jesus when we think about him, or when we pray.

My response is twofold. First, the commandment forbids the making of images as well as it forbids the worshiping of them. Second, tells us that the man who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart. That is, the mental image constitutes a violation of the commandment against adultery. It seems likely then, that the making of a mental image of Jesus constitutes a violation of the commandment not to make images.

Second, as any godly man disciplines himself against the entertaining of adulterous images in his mind, so it should be possible for a man to so discipline his mind that he does not create for himself mental images of Jesus. In fact, it should be easier for a man to do this, than to discipline himself against lustful images. After all the particular woman may be right in front of the man, but the Scripture gives us no description of Jesus. Hence one really has to work at constructing an image of Jesus, which we know from the start is idolatrous, because it is false. We have no idea what Jesus looked like, so to construct any image of him is to construct a false image.

2 comments:

Jonna said...

Thank you so much for this article on creating mental images of Jesus. I have been convicted on this issue myself and believe that the plain reading of the scriptures upholds the position that creating images of God are prohibited.

Keith Walker said...

Let me get this straight. Are you suggesting that the disciples were sinning when they thought about Jesus after His ascension to heaven? I find it hard to believe that the disciples would purposefully NOT picture the image of Jesus they knew from personal experience as they reflected on the times they spent with him.