Ancient Faith Radio

Program Notes

October 3, 2004
Icons in the Orthodox Faith - Part 2

  1. Sayings of the Fathers: St. Macarius the Great of Egypt - again, on humility. Macarius was a 4th century monk, recluse (he lived alone in the desert after the fashion of St. Anthony) and a wonderworker who emphasized the need to be humble and not judge anyone - even the very worst of sinners.
  2. This is the mark of Christianity--however much a man toils, and however many righteous deeds he performs, to feel that he has done nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but only make a beginning every day.


  3. Summary of last week - Introduction to Icons
    1. Icons are a unique hallmark of the Orthodox Faith, you'll see them in the Church and in Orthodox Christian homes, cars, portable - and we venerate, kiss them, carry them in processions - so we need to have a scriptural defense for the presence of icons in our lives and in our worship
    2. In Exodus God commands us not to make any "graven image" of Him who is invisible. The Israelites had a knack of worshiping idols and God wanted to prevent this - although we know that Jewish history is filled with examples of how they failed to obey Him.
    3. We mentioned that God however, did permit and even instructed the Jews to create images of created things in heaven and earth - the cherubim, plants and animals (bulls) for the His tabernacle and His temple. So not all images were forbidden, but depictions of the LORD Himself were forbidden. We can conclude from this and other Scriptures that God's creation is good and that man can actually learn something about God by contemplating the creation.

We also mentioned that, even in non-Orthodox Churches, certain objects, and images are used as religious symbols and are indeed given honor: Bibles, the Cross, the Dove (Holy Spirit), the communion bread and wine. Christians are zealous to prevent these objects and symbols from being desecrated or profaned by the unbeliever because of what they represent. This is especially true of the written Word of Scripture - because all true Christians believe that the Scripture is indeed a inspired, yet graven image of truth about God. But we would affirm with St. Basil the truth that:

"What the word transmits through the ear, that painting silently shows through the image."