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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Perry tackles the Iconoclasm issue

As seen from his blog Energetic Procession:

In the history of Christianity, there has never been a century or so where there has not been some kind of theological controversy. In any given controversy it is usually the case that there is a spectrum of positions that occupy some place on the argumentative field. Caution is therefore required in data selection to establish points about who taught what and how widespread a given view in fact was.

Such is the case with the Iconoclastic controversy. Iconoclasm came in a variety of forms and varied over time. Initially iconoclasm in the East identified images of persons and biblical figures as idols while preserving the use of decorative images such as the Cross. Representational (though not necessarily figurative) images of Christ and images of the saints were prohibited. Due to their material composition they could not convey the resurrected glory of the saints. Such was the position around the 750’s.

By the early ninth century in the East iconoclasm became more moderate even under the favorable impetus of imperial backing. Gone
were the arguments by and large that icons were equivalent to idols, along with the Christological arguments that to make an image of Christ implied a major Christological error.

The situation in the West was different for a variety of reasons. The West was a hodgepodge of various kingdoms, with certain parts of the old empire still under the control or influence of Constantinople. The most salient party is that of the Franks, who had forged an alliance with Rome. Politically this had its advantages but also presented problems. With an alliance with the Franks, Rome was far more free and autonomous than under imperial rule. The Franks gained the political and religious legitimacy that they so eagerly coveted.

But no marriage is perfect. On the one hand, the Franks and Rome were at odds over images by the middle of the 8th century as well as over the Filioque’s inclusion into the Creed. Second, a period of possible alliance forging between the Franks and Constantinople put Rome in a pickle. If this were to occur, Rome would come under someone’s imperial thumb, Frankish or Constantinoplian. But Rome was opposed to the iconoclasm of the Franks, as well as the Filioque’s inclusion, while wishing to lend legitimacy to the Franks for the military protection they provided. Rome was also opposed to the iconoclasm of the eastern iconocalsts Such was the situation."

To read the rest please visit Energetic Procession



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