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Are icons Nestorian?

August 8, 2011

Recently I have been hearing that icons are Nestorian, which was an argument placed against the church in the 7th century by the iconoclasts, who, through their Nestorian Christology, got things backwards. Here is a great post on Icons by Perry Robinson of Energetic Procession.

“Even according to the council and the emperor, the issue was Christological-the iconoclastic objections depended on a rather Nestorian/Eutychian confusion which took the hypostasis of the incarnate Christ to be the product of the union. If the hypostasisis composite in that way, then surely to make an image of Christ would be to either confuse or separate the natures. But that is not Chalcedonian Christology, but Nestorian and Eutychian Christology. What about thosewho saw Christ? Is vision essentially idolatrous? Taking a picture of me doesn’t abstract my soul from my body or my person from either or both. Last I checked my soul and my hypostasis weren’t empirically detectable so that no image of my body could separate them from my body in any case. Further, at best, the only way to make that old canard of an argument work is to suppose that the persona of Christ is the product of the union of the two natures. An attempt then to portray one will entail portraying the other since the persona per se is constituted by the two natures. But of course that isn’t Chalcedon, so the objection depends on the objector assuming a Nestorian Christology. Besides, if the reality of Christ’s death, separating his human soul from his body didn’t separate either of them from his divine person, a picture certainly can’t. And beyondthat why suppose that an attempt is made to separate the matter of Christ’s body from his divine person and put into the painting? It certainly isn’t the case when someone takes a picture of me. So why can’t the humanity of Christ stay where it is so to speak and still be represented in a picture? Unless of course Jesus no longer has a genuine physical body as the iconoclasts supposed.(Does Turretinfanwish to agree with this?) This is why they spoke of Christ’s humanity as “uncircumscribed” during the incarnation and after the ascension. The problem is the Reformed departure from Chalcedon’s teaching with their notion of the persona mediatoris. This departure is documented in Richard Muller’s Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins.”


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  1. Even asking the questions like that shows how Nestorian the worldview is.

    Whenever you speak about Jesus you speak about the person of the Logos. Yes, he is a divine person with a divine nature who assumed a human nature, but you don’t abstract the natures and theorize “according to the humanity.”

    Then add Perry’s comments and that should do it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Are icons Nestorian « Christology « Theology of Ministry
  2. The Illogic of Calvin's Iconoclasm - Orthodox Reformed Bridge

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