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Why must icons be venerated as a matter of dogma?

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What is the theological reason icons must be bowed to and kissed under penalty of anathema? When I talk to Protestants considering Orthodoxy this is often a stumbling block. Most Protestants i talk to have no problem with depiction nor the principle of bowing to something in honor, but they don't understand why the Church binds the conscience to bow to icons when it's not clear the apostles taught this.
 
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Read the Second Council of Nicaea.
 

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What is the theological reason icons must be bowed to and kissed under penalty of anathema? When I talk to Protestants considering Orthodoxy this is often a stumbling block. Most Protestants i talk to have no problem with depiction nor the principle of bowing to something in honor, but they don't understand why the Church binds the conscience to bow to icons when it's not clear the apostles taught this.
Because it’s connected to Christ’s functional role as mediator between God and man and the redemption by Christ of those who passed away.

The prohibition on images of God in the Old Testament was because of God’s incomprehensible essence such that any depiction of it would mock God in his nature.

In the Old Testament (and today), the divine essence of God is incomprehensible to men. Moses had to turn his back to God when God was passing by and had to cover his face in a veil when God’s light was shining. Lot’s wife turned to salt when she saw God’s divine fire, etc.

However, with Christ, God’s nature actually becomes comprehensible through his human nature, because the Person of The Logos takes on both the Divine nature and the human nature.

When you reject depictions of icons of Christ, you are actually rejecting God’s mediation between God and man and rejecting God’s comprehensibility through Christ, you are in effect proclaiming that God is still unknowable.

What about the other Saints? Well depictions of the dead were forbidden because of spiritual death - condemnation to Hades or Sheol. However since Christ’s Resurrection and descent into the realm of the dead, those people are no longer spiritually dead but very much alive in Christ.

Rejecting those depictions is in effect rejecting Christ’s redemption of those who died, because when you reject those iconographic depictions, you are doing so on the basis they are dead and not alive in Christ.
 

RaphaCam

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Because it’s connected to Christ’s functional role as mediator between God and man and the redemption by Christ of those who passed away.

The prohibition on images of God in the Old Testament was because of God’s incomprehensible essence such that any depiction of it would mock God in his nature.

In the Old Testament (and today), the divine essence of God is incomprehensible to men. Moses had to turn his back to God when God was passing by and had to cover his face in a veil when God’s light was shining. Lot’s wife turned to salt when she saw God’s divine fire, etc.

However, with Christ, God’s nature actually becomes comprehensible through his human nature, because the Person of The Logos takes on both the Divine nature and the human nature.

When you reject depictions of icons of Christ, you are actually rejecting God’s mediation between God and man and rejecting God’s comprehensibility through Christ, you are in effect proclaiming that God is still unknowable.

What about the other Saints? Well depictions of the dead were forbidden because of spiritual death - condemnation to Hades or Sheol. However since Christ’s Resurrection and descent into the realm of the dead, those people are no longer spiritually dead but very much alive in Christ.

Rejecting those depictions is in effect rejecting Christ’s redemption of those who died, because when you reject those iconographic depictions, you are doing so on the basis they are dead and not alive in Christ.
I am familiar with this theology as I have read both St. John's treatise and St. Theodore's treatise on icons and how they relate christologically. When I talk about this to Protestants they understand why it's good to depict Christ.. What they don't understand is how this necessitates veneration of the icon. Most Protestants except Calvinists are perfectly fine with educational religious imagery but the bowing and kissing is a stumbling block no matter how many times you go through the times in scripture that people bowed to honor the king etc.

@RaphaCam
Thank you for this! I had found random quotes of the council from Patriarch Tasarius and seen the canons but I didn't know there was an English translation of all the sessions.. that's worth a read. I'll see if the sessions respond to the objection that icons are good but not to be venerated. I'll keep this thread updated.
 

Ainnir

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It used to stumble me, but given time and space, I got over it. 😊
 
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Hmm, didn't really find anything about this issue. Tbh I feel more confused than before as one of the texts used in the council was a forgery (Letter 300 of Basil) which was kind of a surprise. Also there was nothing cited from the pre-nicene fathers. Again I understand the solid christological foundation to icons - we depict the Son of God who is the glory and icon of the Father because the uncircumcribable God became circumscribable. But it seems that there is this leap from depicting Christ, to mandating veneration that is not apostolic. The earliest clear proof I have found of veneration of icons is St. Athanasius, which while St. Athanasius is good authority, is not proof of apostolic tradition..
 
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I didn't mean veneration is not apostolic per se, but that it cannot be proven to be apostolic tradition historically*
 

Ainnir

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What about apostolic succession?
 

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Because it separates the sheep from the goats?
 

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What about apostolic succession?
Not sure if you've followed the discussion on that topic elsewhere, but "apostolic succession" isn't Orthodox: it is not even real. My current hypothesis, now tracing the history of the term using big data tools, is that it largely originates with the Tractarians in the middle of the 19th century. For more of a look at the historical Orthodox position and how none of the "apostolic Fathers" ever taught the doctrine, read this thread: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity....-of-apostolic-succession-in-the-church.79449/ .
 

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Hmm, didn't really find anything about this issue. Tbh I feel more confused than before as one of the texts used in the council was a forgery (Letter 300 of Basil) which was kind of a surprise. Also there was nothing cited from the pre-nicene fathers. Again I understand the solid christological foundation to icons - we depict the Son of God who is the glory and icon of the Father because the uncircumcribable God became circumscribable. But it seems that there is this leap from depicting Christ, to mandating veneration that is not apostolic. The earliest clear proof I have found of veneration of icons is St. Athanasius, which while St. Athanasius is good authority, is not proof of apostolic tradition..
Do you mean to imply that all doctrinal, canonical, and other teachings of a local Church much have clear precedent that derives directly from one or more of the 12 Apostles (well 13 if we count St Paul)? Also, does it matter that many early documents were forgeries: Pseudo-Dionysios, Apostolic Canons, etc? What mattered to the conciliar Church was not the lineage of those documents (or the writers!), but their Orthodoxy.
 
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Do you mean to imply that all doctrinal, canonical, and other teachings of a local Church much have clear precedent that derives directly from one or more of the 12 Apostles (well 13 if we count St Paul)? Also, does it matter that many early documents were forgeries: Pseudo-Dionysios, Apostolic Canons, etc? What mattered to the conciliar Church was not the lineage of those documents (or the writers!), but their Orthodoxy.
Well the 7th council claims that icon veneration is apostolic tradition taught by the apostles and all the Fathers themselves.. but it isn't found in the ante-nicene fathers, apostolic fathers or apostles. For such a bold claim wouldn't it be good to find evidence for it? Otherwise we are no different from Rome anachronistically claiming papal infallibility was taught by the apostolic deposit of faith from st. Peter himself.

it doesn't matter if certain canons were forgeries, but the council quoted a spurious quote from St. Basil as historical proof. No different than when the West had all sorts of forged quotes to prove papal supremacy and filioque.
 

Ainnir

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Not sure if you've followed the discussion on that topic elsewhere, but "apostolic succession" isn't Orthodox: it is not even real. My current hypothesis, now tracing the history of the term using big data tools, is that it largely originates with the Tractarians in the middle of the 19th century. For more of a look at the historical Orthodox position and how none of the "apostolic Fathers" ever taught the doctrine, read this thread: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity....-of-apostolic-succession-in-the-church.79449/ .
Nope. You lost me. :)

What about it?
I thought it mattered; apparently not. 🤷‍♀️
 

Xavier

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Yes, the Second Council of Nicaea gave a response to this question. As the coins bearing an image of the emperor were honored throughout the territory, with far greater reason, the Crucified Images of Our Lord, of His Blessed Mother, and of the Angels and Saints, as Nicaea II explained, were to be venerated with honor, out of reverence for those they depicted.

Already in Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 3, the Lord compares His Crucified Self to the Bronze Statue raised up by the Prophet Moses - a Scriptural Proof that God commanded and mandated the veneration of an icon even in the Old Testament, and that as an indispensable requirement to obtain the Divine Grace of Supernatural Healing.

Now, the Lord applies this to Himself in the New Covenant, with the Word that as Moses lifted up the serpent for healing of the body, the Son of God must be lifted up on the Cross for the healing of the soul. Hence, Icon Veneration is Biblical, and thus Apostolic. Similarly, in Gal 3:1, St. Paul teaches that Depiction of Christ's Image on the Cross is a Good Thing.

An excerpt from Session 4 of Nicaea II: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3819.htm

"Theodore the most holy bishop of Catanea, said: If the holy Gregory, vigilant in divine cogitation, was moved to tears at the sight of the story of Abraham, how much more shall a painting of the incarnation of our Lord Christ, who for us was made man, move the beholders to their profit and to tears?

Tarasius the most holy Patriarch said: Shall we not weep when we see an image of our crucified Lord?"
 

Ainnir

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Thanks! But I think it's the kissing part that's in question.

And possibly the prostration part.
 
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Thanks! But I think it's the kissing part that's in question.

And possibly the prostration part.
Yes that's what I'm asking. I understand the incarnational reasons why icons are important. The kissing and prostration part is what I'm trying to figure out.
 
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The kissing and prostration part is what I'm trying to figure out.
Protestants in my past consider these things "worship", yet it is not something they do at all. Therefore, by their reasoning, they do not worship God.
 

Ainnir

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It's important to remember that much of Protestantism, especially the more Evangelical the person/denomination is, is almost entirely intellectual. Faith is mental, there is no physical dimension to spirituality for them. So there isn't really any kind of mechanism for them to compute the statement: This is what Faith looks like. So to them, veneration is mental honor, maybe a feeling of awe. But as Orthodox who worship with our whole bodies and all five sense, and look at Faith as a life lived, veneration looks like something. It involves specific actions -- not lockstep, mind. It's the whole "show me your faith without your works, and I'll show you my faith by my works" thing from James 2.

However, if you're trying to convince a Protestant of this, stop. There are a lot of hurdles the person needs to leap before they can embrace veneration of icons (or prayers for the departed, prayers to saints, etc., etc.). In this case, 1) this is a one-story universe and 2) the physical and spiritual are not (and cannot be) separate. If they don't believe those, none of the rest of it will ever make sense.
 

sestir

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Is an Orthodox supposed to venerate an icon even if they don't know which saint is depicted or whether it is a real saint?
 

xariskai

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Divine blessing, holiness, glory, and presence in with and through matter is the consistent message of both Old and New Testaments.[1] Matter is transfigured by the divine presence. Holiness, power, and blessing are transmissible by touch. As specifically relating to icons, this is an instance of a much broader phenomenon; it is a microcosm of what God and his world are like.
It's important to remember that much of Protestantism, especially the more Evangelical the person/denomination is, is almost entirely intellectual. Faith is mental, there is no physical dimension to spirituality for them.
+++

This is absolutely key. It is not so much a matter of the understanding of icons being different as it is a fundamental difference concerning God and the universe through whom and in which icons subsist. A good simple treatment of this for inquirers is Fr. Stephen Freeman's book Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One Storey Universe.

Cf. also biblical, early patristic, and Orthodox understanding of sacrament as a cosmic mysterion relating ultimately to everything that exists.

________________
[1 E.g. Exodus 30:27-29 "...you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its stand. You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them shall be holy."

"The quality of being holy can be spread. Coming into contact with the ark, which is in a state of holiness, renders one holy as well. The condition of impurity may be spread by contact, too (this will be a concern in Leviticus.) The Torah involved a belief that there are certain conditions which are invisible but which have an effect on persons and objects. The spreading of holiness by contact also confirms that the word ‘holy’ does not refer to just being ‘apart’ or ‘separate’, as we have often been taught in the past. Holiness is a powerful condition related to closeness to the divine.’ (Richard Elliot Friedman, ‘Commentary on the Torah: With a New English Translation and the Hebrew Text, p. 273)
]
 

Tzimis

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Yes that's what I'm asking. I understand the incarnational reasons why icons are important. The kissing and prostration part is what I'm trying to figure out.
Blessed theophany,
This reminds me of the cardboard cutouts of spectators they were displaying in empty stadiums during covid. They actually put pictures of season ticket holders on the cutouts themselves and in their appropriate seats. While the actual spectators were at home watching the games.
Church itself is an icon of the day of resurrection and you are rehearsing and/or actually living the moment out in the present. So the emphasis is on the parishioners, just as it is for players in a football game. It's a matter of contest, the people in church are going through the motions of salvation and the icons represent the seen. From the time of baptism on. You have to look through the icon and see the actual person that is depicted.

BTW: the icon in my avitar is panagia prousiotissa and holy tradition states it was written by st. Luke the apostle himself.
 

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Ok, so we understand WHY we venerate icons. Can anyone explain the reason it is " Dogma" and required? Can protestants join and say, "I agree to everything in Church except kissing icons. I refuse."? Can a Roman Catholic join and say, "I prefer kissing my statue instead, here, I brought a miniature statue with me and will kiss this instead at Divine Liturgy, thanks anyway."?
 
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Ok, so we understand WHY we venerate icons. Can anyone explain the reason it is " Dogma" and required? Can protestants join and say, "I agree to everything in Church except kissing icons. I refuse."? Can a Roman Catholic join and say, "I prefer kissing my statue instead, here, I brought a miniature statue with me and will kiss this instead at Divine Liturgy, thanks anyway."?
Yes this is what I am trying to get at. I talk to some Protestants who agree with most everything about Orthodoxy but the icon kissing is a stumbling block. They understand why icons are important to represent Christ and His saints. But they don't understand why that to simply not kiss it because of feeling uncomfortable about it is under pain of anathema by the 7th council.
 

Ainnir

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If I understand the history correctly, not kissing icons wouldn’t be anathema. Saying it’s wrong to kiss icons would, however, be anathema. Personal veneration is a matter of spiritual growth and personal piety, as far as I’ve seen.

But if these Protestants aren’t interested in joining the Church, there’s nothing for them to consider, imo.
 

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If I understand the history correctly, not kissing icons wouldn’t be anathema. Saying it’s wrong to kiss icons would, however, be anathema. Personal veneration is a matter of spiritual growth and personal piety, as far as I’ve seen.

But if these Protestants aren’t interested in joining the Church, there’s nothing for them to consider, imo.
I think this is correct. The manner of veneration is strongly influenced by cultural factors, and while we should read councils, Scripture, etc strictly, we should not be stuck reading them *flatly*. What would be more important is to ensure that a Christian's veneration of icons is consistent with their veneration of living individuals—if not, there's an anathema.
 
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OK. That makes sense, thanks! So, is it theoretically possible for someone to join an Orthodox parish and never kiss an icon if they feel culturally uncomfortable with it if they agree with the Christology behind potraying icons?
 

Bizzlebin

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OK. That makes sense, thanks! So, is it theoretically possible for someone to join an Orthodox parish and never kiss an icon if they feel culturally uncomfortable with it if they agree with the Christology behind potraying icons?
Most of the dogmatic works we have (eg, various lists of anathemas) do not mention kissing at all, but rather more generic positive terms (salute, venerate, etc) or a list of negative terms to avoid in relation to icons (insulting, mocking, denying, blaspheming, etc). So we would have to consider how the person treats other people. Do they shake hands with a boss or touch the shoulder of friends, but refuse to touch the hands or shoulders depicted on icons? That's pretty clearly an anathema. Now if they have a generic problem with authority or touching in general, that's a whole other matter, but it should be easy to investigate how they treat their friends and superiors and see if they behave similarly around icons.
 

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So we would have to consider how the person treats other people. Do they shake hands with a boss or touch the shoulder of friends, but refuse to touch the hands or shoulders depicted on icons? That's pretty clearly an anathema. Now if they have a generic problem with authority or touching in general, that's a whole other matter, but it should be easy to investigate how they treat their friends and superiors and see if they behave similarly around icons.
How do we investigate? Interviews? Cameras? Spying?
Does this person high five everyone? So that becomes the standard?
Venerate: Cross oneself and bow. The kissing may come later. He who has been forgiven much loveth much.
Tears and kisses cannot be forced, regulated, or investigated.
I am invited into the icon and I freely give myself.
 

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How do we investigate? Interviews? Cameras? Spying?
Life is assumed to be lived very publicly, so that is not a question that often comes up; our modern notions of privacy are, well, modern. I think if a person was at both a service and a fellowship meal it would be fairly obvious whether there was a disconnect between the behavior towards the icons and the behavior towards parishioners. Or you could just ask.

Does this person high five everyone? So that becomes the standard?
Venerate: Cross oneself and bow. The kissing may come later. He who has been forgiven much loveth much.
Tears and kisses cannot be forced, regulated, or investigated.
I am invited into the icon and I freely give myself.
Orthodoxy is, canonically and conciliarly, very open to different customs. I think a cross and bow is probably a safe start, particularly because that usage finds a place in other parts of most traditions's worship. But there is nothing theologically to stop a "high-five" or other local custom from prevailing, so long as it is indeed a form of honor and not just familiarity.
 

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Then what?

We watch? We see that someone loves and kisses their aged mother at fellowship meal and we jump up and say, " AHA!"?
 

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Then what?

We watch? We see that someone loves and kisses their aged mother at fellowship meal and we jump up and say, " AHA!"?
I'm primarily speaking of the canonical and conciliar tradition with regards to anathemas, not their enforcement. The point is not to "trip people up", but discern the truth of the matter, always with Christ as goal. Local Churches decided to draw very hard lines with regards to certain doctrines to safeguard the Faith—and the faithful; nearly all of these are ultimately Christological points, not practical customs. We know that God is merciful, and that the canons and councils cannot cover every situation or contingency nor guarantee a person salvation. They are not meant to (despite what various non-canonical groups say, who want to treat "grace" as a game): for the Orthodox, God remains the final judge.
 
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Do you mean to imply that all doctrinal, canonical, and other teachings of a local Church much have clear precedent that derives directly from one or more of the 12 Apostles (well 13 if we count St Paul)? Also, does it matter that many early documents were forgeries: Pseudo-Dionysios, Apostolic Canons, etc? What mattered to the conciliar Church was not the lineage of those documents (or the writers!), but their Orthodoxy.
Back to this.. yes, I believe that if something is claimed to be apostolic tradition by an ecumenical (not sure why you said local Church?) council, there should be some reason to believe the apostles actually taught it or some close continuity to the apostles (the apostolic fathers). There is in fact evidence that the Church's teaching on icons changed enough to be a development of doctrine beyond elaboration or developing terminology (like the Trinity is obviously apostolic tradition despite the word not being in the Bible).

Again I don't personally question the theology of icons... but the history seems sketchy and I've had a hard time talking to Protestants about it. From their view the development of icons is an abberation that does not have continuity from the early church. This is the same reason we Orthodox disagree with the papacy so it justifies a response of its own.

Fr. Steven Bigham has a book about the early Christian views of icons (which i have not read in full and only know a little about since it's $80 on amazon..) and he admits that the Church teaching of icons is a development beyond what the early church would say..

No evidence for icon veneration exists before St. Athanasius. In general the ante Nicene fathers seem at least relatively hostile to Christian art. For instance, Irenaeus talks about the gnostic worshiping (sacrificing to probably) an icon of Christ and Greek philosophers. Why doesn't he mention proper Orthodox image veneration here? Clement of Alexandria was also pretty much an aniconist. Why if icons were so obviously apostolic tradition?

I just find Orthodox apologetics to be frustrating in this area. Just because the Dura Europas church or some catacombs from 200 ad had some icons does not sufficiently prove that the apostles taught the veneration of icons. Also the "traditions" that St. Luke painted the first icons or the shroud of Turin are almost certainly spurious and there is no evidence for either before the 8th century. Then the 7th ecumenical council and John of Damascus both quote from forgeries and make these assumptions that beg a lot of questions. Like seriously, how is the Jews bowing to the presence of God in the temple or bowing in respect to the king supposed to prove veneration of paintings is apostolic traditon? Etc etc. I don't think pretending different presuppositions about tradition and veneration of saints in general with Protestants are enough of an answer to the question of is icon veneration a provable apostolic tradition? Irenaeus says it's important for Christian doctrine to have visible authenticly tracable authority and teaching. Icons have the support of the authority of the Church, and they make good theological sense, but they aren't a clear public teaching of the Church until Nicea. I've done as much research as I can in this area and haven't found a good answer.
 

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there should be some reason to believe the apostles actually taught it or some close continuity to the apostles (the apostolic fathers).
Though the Orthodox Church alone preserved it for 2000 years we did not know Christian fasting on Wed. and Fri. was practiced in the first century until an early ms. of the Didache detailing the practice was recovered and dated. It is possible not all reasons for what the saints, fathers, and councils regarded in their time as fully warranted remain obvious or demonstrable to contemporary historiography in any age. That would not be good news for verificationalist apologetics (which I think is largely dead on other grounds as well, but I digress), but neither should it be regarded as some sort of "kill shot" for Orthodoxy.

Early images of Jesus were said to have been derived from a prototype “not made with hands”/αχειροποίητα; cf. Mk 14.58; 2 Cor 5:1); for all we know the first icon of Christ might have been given to the Church by God himself. https://katachriston.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/new-3-d-image-of-jesus/

 

Ainnir

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Bizzlebin

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Back to this.. yes, I believe that if something is claimed to be apostolic tradition by an ecumenical (not sure why you said local Church?) council, there should be some reason to believe the apostles actually taught it or some close continuity to the apostles (the apostolic fathers). There is in fact evidence that the Church's teaching on icons changed enough to be a development of doctrine beyond elaboration or developing terminology (like the Trinity is obviously apostolic tradition despite the word not being in the Bible).

Again I don't personally question the theology of icons... but the history seems sketchy and I've had a hard time talking to Protestants about it. From their view the development of icons is an abberation that does not have continuity from the early church. This is the same reason we Orthodox disagree with the papacy so it justifies a response of its own.

Fr. Steven Bigham has a book about the early Christian views of icons (which i have not read in full and only know a little about since it's $80 on amazon..) and he admits that the Church teaching of icons is a development beyond what the early church would say..

No evidence for icon veneration exists before St. Athanasius. In general the ante Nicene fathers seem at least relatively hostile to Christian art. For instance, Irenaeus talks about the gnostic worshiping (sacrificing to probably) an icon of Christ and Greek philosophers. Why doesn't he mention proper Orthodox image veneration here? Clement of Alexandria was also pretty much an aniconist. Why if icons were so obviously apostolic tradition?

I just find Orthodox apologetics to be frustrating in this area. Just because the Dura Europas church or some catacombs from 200 ad had some icons does not sufficiently prove that the apostles taught the veneration of icons. Also the "traditions" that St. Luke painted the first icons or the shroud of Turin are almost certainly spurious and there is no evidence for either before the 8th century. Then the 7th ecumenical council and John of Damascus both quote from forgeries and make these assumptions that beg a lot of questions. Like seriously, how is the Jews bowing to the presence of God in the temple or bowing in respect to the king supposed to prove veneration of paintings is apostolic traditon? Etc etc. I don't think pretending different presuppositions about tradition and veneration of saints in general with Protestants are enough of an answer to the question of is icon veneration a provable apostolic tradition? Irenaeus says it's important for Christian doctrine to have visible authenticly tracable authority and teaching. Icons have the support of the authority of the Church, and they make good theological sense, but they aren't a clear public teaching of the Church until Nicea. I've done as much research as I can in this area and haven't found a good answer.
I think that a strictly linear view of history is problematic. The Faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude: 1.3), but the Faith is primarily Jesus Christ Incarnate, not a set of static, objective, definable beliefs. At the beginning, it is common for us to use various objective tools (logic, history, etc) to come towards Jesus Christ, but, at some point, we have to relegate all of those to a secondary role in our theology. We must submit everything to Jesus Christ, and specifically Jesus Christ crucified (1 Corinthians: 2.2). Logic, history, and everything else must be understood to have meaning only in Jesus Christ, and not primarily the other way around.

I've indeed understood your question as one of history but have not been able to find much more on the subject, either; I came across the same expensive book but have no experience with it. I'm trying to study some similar questions about early monasticism (which is itself a poor term encompassing numerous—and very different—lifestyles) and it is a little frustrating to see what appear to be large shifts at various points in history (not just the post-Reformation mess we deal with today, but very early shifts in thought and practice). However, thinking that those shifts necessarily have to do with whether a belief is right or wrong is not the correct perspective. Just as the Apostles—who saw Jesus Christ raised from the dead and still did not understand(!)—we cannot think that going back closer and closer to Christ temporally will get us any closer to understanding Him. The best way forward is not more history, but more prayer.
 
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I think that a strictly linear view of history is problematic. The Faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude: 1.3), but the Faith is primarily Jesus Christ Incarnate, not a set of static, objective, definable beliefs. At the beginning, it is common for us to use various objective tools (logic, history, etc) to come towards Jesus Christ, but, at some point, we have to relegate all of those to a secondary role in our theology. We must submit everything to Jesus Christ, and specifically Jesus Christ crucified (1 Corinthians: 2.2). Logic, history, and everything else must be understood to have meaning only in Jesus Christ, and not primarily the other way around.

I've indeed understood your question as one of history but have not been able to find much more on the subject, either; I came across the same expensive book but have no experience with it. I'm trying to study some similar questions about early monasticism (which is itself a poor term encompassing numerous—and very different—lifestyles) and it is a little frustrating to see what appear to be large shifts at various points in history (not just the post-Reformation mess we deal with today, but very early shifts in thought and practice). However, thinking that those shifts necessarily have to do with whether a belief is right or wrong is not the correct perspective. Just as the Apostles—who saw Jesus Christ raised from the dead and still did not understand(!)—we cannot think that going back closer and closer to Christ temporally will get us any closer to understanding Him. The best way forward is not more history, but more prayer.
That's a very good point. How should I respond to Protestants who are trying to figure out Orthodoxy in this regard?
 

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That's a very good point. How should I respond to Protestants who are trying to figure out Orthodoxy in this regard?
First, focus on Jesus Christ. If they can't get to the point where they are really after Jesus, then they'll just replace "Bible" with "history", "tradition", or some other objective construct they can use as an idol, a tool, etc. So do everything you can to cultivate their desire for God—and not theoretically, but Personally.

Second, use what you *are* able to show historically. Icon veneration has a more obscure history, but iconography doesn't. Between that and the whole commandment about "honor your father and your mother" (Exodus: 20.12), you can get them 90% of the way there—and certainly past the point of the anathemas, I would think.

Third, honor them as person. There is no formula here, and it's best to remember that the point is not to make them mentally assent to some objective proposition, but to enter into a life-giving relationship with Christ, His saints, and all creation. That includes a relationship with you: that is the *only* proper context for evangelism.
 
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