Archive for the ‘754’ Category

Evangelicals and Idols: a Reformed Response

February 22, 2010

Over at the mixed-religion blog Evangel, Matthew Milliner (a doctoral candidate in art history at Princeton University, and apparently a member of the PCUSA) has attempted to argue that the rejection of icons of Christ is a defect in Christology. When faced with the argument that icons inherently involve an implicit Nestorianism (or perhaps Monophysitism), one of Mr. Milliner’s responses was:

This argument, furthermore, was itself deemed heretical by the universal church, which (unless Protestantism sprung from the sixteenth century ex nihilo) includes Protestantism.


In the comment box there, Steve Hays has already demonstrated one of the holes in this argument (namely that icon-rejecting Protestants are themselves at least a part of the universal church), but there are several other holes in the argument:

1) The Iconoclastic Council of 754 with 338 bishops in attendance unanimously condemned the use of images of Christ.

2) The later council of 787 to which Mr. Milliner was appealing was convened to try to overthrow the earlier council. Like the council of 754 it called itself an ecumenical council, but it wasn’t universally received.

3) In fact it was initially rejected in the west by, for example, the council of Frankfurt (called by Charlemagne) of 794. Naturally, as with all these sorts of disputed topics, folks have tried to argue that Frankfurt actually rejected a bad translation of the council of 787.

4) It was also rejected by various bishops in the East including, most famously, Patriarch John Grammatikos (also known as John VII of Constantinople or John the Grammarian) (patriarchate from 837-43).

5) We might also add that the entire argument that something was “deemed heretical by the universal church” is the sort of polemic claim that has been popular since the 4th century, but which always begs the question of the definition of the bounds of the church. When the church is defined to include only iconophiles, then one gets one result, when the church is defined to include only iconoclasts, a second result, and when both are included, a third result.

– TurretinFan

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 11

September 13, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 11

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the eleventh in what has become a multi-part series.

Council of Constantinople (754) – Implicitly Denies the to-be-invented Doctrine of Transubstantiation

As one argument against images, the council of Constantinople of 754 (attended by 338 bishops) stated:

The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation. Bread he ordered to be brought, but not a representation of the human form, so that idolatry might not arise. And as the body of Christ is made divine, so also this figure of the body of Christ, the bread, is made divine by the descent of the Holy Spirit; it becomes the divine body of Christ by the mediation of the priest who, separating the oblation from that which is common, sanctifies it.

And unanimously affirmed it, as it is reported:

The divine Kings Constantine and Leo said: Let the holy and ecumenical synod say, if with the consent of all the most holy bishops the definition just read has been set forth.

The holy synod cried out: Thus we all believe, we all are of the same mind. We have all with one voice and voluntarily subscribed. This is the faith of the Apostles. Many years to the Emperors! They are the light of orthodoxy! Many years to the orthodox Emperors! God preserve your Empire! You have now more firmly proclaimed the inseparability of the two natures of Christ! You have banished all idolatry! You have destroyed the heresies of Germanus [of Constantinople], George and Mansur [mansour, John Damascene]. Anathema to Germanus, the double-minded, and worshipper of wood! Anathema to George, his associate, to the falsifier of the doctrine of the Fathers! Anathema to Mansur, who has an evil name and Saracen opinions! To the betrayer of Christ and the enemy of the Empire, to the teacher of impiety, the perverter of Scripture, Mansur, anathema! The Trinity has deposed these three!

What’s even more inconvenient to those who maintain transubstantiation is that when a later council purported to overturn the decrees of this council, no mention is made of this argument. In other words, the council that tried to overturn this council did not argue that the bread and wine are not figures of Christ’s humanity, but instead focused on the alleged permissibility of other figures – representational figures that they supposed could be justified.


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