The Orthodox kissing icons, is it paganism?

by greendawn 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • greendawn

    Do you think the orthodox that kiss the icons are in fact worshipping idols? Their claim is that they are simply showing respect to the saint pictured in the icon and that it is by no means an act of worship. It's only a little more than having photos of your beloved ones to be reminded of them.

    I can see their point but to me this still seems a little odd, a given saint for example will always have a different face in each icon. On the other hand it may look paganish but Saints are highly esteemed as heros that thoroughly denied earthly comfort and pleasure suppressed the instincts (some were martyred) and gained a place in heavenly Jerusalem, that is became part of God's own family. They deserve some respect.

  • Finally-Free

    I would not call kissing an act of worship. Many women have kissed me, but I can honestly say that not one worshipped me. I'm sure all of them would agree.


  • Narkissos
  • Joe Grundy
    Joe Grundy

    I don't know if you've been in an orthodox church. I have (just to visit). Icons, and especially ancient ones, tend to be worshipped rather than just respected. I have seen (or at least as far as anyone can, it is encased in silver to protect it from the gaze of unbelievers) an icon of Mary and the infant Jesus allegedly painted by Luke. It is definitely widely worshipped, as a symbol of what it represents, I suppose. People believe what they believe.

  • Sad emo
    Sad emo

    I think (but may be slightly wrong) that the Orthodox see icons as a kind of 'window' into heaven so its not the actual picture they venerate but what is represented beyond the picture.

    The possible accusation of idolatry is also part of the reason why they reject the use of 3D statues - they are more lifelike, whereas icons tend to be painted in overtly 2D (no perspective in the background for example).

    There is a lot of symbolism in icons relating to things such as the colours used and small details, it's really fascinating to study in depth.

  • Joe Grundy
    Joe Grundy

    Oh, and re. the point about about saints having different faces in different icons. That's not correct, IMHO. In the Greek Orthodox, saints and others are portrayed consistently, so you can trace (without labels) who each one is supposed to be.

  • Joe Grundy
    Joe Grundy

    One point of conflict with more 'modern' religions is that many orthodox churches can justifiably trace histories back to bible times. I have visited, for example, the pillar at which Paul is alleged to have been whipped, and the remnants (mosaic floor intact) of the building where he was interrogated by the Roman governor. The breakwater in the harbour where he allegedly landed by ship is more or less intact.

    This must put a different perspective on things for believers, I suggest.

  • Kenneson

    If you've ever been away from someone you love for a long time, chances are their photo is somewhere nearby; you often look at it and hold and maybe even kiss. Is that idolatry?

  • the_classicist

    From the Second Council of Nicaea (787 CE), which was in response to Iconoclasm: "The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects. Further, people are drawn to honour these images with the offering of incense and lights, as was piously established by ancient custom. Indeed, the honour paid to an image traverses it, reaching the model, and he who venerates the image, venerates the person represented in that image."

  • lovelylil

    I personally believe you can have some incons (not idols) in your home if you are a Christian as long as you are not worshiping them in any way. I grew up with religious icons (parents Roman Catholic), and I have religious pictures, crosses and angels around my home. (for my JW friends, no I have no demon problems yet). Anyway, I think most people view these items for their beauty and antiquity only - at least I do.

    My mother in-law though prays in front of her icons, lights candles and leaves out food for them and yes, kisses them. All I can say is that if they represent God to her, then she may be making them into an idol instead of just an icon and that would be wrong according to the bible. I don't know though if she actually prays to the icon, and frankly I am not going to ask her. She can be a scary woman.

    One more thing: I don't believe making icons or having them around is wrong - I think what is wrong is when these things replace God in your hearts and you pray to it, instead of to him. Then you would be making it an idol. I think there is a difference between a religious icon and an idol.

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