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Icons and the west

Discussion in 'Orthodox Christian DIR' started by JacobEzra., Jun 25, 2011.

  1. JacobEzra.

    JacobEzra. Dr. Greenthumb

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    What is the use and reason for Icons and the way they cover Eastern Orthodox churches? And what other ways do the Orthodox differ towards the Roman Catholics?
     
  2. Biblestudent_007

    Biblestudent_007 Active Member

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    Because of the Incarnation Christ is able to be depicted in His human nature, therefore, iconography is an expression of that.

    Subtle differences in theology,practice,and doctrine.
     
  3. Talos

    Talos Cheeseman

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    It's not so simple as that - differences can look like subtle, but in fact they are really massive - like original/ancestral sin, nature of Christ's sacrifice, role of Mary, organization of the Church etc.
     
  4. BioStudent

    BioStudent Member

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    I'm not 100% certain on this, but I think the difference between Eastern Orthodox and the other Christian churches is that icons are used as a focus for the veneration of a specific saint or religious figure, while in the other churches, if images are used at all, they are more expressions of faith on the part of artists or decorative, not exactly objects of worship in the same way.

    Someone I once knew said that the Orthodox Church doctrine includes a level of trust that people will worship the idea or person the images represent, rather than the image itself, while the later churches lack this trust and consider the use of icons in religious ceremonies to be too close to idolatry. Again, this is the opinion of an individual, who, while he is a historian, is not Orthodox, so it may be incorrect, but that's how I've always thought of it.
     
  5. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Welcome to the forums, BioStudent! :) Now our merry band of active Orthodox posters is up one more :D

    As far as the usage of icons goes in the East vs. in the West, I think this would essentially be correct. But there is, of course, the theological dimensions to the use of the icons as well.
     
  6. BioStudent

    BioStudent Member

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    Of course, but I know more about history and tradition a lot more than I do about theology. I didn't mean to imply anything disrespectful, I just think someone else will be best equipped to explain that.
     
  7. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Of course not, nor did I mean to say that you were implying anything disrespectful. It's a breath of fresh air to have someone who can explain history well--I know my knowledge is often lacking in that area. :)

    I suppose I'll put in my own 2 cents.

    Icons, unlike Roman Catholic realistic art, point towards a spiritual reality. Everything about icons, from the golden backgrounds, to the way that light seems to come from within the people depicted rather than from without, points to creation in its redeemed state. The golden background signifies the presence, light and grace of God pervading the entire universe. The closed mouths of all people, as well as the very serene facial expressions devoid of passionate emotions, signify the silence that we should have in our hearts when communing with God, freeing ourselves from the passions. If you study the icons, the colors, the gestures, the expressions and the elements present within the icon, you can spend hours contemplating an icon and learning from it, as you delve deeper into its meaning and reality.

    Icons are an affirmation of the fact that this physical world is ultimately good, and not evil. They are also an affirmation of the fact that Christ became fully human at His incarnation; Christ is the image (literally, icon) of the Father, and so we can now depict God, because He took on human flesh. Christ's feet are always shown as an affirmation that He became man and walked this earth with us.

    Having icons are a great source of teaching for the illiterate; pictures speak a thousand words, as the saying goes. But they are also windows into a spiritual reality, a window into the person or event depicted--which are in turn windows to God. Icons should be a line of 2-way communication. When you click on a computer icon on your desktop, you open up the program that the icon represents. In the same way, Orthodox icons open up to us the mystery and reality of who/what they depict. Covering our churches with icons surrounds us with the reality of God's working in the world through His Saints, and shows the life of Jesus Christ not as people and events that happened long ago in history, but as spiritual realities that we can connect to here, today. God is eternal, and so are icons--and God is inviting us into that eternity. When you walk into a church and see all the icons, you know that God has been working in, with and through creation since day one, and He continues to do so. And you are reminded that you yourself are an icon of God, and are made in His image.

    We have no dogmas about how the Church should be run; we are very organic in our Church structure. We keep ancient, time-honored liturgical traditions and spiritual practices, while still keeping them relevant to today's world. We have not changed or added to our teachings for the last 2,000 years, and our faith is the same as those Christians from the first, second, fourth, seventh, and eleventh centuries--and every other century you care to name. We never had a Protestant Reformation, or a Scholastic movement. Our spirituality and theology is rich in depth and meaning, and offers a dynamic, relational perspective on our walk with Christ--a far cry from the stifling static legalism which has come to pervade much of Western Christianity. We have many Orthodox Churches that develop organically as the Gospel is spread to new lands and new peoples, with these new Churches caring for new flocks, speaking the Faith to them in a way that is meaningful and relevant to them. Even though these churches may be divided hierarchically, we are all united in the same Orthodox Faith, united as the body of Christ, and united by love for Him.
     
  8. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
    Premium Member It's My Birthday!

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  9. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    A very engrossing documentary! I'll have to watch this at the university, where I get unlimited internet. I'm a half-hour in, and loving it!
     
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